REAL Startup Newbie q's

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#1 Thu, 11/24/2005 - 17:31
himagain

REAL Startup Newbie q's

What a product set! Trying to escape my limited experience with WHM/CPanel I found a good, inexpensive Box supplier, but with no Management support. They offered to start me off with a FREE package: WebMin.

THEN I discovered Virtualmin! Even got a free version of it, virtually autoinstalled! SO my very newbie excited queries:

  1. A list of differences between GPL and Pro?

  2. The entry level of Pro says 10 Domains for $69. Does this mean 10 Resellers Domains, able to setup end users, or literally only applicable to using it for 10 of my Domain Names?

  3. There is mention of a Fantastico type product somewhere?

  4. I haven't done much with Virtualmin yet ( nothing really works yet) so if I buy Pro can I just zero the old and start again EASILY?

Fri, 11/25/2005 - 02:43
Joe
Joe's picture

Hi Philkin,

I'm as excited as you are that we've already been helpful to you with Webmin and Virtualmin GPL. I hope that now that you've found them, they become a standard part of your sysadmin toolchest that you install everywhere you go. ;-)

As for your queries:

1. Nothing formal has been written, I'm afraid. I've been meaning to do it for two months, and I never seem to find time. I am testing for a moderately big release right now, so it won't happen right now, but it will soon.

In short:

[list]

[*]Reseller accounts[/*]

[*]Script Installers (see below in your Fantastico query)[/*]

[*]Remote and command line API with full access to roughly everything Virtualmin can do[/*]

[*]Automated installation of everything you need for hosting (this is a huge part of the cost we're incurring in developing and maintaining the Professional version)--custom packages when necessary, configuration when suitable packages are provided by the OS vendor, and in all cases an install that is hands-off and only takes a few minutes to go from a basic server install to a full-featured virtual hosting system[/*]

[*]Support[/*]

[*]Security updates of all of the components we provide for one year[/*]

[*]Integration with AgileBill, and more third party apps in the pipeline[/*]

[/list]

There's quite a few minor new features as well, but no other "I've gotta have it" features. The Professional version is targeted to folks who use their server directly to make money. The GPL version is still the best choice for community-oriented servers, hobbyist servers, many non-hosting oriented businesses, etc. If it's a feature that helps you make money, it's more likely to appear in the Professional version first. Other features (and bugfixes) will probably end up in both, sometimes at the same time.

2. Pricing is based on number of domains, and not reseller accounts. You could have ten reseller accounts, each with a single domain, however. If cost is the major factor in your decision, Virtualmin GPL will always be our biggest competitor--but it doesn't have reseller accounts at all. ;-)

3. It is called Script Installers, and it is included in all Virtualmin Professional products. It installs every script supported by Fantastico and at least a half dozen others (so far more appear in every release, though we'll have to slow down at some point). It is a very flexible and powerful system, and it allows script authors to provide their own "Virtualmin Installer" script that can be dropped into Virtualmin. At some point, I hope it will become common for script vendors and Open Source projects to provide these along-side tarball, RPM, and deb packages. We'll need pretty good market penetration to reach that point, I reckon. Regardless of whether that ever actually happens, Jamie did an astounding job on this feature and it is a lot of fun to use.

4. Yes. The less you setup before installing Virtualmin Professional, the better. It performs a lot of configuration for you, and it expects a roughly fresh OS installation. It will generally work, even if you've made some changes, but it's not guaranteed, and the odds of something going wrong are much higher. The next release has a "minimal" mode that only installs the Webmin modules and doesn't touch anything else, but it sounds like you'd be content with a system that does everything for you, so you don't have to be quite so hands-on with the installation and configuration of software, even with Webmin to help you.

Hope this answers your questions and helps with your plans. We're happy to have you around, whether you decide to be a Virtualmin GPL or Professional user (or both).

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Fri, 11/25/2005 - 06:53
himagain

Hi Joe!
Thanks for the reply - didn't expect it to be OFFICIAL, just another helpful user! :-)
--------------------
I'm as excited as you are that we've already been helpful to you with Webmin and Virtualmin GPL. I hope that now that you've found them, they become a standard part of your sysadmin toolchest that you install everywhere you go. ;-)

######### Well I don't get around this end of town too much, I hope for just a coupla Servers in the near future. After I learn to drive 'em.
But I might hopefully be able to write you a real nice Newbie intro and article on the experience getting there. These two products sure take a lot of the fear out of the process.
-------------------------------------
As for your queries:

1. In short:

* Integration with AgileBill, and more third party apps in the pipeline

###### Just rushed off to look at AgileBill - looks fantastic too - BUT really pricey when all the bits are added in, if I understand it!
########### Hope one of them in the pipeline could be WHOISCART http://whoiscart.net/. A terrific fit with your products for a smaller/startup enterprise. ( It locks into a very good gateway as well and currently sells for a giant $35, yes just 35.
--------------------------------------
There's quite a few minor new features as well, but no other "I've gotta have it" features. The Professional version is targeted to folks who use their server directly to make money.

