Picking ONE best-supported platform

I’m seriously setting out to do hosting using Virtualmin Pro, and it’s scary. I see that there are a LOT of tiny things in Virtualmin that don’t work. No doubt many of these shortcomings are the fault of the underlying operating system. But casting blame achieves nothing; what’s important is how to make it work.

I suspect the Virtualmin Pro developers have stretched themselves too thin, and are not able to fully support everything they want to offer: All the various OS environments, all the various subsystems for mail, web, and databases, and all the other miscellaneous things like installing scripts, installing a Let’s Encrypt certificate and so on.

(This could be a vicious cycle. i am not sure. If many things don’t work, then they have fewer paying customers, and fewer resources to make things work, and so on.)

So here’s my question: Which is the ONE operating system that they think they can BEST support for the next 2–3 years, with the FEWEST possible problems and the best possible reliability?


If you run into something that doesn’t work, let us know! If something within Virtualmin isn’t working, we’d like to get them fixed.

All of the Grade A supported OS’s should work well – that is CentOS, Ubuntu LTS, and Debian.

Joe and Jamie prefer CentOS, I prefer Ubuntu LTS, but that’s all just personal preference. There’s also many Debian users as well.

We typically suggest using whatever distro you’re most comfortable with.

But if you’re seeing something that doesn’t work, let us know! You’re right that there’s a lot of moving parts, but it’s okay to expect the various functions of Virtualmin to work properly.

One thing we are aware of and are preparing to resolve – some of the Install Scripts are older and need to be removed. The web apps a few of those try to install are no longer being maintained, and are unable to work properly on modern distros. We’re working to remove those.


So maybe the Virtualmin Pro developers SHOULD pick one platform, and focus on making it work really well, with all the enthusiasm that it makes to make a product succeed in the marketplace.

Examples of stretching themselves too thin:

  • Misleading error message that according to a Google search for [not running Webmin version 1.202 or above] causes repeated confusion, one-line fix to correct the error message, pending since 2016: https://www.virtualmin.com/node/41718
  • Do a Google search for any of these. Which one is the only one that doesn’t work?
    • cpanel demo
    • directadmin demo
    • plesk demo
    • ispconfig demo
    • virtualmin pro demo

Try: http://virtualmin-demo.virtualmin.com/. I reached a website with a line of flashing text and little else. This will not sell many Pro licenses.

I don’t want to sound too negative, so i’ll omit many other similar examples.

I think the Virtualmin Pro developers are talented people who COULD have made it a commercial success. And maybe they still can, if they would decrease how many environments they support in a half-hearted manner (and lack of an online demo is definitely half-hearted), and make the ONE platform that they pick work so well that we all would be compelled to choose that in place of the competition. And working well would mean fixing little things quickly, and making many other things (Paypal in shopping cart, include revision date in online help files, add step-by-step hosting procedure, close old tickets still open but stagnant after 10 years, …) happen that could and should have happened a long time ago.

There’s no harm in supporting Virtualmin GPL on multiple platforms, with issues handled as time permits. But please pick one platform for the Pro version and make it work really, really well. That will give you more time to clean up all the loose ends including the ones I mentioned above.

If you pick one platform for Pro, your effort to build custom packages also becomes a lot lighter.


Virtualmin doesn’t offer a demo, as we found trying to maintain a fully functional demo online took away too many resources from our staff.

We don’t have any links on our main site to a demo, but it does look like what Google is seeing is an old Forum post from 2006 that points to what we used to have online.

Thanks for pointing that out, I asked Joe to remove the DNS entry for that… that will be removed shortly.

We offer support for three distros – CentOS, Ubuntu LTS, and Debian. We’re not looking to remove any of those, and we have many happy customers using all three. We couldn’t possibly tell our customer base that we’re going to stop support for a distro they’re using and are happy with.

However, if you see a bug within Virtualmin on your distro of choice, please feel free to file a bug report using the support tracker so it can be looked into.

While we do have many other happy customers using all of the distros we support – it sounds like you may not be getting what you want out of Virtualmin. If you decide Virtualmin isn’t for you, that’s no problem, just let us know in the Support Tracker within 30 days of your license purchase and we can refund your license purchase.


The refund offer tells me my suggestions and criticism are being misinterpreted.

So let me pick just one topic and expand on that: Online demos.

Note that I didn’t write the words “fully functional demo”. Nobody offers a fully functional online demo, and end users are bright enough to realize that an online demo will not be fully functional, and they do not mind. All the destructive activities will ultimately lead to a stub screen that just tells the user what happens at that point. I think you all should take a careful look at how the online demos of the competing control panels work before rejecting the idea on the grounds that it’s too hard to make a “fully functional demo” work.

Also, more important than you hosting an online demo is providing an online demo mode so any service provider can have one demo online.

By not providing an online demo or an online demo mode, you are putting Virtualmin Pro at a significant competitive disadvantage. It’s the only major control panel for which a hosting provider cannot give potential customers access to an online demo. Yes I’m sure it takes some effort to have a demo mode, but there must be a reason why everybody else has invested resources into having one – because it makes a big difference in how easy it is to acquire new customers. If potential customers can see online demos for all the other control panels, but not for Virtualmin Pro, at least one major factor in their decision-making will favor hosting providers offering control panels other than Virtualmin Pro.

I am harping on the online demo topic because this is one place where it becomes clear that you all have not thought carefully about how to be a commercial success, and haven’t thought carefully about meeting the needs of commercial Virtualmin Pro hosting providers. People who install Virtualmin Pro themselves don’t need the online demo – they can install Virtualmin GPL and they have a pretty good idea of what Pro will get them. But people who will become end-user customers of hosting providers are not going to install Virtualmin on their home machines first.

So you might respond by saying just give the new user a free trial. That works to a degree, but you are still putting Virtualmin Pro at a disadvantage. The Virtualmin Pro hosters will have to offer a free trial (but only to those users who stick around after noticing the lack of any online demo). Every else has the choice of offering a free trial, or an online demo, or both.

I would have liked to see you succeed enough that instead of “JOIN OVER 100,000 VIRTUALMIN USERS” on your website you could have written “JOIN OVER 100,000 VIRTUALMIN PRO USERS”.

If you are hosting websites then do NOT use Centos 7. I have been a long long time user of Centos 7 and its stability is good. But they only have OLD versions, like Apache. So their Apache does not support HTTP/2. Virtualmin has nothing to help get around that. HTTP/2 is highly recommended by Google, you get extra page speed optimisation score, its a faster site. Your websites should be developed to the latest recommended practices and so this now rules out Centos as a suitable OS for web hosting. My next server I need to try a new OS, so will look at others.

Virtualmin itself, and Webmin, have been fantastic at managing servers themselves. I always choose Virtualmin over Plesk or CPanel any day.

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