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Plone vs. Drupal: Installation

This article is part of the Plone vs. Drupal analysis.

Let's start with software fundamentals: the deployment of a basic instance. I will look into every step a neophyte would have to follow to deploy and access a functional instance of a Plone/Drupal distribution on their computer.

Getting the distribution

The first steps are easy:

Plone Drupal
Google/Yahoo 1st result plone.org drupal.org
Homepage download tab yes yes
1-2 clicks download yes yes
Name Plone 4.0.1 Drupal 6.19
Download size 31MB 1MB
Download time* 1 min 45 sec 5 sec

* download at 300kB/s + a short initiation time

Installing the distribution

So far so good. Both distributions are easy to find and to download. But here comes the first major difference for the setup process: Plone is a one step install while Drupal requires two steps: installing a Solution Stack, then installing the Drupal site.

No reason to panic, I can either grab the README/INSTALL.txt or go back to the drupal.org website for some help. At 'get started' --> 'documentation' --> 'installation guide' --> 'local server setup', I get all the information I needed.

Depending on your operating system, you will find precise guidance to deploy an AMP stack and start deploying your Drupal site locally. This also includes the creation of a database that will be required later during the installation of Drupal.

Once the AMP is started, simply going to the Drupal root starts the installation.

In the meantime, Plone's install will also install Zope and a database for you.

Starting the instance

  • For Drupal, the installation will leave you on your homepage, there is nothing to start. Later you will have to restart your AMP and go to your site's url.
  • For Plone, after the installation completes, you just need to follow the zinstall's README.txt that appears on your screen. It contains instructions on how to start, stop, and access the instance.


My basis for a difficulty scale:

  • 1: very easy. Requires minimal reading, no major research and no technical experience
  • 2: easy. Doable by neophytes with a bit of research or hands-on discovery
  • 3: moderate. Developers or sysadmins will have no problem with this, but non-technical people will need some extra time to read documentation.
  • 4: difficult: Requires in-depth knowledge that cannot be easily acquired by reading around in the internet. This is where average users should let their technical team do the work.
  • 5: very difficult. Even experienced developers or sysadmins will struggle and need time to get familiar with the concepts or even to catch up after they stop doing it for a while.
Plone Drupal
Getting the distribution difficulty 1 1
duration 3 min 45 sec 2 min
Installing the distribution difficulty 1 3
duration 5 min 20 min
Starting the instance difficulty 2 1
duration 1 min 5 sec

Based on this first test, starting from scratch and getting to a functional local instance is very easy and takes 10 minutes for Plone. For Drupal, it is easy and takes 20 minutes.

The overall difficulty, assigning double weight to the installation part, is precisely 1.25 for Plone and 2 for Drupal.

Both are achieving a very reasonable result/time/difficulty ratio so in case you haven't tried Plone and/or Drupal yet, this is your chance!

Possible biases

  • Drupal's download is meant for environment where an AMP stack is already configured, most likely some cloud hosting platform. In this use case, Drupal is easier to deploy (more in the Hosting section).
  • Some pre-configured packages like 'Acquia Drupal' make it easy for a user to install a stack and Drupal at once. However, this is not where a potential Drupal tester would be directed to from the Drupal site.
  • Deploying a Plone instance for custom development work is another task altogether and can be hard and time consuming. More on this in another post.


Have you tried to deploy a Plone or Drupal test-instance and faced difficulties that I didn't mention? Are there more major biases? Can you think of easier or user-friendlier ways to deploy a Plone/Drupal instance?

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