No you don’t. Versions of MySQL lower than 4.1 do not have built in UTF-8 support. However, Joomla! 1.5 has made provisions for backward compatibility and is able to use UTF-8 on older databases. Let the installer take care of all the settings and there is no need to make any changes to the database (charset, collation, or any other).
The FTP Layer allows file operations (such as installing Extensions or updating the main configuration file) without having to make all the folders and files writable. This has been an issue on Linux and other Unix based platforms in respect of file permissions. This makes the site admin’s life a lot easier and increases security of the site.
You can check the write status of relevent folders by going to ”Help->System Info” and then in the sub-menu to “Directory Permissions”. With the FTP Layer enabled even if all directories are red, Joomla! will operate smoothly.
NOTE: the FTP layer is not required on a Windows host/server.
Yes it can! This is a significant security improvement.
The safe mode limits PHP to be able to perfom actions only on files/folders who’s owner is the same as PHP is currently using (this is usually ‘apache’). As files normally are created either by the Joomla! application or by FTP access, the combination of PHP file actions and the FTP Layer allows Joomla! to operate in PHP Safe Mode.
Well… how about never needing to mess with encoding settings again?
Ever needed to display several languages on one page or site and something always came up in Giberish?
With utf-8 (a variant of Unicode) glyphs (character forms) of basically all languages can be displayed with one single encoding setting.