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  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 350

WHM/Cpanel vs Virtualmin/Webmin/Usermin, my experience


I'll try to make this as brief as possible

I just want to document my experiences with these two control panel familes to help out other people who may be considering the 2 and curious which way to go.

Some of this may be obvious to some of you but whatever.

These two control panel families could not be more different in just about every way so I think it really comes down to where YOU are and where YOU want to go. Having said that it's important to explain where I am at and where I am going with this.

I started out a few years ago with cPanel via a webhosting company for a couple websites I was running. About the same time I dove into Linux doing someting else unrelated to webhosting.

Fast forward to the present. I am fairly familiar with CentOS Linux now, although not with using it for webhosting. VPS servers cost about the same as a standard webhosting plan. So I figured I would set up my own Linux VPS to host my websites. The place I rent my VPS server from offers a WHM/Cpanel option. Since I am familiar with cPanel for webhosting it kind of seemed like a no brainer even if I did have to pay a couple bucks extra a month. Boy was I wrong.

Ok, now the meat and potatoes of it. WHM is the Server Management part and cPanel is basically the web administration part. When you install WHM on top of your CentOS OS it basically takes over the WHOLE OS and changes everything. It's basically no longer a CentOS server anymore. It's a WHM server. You pretty much have to do everything through WHM. You cannot even do yum updates. That was a huge surprise to me. All my Linux knowledge was useless! I had to re-learn how to do everything from WHM. That just didn't work for me.

Ok so I kind of scrapped that idea and looked for alternatives. I had already looked at Virtualmin but quickly bagged the idea. Here's the deal, if you come from using cPanel the first impression of Virtualmin is that you absolutely HATE it. H A T E it. Setting up virtual servers/domains is totally different comparedWHM/Cpanel. WHM/cPanel looks so slick and pro and virtualmin is like the wierd looking chick that nobody wants to dance with even though, as it turns out, she has a fantastic personality.

I know it is not just me because I have read many similar comments from people around the net. Here is my advice. Give it a second look. Put in the time to set up at least one virtual domain and I can almost guarantee you that you will fall in love. You just have to get past the bad first impression.

I now LOVE....LOVE....L O V E Virtualmin. Basically, Webmin is the Server admin part, Virtualmin is the Domain admin part and Usermin is the user control panel for checking webmail etc. They have a Virtualmin script that makes it a totally painless install which installs all 3 for you. The best part is it's totally free! They have a Pro version but I don't think most people need the pro stuff. The other thing I love so much about it is that it does not mess with Linux. The CentOS you know and love is STILL that same CentOS after you install VirtualMin. You can still update with yum or from the virtualmin control panel. You can still do just about everything either from CentOS or Virtualmin/Webmin. It's the best of both worlds and I love it!

That is just me so find out for yourself. If you are reselling then a lot of customers may be familar with cPanel and will not like Usermin. That's a bit different situation and cPanel is tailor made for that stuff. If it's just you and you know a bit about CentOS already or want to, my advice is go with Virtualmin and you will NEVER look back. With the price of VPS's now a days, it not very expensive to have you very own even if you just need it for a few static web pages. I'm sure you will find all sort of new things to use it for and you have so much more control and many more options with a VPS.

My 2 cents!


Last edited by UnfinishedSentenc; 01-16-2010 at 03:07 AM.


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  #2  
Old
Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: SLC
Posts: 1,487
First of all let me correct you on a error in your post
Quote:
You cannot even do yum updates
you can yum update & yum install to your hearts content
and you do not have to use WHM for anything
everything can be done from the command line if you so choose
have many cPanel servers on line some of them I have not lodged into whm in months as I prefer to use the command line over whm.

It is true that cPanel/WHM is a bit bloated & un-customizable but its what the customer wants not what I want

If I was just hosting nothing but my own sites I would just use a plain linux box no need for the fluff
and if I was a bit Linux challenged but I knew enough to get around I would use Directadmin or webmin although if I had to choose between the 2 I would pick Directadmin

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  #3  
Old
Aspiring Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 350
Quote:
Originally Posted by HostingBig View Post
First of all let me correct you on a error in your post

you can yum update & yum install to your hearts content
and you do not have to use WHM for anything
everything can be done from the command line if you so choose
have many cPanel servers on line some of them I have not lodged into whm in months as I prefer to use the command line over whm.

