Webmin, Virtualmin, Usermin: Which one should I use? - Feedback from a Newbie

Hi,

As a newbie, possible searching for a new home I found the following issues while looking at your software (Webmin/Virtualmin/Usermin). These are not a critisim but some feedback that might help you get more users and improve the overall experience and is meant as positive feedback only.

My Background and setup

  • I am a IT support guy who uses primarily Window but can manage to follow instructions for Linux.
  • I run a CWP webserver at my home which has a couple of my own websites on it.
  • I am looking at using Virtualmin because it has an active community and regular updates.

Confused?

When I first looked into Webmin/Virtualmin I got confused about all of the different softwares (webmin/virtualmin/usermin/cloudmin/Filemin) and when I couldnt figure it out I went looking for another package and ended up using CWP. This was the most confusing aspect of the software and their different uses only become clear after using Virtualmin for a while.

Suggestions/Thoughts

  • Make Virtualmin installable from Webmin rather than a standalone script, control by the use of the 'post installation wizard' (but make it a 1 time option if a fresh install is needed)
  • Merging Webmin and Virtualmin is perhaps quite a suggestion but it would stop 2 separate repos being maintained.
    • If you are going to install Webmin you might aswell install Virtualmin.
  • Rename `Webmin` to `Servermin`
    • For people wanting to do webhosting the name change alone will prompt them to look at Virtualmin and the benefits this brings.
    • The new name fits better with what the software does as it allows you to configure more than a webserver, similiar features to cockpit.
  • Get rid of the webmin.com website and move everything on to the Virtualmin website
    • www.virtualmin.com/webmin and at the top put the words. "this is the base software that virtualmin uses'
  • Update/create a plugins library (and move to virtualmin website) so you can see them like on the joomla or Wordpress repos, but with Webmin Virtualmin, Usermin, Cloudmin Tags.
  • Get a demo working for Webmin, Virtualmin, Usermin, Cloudmin
  • There are no screenshots for Usermin, making it hard for newbies to figure out what this is for.
  • Make a note somewhere that Filemin has been merged into Webmin sometime ago as people still refer to Filemin rather that just Webmin's file manager.
  • Theme
    • The functionality of Virtualmin is great (Clean and functional) but for the end user (i.e. people you sell webhosting to) the interface is not ideal because it is designed for nerds which is not a bad thing but clients are not usually nerds.
    • Virtualmin is inbetween worlds (Techies/End-user) becasue of the theme, but this could be mainly fixed by having a different style of Theme for the clients (or all of Virtualmin) with the following characterisitcs:
      • make more fluffy
      • template needs more colour, not all in blue
      • Bootstrap style
      • The UI is very functional and I dont mind it. however it does not have all of the fluffy stuff for the end users/clients. This is what I thought usermin was for but I am not sure it is it's primary role.
  • Make clear on a single page what the different software is for i.e.:
    • Webmin - Your server manager administrator. Hardware, software packages, server configuration, software configuration.
    • Virtualmin - Something like WHM of cPanel. Your client accounts, domains, hosting packages, e-mail configurations.
    • Usermin - A control panel for your clients or controlled Linux access.
    • Cloudmin - A virtual Machine management platform and is only needed if you want to manage a certain type of Virtual Machine.

I suggest you setup and use the software and become familiar with it before you start suggesting changes to something you admit to having no familiarity with. Seriously. There is a lot of choice to be had/made with the current setup.

Edit: The current installed user base is here constantly working to improve the functionality. Install and join. Learn the software a bit and then make suggestions to a decades old system that is constantly updated with input from users.

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I suggest you setup and use the software and become familiar with it before you start suggesting changes to something you admit to having no familiarity with.

Who says I haven’t? These are the notes I took about 1-2 months ago and have been using VM since on my test server.

I have looked at lots of cPanels and wrote the details up so I feel my thoughts are valid. cPanel Alternatives and Linux Web Interfaces | QuantumWarp

The current installed user base is here constantly working to improve the functionality. Install and join.

First impressions are important and I will not be the only one who has gone through what I have described above but I have returned to try VM out again, not all people will. Hence why I am mentioning these things here before they are lost so they might help improve VM.

Your observations are valid for you. I tried CWP and quickly moved on. Is that the one with snippets of binaries with dire warnings about decompiling and doing reverse engineering on? I tried others as well. My first impression was Webmin/Virtualmin was my best option from moving on from cPanel. Do your impressions trump mine?

You admit that you are coming from the Windows world. Many in open source appreciate that WM/VM is nothing like that world. To each their own. I’m sure your suggestions will be read, just don’t expect them to supersede decades of work and tinkering anytime soon because that suits your use case best.

I say let’s have a discussion for the sake of having it…

The first Linux distribution I installed was Yggdrasil in the spring of 1993, I still have the CDs in their original packaging in a place of honor in the library. I use control panels from before 2000 and since then I have been switching between them. By far the one I feel the best with is Virtualmin/Webmin.

