Hari's Corner

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Linux System Administration GUI: webmin

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted on Thu, May 12, 2005 at 08:32 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 21:08 IST)

Are you one of those people who believe that Linux equals the command-line? Do you believe that to effectively configure and control a Linux box, you need in-depth knowledge of the command line? If you are a typical newbie, your answers would be "yes" to both these questions. And this can be a troublesome conclusion to make, because getting to know the command-line effectively (apart from the basic commands like ls, dir, cat and such) can be time-consuming and, to most people coming from a Windows background, will involve a considerable learning curve. There will be some frustration and a resulting loss of productivity. While I cannot dispute the statement that the command-line gives a lot of power and flexibility if you are a power user, I must mention that there are alternatives to the command-line, which surprisingly do not get much attention in Linux-related debates and discussions.

And one of the more powerful administration tools for Linux (and a host of other operating systems: check here for a complete list) is webmin. Webmin is a web-based administration tool that can be used both remotely as well as locally and is platform independent, which is a great advantage. Merely by typing in https://<servername>:10000 as the URL in a web-browser (where <servername> is the IP address or the host name of the webmin server and 10000 is the default webmin port) you can administer almost every aspect of your system. Webmin comes with a variety of modules to cover most aspects of server and system administration and is a tool that can be used by novices and experts alike.

There are definitely other GUI tools for Linux System administration, but most of these are distro-dependent. Fedora and RedHat have their own native GUI administration tools as well and these serve the purpose equally well. But for a totally platform-independent solution, I would recommend webmin.

Linux need not be the exclusive domain for the "experts". Tools like webmin go a long way towards helping newbies gain control of their Linux box and administer every aspect of their system. Though, of course, nothing beats the command line and editing configuration files manually, as the Linux experts would point out to you, webmin serves the purpose quite adequately. Any aspiring Linux administrator should add this to his toolbox.

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