It is true that cPanel/WHM is a bit bloated & un-customizable but its what the customer wants not what I want

If I was just hosting nothing but my own sites I would just use a plain linux box no need for the fluff
and if I was a bit Linux challenged but I knew enough to get around I would use Directadmin or webmin although if I had to choose between the 2 I would pick Directadmin
I don't know what version/os/server you are using but I can tell you from first hand use that newer WHM on CentOS on a VPS breaks yum (or yum breaks WHM...one of the two or maybe both) and a whole lot of other things. I don't doubt you can still do a lot of command line stuff. The command line does still work after all. I know the version I used was WHM VPS so maybe the version of WHM that get's installed on a dedicated server is different.

Googling around right now to make sure my memory is not failing me. There are many hits. Not so much that yum breaks WHM (or visa versa) but just to NOT do it period. So that tells me it may work for somethings like some individual RPM but not for things like yum update. I think that is how my install got hosed at which point I just wiped out my VPS, installed VirtualMin and never looked back.


Last edited by UnfinishedSentenc; 01-16-2010 at 06:03 AM.
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  #4  
Old
Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,270
Quote:
Originally Posted by mustardman View Post
I now LOVE....LOVE....L O V E Virtualmin. Basically, Webmin is the Server admin part, Virtualmin is the Domain admin part and Usermin is the user control panel for checking webmail etc. They have a Virtualmin script that makes it a totally painless install which installs all 3 for you. The best part is it's totally free! They have a Pro version but I don't think most people need the pro stuff. The other thing I love so much about it is that it does not mess with Linux. The CentOS you know and love is STILL that same CentOS after you install VirtualMin. You can still update with yum or from the virtualmin control panel. You can still do just about everything either from CentOS or Virtualmin/Webmin. It's the best of both worlds and I love it!
I could not agree more. I have used Cpanel for years and a few months ago I switched to Virutalmin. It took me a few days to get used to it. I don't feel like I am missing anything and my clients love it.

  #5  
Old
Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Northeast
Posts: 60
I just set up Webmin/Virtualmin on Centos 5.4.

Painless install via automated script. Very nice interface when using the Stress Free theme. Still learning how to navigate and set things up. Initial observation is that this setup is using 300mb of ram compared to 175mb on a similarly resourced (VPS optimized) Cpanel setup. Seems to me that I'm eating up around $5 worth (128 mb) of extra ram to run this (Virualmin) setup. Perhaps using $5 less in ram makes the CPanel license look more attractive - especially when it can be had for $10 or $12 from some providers.

  #6  
Old
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckybum View Post
I just set up Webmin/Virtualmin on Centos 5.4.

Painless install via automated script. Very nice interface when using the Stress Free theme. Still learning how to navigate and set things up. Initial observation is that this setup is using 300mb of ram compared to 175mb on a similarly resourced (VPS optimized) Cpanel setup. Seems to me that I'm eating up around $5 worth (128 mb) of extra ram to run this (Virualmin) setup. Perhaps using $5 less in ram makes the CPanel license look more attractive - especially when it can be had for $10 or $12 from some providers.
Virtualmin itself never uses more than about 110MB (which can be reduced easily to about 11MB by following the low memory guide to turn off caching in Webmin). The rest of the system is just the services that Virtualmin manages, and you could tune them in the exact same way as your cPanel setup, if you wanted to. We use system-stock packages for almost everything, with minor tweaks for virtual hosting.

This is a philosophical difference with the cPanel folks; we consider your OS choice sacred, and we don't mess with it more than necessary, and we never replace a stock system package if it will work in a virtual hosting context (we do replace Apache packages on some systems, but we just use the system-stock package rebuilt with suexec configured appropriately with no other changes). We assume you chose your OS for a reason, so we leave as much of it as possible intact. On some operating systems, that means the services are somewhat larger, by default. On CentOS/RHEL, for example, Apache and the databases have configurations suitable for pretty high load, and large memory, systems. Debian has smaller default configurations, but would need more tuning when scaling upward to bigger loads and systems. The full stack on different operating systems will have different default resource usage, and also different performance characteristics under load.