Feedback is always welcome, but I think you worry too much about small things that don’t have a major impact on performance. What you listed there does not help me at all from the position of an advanced user. I am interested in solving bugs and providing new features. Between us, I don’t sit all day with my nose in the web interface because I am in Terminal for everything. Each package *-min does the job for which it was created. I admit that with Clouldmin I felt more drawn to OpenNebula and I have never used Usermin.

It’s hard for me to compare Virtualmin/Webmin with cPanel/WHM because by far the first is much more accomplished. Only one who has used them a lot can contradict me. For me, things like the use of Bootstrap framework in the interface do not help me at all. The current theme is really nice compared to what existed in the past, it has a day/night model, File Manager, an many more. Why would I care so much about what happens there since once the setup is complete I don’t access the interface very often?

I close this personal feedback telling you that it is not important to change the name of a product that is already established, others are more important. and the forum is full of problems that need to be solved by someone.

My advice is to install it and get your doctorate in use. You’ll change your opinion after a while, that’s how I see it from where I’m sitting now. Your initial post will remain and you can reread it in about 2 years.

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Virtualmin includes a Webmin module (a dozen, or so, Webmin modules, actually). But it’s a lot more complicated than being a module of Webmin.

Depends on your definition of “bigger”. Virtualmin is more code (since it’s Webmin plus all the Virtualmin modules and tools). But, Webmin has a million or more active installs. Virtualmin has 150k or so.

Not possible.

Webmin is a very light-dependency package. It runs everywhere. Virtualmin is a big stack of packages, a configuration system, etc. The number of packages we have to maintain for Virtualmin is huge compared to Webmin.

You’re assuming all of those million people using just Webmin would also have a use for Virtualmin. Virtualmin is a web hosting control panel. Webmin is a systems management UI. There’s a huge variety of use cases where Webmin is useful and Virtualmin is not.

One should absolutely, 100%, be using Virtualmin if you are hosting websites; Webmin alone would make no sense for managing websites. If you are not hosting websites, Virtualmin is not useful, but Webmin may be.

No.

No.

This is a fine idea. We have a Webmin module search, but it’s not very well-maintained, and has a lot of old cruft listed that should be removed.

Where did you find that link? I thought I’d removed it from everywhere. People were just too abusive and would trash the demo constantly and put offensively named domains up and such, it wasn’t worth it. You can install GPL for free and test it all you want. Takes a few minutes.

True. I’ve noticed a lot of problems with the new Webmin website. We’ll keep working on it.

Where are you seeing mentions of Filemin that would make you think you need it? None of our documentation tells people to install Filemin, and I don’t see how one could use the software for more than a few minutes without seeing that it has a File Manager…I don’t know why Filemin would come up.

It is using Bootstrap.

Usermin is a webmail client with some other stuff. It is not for administrative tasks.

You’re right. The front page of Virtualmin.com used to have a short description of each. I don’t know what happened to it (and I don’t know how/when the front page got so long). We’ll work on it.

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Well, there is screenshots for Usermin at Screenshots | Webmin website, however they are listed at the back of the stack – you would need to start listing backwards to see Usermin screenshots.

I’d think we need to place separate set of screenshots for each Webmin, Usermin, Virtualmin and Cloudmin.

Which fluffiness is missing exactly?

@joe thanks for the in-depth reply. This is the discussion I wanted and maybe the ideas might help promote Virtualmin which is the one that pays your bills.

The plugins directory would be a great place for paid plugins and Virtualmin could take a share, this might encourage developers to make and maintain 3rd party plugins.

When I said bootstrap I did mean the technology but the style I see when people mention bootstrap is larger buttons bright colours etc… A lot of other panels use this style.

@Ilia I will see if I can get some specific examples together. The webmin screenshot gallery would be better if it has a thumbnail gallery with text about where the screenshot is from and then the carousel in a modal which you can then cycle through. This layout would give context to what people are looking at and can display feature easier to the new potential user.

Well, this is already available but in the full screen mode only. Although, not with the thumbnail but the text with description about screenshot is available.

I really have doubts that anyone would ever need a description for the already pretty self-explanatory screenshot.

When you say fluff do you mean something with lots of padding and white/empty space, large fonts and buttons while being minimal or “modern” as people call it these days?

For beginners who graduated from shared hosting and are new to linux I agree that it could be helpful but when someone crosses the beginner line what we have currently is needed. A modern design can’t fit all these options.

I too was overwhelmed when starting out with virtualmin but after a few linux/vps course I came to appreciate all the work put in to webmin/virtualmin/usermin. I can do almost everything in gui and faster than running commands.

I don’t know if this is the best solution but for beginners if there was a modern theme which has only basic options shown and looks like material ui or whatever. Virtualmin could attract alot of newbies. It could ship out by default with a minimal/basic install.

Alot of virtualmin competitors uses the fluff design which sold me out at one point but returned to virtualmin and authentic theme due its vast amount of functionality.

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