Best environment for running Drupal

skenny10 used Ask the Experts™
We are about to embark on the creation of a new website for our school division. We are thinking about using Drupal for this purpose.

What is the best server environment for this site? Is it better to use a Linux server or a Windows server? Our environment is currently Windows based, so I am wondering if it is a good/bad idea to use Server 2003/2008 for this purpose.

Your input is appreciated.
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Aaron FeledyDrupal Developer and Consultant

Drupal runs great on both Linux and Windows. It requires Apache, PHP, and MySQL, all of which can be installed on either OS. If you are managing your own server, it would be best to use whichever OS you are more comfortable configuring. If you are using a hosting provider, linux is often the cheaper option.

As stated in the above post it will run great on Windows and Linux. Both are great servers.

Being mainly a Windows environment, you would have more flexibility with a Windows Server as far as tying into whatever management tools you already have (AD, Group Policy, SCCM, Backup systems). IIS 7 under server 2008 is absolutely fantastic compared to previous releases. The downfall is the licensing cost, the positive side of the license is Microsoft Support.

A LAMP Server will cost pretty much nothing (other than hardware) but is a bit more "advanced" to configure if you dont have someone familiar with Linux. Trouble shooting down the road could also be a nightmare with out a experience admin.
That really depends on what you are doing with Drupal. Simple sites will work well on either platform, but for more complex setups you will most likely want to go with Linux. I don't know of many pro developers who prefer windows over Linux. There are some features of Linux that are simply not available on windows. All of the top Drupal hosting providers use Linux. For example, Acquia uses Ubuntu for its offerings.

That's not to say that windows isn't perfectly acceptable for Drupal. In practice, though, as a pro dev, I just see Linux in the vast majority of cases.

Be sure to have performance enhancers installed and enabled in either case, such as APC, memcached, etc if your site will be large or heavily trafficked.
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In reference to the above post, the reason why you see more Linux servers than Windows Server is because IIS has not been at the same level as apache. Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7 (all new codebase)  have changed that completely.

Performance of both should be about the same. I have not found a single feature in Linux/Apache that IIS 7 cant do, with the exception of using multiple SSL certs for multiple sites on a shared host.

So really in this situation in my opinion it comes down to which server fits your enviroment and administers skill sets.
It's not about the stack, it's about the operating system. Lighttpd and nginx are certainly alternative web servers to place into the stack instead of Apache should one want to do so.

An example of just one (of many) is that symbolic links are simply not possible in Windows, which is enough to cripple a system like Aegir.

In addition to which server fits your environment and the administrator's skill sets is also a very important factor: what you are using Drupal for.

If you are using it for something rather simple, with standard configurations and no components that require Linux- or UNIX-only features, then Windows works just fine, and may be a better fit for admins who don't know Linux. However, it's when you get into the more complicated setups that Linux will be more suited to the tasks at hand.

It all depends on the requirements, not only the people administrating the system.

Just my $0.02, no refunds :)


Symbolic links are supported in Server 2008/Windows 7, but were not fully support in previous versions.

A lot of the things from the past that were not possible in IIS or Windows Server are now possible in server 2008/IIS 7. It only took 6 versions of IIS to get it right though ;)

Mike does bring up a good point of how do you intend to use Drupal? Also is this going to be an Intranet site?
I stand corrected. Windows versions starting around the Vista era support symlinks. Learn something new every day.

The only limit on that one is if you're using heterogenous systems and need to symlink between them. But you're not doing that, are you? ;)  I can only see headaches and heartburn if that limit didn't exist.

Like I said, though, be sure you look into memcached and/or APC and/or Varnish (if you need the speed they provide). Even the best, most efficient, fastest, most cutting-edge server will tend to weep and beg for its life without performance enhancements (built-in or otherwise) and proper design.
skenny10IT Manager


Thanks for the input

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