General pre-sales questions :)

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#1 Wed, 10/12/2005 - 19:01
stelios

General pre-sales questions :)

Hi guys,

I would like to ask a couple of questions that might also be found interested by other users.

Here we go:

1.Can I just install a 2nd box with Bind and set it up as secondary and then somehow synchronize the records with the main Virtualmin server? Something like cpanel's 'dns cluster'. 2.Can I run the email server from a different box and be able to synchronize the accounts based on the Virtualmin server? 3.Can I move accounts accross to other servers to balance better the load? 4.Is it possible to use any MTA or Apache that I want? For example Qmail,Postfix and Apache2 ?

Thanks in advance

Wed, 10/12/2005 - 20:25
Joe
Joe's picture

Hi Stelios,

<i>1.Can I just install a 2nd box with Bind and set it up as secondary and then somehow synchronize the records with the main Virtualmin server? Something like cpanel's 'dns cluster'.</i>

Yes. Webmin has a feature called Cluster Slave Servers, and Virtualmin works with this feature very well. So you can easily have all domains replicated out to as many slaves as you like. I haven't documented this as well as it needs to be documented however...I'll be working on the docs some more after EA2 rolls out the door (SUSE is making my life difficult).

<i>2.Can I run the email server from a different box and be able to synchronize the accounts based on the Virtualmin server?</i>

Not yet. We are working on adding LDAP support for Postfix which will give this capability (but require user accounts in LDAP), and I expect this will be available in a month or less. Further down the road (maybe 3-6 months), all features will likely be &quot;remoteable&quot; in an easily configurable manner, allowing any aspect of a virtual account to be setup on a different server. No guarantees on the latter--it will depend on how much demand there is for it from customers. Right now, we're focused on platform support. Everyone has a favorite platform, and so our customers are almost universally demanding support for different systems.

<i>3.Can I move accounts accross to other servers to balance better the load?</i>

Yes. You can backup and restore individual domains quite easily across similarly configured Virtualmin servers. You could even have the backup module create the backup file on the remote server to start with, so you don't have to copy it manually.

<i>4.Is it possible to use any MTA or Apache that I want? For example Qmail,Postfix and Apache2 ?</i>

Yes, though there is a clear &quot;Golden Path&quot; that we are supporting most aggressively. That path will be the easiest to install, use, and have the most features. These applications will Just Work, immediately after installation. The application stack we have selected is:

Apache (the current version 2 from the OS vendor, so 2.0.53 for Fedora Core 4, for example)
Postfix
Dovecot
Procmail with Maildir spools
SpamAssassin
ClamAV
ProFTPd
Webalizer
AWStats
Mailman
PostgreSQL
MySQL
Subversion
PHP4 and PHP5
FastCGI
scponly
Webmin (obviously!)
Usermin (also obvious!)

Plus a bunch of other stuff that is supported by the script installer module (about 25 different CGI and PHP scripts that can automatically be installed by users). In addition to the modules for Webmin and Usermin that provide access to PostgreSQL and MySQL and webmail, there are script installers for phpPgAdmin and phpMyAdmin and several webmail clients like HORDE and others. So, even within this stack of applications there is a lot of flexibility.

In short, we highly recommend you just let the installer take care of everything for you. But if you have a strong desire for some other MTA, if it is one of the currently Virtualmin configurable MTAs (Sendmail, QMail, Postfix), we'll try to help. We will not be adding any other servers in the near future, however, such as djbdns or exim, for example. Our focus will be on adding new features, making the existing feature set easier to use, documenting the existing features more fully, and for the immediate future killing all bugs in sight. And platform support. We'll be spending a lot of time on making the installer work flawlessly on the several platforms we've committed to supporting (Fedora, RHEL, CentOS, SuSE, Mandrake, FreeBSD, Debian, Ubuntu, and Gentoo on x86 and x86_64, plus RHEL and SUSE on PPC and PPC64).

I hope this helps with your plans.

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Thu, 10/13/2005 - 02:44
stelios

Hi Joe,

Many thanks for your reply.
I would really like to move over to virtualmin as I was waiting something like this for a long time but from your answers I found it to be wise to wait a couple of months when more 'remote' features will be available.

I have a few more questions please.
If I install now the Virtualmin let's say in a CentOS box, am I going to be able to move/transfer the whole settings in a 6 months period to a new debian server assuming that Debian support will be in place.

I am trying to avoid moving to another commercial system as webmin/virtualmin in my opinion has the best approach as it doesn't touch/compile it's own things (apart from just a few)...

Also another critical point from the business point of view is support. Let's say that I am getting 20 new servers and install Virtualmin. Then one day, there is a serious bug which affect the company and its customers. How fast and afficient the support will be? Ofcourse it will be a paid job. How many developers are currently working on virtualmin and will be able to offer such a level of support (1-2 hours responce)?

Many thanks.

