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I have apache2, mysql, and vsftpd running. Are there any other tools I can use to make the transition easier? Any free control panels similar to cpanel?

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How many sites do you host? What platform are you using? –  Mark Henderson Aug 12 '09 at 23:59
    
I host 2 low traffic sites. I'm using the latest version of Ubuntu Server. –  ryeguy Aug 13 '09 at 0:00

5 Answers 5

up vote 19 down vote accepted

I loathe using a control panel, because while they make the simple stuff easy, they make the hard stuff damn well near impossible, which severely hampers your ability to do things down the road -- and you never know when you're going to hit a massive control panel-inspired road block (it's not as though the authors are going to say "here's where we suck"), and moving away from a control panel later ends up being a lot more costly and troublesome than just avoiding them to begin with.

Learn some basic sysadmin skills and you'll be a lot better off in the long run.

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4  
OP and others might dismiss this comment but anyone who has had the misfortune of inheriting a server with a control panel config knows the truth of how difficult it can become to admin your server when you want to do something the panel doesn't consider "proper". –  HTTP500 Aug 13 '09 at 0:44
    
I work at a hosting company, managing customer boxes with control panels on them (whether it's one of the commercial ones, or the open source ones) is several times more difficult than managing customer boxes that have just been configured by hand. –  womble Aug 13 '09 at 0:56
    
The only thing I use a control panel for is quickly making users and groups and modifying some start/stop process at boot. –  David Rickman Aug 13 '09 at 5:53
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You've got a control panel that's quicker than "ssh server adduser fred"? That's verging on the magical. –  womble Aug 13 '09 at 8:03

You'll probably want an MTA as well - I'd recommend Postfix. You can also install Postfix Admin (http://postfixadmin.sourceforge.net/) if you'd like a web interface to it.

Make sure you've got a firewall running as well. APF (http: //www.rfxn.com/projects/advanced-policy-firewall/) is a reasonably nice iptables configuration manager that's quite straight forward to configure.

As for making the migration process easier, just follow these simple steps.

  1. Lower the TTL on your domain to 300 seconds
  2. Create your Apache config for your VirtualHost
  3. Create your database(s) and user(s)
  4. Migrate your static content, databases and cron jobs (but leave them disabled for now)
  5. Add appropriate entries to your hosts file so that you can test the site before going live
  6. Check & fix all aspects of the site
  7. Put up an "under maintenance" page on your old server
  8. Take a final database dump on your old server and import it on your new server
  9. Change your DNS records to point to your new IP and adjust TTL back
  10. Enable your cron jobs.
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Don't forget to install php (or the scripting language of your choice).

phpMyAdmin is useful for MySQL administration.

You may also want to install open-ssl for generating SSL certificates and/or certificate requests (assuming you want secure connections).

If you want to send mail from your scripts you'll need something like PostFix. If you want to receive and serve mail as well, you'll also need a pop3 and/or IMAP server (Cyrus, Dovecot, Courier IMAP).

You may also want to checkout SliceHost's Article Section. It's fairly comprehensive and aimed at new server admins.

I agree with the comments above- control panels are very limiting. In the long run, you'll be better off editing the config files by hand- it's usually pretty straight-forward.

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If you are looking for control panels to manage your server then consider Webmin or ISPConfig both free and open source. Like others recommended it would not hurt to configure by hand, in the end it's your choice.

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