How to Setup the Drupal Content Management System for Your Website/Blog

Guide to Installing the Drupal CMS

How to Setup the Drupal Content Management System for Your Website/Blog

by Christopher Heng,

This article was written in 2008 (or therabouts) in the time when Drupal 5.x was the current version. It is NOT relevant for the current versions of Drupal today.

Drupal is an open source content management system (or "CMS") that you can use to manage your website or blog from an online interface. Unlike programs like WordPress, it has a certain reputation of being difficult to install and configure. This article is the first of a series of tutorials that will take you through the process of setting up, configuring and using Drupal for your site or blog.

In this chapter of the tutorial, we will set up Drupal. By the end of this chapter, you will have a working installation of Drupal that you can use for your site.


  1. Drupal

    Drupal can be obtained from At the time this was written, both Drupal 5.x and 4.x are available, where x is some number. This guide deals exclusively with the Drupal 5.x series, and the instructions given here will probably not apply to the 4.x series. In other words, get the current version of the Drupal 5.x series. At the time I wrote this, 5.5 was when I wrote this, but will probably be different by the time you read this.

  2. A Web Host with PHP and MySQL

    Your site needs to be hosted on a web host that provides both PHP and MySQL. Most commercial web hosts provide this. You may not succeed in setting Drupal up on a free web host even if they provide PHP and MySQL, since most of them disable PHP features needed by Drupal.

    Drupal, like many CMSes, is also resource-hungry, and you may want to take a look at the article The Fine Print in Web Hosting: Resource Usage Limits so that you can make long-term plans for your website more realistically.

How to Install Drupal

  1. The file will be packaged in an archive with the extension ".tar.gz". To extract the files from the archive, you need an archiver that can handle tar archives. If your system does not have such an archiver, as may be the case if you use Windows, get one from the Free Archivers page and install it. Then use it to extract the files to a directory (that is, folder) on your computer.

  2. Upload all the files to your web server. If you want your blog to be displayed the moment your visitors type your domain name, put the files in your main web directory. For many hosts, the main web directory is named "public_html" or "www". This tutorial will assume that you have placed the files in that folder. There are advantages and disadvantages to either choice, that is, to installing Drupal in the main folder vs setting it up in a sub-folder. You can read more about it from

  3. Create a database for Drupal using whatever method your web host has provided to you. For most web hosts, this involves logging in to your website's control panel and creating a database from there. The database name and your user name can be anything you like. Record (eg on a piece of paper) the name of your database, your user name and your password. If the control panel or other documentation tells you how you should connect to your database, write that down as well. For example, some web hosts tell you that your software should just connect to "localhost". Others give you a specific hostname like "". Whatever it is, note it down.

    Caution: some web hosts modify the user name that you specify by giving it a prefix. For example, if you specified a user name of "example", they may change it to "youraccountname_example". They may also do this with the database name that you give. When you have finished creating the database, note carefully the names that are displayed by the control panel - they may not be exactly the names you specified. Record these provided names instead. They will be the ones you need to use later.

  4. Now use your browser and connect to your site. If you installed the CMS software into your main web directory, simply typing your domain name, for example "", into your browser should do the trick. If you installed it in a subdirectory, you will have to type "".

  5. You will be presented with a screen that asks for the following information:

    1. Database type: leave it selected at mysql unless you know otherwise.

    2. Database name: enter the name of the database that you set up earlier.

    3. Database username: enter the user name that you created (or was given to you) earlier.

    4. Database password: enter the password you set in the previous step.

    5. Advanced options: click this link to expand the advanced options. If your database hostname is not "localhost", enter the correct hostname into the "Database host". For example, if your hostname is "", enter the latter here. Do not enter things like "http://" or anything like that. If you were told that you need to enter a database port, enter it in the "Database port" field, otherwise leave it blank.

      You can leave the "Table prefix" blank, unless you have 2 or more Drupal installations using the same database. In this case, enter a different prefix for the table for each site here. For example, if you are using the same database for and, enter "mysite" (without the quotes) for Table prefix for your first site, and "othersite" (without the quotes) as the table prefix for the second site. Otherwise, both Drupal installations will use the same table for their data, and your posts for one site will show up on the other site as well.

    When you are done, click "Save configuration".

  6. If all goes well, Drupal will display a "Drupal installation complete" page. Click the link given to go to your new site.

  7. The front page of your new Drupal site will now load. You will need to create your administrator account. Click the "create the first account" link. This account is all-powerful, and is not unlike the "Administrator" on Windows systems and the "root" user on Unix-type systems. It can do anything even if permissions are not set correctly.

  8. Enter any username that you want to use. Also enter a valid email address, so that if you lose your password, your Drupal scripts can send it to you by email. In the next screen, Drupal will tell you the password that it has created for you. Either write it down, or change it immediately by entering a new one in the "Password" and "Confirm password" fields. Set your time zone if it is not correct, and click "Submit". You can ignore the other fields.

  9. In spite of the impression given by the Drupal installer, you have only finished the first part of the Drupal installation process. The Drupal installer does not do a complete job, as you will find later. Nonetheless, at this stage, you are logged into the Drupal interface. If you look at the left hand side of your screen, you will see a few menu items. Two important ones are the "Create content" and the "Administer" links.

    • The "Create content" menu item allows you to add content to your website or blog.

    • The "Administer" menu item is where you configure Drupal so that your site/blog appears and functions the way you want.

    Click the "Administer" menu item now.

  10. The first time you enter the Administer screen, you will get an alarming red box at the top of your screen telling you that there are problems detected with your installation. Don't worry. This is normal. It happens with every installation. They aren't actually problems. As mentioned earlier, the Drupal installer did an incomplete job, so you will have to finish the process manually.

  11. Click the "status report" link in the red box.

  12. On the "Status report" page, you will be greeted with yet another two red boxes. Again, this is normal.

  13. Click the link "file system settings page" first. You will be brought to a "File system" page, with the initial message telling you that the directory "files" has been created. Leave everything at its default, unless you have some specific requirement, and simply click "Save configuration".

  14. Look at the side panel and click the "Administer" menu item. You will be returned to the Administer screen. You have solved one of the so-called problems. You will now have to solve the other. Click the "status report" link in the red box again. In the "Status report" screen, you will find that you only have one more "problem" to resolve. Click the "run cron manually" link to fix the problem. Once you do that, you will be returned to a soothing green Status report. You can breathe now.

  15. If you wish, you can click some of the other links on the screen to take a look around your new CMS. Otherwise, simply click the "Log out" link on the side panel.

That's it. Congratulations. Your installation of Drupal is now complete. In the next chapter, we will customize and configure Drupal so that it can be used for a blog.

Next: How to Set Up a Blog with Drupal

Copyright © 2008 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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