Custom Distributions on Acquia Cloud: Part 1 -- Drush Make

Every developer has a slightly different approach to building their Drupal sites. I’ve tried just about every approach, and they all have their merits, but my favorite is Drush Make. Before joining Acquia, I didn’t realize Acquia Cloud supported Drush Make, but I was delighted to discover that I was wrong. Assuming I’m not the only person who had missed this fact, I wanted to spend a little time highlighting where this exists and how I’m using it.

Getting to the Goods

Acquia Cloud supports a number of different workflows to fit your preferred set of development best practices. The workflow I’m specifically leveraging can be found in the Acquia Cloud workflow UI. Before I begin with this though, a couple quick caveats:

  1. If you have an Acquia Cloud Free environment that you’re playing in, I’d really encourage you to not reuse an existing one in order to avoid the messiness that can come with overwriting existing code. Creating a new Free Tier subscription specific to your distro is the easiest way to play with this. You can do this here:
  2. Don’t forget to add a public ssh key to this subscription once it’s operational. You’ll need that later.

Once you have a new subscription, you can visit your workflow page and use the “Install Drupal” link in the Dev environment drop-down to get your site up and running.
This is going to place you onto a page with a list of commonly available Drupal distributions. Skip to the bottom of this page where you can enter a URL to a Drupal site archive or make file.
If you want to use a Drupal distribution that is not shown on the list but is posted on, copy and paste tarball link from it's project page .

Drupalist Note: Even if the project's git repo has a make file, you should still use the tarball link because’s approach to make files is different enough from a traditional make file that Acquia Cloud can't use it, but there are corresponding tarballs for all of those distributions, so you can still make use of them.

Alternatively, if you have a custom install profile that follows typical Drush make conventions, Acquia Cloud can build that make file for you. I have a distribution I maintain for one of my sites that specializes in community image management. This is not an endorsement for others to use this distro, it’s lightly maintained when I have time, but it makes for a good example.

If you’d like to use it for example purposes, you can find its stub make file here:

I’m just going to paste that into the url textfield and re-affirm for Acquia Cloud that it is indeed a make file (My README.txt is doing double duty in this case).


Click finish and the system will deploy the code for your distribution and commit it to your git repository on Acquia Cloud.

Installing your Distribution

Once Acquia Cloud deploys your distribution's code, simply click on the orange “Set up my site” button. Acquia Cloud does a number of things to make your life easier such as pre-allocating a database and populating all the connection information into Drupal for you. Just select the distribution you want installed in the Drupal wizard and complete the rest of the steps.


Once completed, you should have a new Drupal installation of your custom profile/distribution. If desired, you can clone this site locally a number of different ways including:

In the second blog of this series, we’ll discuss maintaining the code of a distribution on Acquia Cloud, and finish with a third blog on maintaining content in a dev/staging/prod environment running a distribution.