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 ●  07 September 2015

Easiest ways to start playing with Drupal 8 and (optionally) PHP 7

Drupal 8 has been in development for a really, really long time. It's getting to the point where things are stabilising enough that we are seeing Drupal 8 sites in the wild (this being one of them). As of Sept 4th 8.x-beta15 was released, which provides a beta-to-beta upgrade path, so you will be able to easily upgrade to future betas and release candidates. There has never been a better time to start building on Drupal 8.

If you are feeling particularly brave you can run Drupal 8 alongside PHP 7, which is also in fairly stable beta state. PHP 7 is blazing fast. (This site runs on nightly builds of PHP 7, but I am a crazy person).

There are a couple of very easy ways to get Drupal 8 and (optionally) PHP 7 up and running, detailed below.

Disclaimer: while the core data model and critical APIs are locked it is generally advised to wait until a release candidate before moving critical production websites to Drupal 8.

Using Acquia Cloud (Free, no PHP 7 support)

Acquia Cloud now lets you install Drupal 8 in a free environment with a single click. Doesn't get much easier than that.

With the free account you get both a Dev and Staging environment, ssh access, and a git repo. You can even sync your new Drupal 8 site to a local development environment by installing Acquia Dev Desktop.

You can't try out PHP 7 with Drupal 8 on Acquia Cloud (yet).

Using Drupal VM to to install in local VM (VirtualBox)

Another simple installation method is Drupal VM. This tool will allow you to very quickly create a Virtualbox VM to play with or use for local development, along with some useful tools to get started.


  1. Clone the Drupal VM git repository 
    git clone
  2. Copy the two example config yaml files into place
    cp example.drupal.make.yml drupal.make.yml
    cp example.config.yml config.yml
  3. Modify config.yml and change make the following changes (if you want PHP7):
    php_version: "7.0"
      - libapache2-mod-php7.0
      - php7.0-common
      - php7.0-cli
      - php7.0-dev
      - php7.0-fpm
      - libpcre3-dev
      - php-gd
      - php-curl
      - php-imap
      - php-json
      - php-opcache
    php_mysql_package: php-mysql
  4. The auto-installation of `xdebug` and `xhprof` are currently not supported if you wish to run PHP 7. Remove or uncomment the lines from the `installed_extras` setting if you wish to run on PHP 7.
  5. Run vagrant plugin install vagrant-hostsupdater, this will manage your /etc/hosts records for you
  6. Run sudo ansible-galaxy install -r provisioning/requirements.txt --force [Linux/Mac only]
  7. Run vagrant up

Visit in a browser and you should be greeted with your shiny new Drupal 8 site.