Feedback from a first time user

Hello!

I had heard about webmin before, but it is not really something that I find very useful for the things I do on my machines. But a project I maintain made me look into this application(s), and I am impressed!


I ran it on a raspberry pi 4 8GB and it installed without a hitch. But here comes the first critique:

  • Please do not tell users to curl or sh something directly from the internet, it is simply a VERY bad practice.
    Instead, provide information on how to manually add keys for the repo and then at the end add “or you can use our script” and then provide a line using wget.

I got some support here on the forum so I needed to uninstall stable and install devel, I used the faq method to uninstall /etc/webmin/uninstall.sh but realized now when checking the install documentation, that there is also another method mentioned:
sh virtualmin-install.sh --uninstall

  • Consistency please.

When logging into the web interface the first time, I used my user (UID 1000) witch is a member of sudo, that meant that when pressing “terminal” (bottom left) it opened with the root user, not sure how I feel about that.

  • Automatically ask if “normal” webmin user should be created from user 1000 on system when running the install script.

I can not find a button for “restart” or “reboot” on the web gui. Terminal is there, but should there not be a button with a confirmation window popping up for these things?

  • Add reboot/shutdown buttons

Directly after installation I wanted to know HOW the software was running, but could not for the life find anything on the install or FAQ pages.
I typed sudo systemctl status web and then pressed tab and that showed me that there was a systemd service created, but I feel that info should be included on the install page so you easily know what service to disable or stop webmin from running.


I felt I should try to provide something to you guys after you helping me out, and I think this is the best way for me to do that.

Otherwise I am very impressed over all!
Good job!

why do you say that? curl is pretty standard use

This is in the menu system under Webmin -> System -> Bootup and Shutdown along with several options (don’t worry you get used to it) the system will also prompt you if it knows that a reboot is required like following a package update.

Generally it is well provided with (what some of us loath) confirmation window popups

It’s not curl I’m objecting to, it’s a bad practice to “teach” users to just blindly run things directly from the internet, it’s true on windows, and it is true on any other operating system as well.
NEVER run anything directly from the web basically.
I know it creates hurdles for less linux savvy users, but it is what it is, and this is a security thing.

I guess what I am saying this is a linux “mentality” thing, and I am hoping the devs of webmin agrees that running things directly from the internet is a bad idea even though THEY can be trusted with this script.

It’s like saying “yeah, I can see 300m that there is no car coming, I can run the red light”, even if it might be harmless THAT time, it is still a very bad practice.
Hope I am making sense here. :slight_smile:

Aaah, it’s all the way at the bottom!
Then this feedback could be really good for you!
I as a new user assumed that was the startup and shutdown applications only and did not scroll all the way to the bottom.

Then I request button(s) either at the top of that page (System/Bootup and Shutdown) or/and also at the “main” page (where the teminal, logout, darkmode etc is)

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Serious question here, did you even read anything on the download page?
https://webmin.com/download/#manual

Before I even download any kind of software for my server I like to read through their documentation first. I would hope that you did the same?
https://webmin.com/docs/modules/webmin-users/#about

That is the one I am referencing here yes, that was what I was following.

I then after creating an account here, also found this (I can not post more links https: // www .virtualmin.com/download/) (I did NOT see this page before, only the one you linked to). Inconsistency detected…

Nope, because that is not linked to anywhere on the first link you provided. That is my whole point. xD

Also, if a user HAS to read an entire documentation for an application like this, it is IMHO bad design.

Remember, I am providing feedback as a user that just came in to the project, no need to be passive aggressive buddy. :heart:

Oh, I fully agree with that. and would expand to not taking anything on the internet as FACT.

Sadly one has to assume just a little amount of basic knowledge, literacy and education from people. (or there might never be a need or a forum, and some of us could get a life :smile: )

I like that, or a link to bottom of the page (there are some other pages that could benefit from that / pagination like in the File Manager)

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Best of luck to you… Because not reading any documentation to a program such as Webmin is VERY BAD PRACTICE IMHO PERIOD!

That probably excludes 95% of all computer users in the world, a bad idea IMHO.
I thought the whole idea of this project was to make it EASIER for the user to use a linux machine?