Thu, 10/13/2005 - 03:18 (Reply to #3)
Joe
Joe's picture

<i>I have a few more questions please.
If I install now the Virtualmin let's say in a CentOS box, am I going to be able to move/transfer the whole settings in a 6 months period to a new debian server assuming that Debian support will be in place.</i>

Yes. You may install on any operating system that is supported. The installation script selects all of the right packages and actions based on the detected OS. Debian will be supported within the month, I expect.

Most settings are also easy to transfer, as the templates are identical across all platforms. If you modify the module configuration itself, those changes might need to be manually brought over--but the number of changes will almost certainly be few (possibly even none).

Domains can be moved between platforms with no trouble, as far as I know...though this is not exceedingly well tested. Currently, we're only supporting the Red Hat based systems, and they all look alike--so my tests are inconclusive. But we will be doing more testing of cross-platform backup/restores in the near future.

<i>I am trying to avoid moving to another commercial system as webmin/virtualmin in my opinion has the best approach as it doesn't touch/compile it's own things (apart from just a few)...</i>

You're not the only one. This was the single biggest complaint about our competition. So, I'm spending vast amounts of time making sure it is not an issue with Virtualmin Professional. I've since learned to regret this decision (yast is trying to kill me), but I'm gonna stick by it, and provide OS-native packages for everything that we provide. We're also going to work within the existing update framework (if such a framework exists), so on Debian we'll provide an apt repo and on Fedora we provide a yum repo and on FreeBSD we'll provide ports.

<i>Also another critical point from the business point of view is support. Let's say that I am getting 20 new servers and install Virtualmin. Then one day, there is a serious bug which affect the company and its customers. How fast and afficient the support will be? Ofcourse it will be a paid job. How many developers are currently working on virtualmin and will be able to offer such a level of support (1-2 hours responce)?</i>

We're doing pretty well so far. 1-2 hours might be a bit tight, but it's not far off of reality--you may wish to browse our resolved and closed bugs to see how long things took to shake out. It's nearly always fixed within a few hours. Serious issues get extremely quick attention (see the installer issues that Faisal ran into in this thread: https://www.virtualmin.com/forums/message-view?message%5fid=10352 ). And, of course, keep in mind that we are in the Early Adopter period--we are releasing early and often, bugs and all, because we want to get the product into a few real users hands. Once the EA period is over, things will be a bit more calm and everything will be pretty heavily tested before we subject our customers to it. Because of our Open Source heritage, users want to be involved in the process of development, and we want the users to be involved. It makes for much better software, though it can also make for long days and late nights for the developers.

Another data point is the Webmin users mailing list...Jamie is frightfully fast at responding to issues, and has been for the entire 8 years he's been developing Webmin (ask anyone who's been there for a while). You won't find more rapid response in the Open Source or proprietary world than what Jamie has provided for all that time. We understand if you don't know us well enough to trust us. We'll be here in 3 or 6 or 12 months, after you've had more of a chance to see how we operate.

As for how many developers, two. Me and Jamie. But after conversion there's seven of us. Jamie is conservatively worth any six other developers. If you doubt it, you just don't know Jamie. ;-)

There's more going on behind the scenes than I'm talking about, and there will be more people at Virtualmin, Inc. in the future. But if you expect you can get better support from one of the big guys, I won't discourage you from waiting until we're one of the big guys too. It won't be long.

Hope this helps.

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Thu, 10/13/2005 - 03:30
stelios

Joe, I am actively involved in open source community the last 6 years and know very well Jamie's talent. This is why I am thinking to drop most of my other commercial control panels and move to Virtualmin but at the moment I can't as it lucks some features that I really need and cannot move away without it.

However, I will buy it in the next hours just to support your work.

Also, if you like contact me off list for a server donation that you might be interested in.

Many thanks

Thu, 10/13/2005 - 04:15 (Reply to #5)
Joe
Joe's picture

<i>This is why I am thinking to drop most of my other commercial control panels and move to Virtualmin but at the moment I can't as it lucks some features that I really need and cannot move away without it.</i>

What specifically do you need? If there's something that one of our proprietary competitors can do that we can't, we'd like to know about it. We're pretty aggressively targeting feature parity with all major virtual hosting administration systems for the first stable release in a month or two. We've already topped cPanel on all but a few things, and Plesk isn't even in the running (though it has a couple of extra optional products that we don't have anything to address yet, and many folks like its simplicity so we're aware of its strengths). I know you mentioned remote capabilities, but I wasn't aware that any of our competitors had us beat in any significant way there--do any of them allow arbitrary services (other than DNS) on other servers? If you've got a specific example of what you're doing, and with what product, I'll create a wish ticket in the bug tracker and Jamie will make it magically appear in no time. ;-)

I didn't mention it earlier, as I didn't think it was what you were after, but it's worth noting that all of the command line tools I mentioned in the earlier post can also be called remotely via HTTP:

https://www.virtualmin.com/support/documentation/virtualmin-remote/

But, still, if you need separation of services across servers we just aren't there yet. But I would be curious to know who else supports this kind of capability?

