I would recommend to beginners WAMP (windows) or MAMP (mac) as this installs Apache, Mamp and MySQL all in one go :)
In this tutorial we assume that your server has activated support for PHP and that all files ending in .php are handled by PHP. On most servers, this is the default extension for PHP files, but ask your server administrator to be sure. If your server supports PHP, then you do not need to do anything. Just create your .php files, put them in your web directory and the server will automatically parse them for you. There is no need to compile anything nor do you need to install any extra tools. Think of these PHP-enabled files as simple HTML files with a whole new family of magical tags that let you do all sorts of things.
Let us say you want to save precious bandwidth and develop locally. In this case, you will want to install a web server, such as » Apache, and of course » PHP. You will most likely want to install a database as well, such as » MySQL.
You can either install these individually or choose a simpler way. Our manual has installation instructions for PHP (assuming you already have some web server set up). If you have problems with installing PHP yourself, we would suggest you ask your questions on our » installation mailing list. If you choose to go on the simpler route, then » locate a pre-configured package for your operating system, which automatically installs all of these with just a few mouse clicks. It is easy to setup a web server with PHP support on any operating system, including MacOSX, Linux and Windows. On Linux, you may find » rpmfind and » PBone helpful for locating RPMs. You may also want to visit » apt-get to find packages for Debian.