When I first looked at unmanaged VPS options, as a Linux newbie, one thing that concerned me was to have a control panel. So I set up Ubuntu, tacked on familiar Apache, and added one, before repeating the process with alternative combos.
In the process, delving deeper into the pros and cons of server setups, amongst other things I realised I didn't really need the control panel which, after all, wastes resources and adds a security risk.
That was an epiphany.
I've had similar awakenings before; when I first tried Firefox I quickly ditched Internet Poorer. Or Skype vs the landline, or Google Apps over an smtp mail server, which I'll be covering in Part 18: * Google Apps for Domain-Specific Email. But I digress.
In a hurry? Read Part 17: Nginx Control Panel Workarounds for instant solutions. Best to read this first tho'.
Here's the key question ..
Do you Want a Control Panel, or to Host Web Sites?
What I really wanted from my virtual private server, my goal, came down to:-
Serving sites and blogs on a budget, at the fastest possible speed, with the least downtime, in the most secure environment and future-proofed for easy website additions, maintenance and administration.
(and that is precisely the setup this VPS Bible steps out.)
Load-balancing the Virtual Requirement
One thing was clear. I had to have Nginx. But strapping on a control panel looked problematic. I decided that to lose the CP was a risk worth taking, and true to my goal. Especially with Linode, where many of the key tasks are performed with my Manager panel anyway (plus many advanced options that are unavailable with popular panels).
As it turned out, what with a newly-acquired tentative grasp of Linux, the VPS Manager, an FTP client to hold my hand and slowly growing confidence in using the command line interface, I decided that, after all, I didn't want a cPanel-type GUI anyway. Indeed, what a waste of resource.
But for this tutorial series it was another matter. I'm trying to help out Linux newbies here, whose concerns are very like mine were, just a few months back.
So, folks, the long and short of all that is, I've got some bad news, some encouraging news and some good news. Most importantly, I've got a watertight solution, or rather a bunch of them because, as with all the modules in a panel, there are a lot of functions to workaround (not that you'll use many of those, most likely.)
The Bad News
There ain't a control panel. Sorry.
After literally several solid days of asking, begging and pleading, of frequenting all the forums and scanning all the sites, my conclusion is that there is no viable panel.
There are some claims to fame but they are either poorly maintained, else depend on Apache running consecutively, with no guarantee the server will be seamlessly upgradeable. Even then, Nginx has handicapped performance, largely negating the reason to install it, will likely require system administrator costs and will inevitably involve lengthy downtime. I could expand on that, and probably will in the comments.
Someone – please tell me I've missed something here. I want to be proven wrong!
The Encouraging News
There are some projects in the works and, believe-you-me, as soon as there are betas I'll be testing them and telling you about them.
The Good News
You don't need a control panel!
With a VPS provider like Linode or, as I understand, Slicehost, the Manager panel carries out many common tasks and, as I say, provide advanced configurations and functions unavailable with popular control panels. These include backup jobs, domain settings and server admin. We'll look at those more in Part 17: Nginx Control Panel Workarounds.
I'm not saying there aren't missing modules; there are. The typical CP mostly facilitates web site management, but ..
.. Given some facts, the complete copy/paste workarounds, a few keystrokes and a goal like mine – you won't want a CP. Let's consider that ..
You Don't Need a Control Panel
You want a CP because:-
- of a lack of command line confidence
- it's a reassuring visual interface
- of habituation; your shared host provided one
- it gives easy (but restricted) website/server setup & maintenance
You don't need a CP because:-
- you have one already for server & domain administration with most VPS providers
- it wastes a lot of time, as well as server resources
- it's an added security risk
- most of what it does we don't use anyway
- you've got an SFTP client to explore and administer sites
- you can add a database client such as phpmyadmin to explore and administer databases
- whatever website/server setup & maintenance operations are not handled in the above few points, are performed more easily with a few simple CLI commands ..
- .. and that lovely guv_chap is gonna prep copy/paste cheats, just for you 🙂
So, with many CP functions catered for by your VPS Control Panel, and having your sftp client, really it comes down to confidence, and a few chunks of code which, in most cases, you'll never need use anyway.
And having followed this copy/paste VPS Bible through each step, I'll bet my back teeth you're beginning to feel happier using the command line, no? And I'll bet the front teeth that you don't want to waste server resources.
But You Do Need This!
In Part 17: Nginx Control Panel Workarounds I look at every single module used in the most popular panel, cPanel, and consider what of those we need, don't need and why.
Linked from there I will add, over the next few weeks and as an appendix to this series, each and every mod con workaround.
Because I'm Stubborn
When there's an Nginx-compatible CP available that's worth its salt and works with Webmin, ISPconfig, Virtualmin, Plesk or whatever, like I say, I'll let you know.
But, given the same goal as me, by the time you've tried out my control tweaks, I vouch you won't much care.
.. Now that's epiphany we can believe in.