I'm not certain, but I believe cPanel installs a custom build of the entire stack, making it identical across all platforms (which is easier for the control panel vendor, but I would think irritating to users who picked an OS because of things they liked about it)...I assume their defaults tend towards smaller memory usage than the defaults on CentOS. Maybe someone from cPanel, or with more familiarity with it can comment on that.

If memory is a concern you should follow this guide, which covers reducing Virtualmin's own memory usage down to about 11MB on a 32 bit system, as well as the memory usage of Apache and other services:

http://www.virtualmin.com/documentat...tem/low-memory

By default, Virtualmin does quite a bit of caching, which leads to the Webmin process being about 100MB on 32 bit systems (though memory usage is a complex topic; some resources are shared across many processes, via shared libraries, but it's not immediately obvious how usage divides out across processes when using top or ps). Disabling that caching reduces performance in large deployments, and on a few screens where lots of data is gather for each page refresh, but no functionality is effected by turning off that caching.

On most full-featured virtual hosting systems, the most demanding processes are ClamAV and SpamAssassin. These would be the same on any system, whether running cPanel or Virtualmin (assuming you're using both anti-virus and spam filtering on both systems). Mail processing in general is extremely heavy-weight, and tends to dwarf all other tasks. We're working on more virtualized mail support in Virtualmin, so that mail for many VPS web hosting systems can have mail service easily provided by a single mail server, while still managing it from the Virtualmin interface for the domain. It won't be in the next release, but it's probably not more than a few months away.

Also note, 64 bit systems use a lot more memory than 32 bit. So, if you have a VPS with 256MB of RAM, for example, you really want to choose a 32 bit OS to run on it. Memory usage of dynamic languages like Perl, PHP, Ruby, and Python is dramatically higher (sometimes as much as 75% higher) on 64 bit systems.

Finally, even if it's a bit on the boring side, you should probably stick with the default Virtualmin Framed Theme. Stress Free is lovely, and we like it a lot, too, but it doesn't support the Virtualmin menus yet, and so it's pretty complicated to use it with Virtualmin. Everything is still there, but all the docs and everything will be misleading because they assume the Virtualmin menus are always present rather than hidden under various icons.

  #7  
Old
Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Northeast
Posts: 60
@SwellJoe - thanks for your comprehensive response to my post. I've since spent a few more days with the panel and must say that I'm close to being a convert. I host a number of domains on different IP's or SEO purposes - I'm not a reseller and don't host anyone else - I think that Virtualmin GPL is fine for my purpose. Yes, learned quickly to revert back to the default theme. May consider the Pro version once I go dedi for my main sites.

  #8  
Old
Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckybum View Post
I think that Virtualmin GPL is fine for my purpose. Yes, learned quickly to revert back to the default theme. May consider the Pro version once I go dedi for my main sites.
We're happy you find our software useful, regardless of whether you're a paying customer, or a member of our Open Source community. As long as Virtualmin GPL does what you need, stick with it. If you need (a few) more features, or if you need more technical help, then you can always upgrade to Professional.

  #9  
Old
Web Hosting Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 533
Very nice info here mustardman and SwellJoe. I'm getting tired of managing the LAMP + Email stack without a control panel and Virtualmin looks very appealing indeed if it truly doesn't take control of your entire box.

SwellJoe, would it be possible to run Virtualmin without installing BIND and ProFTPD? I don't need to host DNS and I already have vsFTPD installed and configured. Also, is there a reason why saslauthd is used instead of dovecot's native SASL ? I looked around on Virtualmin's documentation as well as forums but couldn't find anything related.

Edit : Just found the answers to my own queries. Looks like BIND has to be installed first then disabled afterwards via GUI if not needed. Vsftpd can be used by using a virtualmin module for it.


Last edited by Scientist; 01-22-2010 at 01:17 PM.
  #10  
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Eternal Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 563
Quote:
Originally Posted by mustardman View Post
I don't know what version/os/server you are using but I can tell you from first hand use that newer WHM on CentOS on a VPS breaks yum (or yum breaks WHM...one of the two or maybe both) and a whole lot of other things. I don't doubt you can still do a lot of command line stuff. The command line does still work after all. I know the version I used was WHM VPS so maybe the version of WHM that get's installed on a dedicated server is different.

