Webmin/Virtualmin/Usermin lack of documentation

I think you guys should start looking how to build up community around Webmin/Virtualmin/Usermin as right now and for last few years looks like nothing was done. You are literally shooting yourself in the foot. The forum is disaster, documentation old or non-existent and almost all topics here are because someone had a problem. Frankly deeper i dig into your control panel better i understand why is the situation like we have now. Sometimes i spend so much time to find an answer what should be in your wiki that i’m questioning if i want to come back and help others. How about to start focusing only on OS what are mainstream, start building a wiki and change this horrendous forum?
For something so long on the market it looks like everything is stuck how it was before 10 years. While i think your control panel is great (really, i mean this) that doesnt help too much when it come to his functionality. Same as someone gave me a high-tech TV with remote without symbols on buttons. At one point maybe i will learn the buttons or mark them by myself but it would be huge waste of time (and “painful”).
Not to mention if i want to use on production site with “normal” customers who are used to cPanel or similar software. I would spend so much time educating them that whatever price i put for hosting it would be too low. My opinion is that you cant build anything serious without support from the community and probably will help to boost your sales. Right now, however i like and i want, it will be business suicide to take your CP and put on production server. I know that if i buy Pro version i will get some sort of VIP help but this is not enough. If the problem is not something freaking hard i want to be able at any hour to jump on documentation and check for the info/help/solution and not waiting your answer. Correct me if i’m wrong but i dont think even with Pro version you are able to give me immediate support at 2am. Sorry if all this sound offensive but its not my intention to offend anyone, just my honest opinion. Now you can pretend like this topic doesnt exist (like you did several times in the past with others) or change things.


Sure, we’re always looking to improve the documentation, both here on the website and the help text within Virtualmin itself.

Is there something in particular you’d like to see more information on?

We’re not particularly fond of the forums either, Joe is working on that with the new site upgrade that’s coming down the road.

I’m sorry that you feel it would be “business suicide” to run Virtualmin on a production server… there are many thousands of people out there who would disagree with that sentiment :slight_smile:

While support isn’t 24/7, we do our best to respond quickly to support requests. We’re not trying to hide the fact that there’s only three of us.

We do our best to help with any and all issues that arrive, and one of the most common comments we receive are positive remarks about the support we provide. It’s important to us to offer great support.

However, depending on the time of day it’s asked, some issues may have to wait until the next day… we may not be able to answer issues at 2am, though it’s not uncommon for one of us to be up and responding to them at that hour :slight_smile:

Lastly, if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to take a peek at the Authentic Theme, which is now included in Webmin/Virtualmin by default. It’s not the default theme, you’d have to switch to it, but we feel it’s a huge improvement over the existing one.


Is there something in particular you’d like to see more information on?
Maybe change to something what would resemble usual KB or even wiki with separate search plus it would not hurt to review all the articles as some of them are 5-6+ years old. While part of them could still hold i dont think everything is same as it was before so many years. More information there less time spent on forum trying to answer people questions.

We’re not particularly fond of the forums either, Joe is working on that with the new site upgrade that’s coming down the road.
Forum is disaster, sorry but i dont know how else i would describe it. Maybe something more familiar and easier to use it would help. Really there is no rule but you have so many choices here from paid pro forums like vBulletin, IPBoard to free one like phpBB or SMF.

I’m sorry that you feel it would be “business suicide” to run Virtualmin on a production server… there are many thousands of people out there who would disagree with that sentiment :slight_smile:
And i would disagree with them. First looks like you didnt take into account that not all countries have English as their main language, now add on top of this “usual and normal” customers who in 99% got used to (shitty - my personal opinion) cPanel you have a problem and not even small one. What is left for me would be to take out and rebuild your KB, translate and maybe only them cut my problem to something more manageable. And you think after all that work i want to give “my” KB out for free? Why not build something like wiki where everyone can participate? Not to mention that community here is almost non-existent. People come and go and rarely anyone stay.

While support isn’t 24/7 …(snipped)… responding to them at that hour :slight_smile:
This would make sense if you guys have 10 people around the clock to jump on forum and help others but i dont think this is the case and all come down to two people for what i saw. Maybe building a strong community would help you in long run and lower the pressure (and time) spent answering other people questions. Lets face it i saw (too) many topics left unanswered or people waiting several days to get any answer. Change the forum, start looking for mods, people who really spent many years around your software, pay them with free license, lower your time you spend here on forum for something else… and change other things so people will actually stay and not vanish same second they got an answer.

