PHP 5.4 – A Week In

It’s been a week since I switched over to PHP 5.4 and here’s what I can say, even though I haven’t had much time to use the new features I was looking forward to.

PHP 5.4

First of all, you won’t find PHP in your distribution repositories, it’s too early. Grab the source and compile.

My personal configuration line looks like this.

./configure \
	--enable-fpm \
	--with-openssl \
	--with-pdo-mysql \
	--enable-bcmath \
	--with-pear \
	--with-zlib \
	--enable-mbstring \
	--with-mysql-sock \
	--with-curl \
	--with-mysql \
	--with-mysqli \
	--enable-soap \
	--with-gd \
	--with-mcrypt \
	--with-jpeg-dir \
	--with-png-dir \
	--enable-pcntl \
	--enable-shmop \
	--enable-sockets \

This has been trailing along for a couple of years now with only a couple of minor changes, probably something extra in there. Then make, make test (yes, help PHP with 20-30 minutes of your time) and make install (can be done during testing in background).

Skip to the part about PHP.


First thing I got upon launching PHP 5.4 was a fatal error.

Failed loading (...) (...) undefined symbol: output_globals

Okay, Zend version mismatch, no problem. sudo pecl uninstall xdebug, sudo pecl install xdebug

...checking Check for supported PHP versions... configure: error: not supported. Need a PHP version < 5.4.0 (found 5.4.0)

Ouch... seriously? The solution was to grab the latest development version of Xdebug from github:

  • git clone git://
  • phpize
  • ./configure --with-xdebug
  • make
  • make test (why not?)
  • sudo make install
  • sudo updatedb
  • locate
  • sudo vim (path/to/php.ini) set new path and enjoy
[Zend Modules]

PHP 5.4

A very important Migration from PHP 5.3.x to PHP 5.4.x page is available. Couple of things worth noting from the very beginning:

  • Safe mode, Magic quotes, Register globals - gone with the wind! Hurray!
  • Sweet new functions hex2bin() - yes, I can finally throw away my >> routines; I do work with binary a lot, so I'll be enjoying the new 0b001001101 binary format as well.
  • header_register_callback() - utmost useful for debugging, cURL -vv does a great job, but now we can make sure we're the very last ones touching the headers
  • json_encode - new options: JSON_PRETTY_PRINT, JSON_UNESCAPED_SLASHES among others
  • The long-awaited $limit parameter in debug_backtrace() allows for much more lightweight tracing of function and caller chains
  • SessionHandler class, an object-oriented approach to sessions
  • sqlite (v2) removed, ready to migrate your code to sqlite3?
  • <?= the open shorttag will now always be available

A week didn't really give much time to explore and try to use the new concepts in development. On most of the boxes I work on I'm lucky to get PHP 5.1.x, so nothing has driven me to use PHP 5.4 yet. I did play around with traits and of course the new built-in CLI webserver, which allows you to pull in PHP from any directory and server it over HTTP complete with simple routing.

Other than that, I can't say I'm either impressed nor unhappy yet due to the little time I've spent with its new features. I'll probably get some extra time to play around with a feature of particular interest in today's world of AJAX this weekend. 😉

Have you tried PHP 5.4 out already? What are your first impressions?