Googling around right now to make sure my memory is not failing me. There are many hits. Not so much that yum breaks WHM (or visa versa) but just to NOT do it period. So that tells me it may work for somethings like some individual RPM but not for things like yum update. I think that is how my install got hosed at which point I just wiped out my VPS, installed VirtualMin and never looked back.
cPanel/WHM triggers yum update as part of its automatic updates (enabled by default), to ensure OS-supplied components of a cPanel/WHM environment remain updated.

If anyone ever encounters this issue in the future (regardless if using a VPS or dedicated server), we'll be glad to investigate and correct this issue so you can resume receiving updates from your OS vendor.

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  #11  
Old
New Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by mustardman View Post
I'll try to make this as brief as possible

I just want to document my experiences with these two control panel familes to help out other people who may be considering the 2 and curious which way to go.

Some of this may be obvious to some of you but whatever.

These two control panel families could not be more different in just about every way so I think it really comes down to where YOU are and where YOU want to go. Having said that it's important to explain where I am at and where I am going with this.

I started out a few years ago with cPanel via a webhosting company for a couple websites I was running. About the same time I dove into Linux doing someting else unrelated to webhosting.

Fast forward to the present. I am fairly familiar with CentOS Linux now, although not with using it for webhosting. VPS servers cost about the same as a standard webhosting plan. So I figured I would set up my own Linux VPS to host my websites. The place I rent my VPS server from offers a WHM/Cpanel option. Since I am familiar with cPanel for webhosting it kind of seemed like a no brainer even if I did have to pay a couple bucks extra a month. Boy was I wrong.

Ok, now the meat and potatoes of it. WHM is the Server Management part and cPanel is basically the web administration part. When you install WHM on top of your CentOS OS it basically takes over the WHOLE OS and changes everything. It's basically no longer a CentOS server anymore. It's a WHM server. You pretty much have to do everything through WHM. You cannot even do yum updates. That was a huge surprise to me. All my Linux knowledge was useless! I had to re-learn how to do everything from WHM. That just didn't work for me.

Ok so I kind of scrapped that idea and looked for alternatives. I had already looked at Virtualmin but quickly bagged the idea. Here's the deal, if you come from using cPanel the first impression of Virtualmin is that you absolutely HATE it. H A T E it. Setting up virtual servers/domains is totally different comparedWHM/Cpanel. WHM/cPanel looks so slick and pro and virtualmin is like the wierd looking chick that nobody wants to dance with even though, as it turns out, she has a fantastic personality.

I know it is not just me because I have read many similar comments from people around the net. Here is my advice. Give it a second look. Put in the time to set up at least one virtual domain and I can almost guarantee you that you will fall in love. You just have to get past the bad first impression.

I now LOVE....LOVE....L O V E Virtualmin. Basically, Webmin is the Server admin part, Virtualmin is the Domain admin part and Usermin is the user control panel for checking webmail etc. They have a Virtualmin script that makes it a totally painless install which installs all 3 for you. The best part is it's totally free! They have a Pro version but I don't think most people need the pro stuff. The other thing I love so much about it is that it does not mess with Linux. The CentOS you know and love is STILL that same CentOS after you install VirtualMin. You can still update with yum or from the virtualmin control panel. You can still do just about everything either from CentOS or Virtualmin/Webmin. It's the best of both worlds and I love it!

That is just me so find out for yourself. If you are reselling then a lot of customers may be familar with cPanel and will not like Usermin. That's a bit different situation and cPanel is tailor made for that stuff. If it's just you and you know a bit about CentOS already or want to, my advice is go with Virtualmin and you will NEVER look back. With the price of VPS's now a days, it not very expensive to have you very own even if you just need it for a few static web pages. I'm sure you will find all sort of new things to use it for and you have so much more control and many more options with a VPS.

My 2 cents!
I agree...webmin is good.
However the https makes it a bit not user friendly for end user who are not familiar with internet.

  #12  
Old
Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 1,428
Hi mustardman,

Fantastic review! Very thorough. I have never used Virtualmin/Webmin/Usermin, but am now excited to try it.

Thanks!

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  #13  
Old
Newbie
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 9
Hmm the cpanel is better..from webmin and others free

  #14  
Old
Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 40
Talking

@ mustardman

Really thanks a lot and much appreciated
I was confused about which one to go through and I think you were right when you said Virtualmin.
YES go for it and never regret.

  #15  
Old
Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 54
nice review..i like virtualmin myself

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