Drupal Multisite hosting?


I am looking to provide Drupal Hosting using the multisite drupal Instal option. Does anyone have any experience using Virtualmin/Webmin to help manage this kind of a setup.




Hi Todd,

While I haven’t done any work with the multi-site Drupal stuff, I know someone who has. I believe all he did is set it up under a particular Virtual Server, then setup a number of Alias Servers to point to that particular domain.

Then, from within Drupal, he configured the various domains to load different Drupal pages.

Long story short though, multi-site Drupal can work just fine with Virtualmin :slight_smile:

I’m trying to setup this same thing now. The problem with using alias servers is that I can’t do email addresses and a database for them. Which leads back to Sub-ervers…only those get their own public_html content folders which I don’t need. It think this is going to require a special Sub-server configuration that creates a user, database, and emails but points the $HOME content area to the parent Virtual-Server’s public_html.

Anyone have any ideas on how to go about that?

CentOS 5
Virtualmin GPL

(‘Sub-ervers’ should say ‘Sub-Servers’)

I found this on the drupal site today. check the last post on the page.


might something like that work?

So, I’m going to be digging into this very problem pretty soon. Though I currently do not plan to run separate databases (just different domain landing pages for Webmin.com and Usermin.com and Virtualmin.com)…so it’s a different set of problems. But, from a Virtualmin perspective it is pretty similar.

Anyway, you can do mail boxes (I’m pretty sure) for Aliases. And, you could create your databases manually. That’d be one way to go about it.

All that said, unless your sites are really identical (except name and content), I’m not sure there’s a real benefit to a single install of Drupal. Upgrades of Drupal core can be easily handled across all of your domains by Virtualmin. A Drupal installation is tiny (about 8MB)…even with a ton of modules it’s only a few tens of MB.

I dunno. I’m going to be tinkering with this some, it might be something we want to fiddle with in Virtualmin…allowing databases and more of the other features in Aliases, so they fit this deployment better.

I’ll ask Jamie to have a look at this thread and comment on how he thinks something like this ought to work.

To me the biggest advantage to the single install is that any custom modules or code I write for one client can be pushed out to all the others without needing to maintain copies across multiple installations.

Well I am not sure how to get Virtual to do it…So I don’t know how easy that would be.

But I do like the way Multi-Site deployments with drupal work.

I have can have set of modules and themes that go with all installs, and then I or the user’s can install other themes and modules on top. Then I just use svn to keep the main Drupal code up to date.

But If I can use VirtualMin to do the same thing then I am all for it, where can I learn about how to do this.


After sleeping on it I think all that we need to get Drupal multisite working smoothly is a Virtual Server for the main domain and Sub-Servers for the additional domains, but we need a way to reference the parent Virtual Server’s home folder in the file system.

What I mean is on the ‘Apache Website’ page when editing a ‘Server Templates’, in the text field called ‘Directives and settings for new websites’ we need a way to set the DocumentRoot and Directory options to $PARENT/public_html or something like that instead of $HOME/public_html. That should then work perfectly, because now the Sub-Server would point to the Drupal Root directory. The new Sub-server can still have email, it’s own database, it’s own database user, it’s own DNS zone records, etc.

The two issues I see with this that maybe Joe can answer:

  1. Is there a $PARENT type variable like I described that we can use? If not, how hard would it be add into Virtualmin?

  2. When/If the the Sub-Server is deleted will VirtualMin try to delete the DocumentRoot for the entire Drupal multisite? If so, is there a way to turn that off in the Server Template?


I’d still recommend using alias domains here if possible - they can have their own mail aliases, if you go to Server Configuration -> Email Settings, and change ‘Mail aliases mode’ to ‘Catchall forwarding’. As for databases, perhaps they could all be created in the real domain instead of the aliases?

Alternately, you can specify a different DocumentRoot in the template with a line like :

[code:1]DocumentRoot $PARENT_DOMAIN_HOME/public_html[/code:1]

This won’t be deleted if the sub-server is.

Actually, I think there is merit in Sub-servers for this. If we, for example, use this model for Virtualmin.com, Webmin.com and Usermin.com, we want actual mailboxes for two of those domains rather than aliases.

From an Apache perspective, we do just want a ServerAlias (I can’t think of any reason having a full virtual host configuration would be preferred, though it does seem like it would work with the DocumentRoot idea).

But, when folks are using wholly separate databases and such, they’re going to generally need mailboxes.

This might actually be a job for a plugin, though I’m not sure how it would fit into the normal virtual server creation flow.

+1 for a Drupal multisite plugin.

I don’t know any automated way of managing a Drupal multisite setup with Virtualmin/Webmin. This can be done manually though. To do so find attached file about Drupal 6.x MULTISITE CONFIGURATION steps.

Source: Drupal 6.13 tarbal INSTALL.txt file

I’ve been able to get this to work by using Alias Servers from one main Virtual Server. I use a separate Virtual Server for each version of Drupal. (I have some sites on 4.7, 5, and 6; plus will add 7 someday).

This has worked well for me since I mostly use Google Apps for email so I turn off email for the alias domains and edit the zone to add in the Google Apps MX & cname records. I have a few domains that don’t have real mailboxes but just forward so for those I use the Virtualmin email setting to forward them to the right place.

The only issue that still remains is that I have one or two clients that I want to provide mailboxes for in Vitualmin, but since the domains are alias domains I have been unable to figure out how to create real mailboxes for those users. Any help would be appreciated.

If anyone wants more information about my setup for Drupal Multisites feel free to ask.

BTW: I’m using GPL

It looks like from the next post that there is not much that’s Virtualmin specific about Drupal Multi-site.

Is there anything else you think we should know, AE?


Confirming that Drupal Multisite hosting works with Virtualmin GPL 3.80. We used this setup for more than 1 year. Rock solid. Plus emails are working for all Drupal Multisites :slight_smile:

To view settings find attached screenshot

Notes about screenshot

  1. top-level-server.com contains the Drupal multi-sites installation and files
  2. alias-server-*.com contains nothing. Just alias of all Drupal multi-sites.
  3. sub-server-*.com contains any other websites

Hey, Thanks. What does this do for ya? You can’t really offer the peeps the App Installer, for example, because they don’t really have their own domain, right?

So, is the market for this setup people who “only” need a website, and maybe email? Do any of your clients outgrow this setup, and then do you move them to their own domain?

Do you mind saying which clients? Is it like schools in a district or are you doing a wide mix of sites?



I’ll offer that I have seen a number of providers offer a given user space… and that user basically resells that space in the form of a Drupal or Wordpress website, hosted using a multi-site option. That gives a lot of clients what they want – a website and email.

The Virtual Server owner would handle maintenance of the domain, email accounts, and such through Virtualmin, which a lot of clients wouldn’t want to get involved in. Some folks just want things to be setup and working, and don’t want to think about how to create an email account or how to setup Drupal.

Hopefully, the original poster can offer some thoughts on their setup, I’d be interested in hearing a little about that too!


Anybody tinkered with Aegir + Virtualmin yet? I’ve been using Aegir by itself for about 6 months and it rocks, just pondering if it’s easiest to have WHMCS interact with Aegir directly, or if I should get Virtualmin to create a site by asking Aegir to do so…I figure either way it’ll be a series of drush command line calls…


To my simple mind, it seems that maybe Virtulalmin could be used to maintain the root instance(s) of Drupal, which are cloned by Aegir. That would be the simplest form of overlap, but I am sure there’s something more sophisticated that could be done.