Recently, PHP on this server has been upgraded to 5.3.3 from 5.1 in an effort to stay up to date. However, this upgrade has led to more headaches and problems then anything good. It is hard to believe in 2011 simple software upgrades can break so much but the problem seems to lie in all the separate modules of PHP. Based on what I can tell, PHP is customizable in what it supports in an effort to lower the memory footprint when needed but most servers these days have plenty of memory to accommodate a few more kilobytes of memory.
The problem comes down to OS like Gentoo and the emerge system. When you use a sloppy method of adding a USE flag before the emerge it will properly install PHP one-time but any upgrade after will go back to the default USE flags and break any web-app that depends on modules of PHP no longer installed such as: cURL, SimpleXML, GD, etc. This system needs to be easier to adjust such as an Ubuntu where most modules are pre-configured and installed by default.
Let’s just hope 2011 brings more streamlined software upgrades, less reboots needed for core upgrades, and innovate designs!
Happy New Years!