I've searched these forums and Usenet but cannot find a clear answer to this:

If you are running Cpanel, my understanding is that most software updates and installs (PHP and MySQL) are integrated DIRECTLY into the control panel.

What does this actually mean, in terms of installing and configuring PHP? If I want to custom compile PHP with GD support, mod-rewrite, etc, am I able to do this while still relying on CPanel??? Does a control panel place any other limitations on what I can or cannot install on my server?

Thanks for any clarification. I am used to installing and compiling everything and have never used a control panel so the concepts are still unclear.