Lastly, if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to take a peek at the Authentic Theme, which is now included in Webmin/Virtualmin by default. It’s not the default theme, you’d have to switch to it, but we feel it’s a huge improvement over the existing one.
Personally i dont like Authentic Theme at all, honestly i hate it. One of the things i really like with your software is how it looks. Yes i like that “spartan” feeling, if you ask me about control panel and how should look you nailed it with your old/default theme. Two colors, easy to navigate, easy to see things, easy to read… and so on. When it comes to clients i get why this new theme could be good but for someone working on the backend its just no good. But this is my subjective perception and what i like, for someone else i’m sure Authentic Theme is the best thing on your control panel. If you think to completely drop your old theme not sure how good that would be, for sure i will not be happy.

Last but not least, dont take me wrong, i really like Virtualmin/Webmin and compared to others you are at very top of the list but entire “story” around your software gives that feeling of forgotten or unfinished. And this comes from someone who in last 5 months (when i start to test your CP) spent 320$ in VPS just to test how Virtualmin/Webmin works, but with situation what is right now i will not dare to put on production server (pro version ofc).

although at the moment I am not looking for commercial solution for business,
I am rather trying to build out mu own home server for personal use.
but the idea is for me to learn and maybe translate what I learn into business solution for my office.

my experiences so far is not too good. when I was playing with Xen/XenServer I could find any and all info I needed to setup and configure the server from ground up.
yes, it took a while.
yes took lots of reading and googling , and searching.
BUT the information was there, and lots of it was on Xen/XenServer WiKi and forums.
here, except for WebMin, and even though the information is there it is all over the place,
I can not find anything I need want to have a successful setup. not even the basic info on what each product does and how it doing it. Specifically CloudMin package.

first of all your naming of the products is too confusing without explanation, and even the explanation for what the product does is choppy and full of IT jargon that adds to the confusion. for example, in my specific case I was/am tring to figure out exactly what I need to use to setup my own home lab VM/File server.
my needs are small 4-5 VMs running set of apps like coach potato, subnzb and a like(not even constantly as I only want to update my media collection for a better quality feeds since my DVD are not too good) and also run a pfSense or Sophos UTM, a Plex server and one or two windows P2V converted machines for work needs.
my requirements for the system is simple, I want a BTRFS support for HOST system so I can create 2 or 3 BTRFS raid pools on the main host and share that via NFS/SAMBA to my network andmy VMs AND a GUI management with remote capabilities , preferably web-based (this is where you guys come in ).

I have been trying for weeks to get information on what should I use a VirtualMin OR CloudMin for my setup. no info anywhere or the info provided is so confusing I can make an inform decision.
every time I search for cloudmin I get a VirtualMin page.
almost every howto link on your site(with few exceptions) I find drops me to virtualmin help
page. terminology is confusing at best, if you try to make sense of it is is comes out like
" you host your host on the host and configure your host to host the host "
or “you host the VPS on the host but you configure your VPS to host your guests”
can I say HUUUUHHHH???
I understand that your products mostly target the big data center like setups and cloud hosted infrastructures, but they can also be helpful for smaller setups and the whole idea of providing free version is so some one could use it for his own needs, learn it, and suggest and provide the expertise, to others and to business setups to buy-in.

I have used your WebMin product many times and I can truly see the benefits of it and can honestly recommend it to any one looking for a reasonable GUI solution for a headless server.
even though many “TRUE” sysadmins would lough at me saying that CLI is the ONLY way to admin, I know that not to be true for many of us out there. but I have been trying to build out my server with cloudmin for the last 2 weeks and no matter what I try it will not work, and I can not/ did not find any thing useful on the web or on your site and forum.
the more I search the more confused I get.

you need a better site structure,
you need a better product division and identification.
you need a better product definition and description of what exactly each product does
,well webmin have been around for a while and many people know what it does and how
but VirtualMin and Cloudmin is kind of mashed together into a lump and not identified distinctly enough by features and capabilities. you also need to have a better description of things with simpler language targeting people who might not be in the big DataCenter crowd
but still technically well versed to setup a small server for personal or business use and would like to use your product for that.


