There have been previous attempts to fork Drupal, but apart from Pressflow, I can't think of any that gained any traction. Even there, the performance enhancements in Pressflow are mostly merged into core for the next version of Drupal. But its goal is to be a drop-in replacement, and is thus almost fully compatible with contrib modules. We use it ourselves as the core of many kPlatforms.
BackdropCMS seems to be a beast of an entirely different nature. A couple years ago, in response to another core developer asking "Is it time to fork Drupal?", Larry "Crell" Garfield, commented that core D8 initiatives were "effectively building a new framework and porting Drupal to it." So wanting to keep something recognizable as Drupal seems like a pretty reasonable response.
Will we use BackdropCMS?
It's hard to say, but it certainly looks promising. The stated motivations of the project address many of the concerns I've heard voiced about Drupal over the past few years. These boil down to essentially two challenges:
- Having to re-learn a new CMS every few years
- Requiring our clients with limited budgets to re-build their websites every few years.
We've been experimenting with using Wordpress as an alternative for simpler sites, as well as exploring Drupal distributions to accommodate these concerns. In particular, OpenOutreach fits our client segment well and is committed to long-term maintainability.
What about Drupal 8?
I can't imagine that we would shy away from using Drupal 8 when a project's goals call for it. While we make a concerted effort to support small non-profits with affordable websites, we also work with larger organizations who have more ambitious goals.
Koumbit is also the principal shop behind the Aegir Project. We've been planning to re-write lots of our front-end components for awhile, so we see moving to Drupal 8 as an opportunity to do just that.
What about Aegir?
This actually presents a unique opportunity for Aegir, as it might prove useful in abstracting our platform code. Without Drush's ability to bootstrap a Backdrop platform, we need to treat it as an alien platform. However, since it's a fork of Drupal 7, we should be able to re-use install procedures, and other operations.
Keep calm and carry on hacking
Any way that you look at it, these next few months (and years) should prove interesting. While I'm certain that emotions will run high at DrupalCon Prague this week, let's keep things in perspective. Remember that our community is based on consideration and respect. We'll all profit by assuming good faith from all concerned.