Drupal on Windows experience report

It has been over a year since I first decided to give a try to running Drupal 7 on Windows/IIS/Sql Server  instead of the long trusted LAMP platform. So how did it go? Mostly it has gone well, and exhibit A is the sales page for one of our partners. Check it out and establish a new 401k plan for your company at the same time!

Drupal

At the time in 2011 when we first started this, the database driver(s), both Drupal and PHP, were just short of complete. So there were issues right away in the install. But those issues have long been resolved, other than one nasty issue related to DB independent unique keys that Drupal likes to use. This prompted me to create my first Drupal patch for Drupal SqlSrv driver. So far with this patch (yet to be noticed by the maintainers) the Sql Server transition  has been solid.

We aren’t using any esoteric modules or themes so most of our experience is Drupal Core with custom themes, running in multisite mode. We are using the Domain Access module and the TinyMCE editor and have only dabbled so far in views and custom content types. So a pretty vanilla setup other than the heavily customized theme and multiple domain setup. Domain Access is a pretty powerful tool by the way if you are ever in the need for affiliate type site arrangements.

Really our only issues right now are:

  • the public:// scheme for locating files on the file system and creating relative links is too tied to linux/apache. You can’t run your site from a drive other than C:/ While there is a specific document explaining how to use NFS on linux, you can’t use a virtual directory in IIS AND use the built in upload feature at the same time. This is a pain in the case of a load balanced server. Solution is to use custom code or some time of replication scheme. I was able to use mklink and make it work, but didn’t release that way as most sysadmins are uncomfortable with that tool.
  • Occasionally, I have had some odd errors that pop in and then disappear never to be seen again.
  • When DB errors have occurred it is because of upgrades and schema updates from modules. My patch should correct most of these, but when you have a problem, you don’t have a small army of developers with answers like you do when running Drupal on LAMP.
  • Our Windows/.net oriented staff has had a learning curve on the admin skills to install, deploy, and maintain Drupal. Not a tiny issue when it gets right down to it.

That isn’t too bad for a system that only ran on Linux the last release, version 6.

Not too dramatic, so that is the really good news. Yes son, you can run your Drupal on Windows.

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