How to install Drupal like a Desktop App

How to install drupal like a desktop app header

Author: Jan Detlefsen – Web Developer here in Thailand

You might have read how easy it is to install Drupal, that all you need is a PHP server, a MySQL database and 5 minutes of time. While this is all true, there might be people who don’t even know what all of this even means (except for the 5 minutes of time, obviously). Naturally if you are getting more serious with Drupal and webdevelopment in general you should at some point know the meaning of all of those words and also learn how to manage it, but to get started with Drupal you can forget about them for now. Or maybe you are a Designer who wants to apply your HTML and CSS skills on a Drupal Theme, and you really never need to know what a LAMP stack is.

Bitnami to the rescue.

The good news is there is a very easy way to install Drupal. Head over to the Bitnami website and you will find a a couple of downloads. What you want to download are the “Installer” and pick the right one for your OS. Virtual machines are enought for another blogpost, though the results will be a similar one. If you have ever installed an application on your computer you will have no problem to click though this standard process and answer a few easy questions.

At the end you get a link and your browser will open and suddenly you have Drupal installed on your own computer. Now that was easy, wasn’t it? make sure to bookmark the link cause besides your local adress it also contains a “port”, that is the number after the colon in the url. Here are the installation screen, there isn’t really much to explain about them. You might need to pick a different port than 8080 but the installer will tell your. It will also setup a connecting to your email account as most local server don’t have any way for PHP to send off emails.

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drupal finished setup

At the end you should see this with a url something like ‘localhost:8080′, in my case “macbookair.local:8085″

Now why was this so simple?

The Bitnami Installer is a packet installer for a lot of web applications. One of them happens to be Drupal. It does all the dirty work for you: Setting up a server environment that can runs and executes PHP code (that’s what Drupal is based on), putting a database in place, installing your Drupal core and populating the database and finally making sure that your Drupal has the right settings and your browser know where it can find the site at. And a lot more little things that are enought to give you days of headache if you don’t know what they are and how to fix them.

The advantage of a local installation

Local installations have a lot of advantages. Even if you own a webserver with massive space and have a lot of domains registered in your name. A local installation of your system of choice helps you test your setup and working with it can be done with practically zero lag. This is a huge advantage when you are doing any sort of development. Even two second of lag can cost you a lot of time if you update code or change settings multiple times per minute.

The usual workflow for many developer is to work on a copy of the cody on their local machine, then do deloyments to the online version in regular intervals. Also imagine a situation where your present your work and don’t want to depend on a working network connection. It’s also easier to have multiple installation of your code for testing as you can speicify different ports for every installation.

Why can’t it always be so easy?

Actually it can. Besides desktop installer Bitnami has the same packages ready for online use. If you choose to host your web project at Amazon Web Services (and there are many reasons besides this that your should) you have access to all of Bitnamis installation packages though the AMI images. Those are snapshots of readily setup and optimized server where everything is pre-configured to work as a turn key solution. This is not only limited to low traffic websites. The images run on any size of machine so if you want to shell out 1500 US$ per month for 26 CPU’s with 70GB of RAM that can handle hundred thousands of visiors per day you can still setup Drupal with just a few clicks.

This is all great now how much does it cost?

The nice thing is this is all comes for free. The Desktop installer are a simple download. The Amazon Machine Images are available though the community AMI search when you setup a new EC2 instance. Of course you have to pay the usual EC2 fees but nothing on top of that. Bitnami has paid service for cloud hosting and enterprise solutions. Those are their core business. The services descibed in this article are more of advertising and community relationship campaigns for those core products.

What more?

Besides Drupal there are identical installer packages and images available for most of the popular script and environments. Specially Pythion and Ruby based packages are an easy start for the beginner as those usually require a much deeper understanding of server invironment than the average PHP MYSQL packages and often keep beginner away from even trying. Notably there are also instalelr and images for Django, Ruby on Rails, Postgres, WordPress, Joomla, Redmine, Alfresco, SugarCRM, PHPBB, Subversion (SVN), Mediawiki, Magento and Moodle to name just the most well known ones.

Do you want to learn more about Drupal?

Drupal is a powerful, full-featured content management system that powers millions of websites all over the world. Drupal can be used to built everything from personal blogs, to eCommerse sites and enterprise applications. Do you want to learn how to use it? Checkout our private Drupal training page.