I was curious about how difficult it would be to "run" a server with no Panel software? I'm trying to get a really good budget server for my own use, and for a few friends. It would not be for a web business, so most of the services a Panel offer would not be needed.
I'm pretty adept with general Linux use, development, etc... but have little experience setting up DNS/vHosts by hand, I've done it before on a server I had on DSL here, but it was years ago.
Basically, I'll want to be able to add FTP/E-MAIL accounts, new vhosts, and update the DNS, all of which I assume I'll need to do by hand? Do you think this is reasonable? With the help of Google I figure this shouldn't be too difficult.
The only thing other than setting up sites/email/ftp (only a few) would be the possibility of limiting their bandwidth/hd quota like you can on admined servers, this wouldn't be needed but it would be nice just incase a friend went bananzas and to cap sites so an attack doesn't eat bandwidth forever.
You can get a free control panel such as WebMin if you are trying to cust costs. It's really not a good idea to use a server without a control panel unless you have lots of experience.
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Control Panel just simplifies some of the work load involved in account creation and management. They basically just control services already found in the OS or can be loaded with it.
If you are offering web hosting services to end users then a control panel is extremely essential unless you want to have to do every single thing for your clients. The control panel (client's end) would provide your clients with some control as to email creation, a web mail service, something to view their stats and possibly simplify the task of installing scripts and do site backups. With this in mind, a control panel although may cost you something would indeed save you a lot of headache and time. Your customers do not need to come back to you each time because they need to change their email password or view their stats or even just add a new script.
But since you are using the server just for your own purpose, going without a control panel might not be a bad move if you know what you are doing. It is going to take a lot more work to syncronize the services but it is far from impossible.