This is all great feedback, and we certainly welcome it. Some of it we are quite aware of, and I’m working on an update to the website right now that fixes (or begins to fix) a significant number of the problems you’ve mentioned. It’s slow-going, but I have finally overcome the biggest hurdle a couple of days ago when I finally figured out how to migrate the Drupal project_issue issue tracker data into the new version.

So, here’s what’s up and what we’re doing to correct some of your complaints:

  1. Webmin wiki has been completely overhauled a couple of months ago and is under very active development, with a few awesome volunteers and me working on it. It was migrated from an old and broken TWiki installation to a new and nicely functioning MediaWiki installation. This is a combination of Jamie’s Webmin book and my Webmin book (both of which were published commercially about a decade ago), with some updates over the years to reflect changes in Webmin. I work on it about once a week, adding new stuff, cleaning up old stuff, etc. It is roughly 1,000 printed pages worth of documentation; so, if you’re not finding Webmin well-documented (it doesn’t cover Virtualmin or Cloudmin, however), I’m not sure what else we can do…please help! Check it out, and help make it better: http://doxfer.webmin.com
  2. New website on a new server. I installed a new server in our colo ages ago, and began working on migrating to Drupal 7 (from the current Drupal 6 site). This has been very slow-going, as I’m not a Drupal or PHP expert, but it’s now very near completion. The new design is much cleaner, and I’m trying to cover some of the issues with confusion over naming (i.e. “Virtualmin” is not for virtual machines, but for virtual hosting, and Cloudmin is for virtual machine management, which is an accident of history that we can’t fix now and it does confuse a lot of people). The new server is bigger/faster and has SSD storage, so performance problems should become a thing of the past, as well, and I think it is difficult to overestimate how much the slowness of the site has impacted out ability to keep it up to date. When I dread editing docs because it is super slow, things don’t get updated as often. The layout of the site will change, and Cloudmin and Virtualmin will get more dedicated sections, so it is more clear what the products do. I plan to do an overhaul of the Webmin.com site for Webmin and Usermin as soon as I finish the Virtualmin.com migration and overhaul, as it is also relatively weak at explaining what the projects are good for; many folks find the various *min projects confusing, particularly if they are coming from cPanel/WHM, where the divisions are very different. These functions are separated in Virtualmin; both types of administration are provided by one thing (Virtualmin, which you get to by logging into Webmin). Some folks seem to think Usermin plays the role of cPanel and Webmin is like WHM, but that’s not at all the case, so we need to be more clear about these projects and their roles. Cloudmin vs. Virtualmin is also a source of constant confusion. We know it, and I’m working on it.
  3. On the theme upgrade question, that one is tough. We can’t stick with what we have now. It is the single biggest source of complaints about Virtualmin. It has to change. Authentic is the best option we have for how to change it (and, frankly, I love it…with a few caveats, that I’ve been working with Ilia on changing, like icons have come back in some places). We do plan to continue to maintain the existing theme until Webmin 2.0, at which point the API will change and old themes won’t work, but Authentic and my bootstrap theme will be updated to work with the new API. The old theme simply wont be plausible to update. So, I think on this front, we need to get Authentic right, or configurable in such a way that it is right enough to make everybody willing to switch.
  4. Documentation within the projects themselves. I’m planning to do another online help audit and update. A couple of times in the life of Virtualmin, I’ve gone through and made sure every option had online help, so clicking on the option would pop up a short help file about it. That hasn’t happened in a few years now, and there are a lot of common options and pages that don’t have help, particularly in new modules like nginx. So, I’ll be doing another audit and checking in updates to make sure our online help is back to being mostly comprehensive. This could also happen for Webmin. Short term, I plan to make searching docs in Webmin better, by making sure it prioritizes results from the Webmin wiki. And longer term, there may be a way to automate importing the docs from the wiki into online help files for Webmin.

As an aside, I would also like to go back to a wiki-based documentation section of the site. Our previous website used a dokuwiki which was connected to the site somewhat transparently, but was kinda clumsy with regard to syncing users and data and such and was not very seamless. When I moved to Drupal I wanted everything to be within Drupal. So we moved into a Drupal ticket tracker (which has been mostly kinda clumsy and annoying, but does work, and doesn’t have as many quirks with integration that the old site had), and moved the docs from the wiki into a series of Drupal Book Pages. Those kinda suck, and we don’t have an easy/safe way to allow anyone to edit them. I’ve been tinkering with more wiki-like features in the new site. Given that I’m in a hurry to launch the new site, for a variety of reasons, I may not entirely have wiki-fied the docs when it first launches, but it is on my radar as something I’d like to happen. In the short term, there will be some new docs, some new organizational sections to make it more clear what each project is for, and how to make use of it. Our front page and Support pages will also see a total overhaul, to make it easier for folks to find the right place to start.