####### Well that plan makes sense! :-)
-------------------------------------
2. Pricing is based on number of domains, and not reseller accounts. You could have ten reseller accounts, each with a single domain, however. If cost is the major factor in your decision, Virtualmin GPL will always be our biggest competitor--but it doesn't have reseller accounts at all. ;-)

##### Sorry, still excited and maybe a bit dense here, (am just ordering the Pro version subject to request below).

#####My situation is that I have a "legacy" of about a dozen little clients set up under my current WHM/Cpanel as a Reseller, along with another dozen of our own domains.( All to be moved to my new Server, a.s.a.p.)
So I will now require a license for 24 domains, irrespective if Reseller or house? Then every domain whether Reseller sold or added to our own list is another licence, right?
Now, are they recyclable? Vis: If a domain moves/dies in the year,can the license be re-used on my Server?
If I suddenly become wildly successful ( we will be launching numerous products each under their own domain name) would the next group of licence purchases be at an accumulating gross total price?
Will my renewals be at my current price or 33% of the new retail price?
---------------------------------------
3. It is called Script Installers, and it is included in all Virtualmin Professional products. It installs every script supported by Fantastico and at least a half dozen others (so far more appear in every release, though we'll have to slow down at some point). We'll need pretty good market penetration to reach that point, I reckon. Regardless of whether that ever actually happens, Jamie did an astounding job on this feature and it is a lot of fun to use.

########## Well, as mentioned, add WHOIS to it and the whole package would be a killer one. *I'll* help with market penetration then, myself!
-----------------------------------------
4. Yes. The less you setup before installing Virtualmin Professional, the better. It performs a lot of configuration for you, and it expects a roughly fresh OS installation.

##### Should I then uninstall the GPL completely first, before hitting the buy button?

Thanks again,
Philkin

Fri, 11/25/2005 - 18:35 (Reply to #3)
Joe
Joe's picture

<i>Well I don't get around this end of town too much, I hope for just a coupla Servers in the near future. After I learn to drive 'em.&lt;br&gt;
But I might hopefully be able to write you a real nice Newbie intro and article on the experience getting there. These two products sure take a lot of the fear out of the process.</i>

We try. It's a big field with a lot of landmines strewn about. Network security being the biggest landmine that gets us all eventually, no matter how experienced or how good the tools. Security is the reason we're making use of native installation methods--yum on Red Hat based systems, for example, and yast on SUSE systems (coming very very soon), and apt on Debian and Ubuntu (a little further down the pike, but also coming soon), despite the fact that it's a much harder row to hoe. ;-)

But, don't be too afraid of it all. Jump in and learn what you can and ask about what you can't figure out. There are already a lot of clever users here on the forums, and on the Webmin mailing list. And, of course, our commercial products include support via the ticket tracker. Bug reports are also welcome from anyone, against any of our products, Open Source or commercial.

<i>My situation is that I have a &quot;legacy&quot; of about a dozen little clients set up under my current WHM/Cpanel as a Reseller, along with another dozen of our own domains.( All to be moved to my new Server, a.s.a.p.)
So I will now require a license for 24 domains, irrespective if Reseller or house? Then every domain whether Reseller sold or added to our own list is another licence, right?</i>

Yes and no. Every domain is another domain, not another license. You'll want to go for the 50 domain license, which is $99 during the Early Adopter period, and will be $199 after we reach our Early Adopter stability, documentation, useability, and platform support goals, which have been discussed in the forums a few times, and I'm planning to add a blurb about the specifics of the Early Adopter period (i.e. what customers can expect from us and what we expect from customers during this period). Anyway, 50 domains will give you plenty of room to grow. Even if you don't add any more domains, each one will cost you $3.81 per year, or twice that when the retail price kicks in. Not too bad...I'm sure you're billing even your smallest client quite a bit more than that. ;-)

Domains are recyclable. The count is only for live and disabled domains. Deleted domains are gone for good, and do not count against your total. I believe Alias domains will be treated differently quite soon, and will not count against the domain total. I'm not sure about the feasibility of this at the moment, but I suspect it is possible, though it is not the current count method.

