Just a few weeks ago Four Kitchens announced that they would be releasing for download their derivative of Drupal, Pressflow.

The advantages of Pressflow over Drupal are that it is optimized specially for PHP 5 and any reference to PHP4 compatibility has been discarded; while this fork is now only workable with the MySQL database rather than with PostgreSQL and (beginning with Drupal 7) SQLite too.

Previously I would have stated that Drupal is fine for a small or mid-sized website and would have advised a more robust CMS such as eZ Publish or ExpressionEngine for a large site.

There has though over the last year been some noteworthy contributions to the Drupal project that are of a vital assistant in maintaining an effective large-scale Drupal site, with Pressflow being part of this.

I was quite keen to try out this offering from Four Kitchens, especially as they claim that the ability to jump from one CMS to another is fluid and bug free.

Using it on rss001.com (my usual Drupal site for experimenting on) I haven’t yet noticed any clashes with existing third-party modules or any other issues caused by Pressflow.

Ideally, I need to create some benchflow tests to compare one version of the CMS to the other.
Other exciting (and confusing!) news is the announcement of a derivative of Pressflow called Project Mercury and which has just been released as an Alpha candidate by Chapter Three.

Using Pressflow as its starting block, it also includes the HTTP accelerator Vanish and more advanced use of caching and page compression.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this Drupal side project and will be trying it out once it reaches beta candidate release.

Other than the two alternatives above, if you do run a Drupal site and have performance issues then here are some tips to speed up your site.

1.It may seem an obvious thing to state, but make sure that you have the right hosting deal for your needs. If you have a shared hosting package then you don’t need to spend too long wondering why your site is lagging if you have 10,000 unique visitors per day. Once you reach a certain number of visitors then tweaking a site won’t matter as you’ll need to upgrade to a virtual or dedicated server.
2.Download and use JavaScript Aggregator and CSS Gzip.
These will compress the Javascript and CSS resulting in less CPU load on the server
3.Take a closer look at advanced caching solutions Cache Router, Memcache and Authcache. Be warned though as none of these three are plug in and go modules so make sure you read the documentation carefully first.
4.The search function on a large Drupal site will grind to a halt. It this happens then take a look at Apache Solr Search Integration.
5.Enable MySQL query caching.
6.Use a PHP accelerator such as eAccelerator or Xcachealthough you’ll need to be on a virtual or dedicated server for this.

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