How to administer a web server the easy way

Administer a web server  is a fascinating but difficult and tiring path. Sometimes simple passion is not enough because precise and in-depth study is also required. To help us in this work, there are several applications on the market, which have now reached a high level of reliability and offer web interfaces to manage every aspect of the managed machine, including the possibility of operating remotely.

We speak of software better known by the name of “control panels” and among the best known there are certainly cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin and Webmin. Thanks to these systems, we can easily administer a dedicated server, a VPS or a cloud server without intervening directly from the command line.

The simplest is Webmin, the open source panel that offers one of the most complete web interfaces for the administration of an entire system, both software and hardware, with the possibility of intervening completely on the machine. Webmin is written in Perl and for remote communication uses the SSL protocol.

After installation and a simple configuration, the web interface, very clean and with different skins, is available on the default port 10000, for example:; the classic setting includes a sidebar on the left, which contains a menu from which you can access every configuration aspect, both of Webmin and of the machine to be managed. In the central part of the left of the browser, there are buttons and forms with which you interact with the system.

Webmin supports various databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, for the web server it integrates perfectly with Apache and with some mail servers including Fetchmail, Sendmail and Procmail thus allowing the management of all system and network services in a simple and fast way. With a few mouse clicks, the need to manually intervene on the configuration files is eliminated.

As for the other control panels, an overview of cPanel is already available to understand what it is used for and how to use it. It is certainly a more sophisticated solution than Webmin but that is easily usable after a minimum of tests and reading some tutorials.

Among other things, within the same, it is possible to install additional components, such as Softaculous, for the automatic installation of CMS and scripts in general. Among all those available we can say without a shadow of a doubt that cPanel is one of the best solutions to manage a web server because it has been developed for some time, it is stable, updated and used practically in every part of the world.

The difference from our control panel is that we preferred to start from an open source base that would allow us to make some changes based on internal needs. Some of our customers also use our version of VHCS without problems on their dedicated or Cloud servers.

Basically, the opportunities are not lacking and now we know that despite a thousand difficulties, we can somehow get closer to managing a server on one’s own as long as a control panel is installed. Of course, the problems are many and unpredictable, so a Linux systems administration base is always necessary in the end.

Somehow we will have to “get our hands dirty” with the shell because only there will we be able to have total control of the server and solve any technical problems. For further information on the administration of a server it may be useful and appropriate to understand the  difference between a dedicated hosting and a VPS. A 360° view is ideal if you want to better understand every detail and nuance on server management and maintenance.

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