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Ask HN: A server admin panel that “just works?”
53 points by serverQuestion on Dec 8, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments
I'm interested in setting up my own server just to make it easy to run and play around with web projects. Does anyone know if there is a heroku like service that I can host on my own server to manage web apps/sites.

Think connecting to a git repo from the UI. connecting to a domain to create development urls: projectname.domain.com, that sort of things.

I'm not sure what to look/search for online to find what I'm looking for.

If you want to set up your own server, why do you need a control panel? Just learn to configure all the services. Command line is all you need.

If you want ease-of-use, running your own server is not the way to go. You can get pretty far with AWS/GCP/Azure free tier.

My guess is the OP wants to spend his time doing things WITH the sever, rather than sinking time into doing things TO the server.

Stupid question here, but I have tried to google it a couple times and not found the exact answers I want.

When setting up a server on VPS what exact 'dashboards'/'control panels' are available?

Like op, I want to keep an eye on things manually in one place, similar to what I get pre-set up in cpanel shared hosting. Disk space usage, total traffic used that month, tracking server load, pages visited, and by what IPs, etc.(ideally without using google analytics script tag on page)

I wan't to analyse the performance of my webapp really, relative to the amount of people signed up.

I am going to be using LEMP stack.

CPanel and Plesk are probably your best options but you'll be paying a pretty penny for them

Seconded. But why need the complication of AWS/GCP/Azure when you can go with a VPS from Digital Ocean or any of the many alternatives? No need to learn the special AWS ways, keep it even simpler.

For me the 'sea of icons' of a control panel is a headache, I much prefer command line and saving my history for when I learn something crucial.

I used to be a linux shell only person but I am quite keen on having ssh windows in the IDE nowadays with git and rsync for getting code and 'assets' from dev machine to the internet. Connecting to remote databases via the IDE is pretty good too.

It is easier to Google how to do something and copy/paste command line commands than it is to follow a GUI tutorial.

Yes, I’d third getting started with Digital Ocean or Linode, but even AWS Lightsail isn’t a terrible option if you want to be able to say you’re dipping your feet into the turbulent Amazon waters.

I can whole-heartedly recommend Dokku[0], it's been fantastic for me, and does exactly what you describe.

Edit: Doh! Except for the admin panel, which was a pretty major part of your question :) Dokku is CLI-based, though I seem to remember there being a third-party web ui for it, can't remember. Either way, it might still be worth checking out.

[0] https://github.com/dokku/dokku

Dokku is excellent and does all the heavy lifting for what OP was asking for. For the UI, https://github.com/intercity/intercity-server is a good way to go (https://intercity.io/ has some screenshots and such).

If you really want something like Heroku, you could try Dokku, though that's not really a control panel. Digital Ocean provides a droplet image for it.

Cockpit does a lot of the basic functionality you need.

It's a great option and is installed by default on Fedora.

Might want to mention fedora server edition (I think it is implied but people might not realize)

Another option I don't see mentioned so far:

We use VirtualMin on our servers for all of our commodity hosting (it is based upon WebMin). There is an open source version and a pro version. We use the pro version — I don't personally know what the exact differences are, as it was my colleague's choice historically, so I can't comment specifically on the open source version's features. But we've found it pretty good, and cheap enough ($6/month/server).

It takes literally seconds to set up a new domain, provides config info to copy across to our DNS provider (we don't do DNS on the same machine, other folk can provide a far more reliable service at no extra cost: FWIW, we use Joker), it has support for autocerts from Let's Encrypt, and has fairly up-to-date app bundles for a lot of well known web apps.

I'm a developer, and have no issues with command line, but using a control panel for day-to-day basics is just so easy, pretty much a total no-brainer, and also allows us to have more technically minded folk manage their own domains/subdomains and services (if you wish to share/resell).

I've used Plesk before, and didn't like it much, for a variety of reasons (including when it borked an update, and was all kinds of hell to fix)


I've been using captainduckduck in production for a while now.

It might be a little finniky for you to wrap your head around at first, but it does work well once you do that.


I’ve started using Ansible to document how I want my server set up in a machine readable way. Very useful because when I want to start over I can just run my Ansible playbooks to set up everything to how I want it. I’d prefer that to an GUI approach such as an admin panel. A GUI makes it difficult to record your desired configuration and then later initialise a new server (or a reinstalled OS) to use said configuration. Even simply writing a shell script to do the configuration would be great as it means you’re both (1) documenting your configuration preferences and (2) making a tool that sets everything up as per your preferences. YMMV of course.

I think this is the usecase Redhat is trying to target with its Cockpit application. Easy GUI admin for a server. I think it works with all Linux distros but more tuned for Refora, RHEL, CentOS.

I built ScaleDynamix[1] with similar goals in mind. It connects to your AWS/GCP/Azure account via terraform and gives you a cpanel like interface to launch sites. You can also horizontally scale the stack either manually or automatically based on utilization. It's optimized for php, but you can run any other languages easily on it.

There is a free version available for non-commercial projects.

[1] https://scaledynamix.com

I’m using Dokku + Kirby or Serverpilot + Kirby. Kirby has a plugin called autogit, where you can update/save changes to/from a git repository

Autogit is about to change my life.

I run probably 12 Kirby sites, and it’s amazing, but content backups is a major issue.

If you want LAMP/LEMP, check out https://vestacp.com/.

You can provision a subdomain and clone whatever repo into the root directory and be functional pretty quickly.

Vesta has had quite a few security issues, they seem to have lost quite a bit of momentum lately. Vesta is OK but not for CLI noobs.

For PHP projects, Laravel Forge is a good option https://forge.laravel.com/



+1 for cloudron

We have a Plesk server that we use to host random stuff easily. Takes care of DNS, Git, updates, etc etc. Great solution for something that just works.

I doubt OP will want to pay for a service when he is looking for a product to "host random stuff"

ServerPilot.io is nice for php/wordpress lately they turned themsleves into a paid only solution.

Cpanel still works fine assuming you are looking to run LAMP. Takes care of everything for you.

Get a dedicated root server with hetzner. It's relatively cheap for what you get.

That doesn't help with the question

Can IaaS be considered as the new admin panel?

After I started using Nixos I can't imagine using anything else. https://nixos.org

Where can I read about the nixos admin panel?

I don't know if there is one, probably wouldn't be that hard to make if anyone actually bothered. At the end of the day what is simpler that modifying a text file? You can search for options and default values here https://nixos.org/nixos/options.html

Ok, it's just that was the entire point of the post.

I read the question more broadly, same as syntheticcdo at the top there. In my opinion learning Nix/NixOS is easier and more productive than learning general Linux administration. These kinds of panels are half-measure.

Flynn.io does this to some extent.

Is Flynn still about? I've not heard from them in ages (subscribed to their blog) - checking on it, looks like they've not posted anything in over a year

Really liked it when I was testing it a while back but reluctant to use it if it's going to sunset on me

Webmin, yunohost, freedombox

Cockpit meets these needs.



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