Drupal Distributions vs Installation Profiles?

Drupal Distributions vs Installation Profiles?

28Nov 2012

Since we use a live chat support system, we recognized that some of our website visitors who come via organic search, do not know what installation profiles are as they are new to Drupal. Specifically the difference between a Drupal distribution and installation profile.

The Confusion

I had a talk this week with one of our non-techy team member. She asked me "Hey Jan what is a profile?". I explained her, it is an "installation profile" which we use for all our Drupal themes so users can easily build a Drupal site which looks like our demo. She understood and then I told her "It is the same like a distribution." I shouldn't have given this comment. After that she was totally confused. Why the heck we have different names for the same thing?

Drupal Installation profiles

"Installation profiles combine core Drupal, contributed modules, themes, and pre-defined configuration into one download. Installation profiles provide specific site features and functions for a specific purpose or type of site. They make it possible to quickly set up a complex, use-specific site in fewer steps than if installing and configuring elements individually."

(drupal.org)

Drupal installation profiles versus Drupal distributions

Drupal Distributions

"Distributions provide site features and functions for a specific type of site as a single download containing Drupal core, contributed modules, themes, and pre-defined configuration. They make it possible to quickly set up a complex, use-specific site in fewer steps than if installing and configuring elements individually."

(drupal.org)

When I read those 2 definitions, I see no real difference. Do you? When I try to think more about it my blood pressure is starting to raise. Let's step back and look at the context. For me "installation profile" is the technical term for developers to pack their web application so people can INSTALL it on their server with ease. A "distribution" has it's own branded name like OpenPublish, Commerce Kickstart or Recruiter. A distribution is an installation profile with the goal to DISTRIBUTE a specific installation profile for the community with a specific purpose.

On the installation profile drupal page, there is one sentence which can be easily skipped.

"More complex install profiles are sometimes also known as Drupal distributions or "distros" and are sometimes hosted off of Drupal.org but can now also be hosted on Drupal.org."

What is complex? Can I create a simple web application with Drupal and still call it a distribution? How do you make the difference? Do you make any? Have you been confused when you started with installation profiles?

Do you need a tutorial how to install our Drupal Themes' installation profiles?"

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