In other news, I’m moving everything except Virtualmin core into separate and public github repositories in the next few days. All of the Virtualmin plugins are Open Source, so I want to make sure folks can find and see and contribute to the code, easily. For historic reasons they’re all in the same repo, which is private (because it contains the Virtualmin Professional code). But, there’s no reason for any of that other stuff to be private or inaccessible to developers that want to extend Virtualmin. So, that’s coming, too.

As Eric noted, we are three guys (or four, if you count Ilia, as he is now on the payroll for a small monthly payment to encourage him to keep working on Authentic, but he doesn’t do any support or other work; UI is his only task). We’re trying our best. Sometimes, it’s not good enough and we go back to the drawing board and try again. The new website is one of those “back to the drawing board” situations. We’ve been at that particular drawing board three times before (OpenACS, Joomla, Drupal 6, and now Drupal 7…and Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 has actually proven to be the hardest migration of them all, surprisingly enough). Maybe one of these days it’ll come out the way we want.

Just wanted to say that I have installed Virtualmin GPL for the first time, coming from a whm/cpanel vps, and I was REALLY impressed with how easy it has been to set it up.

I too am hunting around for documentation, and desperately need guidance on securing the vps. Cpanel has an option where it will configure security automatically, maybe not optimally, and if Virtualmin had a similar functionality I’d feel a lot better.

I haven’t tried Authentic yet, I’m not a big fan of icons without text which is what I saw on the video, so I might persevere with the current interface until I find my way around a bit better.

Meanwhile on the rest of the internet: People are writing on various websites howtos that step by step explain functionality of VirtualMin. Maybe it’s an idea to ask those various authors if you can copy/adjust/integrate or just link those topics. Just Google on “Virtualmin (any feature)”.

And yes, Authentic Theme is the best thing that ever happened to Webmin/Virtualmin. Maybe now make it default for the GPL package? Although it’s just two or three clicks from the GPL installation to the new theme appearing.

What was said about CloudMin is valid and today still an issue. I don’t know why I would need Cloudmin, even though I run 1 Virtualmin Pro and 2 AWS EC2 instances with Virtualmin GPL. AWS EC2 instances are really Cloud servers with an actual API for everything, maybe in time put some more AWS functionality besides S3 backup in Virtualmin? And I would really like the option to use my Amazon S3 as backup location for the webmin configuration and for the (partial) filesystem backups as well.

What I strongly dislike, is that subdomains count towards your license limit. That way 10 virtual hosts isn’t very much. But I will keep on paying it for now and combine with GPL versions until I actually earn money on my educated hobby. For as it is, I can’t afford more for it - besides the server costs.

Last minor suggestion: Take a look at Webmin Configuration in Windows10/Edge with Authentic theme. All the icons are dancing around/switching places OnMouseOver(); Luckily Firefox and Chrome don’t have this issue so it’s not a very urgent issue.

Hi Guys, folks from virtualmin did updated docs and there is now everything - at least I found there what I need it.

I’ve filed a bug about the jittery icons in Edge. I never use Edge, so never noticed any problems. If you report bugs like this (either in our issue tracker here, or in the Authentic theme github issue tracker) these kinds of things get fixed! :wink:

Webmin/Virtualmin/Cloudmin have reached a stage of its own and the external environments development and, also, achieved a wide enough audience that there should be a market for e-books and printed books (some people still use them).
Otherwise, moves could be made to open the development up. The current developers might aide their work and also develop worthwhile support business.

The suite fits somewhere between cPanel and line-command panels. There is, IMO, greater depth and clearer logic to how Webmin/Virtualmin work but less documentation within or outside of the interface.
I read a discussion today “Virtualmin/Webmin is objected to by some because admins should learn how to control platforms using the command-line”. V/M does allow more ‘hands on’ in a clearly well-parsed environment, which is the best, IMO, compromise, and it automates many repetitive tasks without burdening Linux in any unusual way.