Blog RSS Feed Subscribe

Jordi Boggiano

Jordi Boggiano Passionate web developer, specialized in web performance and php. Partner at Nelmio, information junkie and speaker.


My view of PHP version adoption

PHP 5.3 has been out of maintenance for about three months now and it seems like it's time for the community to move on at last. Drupal8 will target 5.4. Symfony announced the results of a poll about which PHP version Symfony3 should target (TL;DR: 5.5 and 5.6 are preferred). And Pascal Martin released yesterday an update on his PHP usage stats based on scanning server headers.

Pascal's number are interesting but I believe they have a bias towards older PHP versions. I would argue that people configuring their servers properly are also those that tend to keep up to date with newer versions, and part of the best practices is to avoid publishing the software versions you are using (i.e. disable expose_php in php.ini). If I am correct here that means early adopters are mis-represented in those numbers.

In any case, I do have another biased dataset to present so here it comes! I looked in the logs of the last fifty days for GET /packages.json which represents a composer update done by someone. Since Composer sends the PHP version it is running with in its User-Agent header, I can use that to see which PHP versions people are using Composer with. Of course this data set is probably biased towards development machine and CI servers and as such it should also be taken with a grain of salt.

PHP usage statistics

I have two datasets, from November 2013 and today, which shows the progression of various versions. Any version below 3% usage has been removed to keep things readable.

November 2013

All versions Grouped
Total 4112760   100.00% Total 4112760   100.00%
PHP 5.3.10 490350 11.92% PHP 5.4 2069021 50.31%
PHP 5.3.3 419871 10.21% PHP 5.3 1533073 37.28%
PHP 5.4.20 387450 9.42% PHP 5.5 510596 12.41%
PHP 5.4.4 274741 6.68%
PHP 5.4.9 198343 4.82%
PHP 5.4.16 180150 4.38%
PHP 5.4.19 167416 4.07%
PHP 5.5.3 166317 4.04%
PHP 5.4.17 160754 3.91%
PHP 5.4.21 144939 3.52%
PHP 5.3.26 131497 3.20%

November 2014

All versions Grouped
Total 11556916   100.00% Total 11556916   100.00%
PHP 5.5.9 2475970 21.42% PHP 5.5 5647892 48.87%
PHP 5.4.4 1022498 8.85% PHP 5.4 3305929 28.61%
PHP 5.5.17 678997 5.88% PHP 5.3 1716653 14.85%
PHP 5.5.16 529227 4.58% PHP 5.6 886260 7.67%
PHP 5.3.3 509101 4.41%
PHP 5.3.10 479750 4.15%
PHP 5.6.0 391633 3.39%

A few observations: 5.3 really is on the way out, 5.5 is now the major platform, 5.6 adoption is lagging behind last year's 5.5 adoption a little bit which is unfortunate but can perhaps be explained by the fact Ubuntu 14.04 ships with 5.5.9

PHP requirements in Packages

A second dataset I looked at is which versions are required by all the PHP packages present on packagist. I split it in two groups: those that required a given version at any point and those that require it in their current master version.

PHP Requirements - Anytime - November 2014

5.2 1204 4.23%
5.3 20780 72.94%
5.4 7953 27.92%
5.5 641 2.25%
5.6 44 0.15%

PHP Requirements - Current Master - November 2014

5.2 1019 3.58%
5.3 19334 67.86%
5.4 7523 26.41%
5.5 573 2.01%
5.6 41 0.14%

A few observations: almost 7% of packages that required 5.3 and 15% of those requiring 5.2 gave these up for higher requirements, that's pretty low but it's a start. 5.4 is getting a good foothold but 5.5/5.6 features are hardly used by OSS packages.


Again these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, but looking at the ecosystem from this perspective I would say PHP 5.3 can be safely dropped by most libraries and 5.5 sounds like a promising target!

November 13, 2014 // News, PHP

Post a comment

Subscribe to this RSS Feed Comments

2014-11-16 19:02:41

Ted Wood

And Ubuntu 14.10 ships with PHP 5.5.18, far behind the latest version on that branch.

2014-11-17 09:00:44

Alexander Opitz

TYPO3 CMS 7 LTS will also have PHP 5.5 as minimum requirement:

2014-11-21 00:20:48

Kijin Sung

PHP 5.3 is on its way out, but I'm afraid you'll keep seeing 5.3.3 (CentOS 6.x) and 5.3.10 (Ubuntu 12.04) for quite some time in your logs. It's hard to ignore the "oldstable" releases of major Linux distros with long-term support guarantees.

2014-12-08 14:44:52

Tomáš Votruba

This stats delivered monthly would be really awesome.
It would help to decide, what version to support as the lowest.

2014-12-19 07:12:15

Rasmus Schultz

This would be quite interesting as monthly report!

I will admit, I am one of the package vendors pulling up the stats for 5.3 - why? Because the next version up would give, basically, short array syntax and nothing that would functionally impact most of my packages. No reason to break BC just for that, so I don't. I have long since been testing all of my packages on versions up to 5.6 though.

I have been glad to see big, cheap hosting companies, such as UnoEuro, upgrading from 5.3 directly to 5.6 or 5.5 - that's exciting, because it means those versions will soon be widely available and can be targeted as the mainstream :-)

2015-01-17 07:48:16


You've really helped me untndsraed the issues. Thanks.