Drupal: from a drop in the ocean to a big fish in the CMS world

Drupal’s founder, Dries Buytaert tells all about the Drupal project: its history, where it is today and where it is going.

Drupal started out as a college experiment.

In 2000, permanent Internet connections were at a premium for University of Antwerp students, so Dries Buytaert set up a wireless bridge between student dorms to share an ADSL modem connection among eight students. This led Buytaert to work on a small news site with a built-in Web board, allowing the group of friends to leave each other notes and messages. While looking for a suitable domain name for his Web board, Buytaert settled for 'drop.org' after he made a typo to see if the name 'dorp.org' was still available. Dorp is the Dutch word for 'village', which was considered a fitting name for the small community. The message board, which got its name via a typo evolved in to an open source project called Drupal in 2001. Drupal is derived from the Dutch word "druppel", which means "drop" as in a water droplet.

The Open Source content management system, which is written in PHP and runs on a LAMP stack, now powers about 200,000 public facing Web sites and numerous intranet sites around the world. Needless to say, it has thousands of contributors.

In this interview Dries Buytaert, the man who finds himself the accidental leader of a project, tells us all about the project which manifested from a chain of unexpected events.

When did you start getting interested in technology?

I don't know how old I was when I was first introduced to computers, but the first computer I programmed for was a Commodore 64. My dad bought me three little books that taught kids programming in BASIC on the C64. I think I must have been eight years old or something, I'm not entirely sure.

What were you favourite computer games growing up and what are they now?

I've never really been into computer games, but I did like Command and Conquer a lot, when I was younger. I prefer strategy games over first-person shooters.

Even though I'm not big on computer games, I did buy a copy of World of Warcraft. After more than one year, I managed to get a Troll Mage to Level 54 -- but that is only because some of my friends helped me. Chances are high that my Mage has the worst possible gear in the entire game. I wish I had more time to play World of Warcraft, it's actually quite fun.

My best friend organises a big LAN-party every year, where we play first-person shooters for 18 hours straight. That probably accounts for 60 per cent of my yearly gaming time. It also means that my character is dead for roughly 16 hours, and that I'm fiddling my thumbs waiting to be resurrected.

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Dahna McConnachie

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