License upgrades will be priced at exactly the difference between licenses. But, we don't currently have a way to handle this in the online store--it will come in the next couple of months. If you need it before then, you'll just have to fax over your payment details and we'll upgrade you manually. So, it's not impossible, even before the store supports it--the license server does support upgrades of plans.

Renewals will be 33% or less of the full retail price, not 33% of the Early Adopter price (which is 50% off of retail). We haven't yet determined exactly what the pricing will have to be to pay our bills and developers, so we've guesstimated just so folks could make plans. It is certain that it won't be more than 33% but it is not guaranteed to be less. Sorry I can't be more specific this early in the game.

<i>Well, as mentioned, add WHOIS to it and the whole package would be a killer one. *I'll* help with market penetration then, myself!</i>

That's ringing praise for Whois.Cart! I've filed a wish in the bug-tracker, and sent them a query about getting a developer license to test/develop against. Expect support in the Script Installers within a week or two, and possibly further integration down the road (I don't know what we can do with it beyond installing it, but we'll look into it).

<i>Should I then uninstall the GPL completely first, before hitting the buy button?</i>

Nah. It won't hurt anything, unless other things have been configured.

Here are the things that cause problems either for you or for the installer:

[list]

[*]Webmin installed from an alternate source, either tarball or RPM. If you got it via the RPM from Webmin.com, you're fine.[/*]

[*]Pre-configured mail stuff. Anything spamassassin, clamav, amavisd, etc. will likely break your configuration and they might not work in our configuration either, without some assistance.[/*]

[*]yum repositories other than Fedora Extras. DAG seems to cause us particular grief. Not because DAG does anything wrong--his packages are great--but because his packages happen to put things in different places that don't work out of the box with where our Fedora Extras based packages put things.[/*]

[*]Source installations of anything. We're gonna break your stuff, if it wasn't installed from RPMs. We won't even know it exists if it is outside of the control of your package manager...so our installer won't even know it is breaking stuff.[/*]

[/list]

All of these issues are resolved by a new minimal installation mode that is coming with the next release in a few hours. But the minimal mode installation is intended for experts, i.e. the people who know they need QMail or Sendmail for something specific they want to do with their server and aren't looking for Virtualmin Professional's easy installation (maybe they have their own locally developed installation system that they don't want us to interfere with). It will also work for Virtualmin GPL upgrades, when folks have already gone to the trouble to setup everything the way they like. Virtualmin Professional doesn't lose any of the flexibility of Virtualmin GPL, so it's still possible to run other mail servers, different spam/av solutions, different delivery methods, etc. We just can't anticipate all of those options in the installer, so we've added the ability not to even try--we just install all of our modules and themes and leave the rest to the user.

Hope this helps with your plans.

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Sun, 11/27/2005 - 09:32 (Reply to #4)
ADobkin

&lt;i&gt;That's ringing praise for Whois.Cart! I've filed a wish in the bug-tracker, and sent them a query about getting a developer license to test/develop against. Expect support in the Script Installers within a week or two, and possibly further integration down the road (I don't know what we can do with it beyond installing it, but we'll look into it).&lt;/i&gt;

Just a clarification regarding this comment and Bug #141. Whois.Cart is not a general &quot;shopping cart application&quot; that end users would run on their virtual servers. It is a &quot;hosting and domains shopping cart and billing management system&quot; (per their home page at http://whoiscart.net/). So, it doesn't make sense to add this to the Script Installers. It is analogous to AgileBill in this regard, so it would only make sense to have it installed one time for the entire hosting business, not per client.

Nevertheless, I agree that it would be nice to have support added for this product and others. It sounds like a simpler and much more inexpensive alternative to AgileBill, and it is always good to have some choice and competition.

Fri, 11/25/2005 - 09:38
ChrisBlackwell

Philkin said:
&lt;i&gt;&quot;These two products sure take a lot of the fear out of the process.&quot;&lt;/i&gt;

Yes they do, i totally agree... but there is a[i&gt;&lt;b&gt;but&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/i&gt; and this applies equally to any hosting control panel, not just Webmin/Virtualmin.

Webmin hides many complex tasks behind a nice user interface, which is great for non-technical users. However if something goes wrong, sometimes you can't fix it through that nice shiney ui, and your back to needing to understand whats going on under the hood.

