Using Drupal to run an intranet

I have been looking for ways to replace a Sharepoint driven intranet with something else. The driving force behind this has mainly been one of platform compatibility. Sharepoint is great if you use Office and Internet Explorer on Windows. For all other users it is a usability nightmare.

There are lots of hosted or shrink-wrapped solutions for sale but the market of intranet solutions is now so mature that I felt there had to be open source solutions.

I found Alfresco, LifeRay and a few others and installed most of them. I was perplexed, however, by the sheer amount of features that were enabled out of the box. I really prefer something that starts off light and can then expand according to my needs. KnowledgeTree felt lighter but didn’t do much more than document management and I knew I also wanted a wiki as well as forums.

For a while I tried to integrate KnowledgeTree with MediaWiki and phpBB for a best-of-breeds solution. I couldn’t get all of the them to play nicely together and allow users to authenticate using accounts from a Windows Active Directory.

drupalorg

In the end I settled on Drupal. Why? It starts off light but has a truck-load of modules that can be added. I like the structure of the code. And it feels fresh – perhaps almost too light. I would have liked to see some professional free themes targeted for intranets, they would have helped to sell in the concept internally in competition with professional offerings.

The question of the authentication integration with Active Directory was solved very nicely by the module “Webserver authentication” and adding HTTP authentication to the web site in Apache where the web server is configured to use the bindings provided by Samba‘s WinBind. The only thing to remember is to set the Drupal administrator to the the same login name as the administrator in the Windows domain. After that you should disable the log out menu option in Drupal. The only thing remaining is to add some Javascript code to be able to provide a link to make the browser forget the cookie in order to force a relogin.

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