Joomla vs. Drupal — A Comprehensive Comparison - Hosting Setup, Development Setup and Installation

By Justin Kerr
March 15, 2014

Table of Contents

Hosting Environment Setup and Configuration 

Building out a web hosting environment may involve a number of tasks related to hardware selection and configuration, base OS and web server software installation and configuration, network setup, and similar data center or server configuration work. Experienced admins employ knowledge and makefiles to quickly execute these common tasks. Another common scenario is working with an established web hosting provider’s preconfigured web hosting environment, where little to no server configuration work is required. For both types of general deployments, little difference exists between Drupal and Joomla.

Drupal iconDrupal

Drupal runs well on properly configured commodity hosting services, as well as bespoke server deployments, much the same as Joomla. However, unlike Joomla, Drupal includes in-built functionality for load balancing across servers, as well as support for “multi-site” capabilities: Projects that require these features will find them more efficiently implemented in Drupal than in Joomla.

Joomla iconJoomla

Joomla runs well on contemporary, standardized hosting configurations from both hosting companies and custom builders, using recent versions of Apache and PHP. The Suhosin patch for PHP is a helpful server feature which may require implementation, if it’s not already enabled. (A “Joomla ready” host will already have addressed this.)

Dollar sign iconCost Conclusions

For many projects, hosting environment setup and configuration costs are effectively the same for Drupal and Joomla projects: a minor task that can take from one to a couple hours, or much less for experienced admins. However, for large-scale websites that require load balancing across servers, as well as projects that must support multi-site capabilities, Drupal may require less time for server planning, setup and deployment.

Development Environment Setup and Configuration

Effective build-out and deployment of a CMS-powered website benefits from established development practices, including setup of development and testing servers, version control systems, project management support, and quality assurance processes. Specific setup needs will vary by the scale and complexity of the CMS project, as well as the size of the team working on it.

All of these systems and processes are independent of the web project they’re set up to support: The same development processes and tools are equally applicable to similar Drupal and Joomla projects. (Of course, development teams will all have their own preferences and toolsets for getting things done.)

Dollar sign iconCost Conclusions

As development tools and processes are independent of the CMS platform, there is no significant difference in the cost of development environment setup and configuration for Drupal and Joomla sites of similar scope and complexity.

CMS Installation and Initial Configuration

Installing the base CMS in a qualified web hosting environment is a straightforward process for both Drupal and Joomla: Upload files to your hosting environment, set up a database for the CMS to use, then visit a specific URL at the install location and walk through a series of step-by-step configurations, presented through forms and control panels. Once installation is complete, a “default” version of the CMS is available at the install location, and from there, it can be further configured, customized and populated with content.

Drupal iconDrupal

Drupal installation requires some minor server-side manipulation of file permissions and file names; from there, the process is very similar to a Joomla installation. Initial Drupal configuration settings are implemented via control panels and include things like front page designation, cache settings and basic site information.

Upon completion, the default Drupal installation is very sparse, a characteristic of Drupal’s design as a framework upon which content types are built.

Joomla iconJoomla

Joomla installation is very fast and straightforward within a qualified web hosting environment, and nearly all steps take place within Joomla’s step-by-step installation process (which has become very streamlined in the latest Joomla 3 release). Successful installation yields a default version of both the front end (user-facing) and back end (administrative) sides of Joomla. In addition, Joomla provides options for publishing demo content as part of the installation process, which yields complete example sites from which implementers can work.

Dollar sign iconCost Conclusions

As the process of implementing a base installation of the CMS is so similar between Drupal and Joomla, the time required is essentially the same: perhaps one to two hours of work, much less for experienced admins.