I would rather recommend someone spend the time it takes to read that entire documentation to learn linux instead. That would also mean they no longer need this software… See my point?

USER documentation should be there to configure the system, not to set it up.
The user should not be logging in as root when filling in the credentials as a user.
At least throw a HUGE warning, you are running as root (UID 0)

I DID read the FAQ first though, maybe I missed it, but to me this just “felt bad”.

But you are entitled to your opinion. :slight_smile:

I should also add, that pressing the documentation tab to me looks like that documentation is aimed for developers, not users.

I agree with this statement whole kindheartedly! Which is the reason 95% of peoples issues in this forum has nothing to do with Webmin nor Virtualmin for that matter.
If anyone had read any of the documentation they would know what I am talking about…

To me it’s not an opinion, It’s careless to go jumping in the water not knowing whether you can swim or not… but, people do it anyways…

I do think we are confusing “users” here.

I have always seen Webmin/Virtualmin as being for “system administrators” that is folk who have gained some basic understanding of how a system operates and how it is managed. (maybe even have years of managing such systems/folk)

“users” are pretty basic folk who know how to switch on a PC/mobile phone (though sometimes not) and may have heard of the internet but at least can read.

even “system admins” have problems with documentation. That is why forums like this exist to hopefully push/prod everyone in the right direction.

Maybe I misunderstand the goal of this project (to be honest, I did not read up much, this is just the sentiment I got from when I first heard about this on youtube channels and whatnot), so maybe I am wrong here.

But if the goal of this software is to be for “normal users” and the “normal user” is know to act the way you say, then it IS a design flaw. :slight_smile:
Saying “the user is wrong” never works well. xD

But never the less, the documentation is VERY badly handed to the user. I double checked the install page posted here, and I can not find an easy way to find out I have to create users when I log in with my user credentials.

I get what you are both saying, but I think you miss the point I am trying to make. :slight_smile:

As a side note, please do not forget that this is feedback as a new user that installed the application. This is not a request for support.

I generally read the entire (or close to) documentation before installing things, but in this instance I happened to “just want to install to do a qick test of something”, witch led to this situation.

I honestly don’t know what tell you, I myself am a “normal user” and have been using Webmin only going on 24 years…
Still to this day I have to go back and read up on the documentation because of all the new updates and additional features it offers.
I think of this application interface as it was meant to be, and that’s to grab other server applications configs on the fly and be able to edit them in Webmin GUI instead of VIM over SSH.

Exactly, you are missing the point I am trying to make, 24 years vs 2 days… xD
And I agree, documentation should be for configuring, not setting up. :slight_smile:
Separate install documentation though could be a thing, provide a install_instructions.md or smthn maybe…

From people asking questions here, I’d say we need to shoot for 99.99%. Server administration isn’t for the feint of heart or someone not willing to get their hands dirty and do their homework. Putting up sites that are accessible to the public is fraught with risk and assuming someone else is going to do the work for you when you get your ‘axe’ in trouble is not the people we, as volunteers, really enjoy helping here. Otherwise, pay someone to do the work you don’t want to.

Sorry, this is not the place to learn the basics. The software is meant to help you manage it more easily. Ever set up a server from scratch, one package at a time, and then integrate them? Think of Virtualmin as one hell of a head start and then I think you get the concept.

EDIT: Webmin could probably be thought of a little differently from Virtualmin, but there was a reference to the Virtualmin script in the opening post. Even if Webmin only the point still stands. It helps manage what is there, not teach you what it does and how to use it.

Again, I am not asking for support, I am providing feedback from the eyes of a brand new user…

Imagine this scenario.
A linux user, beginner, understands how to use the terminal and uses sudo for most things without actually realizing what he is doing.
This is a very normal situation for new linux users.

The user watches a youtube about this software and goes, wow, I can do all these things in a web browser, i have to try that.
Installs, reads the same webpages I do, logs in with the username and password FOR HIS USER.

