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I was wondering if Webmin or Virtualmin will overwrite the apache conf files like Plesk does. I'm currently running a couple servers with Plesk, and short of writing some scripts that fire when certain Plesk events happen, I can't do something simple like change which port a virtual machine listens on. Plesk will just overwrite the apache conf files as soon as a change is made within Plesk.

I do the majority of the server admin via the command line, but we have a few people here who like to have access to create a domain or ftp user. For me to get rid of Plesk, I'll need at least a simple solution to replace the basic features that these other users use. Something free would be preferred, but I'm open to any suggestions if Webmin/Virtualmin won't work for me.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'm one of the developers on both projects.

It is pretty much always safe to use Webmin and the command line on the same configuration files. We're system administrators ourselves, and it would infuriate me to not be able to hit the command line. As long as the service itself (Apache, Postfix, whatever) can read and parse the file, Webmin should be able to, as well. And it will never overwrite your changes...next time you visit the service in Webmin, you'll see the new configuration. Webmin always works directly on the files and there is no intermediate step or database.

Virtualmin has a small amount of its own meta-data, and it would be possible to break stuff in a Virtualmin system, while not actually breaking the configuration for the services it manages...but it's pretty rare. Virtualmin is also designed to allow configuration via the command line. You generally don't even have to think about the spots where it might cause trouble, because they're things you, as a reasonably knowledgeable sysadmin, wouldn't do. Like messing with GID/UID of users, which would break associations between domains and users. One other area to be aware of: If you change passwords outside of Virtualmin using passwd or something else, it will not be able to update all of the other related passwords to match (which may or may not be a big deal; just depends on your use case and your users). There is a command line tool for Virtualmin that allows command line changes to anything in Virtualmin, including password, as well...so you can still script things that wouldn't be safe to change outside of Virtualmin using that command line tool, or the HTTP API.

So, in short, if being able to edit configuration files is important, I think Webmin and Virtualmin are probably the best options available. At least, I don't know of any other full-featured control panel that does this. It is pretty hard to do, so most projects and products punt and rewrite files from templates and such.

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Thanks for the info. I'll probably remove plesk from one of our dev servers and give Webmin/Virtualmin a bit of a shakedown. –  Alex Jillard Nov 20 '09 at 15:09

I don't know of any automated management system that doesn't get in the way of manual config modification in one way or another. It's just the price you pay.

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Hmm. I was afraid of that. Thanks. –  Alex Jillard Nov 18 '09 at 19:24
3  
Webmin. Its a "GUI command line", ie you use the Webmin GUI that alters the files that you would have edited in nano. You can think of it as just a very fancy text editor, as it always edits the files you would edit - not like other panels that mandate where the files live and that you cannot manually edit them without your changes being lost next time you use the GUI. –  gbjbaanb Jan 21 '10 at 20:14
    
I know one: Webmin and Virtualmin (+1 for gbjbaanb comment) –  Paulocoghi Nov 10 at 22:19
    
Do webmin and virtualmin keep comments up-to-date with reality? –  womble Nov 11 at 0:12

It is possible to avoid having your files overwritten.

In the "/var/www/vhost/domain.com/conf/" directory, create the file "vhost.conf" with all your custom settings and run "websrvmng -v -a".

This file will be included in the main domain's config file "httpd.include" and will never rewritten by Plesk.

Contact me on Twitter @ParallelsPanel if you need more help. Good luck!

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With the vhost.conf file is it possible to change full definitions of virtual hosts? Which port they listen to and all? All of my sites use vhost.conf files currently for custom settings, but it seems to me that there are limitations to it. –  Alex Jillard Nov 20 '09 at 15:03

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