I recently tried setting up sphinx on a rails app with thinking-sphinx and ran into a bit of an issue.

ERROR: malformed or unknown option near '--pidfile'.

That was the error message I got and this appeared when trying to start the sphinx server with rake ts:start or rake ts:rebuild.

I installed sphinx via MacPorts and it turns out this (still) installs the 0.9.7 version and not the 0.9.8 version, and apparently the –pidfile option did not arrive until 0.9.8.

What I did to solve the problem was follow the guide here: http://www.viget.com/extend/installing-sphinx-on-os-x-leopard

Even though i had installed it via MacPorts I still needed to install iconv and expat to get sphinx to properly compile.

If anyone else out there on the internets has had this problem and finds this – i hope it was useful.