PHP 5.3 Support Status

Posted By: Tony Baird

Last Updated: Friday September 24, 2010

PHP 5.3 has been out since June 29th 2009 and while buggy at the time has started to mature to be a much more stable PHP version.  As a result users have been asking us when are we going to support it and the answer has always been incompatibilities are holding us back.  Unfortunately a lot of popular PHP scripts still do not work properly with PHP 5.3.  Then if it’s not the PHP scripts it’s modules we use or add-ons not working properly or providing problems.  A great example of that is Zend Optimizer which requires I believe you to re-encode for PHP 5.3.  It also is not considered stable either last I checked and isn’t even available to download although if you use Zend Server you do have early access to it.

This is all going to change for us within the next weeks we are hoping.  We had laid out plans to finally get the support in place.  Due to all the incompatibilities this meant running PHP 5.3 alongside PHP 5.2 on our servers.  With configuration changes in various parts it would require separate php configuration files, extensions etc.  So it was not just a matter of a quick compile and we’re supporting it.  We needed to plan out where everything was going to go to make PHP 5.3 work properly rather than be a big mess.  That planning is over thankfully and we have successfully deployed it on our test machine and it works properly for the most part.  The catch being right now Litespeed does not have suexec support for our desired extension of .php53 which is going to hopefully be changed soon.

So what is our time line for actual support?  We’re hoping a week or so for testing with suexec support.  Then another week to plan out our deployment plan as we need to deploy this across a lot of machines.  Then finally we start deploying it on servers which most likely would mean going from newer machines and then further back to our older servers.  It’s just smarter this way to gradually test in production environment rather than just deploy it on everything all at once.  So based on all this I’m pretty confident that by the end of October it’ll be on all our servers unless we run into some problems along the way on the software end of things.

Now how will you enable PHP 5.3 I imagine is what the few brave who wish to run 5.3 are wondering.  Well what will most likely happen is if you wish to run PHP 5.3 without modifying your .htaccess you’ll need to do .php53 file extensions.  That’s not very friendly though so the more ideal solution would be to add the following to your .htaccess file:

AddType application/x-httpd-php53 .php

This would then allow you to run PHP 5.3 as .php files just by a simple .htaccess file modification.

This is not all set in stone as of yet but I’m pretty confident this is what it’ll end up being as it makes sense.

Now why should everyone be running PHP 5.3 well here’s the original 5.3.0 major changes:

This release also drops several extensions and unifies the usage of internal APIs. Users should be aware of the following known backwards compatibility breaks:

So not bad lots of great features and improvements.  Hopefully we meet our goal and by late October all our servers support PHP 5.3 as the optional PHP version.  So if you’re a developer you’ll be able to tinker with it on our machines.  If you’re running PHP scripts that require PHP 5.3 no worries just a quick modification to your .htaccess and you’re on your way.

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