Dumping Plesk for Webmin Need A little Advice

Hi Folks,

Been using Plesk now for about 2 years and remember fondly my days with the earlier versions of Webmin. I am rebuilding my server using CentOS 5.2 as well as ASL, APF and BFD (latter two for firewalls). I host only about a dozen virtual sites and I am a little confused regarding Webmin and Virtualmin. Are both required? I only provide email and web service so it’s not too demanding.

Anyone have some sound advice they can pass my way?


I only provide email and web service so it's not too demanding.

Web and email is Virtualmin’s raison d’etre. Basically, Virtualmin makes managing websites dramatically easier.

So, "Are both required?" Well, no. Technically neither is required. You could do everything from the command line. :wink:

But, if you want a friendly interface for making websites and managing email accounts, then Virtualmin is the tool you want. There is an Open Source version–you don’t have to buy anything to get Virtualmin. And, it’s easy to install on CentOS. Just download our install.sh from the Download page, and run it on a freshly installed CentOS system…in about 20 minutes, you should have a full-featured hosting system ready for work. (The install script also installs Webmin and Usermin. You don’t need to pre-install anything…and, in fact, doing so will only confuse the poor dumb install script.)

In short, Webmin is a general purpose systems management tool–it is not comparable to Plesk or cPanel (it does dramatically more and, in some ways, it does dramatically less than either product). Virtualmin is a module and a theme (and some optional additional modules) for Webmin that makes Webmin into a web hosting control panel that surpasses all other products in the space in power and flexibility. So, Webmin is the framework that Virtualmin uses to provide a web hosting control panel.

And, in case it isn’t clear: Webmin, Usermin, and Virtualmin are all written and maintained by the same people (mostly Jamie).

Thanks Joe for the quick response. I think at this point I will install Webmin as well as Virtualmin. Seems like a good solution.


When you do your install, I would suggest using the install.sh installer.

Rather than just installing Webmin, or Webmin and the Virtualmin module, the installer pulls down an entire stack of software that Virtualmin can take full advantage of, and configures them to work out of the box.

And of course, if you run into any trouble, you’re welcome to yell, we’d be glad to help out :slight_smile:

Thanks Eric, will do.

BTW, I use ASL as well as APF and BFD for added firewall. Do you have any experience with these packages? Doesn’t seem that they will have any issues with Vmin or Wmin but then…

I really don’t like APF (if it’s what I recall it being). It’s a rather clunky shell script that installs firewall rules on startup…it doesn’t use standard iptables save files, and so it is completely incompatible with any other tools that manage iptables firewalls (like the Webmin Linux Firewall module, and many other tools). Though, it could be used in a way that is sane, I guess–run the script to setup the rules, and use iptables-save to save them, and then only use the script in the future when you make changes, rather than starting it on every boot.

It also has a lot of crud in it that has no relation to a web hosting system. Stuff like routing and masquerading and such–90% of the rules are useless in a web hosting server, so you’re starting up this big, complicated script, with dozens (maybe hundreds?) of rules that are hard to understand.

Since there are only a dozen or so useful things you can do with a firewall on a hosting system, I’d much rather look at a firewall that has only those dozen or so rules–not one that has a bunch of completely unrelated and never-touched stuff.

I suspect if you sit down and think through what you’re doing with the firewall on your hosting system, you’ll realize that it can all be done directly in iptables (maybe using a GUI like the Linux Firewall module, maybe using commands) in a few minutes, and in a way that everyone familiar with iptables will immediately understand.

Now, this isn’t to say that these scripts are going to cause any trouble for Virtualmin–they aren’t. As long as you open all the right ports and get the FTP ports right (this is trickier than it sounds). Just that whenever I’ve logged into a customer system that had something like this running, it was often a source of trouble (like FTP wasn’t working because of the firewall), and finding and correcting the problem was made somewhat more complicated by having a non-standard tool for managing the firewall.

Just a humble opinion, of course. All deployments are different, and yours might have some special requirements that make these scripts a good fit. Just warn any other administrators that have to work on your system–having firewall rules applied from nonstandard sources is very disorienting (and leads to much confusion on the next system reboot, if someone used standard tools to make changes to the running firewall).