Xdebug can be used to debug both web requests as well as cli scripts (e.g., Drush commands).


xdebug extension is disabled by default since it causes about a 20% performance hit. To enable it:

1) Set XDEBUG_ENABLED=1 in .docksal/docksal.env or .docksal/docksal-local.env in your project
2) Apply container configuration with fin project start (fin p start)

To verify that Xdebug was enabled run:

$ fin exec php -v | grep -i xdebug
    with Xdebug v2.5.1, Copyright (c) 2002-2017, by Derick Rethans

Note: Starting with Docksal v1.6.0 (and assuming the default stack is used), installing the companion browser extension is no longer necessary. Once Xdebug is enabled, debugging sessions will be started automatically.

Debugging with PHPStorm

Web requests

1) Open a project in PHPStorm and set a breakpoint wherever you like
2) Click on the Start Listening for PHP Debug Connections button in PHPStorm

PHPStorm xdebug toggle

3) Open the project in a browser

A debugging session will start and Xdebug will initialize a connection to PHPStorm.

4) Click on Accept in the Incoming Connection From Xdebug dialogue in PHPStorm

PHPStorm xdebug mapping

PHPStorm will automatically configure a server and directory mappings between the host and the server.

Directory mappings are very important, as that’s how PHPStorm knows how to map sources on the server to those on the host. You will not be able to debug anything above the project’s docroot folder by defaut.

If you don’t get the Incoming Connection From Xdebug dialogue, use the following manual steps:

1) Under Preferences > Languages & Frameworks > PHP > Servers add a new server
2) Set Name and Hostname to project’s virtual host (VIRTUAL_HOST)
3) Configure host to server directory mappings

Map the project directory on the host to /var/www on the server:

PHPStorm xdebug manual mapping

Console scripts and Drush

Make sure you have the server and directory mapping already configured following the instructions for web request debugging.

Keep in mind, that the script you are trying to debug must reside within the project folder or PHPStorm won’t be able to access its code (and thus debug it). Specifically, this means that you can only debug Drush and Drupal Console instances local to the project (installed with Composer as project level dependencies).

1) Create .docksal/docksal-local.yml file (or update an existing one) in your project with the following:

version: "2.1"

      - PHP_IDE_CONFIG=serverName=${VIRTUAL_HOST}

This adjustment is necessary to let PHPStorm know what server configuration to use when debugging console scripts. With console scripts, there is no web server involved, so serverName has to be hardcoded.

Note: If PHP_IDE_CONFIG=serverName=${VIRTUAL_HOST} is set before web request debugging is configured, PHPStorm will not automatically configure the server and directory mappings for you. You will have to do this manually (see instructions for manual configuration above).

2) Apply container configuration with fin project start (fin p start)
3) Adjust the following settings so that PHPStorm can handle debugging Drush commands:

PHPStorm debugging with drush

(1) Increase the Max. simultaneous connections to allow drush to spawn other drush instances. Otherwise the debugger may get stuck without any response.
(2) Disable “Force break at the first line when a script is outside the project.” Since the main drush binary resides in cli in /usr/local/bin/drush, the debugger will break on every drush invocation.

2) Set path mappings for the Drush binary in PHPStorm:

PHPStorm drush path mapping

(1) Set Name and Hostname to project’s virtual host (VIRTUAL_HOST)
(2) Map the project root to /var/www. Additionally map the project level Drush binary to /usr/local/bin/drush.

You can run your scripts in console and debug them in the same way as browser requests. For example, you can run drush command: fin drush fl and debug this drush command from the Features module.


Debugging with NetBeans

1) Follow the Setup instructions to enable Xdebug in cli
2) Open NetBeans Debugging configuration (“Tools> Options > PHP > Debugging”) and set “DebuggerPort” to 9000
3) Open your project in NetBeans
4) Configure project properties:

  • Right mouse click on project name, then “Properties” from the dropdown menu
  • Under “Sources”, set correct Web Root folder by clicking “Browse” button (usually it’s docroot)
  • Under “Run Configuration”, use project’s virtual host (VIRTUAL_HOST) to set the Project URL
  • Click “OK” to save project properties

5) Set a breakpoint wherever you like
6) In NetBeans, with the whole project selected or one of the project files opened and active, press <CTRL> + <F5> on your keyboard to start the debugger

Debugging with Atom

1) Follow the Setup instructions to enable Xdebug in cli
2) Install PHP-Debug Plugin
3) Configure PHP Debug Settings (Preferences > Packages)

  • Search for “php-debug”
  • Click “Settings” button below plugin
  • “Server” can be set to *
  • “Server Listen Port” should be set to 9000
  • Make sure “Continue to listen for debug sessions even if the debugger windows are all closed” is checked. This will make the debugger window open automatically.