Are there any forks of WordPress in existence?

Optional subtopics:

  • Why did they fork? Differing design goals? (e.g. HTML5 instead of XHTML-syntax per default)
  • From which version / time did they departure from the WP codebase?
  • Does it reuse any other projects code?
  • Is it an active fork or discontinued / stale?

WP itself was derived from b2/cafelog. So I guess there's more often an upside to forks. But obviously it depends on the functionality goals if it's a long-lived derivate project.

Besides real forks, maybe plugin-enriched (or intensively core "modded") WP distributions are on-topic too. And it's mainly to see which choices exist, or where development might go.


5 Answers 5


WordPress MU

Originally, WordPress MU was a "fork" of the traditional WordPress system. The goal was to use WordPress to power a network of discrete sites rather than a single one. In the end, this proved to be a powerful, in-demand feature and the MU fork was rolled back into WordPress core to become what we know today as Multi-site with 3.0.


Lyceum was another fork that meant to extend WordPress from a single site to a multi-site system, specifically for enterprise systems. It was abandoned ("shut down") about the same time as announcements regarding the WordPress MU merge came out. The site is still live and you can still download an old version, but the fork is no longer maintained.


I've heard of versions of WordPress that do nothing different except for replace the database structure with something other than MySQL. I've run across one that uses Microsoft SQL Server, and another that uses a flat-file system similar to a wiki. Each was developed to fit a specific server architecture and interface with a specific other platform (The SQL Server system had to run on SQL Server. The flat-file system had to integrate with another CMS that could only read flat-files).

But aside from MU and Lyceum, there haven't been any major forks that I've heard of that have lasted longer than a month or two. WordPress has an incredibly ambitious development cycle, and most "forks" have come about because someone wanted to add a specific feature but still stay relatively in-sync with WordPress while the core team added other new features. MU, for example, was always a few months behind WordPress, but that didn't seem to bother anyone.

Like you mentioned, WordPress is itself a fork from another project. So forking is possible, and can be successful. It just doesn't happen too often.

  • Nice answer. But when you say "forking...can be successful", it doesn't sounds like it, at least not in the WordPress world? Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 11:55
  • I meant that forking can be successful because WordPress itself is a fork of another product and has been wildly successful. At the same time there haven't been any successful forks from WordPress (unless you count pre-3.0 MU), but that's because there hasn't been a significant need.
    – EAMann
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 14:54
  • what's wordpress forked from? Commented Nov 29, 2010 at 18:09
  • WordPress 1.0 was forked from b2/cafeblog in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little.
    – EAMann
    Commented Nov 29, 2010 at 20:47

There have been a few forks that sought to make WP work with postgresql. Best I'm aware they all died.

Back in 2005-2006, there also was LightPress, which featured a much faster template engine. It died too.

  • Interesting. Heard of that. Actually nice concept since it still uses WordPress as backend, but provides a simplified UI client on its database.
    – mario
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 15:57
  • I wouldn't consider LightPress to be an actual fork since, by its own admission, the system "shares no code with WordPress." It's more a front-end extension than a true fork ...
    – EAMann
    Commented Nov 29, 2010 at 20:55
  • From what I've tried it back then, it would ignite with a define and replace the front end indeed, while leaving the backend as is. So yeah, not technically a fork, but regardless a fork in all but name. :-) Commented Nov 29, 2010 at 21:47

Not technically a fork, more like a complete rewrite of WordPress in a different architectural pattern, is "Atom" (the name is temporary), and it's currently developed by me :)

Although it's months from a stable and public release I'm pretty confident that it will not die like the others.

The purpose of Atom is to clone WP as seen from the end-user (the functionality, the UI structure), the real differences being "under the hood". In Atom everything is modular, the application is divided between "services", modules (controllers) and the theme (views). Services, like the database, caching engine or router, can be used by modules, equivalent of WP plugins, to generate content for the theme.

There's a basic preview here if you want to check out the current state of development. Code will be up on github as well...

  • 2
    Just stumbled upon this thread and wondered how this panned out for you? 2021 me would love to know. Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 10:31

While still being in development as of this post, Ghost claims to be a "Wordpress-lite fork". It is a nice clean UI on both the front and back ends that puts a primary focus on Wordpress' roots... blogging.

You can sign up for the development mailing list, here.


There is a quite stable and good-looking fork floating around called ClassicPress.

The people behind ClassicPress want to go back to the roots and are putting a big focus on making decisions as democratic as possible.

It's actually a registered nonprofit organization and has been under active development for a long time already.

What I dislike about CP is the fact that they want to keep compatibility with everything that works on WP 4.9. This is in my opinion a barrier to innovation. Why would I use a frozen WP 4.9 that is afraid of breaking away from the past, any person who worries about old compatibility should just stick to WP.

I started WP CMS with some breaking changes :)

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