Major improvements to Drupal VM - PHP 7, MariaDB, Multi-OS

Drupal VM - Vagrant and Ansible Virtual Machine for Drupal Development

For the past couple years, I've been building Drupal VM to be an extremely-tunable, highly-performant, super-simple development environment. Since MidCamp earlier this year, the project has really taken off, with almost 200 stars on GitHub and a ton of great contributions and ideas for improvement (some implemented, others rejected).

In the time since I wrote Developing for Drupal with Vagrant and VMs, I've focused on meeting all my defined criteria for the perfect local development environment. And now, I'm able to say that I use Drupal VM when developing all my projects—as it is now flexible and fast enough to emulate any production environment I use for various Drupal projects.

Easy PHP 7 testing with CentOS 7 and MariaDB

After a few weeks of work, Drupal VM now officially supports running PHP 7 (currently, 7.0.0 alpha 2) on CentOS 7 with MariaDB, or you can even tweak the settings to compile PHP from source yourself (following to the PHP role's documentation).

Doing this allows you to see how your own projects will fare when run with the latest (and fastest) version of PHP. Drupal 8 performance improves dramatically under PHP 7, and most other PHP applications will have similar gains.

Read PHP 7 on Drupal VM for more information.

Other major improvements and features

Here are some of the other main features that have recently been added or improved:

  • Flexible database support: MySQL, MariaDB, or (soon) Percona are all supported out of the box, pretty easily. See guide for Use MariaDB instead of MySQL.
  • Flexible OS support: Drupal VM officially supports Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 12.04, CentOS 7, or CentOS 6 out of the box; other OSes like RHEL, Fedora, Arch and Debian may also work, but are not supported. See: Using different base OSes.
  • Use with any Drupal deployment methodology — works with any dev workflow, including Drush make files, local Drupal codebases, and multisite installations.
  • Automatic local drush alias configuration
  • 'Batteries included' — developer utilities and essentials like Varnish, Solr, MailHog, XHProf are easy to enable or disable.
  • Production-ready, security-hardened configuration you can install on DigitalOcean
  • Thoroughly-documented — check out the Drupal VM Wiki on GitHub
  • First class support for any host OS — Mac, Linux or Windows
  • Drupal version agnostic — works great with 6, 7, or 8.
  • Easy configuration of thousands of parameters (powered by a few dozen component-specific Ansible roles) through the config.yml file.

I'd especially like to thank the dozens of people who have filed issues against the project to add needed functionality or fix bugs (especially for multi-platform, multi-database support!), and have helped improve Drupal VM through over 130 issues and 17 pull requests.

There are dozens of other VM-based or Docker/container-based local development solutions out there, and Drupal VM is one of many, but I think that—even if you don't end up using it for your own work—you will find sound ideas and best practices in environment configuration in the project.


Nice work! I have a quick question. Do Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 run on PHP 7 without any patches or do we need to apply patches?

I tested D8 HEAD with no patches, and it should continue to work pretty well. The only things that do have any problems are edge cases that Drupal 8's extensive test suite can find, but even those things are getting fixed pretty rapidly in PHP 7 HEAD.

I didn't personally try D7, but others have, and it seems things work pretty well for the most part—at least as far as core is concerned.