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  • Nucleus

What is Nucleus CMS?

Nucleus CMS is an Open Source content management system written in PHP. It is an alternative to systems like WordPress and Drupal, and is preferred by some for its ease-of-use and simplicity. Nucleus CMS was a member of the first generation of Content Management Systems that grew up around the turn of the millennium. Like Blogger and Mambo (and several other now-defunct PHP-based blogging and website engines) its hey-day preceded widespread adoption of WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

History of Nucleus CMS

Nucleus was invented in 2001 when a developer wanted to add commenting functionality to Blogger. He wrote a PHP script to accomplish that, and then wrote more and more scripts, eventually creating the core of what became Nucleus.

In the beginning, Nucleus read content from XML files, but that was quickly changed to using a MySQL database to store posts and pages.

One of the most stand-out features of Nucleus was that it was designed, from the beginning, to be able to run multiple separate blogs from a single instance. In this way it was a precursor to WordPress and its multi-user features, as well as the commercial MovableType platform.

Key Features of Nucleus CMS

Nucleus was a matured CMS, and included a number of features that were later developed into other blogging platforms.

  • Multiple blogs or websites, including the ability to display content from several connected blogs on a single web page.

  • Multiple authors, each associated with one or more connected blogs or websites. Each blog can have its own team of authors, with diverse user roles and rights.

  • Post categories, which are a unique set for each blog.

  • Built-in commenting system.

  • Karma-based voting system.

  • Pretty URLS, with multiple format options, accomplished through mod_rewrite.

  • Draft status and scheduled posts.

  • Fully customizable front-end through skins and templates.

  • Rich plugin system.

  • Blog from anywhere with a bookmarklet and a right-click contextual menu that lets you post about a website without having to open up the admin page.

  • Date-based and category-based archives.

  • Full content search, with contextual highlighting on search-result pages.

  • RSS and Atom Syndication

  • Easy upload of media content from inside the post edit page.

  • IP Blacklisting of comments.

  • One-click content backup and easy restore.

Plugins for Nucleus CMS

While other blogging and content management platforms expanded to include more and more features into their core (even as plugin libraries grew), the development team for Nucleus decided to keep the core package extremely small and light-weight. A number of features that are included as part of other popular apps are built as plugins for Nucleus.

  • WYSIWYG article editing (visual editing)
  • Visitor Stats and analytics
  • RSS feeds for comments and categories
  • Calendaring
  • IM and Chat (shoutbox)
  • GUI-based CSS styles
  • One-click page printing
  • Full-text search of local, related articles
  • Fully integrated Google-based search of related off site articles
  • Fully integrated search of products
  • GZip
  • Polling
  • Trackbacks
  • Comment moderation
  • Comment preview
  • Reply notifications
  • Highlighting of search engine keywords

Nucleus Hosting and Requirements

Nucleus can be installed fairly easily, and the requirements are very minimal:

  • PHP 4.2 +
  • MySQL 3.23 +

Nucleus CMS is offered as a one click installation by many web hosts, via install wizards like Fantastico and Simple Scripts.

Nucleus Development Sunsetted

Nucleus CMS is no longer under active development.

The last stable release, v3.65, was made available on March 31, 2013. This release was intended to fix compatibility with PHP 5, but was itself a little buggy. (It had some problems with character encoding.) Before that, it had been two years since the release of 3.64 in March of 2011.

In June of 2014, the last of the development team announced that they would no longer continue developing or supporting the project.

Over the last few years, development of Nucleus CMS has slowed to a standstill. Unfortunately, most of the people who contributed over the years to keep new versions coming out (and the website updated) can no longer do so. After consulting with Wouter Demuynck and other developers, it has been decided to officially sunset Nucleus CMS.

It is saddening to make this decision, but we believe it is a responsible decision. We do not want to foster a false hope that a newer, official release of Nucleus CMS will come. Additionally, the software as it stands needs several updates in order to run properly on modern versions of PHP, so it is best to avoid having people try to install it and fail.


For those interested in continuing to use Nucleus, or who are looking for a simpler alternative to WordPress, development of the Nucleus platform has continued in a forked project.

LMNucleus picks up where Nucleus CMS left off. The first release of LMNucleus is fully compatible as an upgrade from Nucleus, and fixes “all known bugs” from the latest version.

Nucleus Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Nucleus? How is it different to other content management systems?

