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I am currently running my system on Cent OS 5 with PHP 5.3.2 installed. I have had no problems but have noticed one of my primary yum repositories (atomic) continues to use 5.2 and pushes the latest updates for all 5.2.14 out on a regular basis.

Is there a true advantage of 5.3.2 or 5.3.3 over 5.2.14? Is it likely to hurt me in any way removing PHP and reinstalling with 5.2.14?

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I would that if it is for development test and learning go with the latest and always take a look at the latest stable aswell since you may find that most servers out there will be using the latest stable version and as soon as a new php version gets stable they will aswell update so you will be ready to go for both when the time comes. – Prix Aug 6 '10 at 23:16
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The new features you get in 5.3 compared to 5.2 are

  • Namespaces
  • The use Keyword
  • Namespace Aliases
  • Class Constants
  • Namespaced Functions
  • The Global Namespace

( obtained from )

If you don't need these features (or know what they are) and you have no developers requiring these features then there is not much benefit to running 5.3 over 5.2 from a SysAdmin perspective.

Both versions are supported in the sense they are getting security patches provided.

I would recommend you use PHP from the repos unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.

Managing security updates to software you have installed from source is a maintenance overhead and you are effectively putting yourself up as package maintainer for PHP on your system.

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On the other hand. If 5.3.x is already installed and security updates are provided through the repos, there is no compelling reason to switch to php 5.2.x either. – Richard Holloway Aug 6 '10 at 21:32

You're generally better using the software installed (and therefore updated) through your normal package management system rather than building from source, since that way you stay updated on the security patches. Installing from source means you're on your own for following and installing the security updates.

PHP 5.3.x offers a number of features not available in the 5.2.x branch (as mentioned in another response); however, since PHP 5.3 is still relatively new and has a very low install base, existing PHP applications will not require the new features. It's been my experience that some older PHP applications break in unexpected ways when you use the 5.3.x branch. Presumably they'll eventually be fixed to support the 5.3.x branch... eventually; and it may be a simple matter of changing your php.ini file to use the expected defaults, but in certain cases it's just cheaper to stick with 5.2.

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