How Does Acquia Relate to Drupal?

Drupal is and shall hopefully remain a free, open-source platform.

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Drupal is a free Content Management System (CMS). Acquia is a company that offers paid Drupal services, and also freely contributes important code to the Drupal community.

The confusion between the two arises from the fact that the same person, Dries Buytaert, started both projects. In 2001, Buytaert released Drupal as open-source software. Since then, he and thousands of others have worked to craft Drupal into the popular open-source CMS it is today. You can download, use, and modify Drupal, and thousands of Drupal modules, for free.

The History of Acquia

In 2007, after several years of leading Drupal development in his spare time, Buytaert announced he was launching a Drupal company: Acquia. He was nearing the end of his Ph.D. studies and decided to make his passion for Drupal into a livelihood. He explained his thinking on his website:

So what is missing? It's two things: (i) a company that supports me in providing leadership to the Drupal community ... and (ii) a company that is to Drupal what Ubuntu or RedHat are to Linux. If we want Drupal to grow by at least a factor of 10, keeping Drupal a hobby project as it is today, and taking a regular programming job at a big Belgian bank is clearly not going to cut it.

Today, Acquia provides a mix of Drupal services. Critically, Acquia has not locked up Drupal into proprietary software. As Buytaert said:

Acquia is not going to fork or close-source Drupal.

Instead, Acquia offers paid Drupal services, like specialized Drupal hosting, migration into Drupal, support, and training. The company also invests in general Drupal development and releases this work back into the community. For example, you can freely download the Acquia Dev Desktop and run private Drupal sites on a Windows or Mac computer. Many free modules on Drupal's site are maintained by Acquia.

To summarize, when you see "Acquia Drupal" it doesn't mean that Acquia is claiming authority over Drupal, or that they've forked some special version of Drupal that you have to worry about.