Goes in, plays around a bit, then finds the console, and as the new user, it can be fun to test yourself.
Opens console, and does not realize he is running as root, not even realizing he is actually in pwd /root and not in /home/user
I can imagine 100 things that can go VERY wrong after that point. xD

Again, I provide feedback here, I am NOT ASKING FOR SUPPORT, there is no use telling me what I did wrong, because I arguably did nothing wrong. :heart:

I have to laugh at this… Sorry!
Over all you seem like a cool person, welcome to the grumpy old men community, as my Wife calls this place.

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Let’s just make this very basic.
Title: Feedback from a first time user

The software is decades old and the developers have been around and fielding questions from users for most of that time and being responsive to their needs.

So, first time user vs decades of feedback? I’m not trying to be cheeky here but that’s the perspective you seem to be missing.

Things do change over time based on input though. Just don’t be surprised if yours doesn’t provide results. Mine usually doesn’t. :wink:

Thank you.
Your wife is probably correct… xD

I don’t understand, I made this post in “Blue Skies” of the forum.
I was under the assumtion this is the correct place for feedback.

I ask of you to stop trying to be “cheeky” towards me, even I have limits.
If you think my feedback is worthless and that my opinion means nothing, just say so or just say nothing towards me please.

While I agree that running curl piped to a shell from randos on the internet is a bad practice, it’s also the only way we can provide one command to install the software on multiple distros and versions.

I certainly encourage people to read the install script (or the repo setup script in the case of Webmin). And, I encourage people to always proceed with caution when doing the curl piped into shell dance.

At some point, though, you have to trust us. You’re installing our software…whether you install it by starting with a curl piped to a shell or you install it by importing our keys and installing the package manually. If you don’t trust us, you shouldn’t install our software. And, that’s an assessment people should be making about all software. We’ve been around for decades, we’re probably easier to vet than most, but you should treat all software as potentially a source of trouble.

That would be possible for Webmin (and we used to have docs for that, not sure if they’re still around, or if Ilia removed them when the setup-repos script arrived; I don’t see any reason they couldn’t come back, but there’s never anything stopping users from reading the setup-repos script…it’s not obfuscated or otherwise hard to figure out). I will mention that it was a huge support burden when we gave people the steps instead of the script…people have a real hard time with key and repos, I don’t know why, and would often install from the tarball instead, which is also a problem and a thing to be avoided whenever possible.

It’s not possible for Virtualmin, though. Installing Virtualmin is not installing one package, it’s installing several dozen and performing dozens of configuration tweaks. It’d be hundreds of steps if written out, and I aint doing all that (because some users would try to do an ad hoc installation, without any understanding of all the pieces and how they fit together, and mess it up and then come asking for help with hopelessly botched systems). You’re welcome to read the source; virtualmin-install.sh and Virtualmin-Config are both public in our github. And, our dependency metapackage or yum groups are also in our github.

They’re different projects, though, with very different requirements. Webmin is just Webmin. Virtualmin is a couple dozen additional packages and a huge swath of configuration. They can’t work the same way for installation or uninstallation.

Also, nobody on a modern system should be using uninstall.sh. It’s just calling the right package manager on modern systems with good package management…so it’s using dpkg or rpm to uninstall it. You don’t need a script for that. (Virtualmin can also be uninstalled using your package manager, but it’s a couple dozen packages, not just one.)

Webmin->System->Bootup and Shutdown

What’s a “normal” Webmin user? Webmin is a systems management tool. If you’re logging into Webmin, you’re root or root-capable via sudo ALL privileges.

We try to adhere to the conventions of your OS. If your OS is using systemd, you’ll have a systemd unit named webmin. Though I can see how that might be confusing for Virtualmin, since it’s just a module, or a bunch of modules, of Webmin. But, also a dozen other services were started as part of the installation of Virtualmin.

Also worth noting packages are not supposed to chatter. Install a deb or an rpm shouldn’t print anything if nothing went wrong (and historically our packages were chattery, but they aren’t supposed to be, so that’s mostly been fixed). Documentation could be more clear, though, perhaps.

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Virtualmin is an integral part of a server install. It is done on a clean system. If you decide not to use Virtualmin, then uninstalling it makes no sense. You start over and continue your search for the software you want.