What is Webmin and why would I want to use it?

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What is Webmin and why would I want to use it?

 February 28th, 2019

Webmin is a web-based interface for system administration for Linux/Unix.  Webmin also allows for controlling many machines through a single interface, or seamless login on other webmin hosts on the same subnet or LAN.  You would use any modern web browser to connect to your server.  Webmin removes the need to manually edit Linux/Unix configuration files, and it lets you manage a server from the console or remotely.  With Webmin, you can configure operating system internals such as users, service or configuration files, disk quotas, as well as modify and control open source applications such as Apache or Tomcat, PHP, MySQL, DNS and file sharing.  Webmin is largely based on Perl, which runs as its own process and web server.

Although many people have contributed patches and translations into additional languages, most of the development was done by Jamie Cameron.  Webmin is under a BSD-like license, which means that it is freely distributed and modified for commercial and non-commercial use.  Webmin supports the concept of modules (a list of third party modules can be viewed here .  Anyone can develop and distribute their own Webmin modules for any purpose, and distribute them under any licence (such as GPL, commercial or shareware).  In fact, if you are knowledgeable enough, you could even create your own module.

There are many different Linux/Unix operating systems and distributions that are supported, which you can view here.  Module documentation can be viewed here. (link here to https://doxfer.webmin.com/Webmin/Modules).   You can view screenshots of Webmin here.  You can view the standard modules here.  

Related Software

Webmin can be expanded by installing modules, which can be custom made. Aside from this, there are two other major projects that extend the functionality of webmin:
Usermin presents and controls a subset of the features available in Webmin, such as web mail and other user-level tasks, rather than administrator-level tasks.
Virtualmin, which is a web hosting control panel. Out of the box, Virtualmin enables users to host websites under domains. This gives the server admin and the end user an easy to use interface for managing their websites.

Access

Using a web browser, typically access is done by connecting to your server.  Typically you would configure your server to use SSL for a more secured login. The TCP port however can be configured to a different port for even more security.  Typically, when you first access your server, you will receive an error that the certificate for https is self signed.  This is normal and can be ignored.  Later on, you might consider purchasing an SSL for your secured login.  Once you have accepted the certificate, you will see a login screen, which typically as super user, you would login with root.

Webmin Control Panel

 

Once you have logged in, your next screen is a dashboard that displays general system information, and you can control various aspect of your server from the menu on the left.

Webmin Control Panel Dashboard

Common Modules

Since Webmin is built around modules, it has an interface to configuration files and the Webmin server.  This makes it easy to add new functionality. Due to Webmin’s modular design, it is possible for anyone who is interested to write plugins for desktop configuration.  There are modules that will essentially manage just about every aspect of a Linux/Unix system.  Some examples:

  • You can manage your packages via Webmin by clicking system and then software packages.  Here you can search for a package to view information about it, install or uninstall new software packages and even update software packages.
  • You can add or delete users by selecting Webmin Users in the menu.
  • You can browse or upload files by selecting Others and then File Manger.
  • You can work in the command line by selecting Others and then Command Shell.
  • You can custom configure Webmin by selecting Webmin and then Webmin Configuration.
  • You can control what daemons start and stop during system startup and shutdown, access to all run levels and the ability to add custom applications to startup and shut down.
  • After installing Apache web server, you can add websites by going to servers, Apache Webserver.

Conclusion

While this article touches briefly on the numerous things that can be done with Webmin, Webmin is one of the best tools for managing your Linux/Unix servers.  It provides useful functionality for both novice and power users.  It allows power users to customize their server without worrying about updates removing custom configurations.  Your trusted hosting provider can also provide you with support in assisting you with Webmin.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact us