I have been following some of the same Drupal distributions for quite a while now, but I have been seeing quite a few new Drupal distributions popping up recently. Dries himself said at Drupalcon Chicago that distributions were the future of Drupal, and the community seems to have listened. At the time there were probably about 15 or so well known Drupal distributions or installation profiles, and that number has probably doubled at this point.
One of the selling points of Linux is that it it is Open Source, but the other is that it comes in many different distributions. These distributions solve specific use cases and target different types of markets. This is beneficial for the Linux operating system as a whole as it helps grow usage outside of a specific set of users. Drupal is doing the same thing by releasing distributions, and they can really make a difference in the overall man hours needed to turn out an amazing product for your client. It can also help those who aren't that skilled with Drupal be able to get started with, in some cases, a turnkey solution built on Drupal. All in all it's a win, win for everybody in the Drupal community.
Some distributions have been getting most of the attention like Drupal Commons, OpenPublic, OpenAtrium, and Managing News, but there are quite a few other Drupal distributions to keep your eye on these days. Here is a quick list we have compiled of distributions we have been testing over the past few months that look very promising for solving some specific use cases that were hard to do before without custom module coding. These distributions are going to bridge some major gaps for Drupal usage across the web. Great job to all who have helped create them!
Please note that some of these are still in development and should not be used on a production website. Some also need to be built using Drush and Drush Make or you need to know how to compile the files needed otherwise.
New Drupal Distributions to Watch
NodeStream - The Nodestream Drupal distribution is used to create powerful news and content driven websites.
Open Deals - The Open Deals Drupal distribution is used to easily create daily deal websites like Groupon.
eRecruiter - The eRecruiter Drupal distribution is used to create job recruitment websites.
OpenChurch - The OpenChurch Drupal distribution is used to easily create Church related websites.
Open Enterprise - The Open Enterprise Drupal distribution is used to create results driven business websites.
Donor Rally - The Donor Rally Drupal distribution is used to create social donation websites using Paypal.
Volunteer Rally - The Volunteer Rally Drupal distribution is used to create volunteer management websites.
OpenScholar - The Open Scholar Drupal distribution is used to create and maintain academic and research websites.
Installation Profiles to Watch
Martplug - Martplug looks to be a promising out of the box Drupal Commerce store management solution for Drupal 7. This installation profile requires Drush Make.
Starter - Starter looks to be a promising base Drupal install with several additional configuration options during install such as choosing a WYSIWYG editor, choose a media handling module, and the ability to choose an Admin Menu module.
I hope you enjoy testing these out and get some use out of them like I have. I am already looking to setup a local daily deals website with Open Deals for myself as well. With Drupal Distributions, the possibilities become almost endless for what sort of sites that Drupal can specifically target for use. This short list is just the tip of the iceberg. I am sure we can all be expecting some more awesome Drupal distributions for 2012 as well. With all this end of the world talk, you might even see one from Arbor Web Development!
Let me know your favorite Drupal distribution or installation profile in the comments below, or if I happened to miss one I should be looking out for. Thanks!