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For a number of our websites we are using Ubuntu LTS 10.04 with MySQL 5.1. We are looking into consolidating the SQL databases onto a single server and have been testing Percona 5.5 for this purpose.

The MySQL clients (PHP5-MySQL) use libmysqlclient16 (5.1.41-3ubuntu12.10), is it safe for us to use this version with Percona server 5.5?

Optionally I can use the Percona apt repository on our webservers and upgrade libmysqlclient16 to the Percona version (5.1.62-rel13.3-435.lucid).

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In general you should be safe unless the client shows an a warning or error. I have used the same client to different serversvwith no issues. This mysql article also says that the client and the server do not have to match versions, despite the fact that when the difference sometimes could cause problems.

Related issue: you can generally replicate from a server to a higher version of server as well, but the features are limited by the older version. Client should have even fewer problems because commands are interpreted and executed by the server.

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