March 3, 2010


After well over 1,000 hours of development and thanks to the help of many legendary open source engineers, Chapter Three is proud to announce the release of PANTHEON Mercury 1.0, the quick-start server environment for those looking for the best in Drupal performance. You can launch Mercury now with our free Amazon Machine Images (AMI) or follow our install instructions yourself using any Debian Jaunty server. Commercially supported hosting options will be announced in the coming weeks.

What is Mercury?

Mercury is a standardized best-practice server configuration (aka "stack") for running your Drupal website that takes the best of the collected community practices, combines them with cutting-edge open-source tools for high-performance hosting, and delivers it all in a complete package. With Mercury, you can launch a speedy new Drupal server in less than five minutes.

In addition to deploying the required technologies to host Drupal (Apache, MySql, PHP etc), Mercury includes a number of "optional" elements that are rapidly becoming must-haves for any ambitious installation. We give you Varnish for bulletproof protection from the Digg/Drudge effect, Memcached as an application cache to keep your logged-in/admin pages zippy, and Apachesolr to deliver faster and more relevant content search results.

Mercury also implements Pressflow, a high-performance variant of Drupal core similar to the version that runs itself (handy comparison chart) and provides critical support for high-availability and high-performance requirements.

What's New in 1.0?

Changes to the hosting stack in 1.0 have been restricted to bug-fixes and minor tweaks with one big exception: we've implemented the BCFG2 system configuration management systems, meaning users who launch today can take advantage of innovations and fixes that land months from now. Lemme lemme upgrade ya!

The system remains 100% open-source, and there's no "mothership" or lock-in here. Our BCFG2 setup works by pulling configuration from our public Launchpad repository and serving as its own master. You're free to turn it off once the system launches, merge your own changes, or simply continue pulling updates as they become available.

We think this is a game-changer for Drupal hosting. With this innovation, we can offer a system which remains free and open-source, where you keep root access, but where we can also deliver incremental improvements and new services in a completely transparent fashion. Simply put: if you start with this version, expect to stay on the bandwagon as we continue pushing the envelope with best-practice development, deployment and hosting infrastructure.

Already using Mercury?

If you've been braving our beta releases we'd love to learn from your experience. Please take a few minutes to complete this 8 question survey. This feedback will help us understand how people are using Mercury and what we should focus on in the future to improve it.

Standing On The Shoulders of Giants

Our tagline is "Stand on the Shoulders of Giants" and we're serious about it. None if this would be possible without the enormous efforts of literally thousands of brilliant individuals going back to Linus Torvalds, RMS, and beyond. Somewhat more specifically, we'd like to thank:

  • David Strauss of Four Kitchens, who basically wrote the whole 1.0 roadmap into his Scalable Drupal Infrastructure presentation, is responsible for Pressflow, and has be an continuous source of moral support and technical inspiration (and vice-versa) throughout this process.
  • Our open-source comrades from #varnish, #bcfg2 and #libcloud, particularly desai, sojl, phk, bjorn, polvi and pquerna.
  • Greg Chaix and Damien Tournaud, who helped pioneer the use of Varnish with Drupal and provided invaluable initial support and documentation.
  • Dries, of course.
  • Khalid Baheyeldin of 2bits who's articles comprise a solid corpus of "how to" for high-performance Drupal, as well as Matt Westgate, Robert Douglass, Steve Rude, Narayan Newton, Jeremy Allare and the whole crowd of usual suspects from the high-performance group for the code and knowhow.
  • Our early adopters, for being brave, not listening to the "not ready for production" disclaimers, and running real websites with this thing. Without all the real-world feedback, we'd probably still be too nervous to call it 1.0. ;)

The list could go on for quite a bit longer. Really, it wouldn't be possible without you, so if you've so much as clapped at a presentation, give yourself a pat on the back. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible!