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I am currently in the process of creating a home server, made up of several virtual machines, each running a different type of server (i.e. a file server, a multimedia server, a firewall and a print server as of now).

Today I discovered this new software, Zentyal, which looks interesting for system and network administration. However, I haven't understood one thing: can it be used only with its preconfigured packages or can it also be used to control other servers running other programs (in my case, the four virtual machines)?.

Also, would you suggest to use such a program or do you think it's better to control each server on its own?

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closed as off topic by Ward, Michael Hampton, mdpc, Tom O'Connor, Iain Dec 9 '12 at 15:49

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Your question is off topic for Serverfault because it doesn't appear to relate to servers/networking or desktop infrastructure in a professional environment. It may be on topic for Superuser but please search their site for similar questions that may already have the answer you're looking for. – Iain Dec 9 '12 at 15:49
@Iain the question can easily be extended to a professional environment, i.e. changing the word 'home' with 'enterprise' :) – user1301428 Dec 9 '12 at 18:37
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'm new to sysadmin and this site, but I'll try my best to answer this based on my experience with that distro.

You don't specify what you're using it for, and how many boxes you have to work with (physical or virtual) so we'll say 2 possibilities. First, you just want to run some servers at home and this isn't live and essential to some venture. Then just use one box, with Zentyal, and redundancy and survival is not an issue. Second, this is for some business or operational function and therefore necessary. Then do not host all servers on one box for standard practice reasons.

As to whether to use Zentyal or not overall, it's a decent distro but I wouldn't use the free version for a massive network. The commercial version is much more robust with better support. Having all services on one box is not typically allowed in production networks but from home, it's not as big of a deal and you make the call.

It sounds like you're asking whether other servers can be used on a Zentyal installation. It's still just Ubuntu Linux so you can put anything else on there. But if you want access by way of the web interface, then I believe you'll have to code that into the files (it's written in PHP I think) to allow those additional servers to be shown. Otherwise just access them by CLI and save time.

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I have 4 virtual machines running on one machine in my home network. I was thinking about the VMs to separate duties and reduce the risk of problems (if there is a problem with my print server VM, the other server could continue to work) and I was asking myself if Zentyal could be used to have a single web interface from which to administer all VMs. – user1301428 Dec 9 '12 at 2:16
OK so it sounds like you could be using a cloud solution for that. Cloud management (sounds complex but not really) software can be used like a front-end to manage various services on different boxes virtual or physical. Zentyal isn't cloud, and all you can do is setup servers. If you want management capability, check out a management web interface called Puppet – stackuser Dec 9 '12 at 2:37

You could use Zentyal for all your needs without using other virtual machines. It depends on which services you need, but Zentyal already ships many different services.

To reduce administrative work, I'd recommend to use as few servers as necessary. If you go for different virtual machines, Zentyal can be the Hypervisor for your needs. But it probably won't help you with administering those virtual machines.

If you're just looking for a Hypervisor to host your VMs, have a look at proxmox (

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Basically, I am only interested in having a web interface from which to administer my virtual machines, and I didn't know if Zentyal could do that... – user1301428 Dec 9 '12 at 2:12
yes, it can do that. But for that job, I'd recommend using Proxmox. – mgabriel Dec 9 '12 at 12:07
Thanks. Any particular reasons why I should use Proxmox and not Zentyal? – user1301428 Dec 9 '12 at 12:09
First, Zentyal has many different services, a GNOME Shell and a web interface while Proxmox only ships a Debian Squeeze with a custom kernel and and custom Web GUI. Due to the amount of services and integrations in Zentyal, upgrading a machine will be much harder. Not upgrading a system isn't really an option. Second, Zentyal Community Edition does not have a proper upgrade path (only Professional and Enterprise editions have), but Proxmox has because of the underlying Debian and the few services running on the hypervisor. – mgabriel Dec 9 '12 at 12:51

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