Webmin - Virtualmin Pro Needed

I wrote a book below and decided to put the conclusion on top…

I am interested in the impacts of having two year old free Webmin and Virtualmin software which has been partially dismantled by various Sys Admins who only do command line. Can I update without a big crash, do I even need to bother if all is working? We have it setup so there is no direct access to the login screen to avoid bots hitting us with password crunchers.

What would it cost to have a consultant look over our installation, update everything, and possibly add modules that would help me as the owner do monitoring and basic admin?

How do I know a consultant really knows his or her stuff? I have been doing web sites for five years and have hired scores of specialists and most (9 of 10) talk big and fail to deliver. The guy who installed our Webmin sold us on it and dropped out the minute he installed it and realized he was over his head when it came to getting it to work.

I think there is a lot more value I can get from these tools that this community has built.

What would buying Pro do for me? I just don’t know what to do from this point?

We have a Debian box and a great system admin (on-call basis). Our web system currently consists of two Drupal mulitsites. One with about 150 domains on one IP and nameserver and another 50 domains ready to go up on another IP and Nameserver.

Standard cPanel was too limiting for the custom Drupal modules we have so we were directed to Webmin and Virtualmin two years ago. I have managed to poke around and make use of these graphical tools; but I was using cPanel for years and these tools are not for Linux dummies like me.

My Sys Admin would prefer we axe Webmin and Virtualmin and run command line, but this would leave me dead as I have no time in life to learn more than child level Linux and we run a nonprofit with pocket change so money is not piled up for sys admin work.

I am concerned that our Webmin and Virtualmin are now outdated. Many modules were removed by various admins who also hated the unknown variables presented by such tools and some frankly were very helpful for me to monitor things and make simple changes and additions.


I am interested in the impacts of having two year old free Webmin and Virtualmin software which has been partially dismantled by various Sys Admins who only do command line. Can I update without a big crash, do I even need to bother if all is working?

Well, as with any software out there that’s accessible to the outside world – I’d never recommending keeping an old version available. Bugs and security issues can cause problems. Also, the longer you wait, the more difficult upgrading becomes (that is, small upgrades tend to go smoother than large upgrades).

Can you perform an upgrade without breaking anything?

That’s difficult to say… maybe :slight_smile:

I would definitely not recommend performing such an upgrade without having a full backup in place, and a way to revert back to that backup.

If you’re interested in getting someone to take a peek at your setup… well, this is the right place to ask! You should get some folks with offers to lend a hand.

Lastly – I don’t believe the Pro version would solve your problem. It sounds like you have a customized setup, and would benefit from getting someone to work with you and make it do what you need. The only reason I’d suggest using Pro is if you need the features it offers (such as the Install Scripts or reseller features), or if you feel you’d benefit from the addition of having product support.


Thanks for the comments Eric. Yes, thankfully we have a full daily backup with the past three days always available on a remote site and a full weekly backup on my personal machine.

Yes, it would be great to have someone who could review and advise. I don’t think my sys admin would want to mess with it and regardless of how good he is with Linux, learning how Webmin and Virtualmin work in detail would take him a lot more time then someone who works with them everyday.


It sounds like the biggest issue here is that the installation is in an unknown state. An install that’s been done with the install script, and hasn’t been significantly customized (beyond the configuration options available within Virtualmin itself) is extremely predictable, and should be very easy to use for the vast majority of use cases.

Just because someone uses the command line doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve broken the Webmin/Virtualmin installation. One of the benefits of Virtualmin over most control panels is that it’s surprisingly respectful of command line changes, though the ties between the various databases, virtual hosts, BIND zones, etc. can easily be broken if the administrator doesn’t understand how things tie together. Tracking down and fixing those kinds of things could be pretty tricky, unfortunately, since there are nearly infinite ways to configure pretty much every aspect of the LAMP stack.

But, I don’t want to be too scary here. Have you tried just logging in and looking around to see if what Virtualmin thinks is happening is actually what’s happening? By this, I mean, are their virtual servers for all of your websites? Do they have the features enabled that are actually being used (BIND, MySQL, mail, etc.)? If so, maybe you just want to start using it and see what sneaky bits aren’t working. When those happen, you can bring your questions to the forums, and we’ll try to help (or, if you were to upgrade to Professional, you could also make use of the support ticket tracker).

It’s really hard to offer advice without knowing a little bit about the state of your system.

Oh, one more thing to make clear, and after reading your post again, I fear this might be the case: If Virtualmin was installed manually (rather than using our install script; i.e. installing Webmin first, then installing a bunch of packages and Webmin modules including Webmin, doing a bunch of configuration, etc.), you’ve probably got a system that will never be predictable or simple to support; it also probably has a lot of broken bits (the complexity of a complete virtual hosting system, with mail, web, DNS, databases, users, groups, quotas, mailing lists, etc. is huge, literally dozens of packages and thousands of configurable options; when someone tries to set it all up manually, they pretty much inevitably screw up a bunch of stuff, which is why we wrote a script to do it automatically).

Virtualmin, being Open Source and available in all sorts of ways and extremely flexible (it supports three different MTAs, two DNS servers, about a dozen backup types and targets, four databases, several ways to run web applications, several user/group security models and naming conventions, etc.), can be setup in a nearly infinite variety of ways…and if it’s done manually, it could vary wildly from anything most people here are familiar with. We pretty strongly recommend folks install using our automated install script because of this potential for making a mess, and even if no mess results, it could be a completely different system than a “normal” Virtualmin system.