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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 Frequently Asked Questions

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