Install and configure webmin/virtualmin before colocating

Hi guys, complete newbie at this level of server admin so please bear with me. I have always run a managed server but recently decided to colocate to try and cut costs and improve my service levels for the handful of customers I still have - hopefully enough to improve and grow my business.

So I have bought a decent server, have it setup currently in the office and have gone through the process of setting up the raid arrays, installing the OS (Ubuntu 12.04) and set about learning the webmin and virtualmin control panels as I have only been using Plesk for the past 8 years.

One thing has occured to me as a query though, should I be doing this setup from the office or does the server need to be in its datacenter, along with its permanent IP address in order to get everything working properly? Will it create any issues with me having set it up on my internal DHCP IP address and then moved at a later date?

So far it must be said that I feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of configurations needed to be setup, the main one causing me grief seems to be postfix and although I realistically do not need mail working at this stage I do not want to colocate the server and then run into problems so I am trying to get used to as much as possible before setting up the rackspace.

My Main error so far is: A problem was found with your Postfix virtual maps : No map sources were found in the Postfix configuration NOW FIXED, along with the other errors flagged after this. Searching this forum showed what needed to be input and where.

Is it wise to be doing this in the way I am already or should I have opted to colocate the server and then install, learn and configure everything in place - or am I just overwhelmed and overanalyzing/overthinking things?


It’s no problem to install Virtualmin and then colocate your server.

However, the errors your mentioning seem unusual… when you performed your Virtualmin installation, did you by chance use the script? That configure all that correctly for you out of the box.


Thanks for the reassurance, I actually worked my way through the postfix issues and rechecked the configuration which has now said Virtualmin is working thanks. I used the install instructions for the debian version via wget but it is quite likely that in my inexperience I have installed or uninstalled something prior to getting a handle on the admin process - this isnt a huge concern for me as every mistake means I am learning something.

I am slowly but surely getting to grips with the functionality but it seems that for each tab I look at there is a whole load of new stuff to learn, obviously my main focus is in getting the server setup correctly in the first place to remain stable but also well secured.


Especially for inexperienced users, it is highly recommended to use the installer script on a clean installation of (in your case) Ubuntu. Do not install any hosting packages, like LAMP or stuff, install only SSH, then let the script do the rest. You’ll end up with a hassle-free and fully usable system in a few minutes then.

It’s important to give your system a valid, externally resolvable FQDN (fully qualified domain name), like “”, before you run the script. That will save you a lot of fiddling with network settings later.

Do you have a way to access the server’s console once you shipped it to your colocation hoster? If not, you might run into problems trying to set the right IP address beforehand, and similar things.

Also, a well-meant hint: If your experience as a Linux “root” is limited, it is advisable to gather some knowledge about stuff at home, before you ship the server off to have it permanently connected to the net and “exposed to the wild”. You need some basic understanding how to secure your webserver, how to prevent or detect and counteract hacked web software and other intrusions. And it’s much easier to do that at home than with a server that’s hundreds of miles away, and constitutes a potential threat by becoming a part of a botnet with its fast connection.

Hi Locutus, thanks for the advice.

To answer a few questions within your reply, the datacenter is only 5 miles from my home and office so access is not a huge problem either way. I am planning to have the server as ready as I can be before colocating it and then add the first non-essential clients first of all.

The DC have saod they will supply my IP before I take it over to them so I guess at this stage I can simply change to the new IP before the transfer.

I have been a linux desktop user for a decade (ubuntu - which is why I decided on Ubuntu server rather than CentOS that my current server is on), I run a linux server that is thousands of miles away currently so know bits to get by - nothing like the challenge of setting up a complete server from scratch but I have enough to get by in terms of security in the first place, that is not to say I think I know enough yet but for now it gives me a foothold into getting setup and live at least.

Regarding the setup though, would you suggest removing the install totally and starting from scratch again then as you say installing webmin and virtualmin from a clean install with just SSH server in place? So far I am not really having having any errors that I can see other than the setup of postfix that I already realised and sorted.

Okay then, if you can just drive over to the datacenter and sit down at the console there in case of trouble, that’s just fine. :slight_smile:

You should indeed configure the final IP before moving the box over. Also make sure about the FQDN thing, it will save you a lot of hassle later.

As for re-doing the installation… Well if all runs okay and you’re SURE about that, there’s no need to. But I know from experience that there are a lot of intricacies to the considerable number of services and configurations involved with web hosting, so the chance is non-negligible that you’ll run into problems later that could be avoided by starting from a clean slate.

So if it’s not too much trouble for you, I’d suggest re-doing the installation like suggested, which doesn’t really take long usually. Just slap on Ubuntu, do updates, set hostname, download installer script, and run it. done. You can first take a backup of the current Virtualmin configuration using its own backup feature and restore that, if you already configured a lot of stuff. The config data itself should not be prone to problems arising from an incorrect installation.

Great stuff, thanks. I hadn’t considered backing up the config before wiping. Actually I don’t mind starting totally from scratch again anyway. Its not difficult to install ubuntu or the script.

regarding the FQDN, this is the hostname I will be using for the server, as in my domain name with the server prefix ie : or do I need to setup the DNS system as well for this to qualify as setup? The reason i ask is that I already setup my hostname to play around on the server in the office using a similar hostname to the one my current server is using for the time being, knowing that it will not be used to host or serve anything until it goes to the DC, however I am still trying to wrap my head around nameservers, how on earth I setup or host them and DNS in general and I know this needs to be setup before I can go live.

Sorry for late reply, was away today. :slight_smile:

If I understand your question correctly: You don’t need to install/manage DNS on your server. The box should have an FQDN, that just means it should have an address of the form host.domain.tld, where domain.tld is not a domain that is under Virtualmin control. (It CAN be managed through Webmin though.)

The thing is simply that the services rely on an FQDN that is already active and points to your server, and does not require an active DNS setup on your server to function. You know, the bootstrapping problem. :slight_smile:

It is not strictly necessary to have “host.domain.tld”, but it is recommended. Usually you’ll have some kind of administrative domain, and give your server(s) hostnames in that domain. That domain should not be a Virtualmin domain.