October 26, 2014
 
 
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Webmin

Webmin Rocks!

  • May 31, 1999
  • By Martin Brooks
Okay, that's not a very articulate summary, but it is a very suitable one.

http://www.webmin.com/

Webmin is a web based tool written in Perl that allows remote or local configuration, inspection and administration of Linux servers or workstations. It is a modular system and by default comes with built-in modules for popular applications such as Squid, sendmail, BIND, Apache, Samba and a whole host of others (see screenshot).

For a new systems admin this is an ideal tool. It's very simple to install and makes tasks that are often beyond newer sysadmins simple, if not trivial. One very good example of this is the sendmail module.

When I was building my firewall I wanted sendmail to do the following things:
  1. Accept mail for multiple domains and forward it onto a Microsoft Exchange system
  2. Accept mail from the Exchange server and send it to its destination
  3. Block all mail not related to the domains (anti-SPAM).
Take one. I duly went out and bought the O'Reilly sendmail book. Several days and a lot of hard reading later, I gave up and hired James Andrews to come and help me out and after a few hours we had it working.

Take two. On a secondary machine I installed Webmin. I filled in the boxes and, within 10 minutes, I had exactly the same setup running fine. Done.

The only drawback of using Webmin I see is that you don't see exactly what it changes so you can't easily learn from the changes it makes. However, for a SysAdmin-In-Training it's a good shortcut to getting something up and running--and more importantly, working--in a short time. You then have the leisure to take the config files apart and see what it did and bask in the glow of admiration from those above and around you.

Even more advanced administrators will find it useful. It allows different levels of access to different users so that you can delegate tasks. A good example of this is the squid module. (If you're not familiar with Squid, you should be!): http://squid.nlanr.net/ ). Any member of the IT Department here at my offices can use Webmin from anywhere in the building to add and delete Squid users or change Squid account passwords--this saves me a great deal of time and effort.

It's very much worth taking a look at Webmin, I know of no more useful tool for administering Linux.
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