One struggle seems to come up over and over again for several PHP developers out there - Oracle issues. Newsgroups and message boards are filled with questions and, sometimes, a few answers. bshensky is one such user - but one that found a way to get the PEAR DB package to connect to Oracle simply and without the usual recompile it would take to get the Oracle drivers successfully installed.
I have spent a dog's age researching how to get my local PHP install to talk to Oracle using PEAR and the OCI8 client stack on my Fedora Core 4 server. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was just not possible to get OCI8 to work with a RPM(binary)-install of PHP, and I looked toward other means of getting "Web access" to Oracle using different means.
Today, I found an interesting document on the Oracle Web site that allegedly details how to get the new PECL PDO database drivers for Oracle running on PHP 5 (luckily, I run PHP 5 on my FC4 box).
The document claimed that you could use PDO to load a database driver on the fly without the need for a recompile. All bshensky saw left to do was getting PDO installed (via PEAR) and getting it to pick up on the Oracle libraryes to help make the connection. A few quick commands and environment variables later, he had a complete and working PHP install with Oracle functionality called on the fly.