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Drupal Aegir Project Abridged

Drupal Aegir Project Abridged

Ariane

This is the first "AB Abridged" post – a series of posts explaining the basics of some of the more ominous yet awesome Drupal projects in simple and practical terms. We hope these posts will help demystify some of these projects for people who have been hesitant to try them out!

Background

The previous version of Aegir, called Hostmaster, was developed by Adrian Rossouw (g.d.o member 1337 coincidence...?) for use at the now defunct Bryght, where they did mass Drupal hosting for several years. Its main components are the provisioning system, which manages some of the server side and back end configuration, and the hosting front end, which allows you to treat each site as a node and manage it through a Drupal interface. The hosting system also handles and allows you to watch the status of queued tasks on the server. Aegir 0.2 beta 1 Released Screenshot of the admin interface c/o Dev Seed

Current State

Aegir evolved from managing simple single site installs, to now being able to manage sites on multiple servers, and also to run multiple versions of Drupal at the same time. This enables admins to be able to upgrade individual sites at different times while making maintaining different versions easier, and also to have the ability to revert versions quickly and easily. It also provides the ability to do streamlined deployment through the user interface, and to automate configuration and some steps of deployment. The Aegir project is currently being supported by Dev Seed (not so coincidentally, Adrian's new place of work). He and Antoine Beaupré from Koubmit in Montreal are the main developers on the project.

How to Use It

To run Aegir, you need the same server requirements as you'd need to run Drupal, as it runs on Drupal - you also need to be running a unix based OS, and it needs to be on your own server (not shared hosting), due to the level of access required. When you install Aegir, you are basically installing a regular Drupal site, using the Hostmaster install profile, which sets up Aegir. Once Aegir is installed, you can set up new sites, import existing sites, set up platforms (individual codebases - ie D4.7, D5.19, D6.13, etc.), and upgrade sites between platforms. Although having a pretty intimate understanding of servers and databases will certainly make this easier and make more sense, it runs largely through the Drupal UI, so once set up can potentially be overseen by someone who is not a typical server admin.

Resources

  • There is a lot of great documentation about the Aegir project, and how-tos for installation on its groups pages
  • Descriptions of the structure of the system and terminology
  • The Aegir dev chat on IRC http://drupal.org/irc #aegir on irc.freenode.net
  • Dev Seed blog posts tagged with Aegir
  • Adrian's screencast on installing Aegir on the Dev Seed blog
  • Will White's screencast about deploying Open Atrium on Aegir (as a teaser to related DrupalCon Paris sessions) also on the Dev Seed blog
  • Video of Adrian's session at DrupalCon Szeged 2008
  • Video of Adrian's session at DrupalCon DC 2009
  • Robin's VANDUG talk from earlier this year (many thanks to Dale for the video footage (Update: talk is not longer accessible at http://blip.tv/file/2471743/)

 

How We've Used Aegir at Affinity Bridge

We were lucky to have the chance to work with this project very early in its development when we implemented Aegir for the PLAN Institute's Tyze.com project in late 2008 and the start of this year. In conjunction with a custom Install Profile, we set up a system that allows numerous Tyze.com microsites to be managed in a streamlined fashion, and which allows admins to deploy new Tyze sites quickly with all configuration and base content already set up.