    Nucleus is an open-source content management system (CMS) designed for blogs. It is a lightweight CMS capable of handling multiple blogs, comment sections, RSS and Atom syndication feeds and more.

  • What’s the difference between Nucleus and LMNucleus?

    Nucleus was launched in 2000, but in recent years development slowed to a standstill. The team eventually decided to halt development and “sunset” the CMS in mid-2014. The last official update was released in 2013. However, since it was an open source project, enthusiasts kept working on it and updating it. The new release is known as LMNucleus (or Slightly Some Nucleus). This fork supports more recent versions of PHP and MySQL.

  • Which technologies does Nucleus rely on? Should I be aware of any special hosting requirements?

    Nucleus is written in PHP and uses a MySQL backend. This means that compatibility should not be much of a problem. However, since it is no longer in development, it cannot take advantage of new PHP versions, but LMNucleus should work with some of them.

  • I remember Nucleus being very popular in some circles. What happened to cause its demise?

    Nucleus actually predates a number of popular content management systems and it was available in the early 2000s, a few years before Joomla, WordPress and Drupal showed up to conquer the CMS space. Due to its ease of use and lightweight design, Nucleus remained a popular choice for many bloggers despite the availability of more popular platforms. However, as these new CMS solutions became more popular, Nucleus development slowed and, eventually, ceased.

  • I have some old Nucleus projects I would like to revive and move to a new host. Will this be a problem?

    Not really. Because Nucleus is no longer actively developed, the requirements are minimal. You need to ensure support for PHP 4.2 or later, and MySQL 3.23 or later. Nucleus is still available as a one-click installation via install wizards like Simple Scripts, Installatron and, of course, Fantastico.

  • What about LMNucleus? Should I migrate my old Nucleus stuff to the fork? Is it still actively developed?

    LMNucleus still receives some updates and new plugins. The latter are designed to take advantage of PHP 5.4 or PHP 5.5. LMNucleus also addresses a number of issues faced by Nucleus in PHP 5.x. You might want to do a bit of research, but moving to LMNucleus is an option you should consider.

  • I don’t think I’ll keep using a sunset CMS. What about migrating from Nucleus to WordPress?

    Migration to WordPress should be relatively straightforward for most sites. Numerous guides and migratory scripts are available online, so you should have no trouble finding a lot of advice and the necessary tools to pull it off. The NUC2WP migrator project is one option if you are looking for a migration script.

  • Is Nucleus free? What about LMNucleus? Under which licenses were they published?

    Both Nucleus and LMNucleus are free to use. The original Nucleus content management system was published under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

  • Which languages are Nucleus and LMNucleus available in?

    Nucleus was developed and supported in five languages: English, German, Polish, Czech and Japanese. However, more than 50 user-contributed translations were available. LMNucleus uses much of this multilingual content, but not all of it.

  • Does this mean Nucleus will not add to my hosting bill?

    Installing and using Nucleus should be straightforward and free. Since there are no exotic hardware or software requirements, it shouldn’t cost you anything and will not add to your hosting bill. Widespread availability through install wizards should save time, but if you are migrating you might incur additional costs (this is true of many content management systems, but varies from host to host).

  • How do I install Nucleus? Is it really lightweight?

    Automated one-click installation should be available with most hosting packages. Even if you have to install it yourself, this should be easy. The CMS itself is very small (the install package is less than 1MB). There is no bloat do deal with.

  • What are the downsides to installing and using Nucleus on my shared server?

    The most obvious downside is the fact that Nucleus is no longer updated. This means you cannot expect new features or support for new technologies. While it’s lean and lightweight, Nucleus is also limited by today’s standards, as there aren’t that many themes to choose from and the user interface is outdated.

  • What about support for Nucleus?

    Since it is no longer being developed, you obviously can’t expect new updates and bug fixes. However, LMNucleus development is still moving forward, albeit at a slower pace. Commercial support is not available, so you will have to rely on the community for help.

  • Are there still any good reasons to use Nucleus? What are the Nucleus pros and cons?

    Nucleus still has some neat features, like one-click backup, a lot of IP ban list features for unruly blog visitors, and the ability to create custom URLs. It’s open-source and lightweight. Nucleus cons include limited number of themes, shrinking community, and of course lack of development and new features.

  • What about SEO in Nucleus?

    Nucleus has some features that should be good for SEO, such as custom URL support, but due to lack of development, you are unlikely to find a lot of up to date SEO plugins designed to deal with Google Hummingbird and later algorithms.

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