<i>However, I will buy it in the next hours just to support your work.</i>

Much appreciated, but even more valuable is your feedback on how we can make Virtualmin Professional better than any other tool available. We'll be happy to take your money when we provide the best tool for your needs--and it won't be long, I'm sure. ;-)

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Thu, 10/13/2005 - 05:00
stelios

Hi Joe,

&gt;What specifically do you need?

I need to run primary DNS and email server on a seperate server than the Virtualmin (secondary DNS, web etc) and sync their entries.

&gt;If there's something that one of our proprietary]competitors can do that we can't, we'd like to know about]it.

HSphere is the most powerful tool at the moment. Have a look here: http://www.psoft.net/HSdocumentation/FAQ/faq.html
Read about its cluster features.

&gt;I know you mentioned remote capabilities, but I wasn't]aware that any of our competitors had us beat in any]significant way there--do any of them allow arbitrary]services (other than DNS) on other servers?

Hsphere does.

&gt;If you've got a specific example of what you're doing, and]with what product, I'll create a wish ticket in the bug]tracker and Jamie will make it magically appear in no time.

As mentioned previously all I need is to run email server and primary DNS from a 2nd box. It will also be very very useful if you can have a seperate server for database only assuming that the server will be on the same network block.

&gt;Much appreciated, but even more valuable is your feedback]on how we can make Virtualmin Professional better than any]other tool available. We'll be happy to take your money]when we provide the best tool for your needs--and it won't]be long, I'm sure. ;-)

Here is some feedback :)
1.Make a demo available on your website, the flash demo is simply not enough (too short and doesn't cover almost nothing)
2.Make as much as more 'remote','cluster' features available as this will track many big customers which is always good in order to develop further the product.
3.It's better to focus on Debian, RedHat ES(CentOS), SuSE and FreeBSD and spend the rest of the time in developement rather trying to support '100' different distributions which however might change some of them a lot in the next release...just follow something like Debian's stable policy :)
4.Try to add a functionality to create security policies via iptables or whatever you wish. Something simpler than installing the Shorewall plugin and then read 200+ pages....
5.Addon functionality to configure Nagios via Virtualmin GUI. This is a superb functionality in my opinion as Nagios is a nightmare to setup for newbies.

Any feedback on the above suggestion is more than welcome.

Thanks

Tue, 10/18/2005 - 04:42
stelios

Hi Joe,

Just one last question as I didn't find any documentation related with it.

Is there any disater recovery tool?
Let's say that the main disk goes down and I have on a remote server just the tar backups.

Is there an easy way to restore everything (virtualmin confs, DB, home files etc) quickly?

Also, can I install the virtualmin to a vmware instance for further testing and then move the license to the live server?
That vmware instance will have a hostname from one of the dynamic IP providers like dyndns.com etc.

Thanks

Fri, 10/28/2005 - 13:23 (Reply to #8)
Joe
Joe's picture

<i>Is there any disater recovery tool?
Let's say that the main disk goes down and I have on a remote server just the tar backups.

Is there an easy way to restore everything (virtualmin confs, DB, home files etc) quickly?</i>

The Virtualmin backup tool should do this without anything special. If it doesn't, it's a bug. i.e., you should be able to restore a Virtualmin instance from one stock Virtualmin Professional install to another stock Virtualmin Professional with only the backup of the virtual server instance--assuming you've selected a full backup, it will include mail spools, all home directories, sub-domains, databases, virtual server details (quotas, privileges, httpd configuration, Webmin account, etc.). The goal of the backups is to virtualize out the domains so they can be easily moved to new servers, restored in the event of hardware troubles, or tried out on a new OS (some things might not move to a whole new OS without minor modification, such as Script Installer script configurations, but this is unavoidable).

It is also wise, of course to make use of the System Backup and/or Configuration File backup tools to make recovery of the system itself easier, since you're probably going to make a few changes here and there to the system somewhere along the way. It just depends on how much change you make as to whether you want only the configuration files or the whole system. If you have a very (strictly) standardized automated system installation that applies to all systems on your network, then you can probably safely just back up the configuration files and the Virtualmin domains.

I would, of course, suggest an occasional test of the backup/restore policy to be sure you're catching everything you need to get back up and running quickly--but the tools you need are all there in Virtualmin and Webmin. We'll be doing a lot of cross-platform migration and backup/restore testing here in the next few weeks, as we prepare for the first official release, but I don't expect major problems.

As for installation in a vmware instance: Yes. In fact, nearly all of my testing goes on in either Xen virtual hosts or QEmu virtual hosts. I plan to try out vmware to see if it handles the non-Xen-able (or at least not easily Xen-able) systems faster the QEmu, and if so I'll be switching. You definitely have to have a fully qualified hostname on the system, but it doesn't have to have real DNS for the installer to work (services won't work for outside users without it being able to modify the DNS server that is authoritative for your domains, but I'm sure you're well aware of that and know how to modify your hosts file to test around it).

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Fri, 10/28/2005 - 11:56
stelios

Hello,

Any update on the above questions?

Thanks