Blog / PHP 5.3.x . . . The Drupal Killer


A host that we refer a number of clients to recently decided it was a good idea to upgrade to PHP 5.3.x on one of our client's VPS's without informing us.

Suddenly, clicking through to a content page was WSOD, but only for certain content types. Frantic debugging begins, and of course there's no project hours to support this level of disaster.

Admin menu broke. Empty white space where it should be, and no "admin-menu" div in the source html.

Emfield broke. Empty white space where videos should play.

Too much other stuff broke to mention.

And then a simple phpinfo() surprise: PHP 5.3 magically appears a few days ago.

Another lesson in "never ignore the obvious" when debugging your suddenly broken site.


  • why

    What was the reason that PHP 5.3 broke Drupal?

  • never ignore the obvious

    I have had the same experience with one of my clients vps's. phpinfo() may seem basic and easy to overlook but is a good place to start for a lot of wsod errors

  • which version of drupal of

    which version of drupal of the client's site?

    d7should be php5.3friendly

  • I've been using 5.3 for

    I've been using 5.3 for Drupal sites for 7-8 months and haven't had any issues. Even used 5.4 as an experiment recently (ran into a minor conflict -- can't remember what -- but nothing major).

  • Something went wrong with our

    Something went wrong with our Drupal planet feed, causing old posts to appear in on the planet (like this post, dating May 2010). Apologies for the confusion!

  • Something went wrong with the

    Something went wrong with the feed? Did you check for php 5.4?
    Don't think it's a bad idea for this post to appear twice though. Php compatibility is a headache. Try using Aegir and hosting both 6 and 7 sites. Certain contrib for 7 won't work on 5.2. And on 5.3 all the 6 sites go down. Since it's Aegir, running two versions of php, even across multiple servers is not an option. With D8 already getting spotlight attention, I'm starting to feel a slave to my systems. I could spend 2 years upgrading everything I built in the past few years I think. And features can't even be upgraded atm, need to re-create them anew! Goodbye distributions, need to re-develop those too. When I'm done with that, I'll probably have to start upgrading again to Drupal 8 and php 5.4 which will probably kill my 7 sites... First time Drupal is making me feel ... constricted instead of free. It's just not possible to do for small or mid-sized shops. You'd need to hire folks for this, maybe even permanently. But I'm drifting off topic. Thanks for re-posting this, even if it was unintentional :)

  • Aegir

    @Anonymous have a look at barracuda ( is supports PHP 5.2/5.3 for Drupal 6 and PHP 5.3 for Drupal 7 all on the same server.

    Drupal 8 isn't requiring PHP 5.4, no idea where you got that from. The minimal version is PHP 5.3.5, but this might still change.

  • I'm developing a D6 site on PHP 5.4

    Contrib was a problem with PHP 5.3 a while back. But I've not experienced anything show stopping recently, is the site fully up to date? 5.4 there are some modules that need some love.

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