Let's say you connect to MySQL using "localhost"

Let's say you compiled PHP

Let's say you didn't specify the --with-mysql-sock= parameter in your configure command when you built mysql

And let's suppose you cannot connect to MySQL using PHP. CLI works fine, but not CGI.

Solution : fix the default sockets in php.ini (use your own working socket paths) :

pdo_mysql.default_socket=/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
mysqli.default_socket = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

# You shouldn't use mysql_ extension, but if you did:
mysql.default_socket = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

I suppose that automatically converting "localhost" to an unix socket is done for performance reason on unix systems.