Fixing WordPress 3.x.y plugin fatal error

If you have just installed your WordPress software, you may be encountering seemingly random “fatal error” messages when trying to install or activate various plugins.  One of the common fatal error messages seen when activating a plugin is related to a ‘{‘ (brace) character being unexpected.

If you have been seeing issues with these types of errors, it is likely that your web-host is not running PHP 5+ as the default PHP interpreter.  The base version of WordPress 3.0 will run on PHP 4.x, but it may exhibit odd behavior and plugins or themes which make use of PHP 5 language features will result in a fatal error.

To ensure that your WordPress installation is running under the PHP 5+ interpreter, follow these simple steps:

  1. Create a new file named .htaccess with a text editor.
  2. Copy the following 2 lines of code into the file (do not copy the “1.”):
    1. AddType x-mapp-php5 .php
      AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php
  3. Using an FTP client, such as FileZilla, upload the .htaccess file to the directory on your server which contains the main WordPress directory.
  4. Now, open the WordPress Admin control panel and try to activate the previously failing plugin.

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