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I have also had problems on occasion when I download security or bugfixes for the database and the process stops the service and does not restart it. Then I will get a message somewhere along the line of "MySQL is not running".
Go to www.php.net and download the latest version - 4.3.10. Untar it so you get the source directory.
go into that directory - I would read the INSTALL file before proceeding, but here is the gist of it:
./configure --with-apxs --with-mysql --with-xml
then, when that is done if it is a success, do:
That will build PHP (assuming for Apache, with MySQL and XML - if you want other stuff you need to read the docs) and install it in all the right places.
Then you need to shutdown and restart Apache (service httpd restart) and you should be good to go.
If you're not comfortable doing this, don't. You could make things worse.
Hope this helps.