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What is Aegir?
Aegir is a set of Drupal modules that helps you maintain your Drupal sites. It is a powerful hosting system that can create, deploy and manage Drupal sites.
Once Aegir is installed, you can setup a Drupal site in just a few clicks. Aegir creates the web server's site configuration files, the site's database, runs the Drupal installation process and reloads the relevant services, all automatically.
How does Aegir work?
Aegir provides you with a simple Drupal based control panel for managing your entire network of websites.
To deploy a new site you simply create a new Site node. That site node then provides you with a collection of tasks that can be executed against that site (Backup, Restore, Migrate (upgrade), Clone, Disable, Delete and more).
What can Aegir do?
One of the great architectural features of Drupal is that you can have multiple web sites that share a common platform of modules, themes and other code used to manage content and design. If you make a change to the platform (e.g. update a module, change a theme, etc.) all sites based on the platform are immediately updated. However, each site has its own database and file system that can be tailored to the specific needs of the site.
In addition to the concept of platforms, Drupal lets you create installation profiles. A platform can have one or more profiles, which allows you create different sites based on your choice of platform and profile.
Multiple Site Installations
Aegir provides a web interface to define a platform and then create multiple sites based on that platform. Aegir creates the site database, site-specific file folders and the web server files that point browser requests to the right place.
Through the Aegir interface, you can create backups, restore a specific backup, disable or delete individual sites. Thus Aegir is very helpful in tracking and managing lots of sites spread over several platforms. Moreover, you can perform bulk tasks on all sites based on a particular platform.
Whether you are building a platform from scratch or simply extending or upgrading an existing platform, Aegir can significantly speed up development and minimize impacts to sites already in production.
With Aegir you can clone a site to the same or a different platform. Say you have a number of sites running on a Platform A and you decide to upgrade a platform module, but you want to test your sites to make sure they are compatible with the upgrade. Using Aegir, you can create another platform, Platform B, that is identical except for the upgraded module. Then you can use clone to create a copy of one of your sites from Platform A to Platform B. The database and all your files are copied by Aegir. You can then test your cloned site without worrying that you might impact the existing production site.
Once you are satisfied and your cloned site is working properly, you can then migrate one or all of your sites from Platform A to Platform B.
This process can be very useful for building out new platforms, troubleshooting issues, etc.
The Aegir interface can also be used to manage platforms and web sites on different web servers, which allows you to tailor a hosting architecture to your own needs.
Scheduled Tasks (Cron)
Most Drupal sites rely on recurring scheduled tasks (also known as cron jobs) to perform operations like checking for updates, cleaning up log files, etc. Aegir can be configured to run cron jobs for hosted sites on regular intervals without having to use other tools or configure cron jobs manually on a site-by-site basis.
Where can I learn more about Aegir?
The Aegir project has its own community site, as well as a friendly IRC channel: #aegir on irc.freenode.net. Both are full of helpful users that are happy to share their experience and knowledge on using Aegir.
The community site is home to the Handbook, the official documentation for the project. Each article is tagged with one or more user experience/access levels required to make use of the explained Aegir features.
Sysadmin level is generally for users with the root access to their server, who are responsible for installation and configuration of entire Aegir system environments.
Hosted level is for users, who are using a hosted Aegir, without access to the server root, with features limited to those allowed by their host (often with Aegir UI changed and/or simplified).
Client level is for users who only have access to their own sites and are not able to manage all Aegir features, accounts or the server/system.
Welcome to our community, and thanks for using Aegir!