Hopefully the excellent work Joe and Jamie have done make that situation less likely with Virtualmin than any of the other control panels.

Forewarned is forearmed as they say ;)

Fri, 11/25/2005 - 19:18 (Reply to #6)
Joe
Joe's picture

Chris, you make a great point. It's worth reminding folks that the clockwork inside is pretty darned complicated. I definitely encourage any system administrator to get a handle on the basics of the services underneath Virtualmin and Webmin as soon as possible. Easy is the goal, of course, and we try extremely hard to get there, but some of this stuff is just hard no matter how pretty the icons are. Of course, even if things go pear-shaped, you can usually get help here in the forums or via the ticket tracker. ;-)

This seems the ideal time to bring this up:

As many of you know, but some might not, Jamie and I have both written books about system administration with Webmin that delve into the underlying complexities of the system and try to open up the black box a bit so you can see inside and understand it better. Both books are available for free here:

http://www.virtualmin.com/support/documentation/

My book is very much targeted to introducing new administrators to the underlying services, like BIND, Apache, and Postfix. Jamie's book is less newbie-friendly but covers Webmin in shocking detail (after all, who knows it better?), including stuff like module development and esoteric options in some of the lesser known, but really powerful modules. Even I learn new things when I page through Jamie's book.

Neither covers Virtualmin because the books were being wrapped up as we were beginning development of Virtualmin, but there are online documents covering Virtualmin, and the online help has been expanded a lot in the Professional version. More Virtualmin documentation is being written all the time, as well. I suspect when I get more free time, I will begin work on a second edition to my book which will include updates and extensions of all chapters and a new set of chapters on Virtualmin-related subjects.

Both books are also available from Amazon in dead tree form. I've also compiled a list of recommended reading for folks who want to delve even deeper:

http://www.virtualmin.com/recommended-reading/

I can't say enough good things about the DNS &amp; BIND book, if you have to do anything out of the ordinary. It's my favorite O'Reilly book out of the whole catalog (and there are some gems in the O'Reilly catalog). Also the recommended reading section includes links to free online documentation on the topic, when available. I'm not trying to convince folks they have to buy a bunch of books, but sometimes it's the best way to learn (and sometimes it's not).

Also, if you've read any books that have been especially helpful, feel free to add them to the Recommended Reading page--I think any registered user can add to the list (but I might be wrong...I sometimes don't understand OpenACS permissions very well).

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Fri, 11/25/2005 - 23:23
himagain

&lt;i&gt;But, don't be too afraid of it all. Jump in and learn what you can and ask about what you can't figure out. There are already a lot of clever users here on the forums, and on the Webmin mailing list. And, of course, our commercial products include support via the ticket tracker. Bug reports are also welcome from anyone, against any of our products, Open Source or commercial.&lt;/i&gt;

######## As my old Dad said: &quot;Nobody ever learned to swim out of a book, son&quot;. Then he threw me in the deep end....... :-)

&lt;i&gt;Yes and no. Every domain is another domain, not another license. You'll want to go for the 50 domain license, which is $99 during the Early Adopter period, and will be $199 after we reach our Early Adopter stability&lt;/i&gt;

##### Oh, I meant domain, not license. 50 seems right. We aren't really in the Domain hosting biz any more.

&lt;i&gt;Domains are recyclable. The count is only for live and disabled domains. Deleted domains are gone for good, and do not count against your total. I believe Alias domains will be treated differently quite soon, and will not count against the domain total.[/i&gt;
&quot;Disabled&quot; meaning? Or &quot;Alias&quot;? In our case, most domains would be registered to our main House Account, run for a promo period then become parked. So, it was this I was trying to make sure of - don't want to break any rules!

&lt;i&gt;Renewals will be 33% or less of the full retail price, not 33% of the Early Adopter price (which is 50% off of retail). Sorry I can't be more specific this early in the game.&lt;/i&gt;
#### That's fine. Worth a try..... :-)

&lt;i&gt;That's ringing praise for Whois.Cart! I've filed a wish in the bug-tracker, and sent them a query about getting a developer license to test/develop against. Expect support in the Script Installers within a week or two, and possibly further integration down the road (I don't know what we can do with it beyond installing it, but we'll look into it).&lt;/i&gt;

#### Great! Put these prods together and you have an integrated do nearly everything- they have a very good finance Gateway deal married into Whois - you wouldn't bother with PayPal if it is usable.

&lt;i&gt;Nah. It won't hurt anything, unless other things have been configured.[/i&gt;
Ok............................... :-)

&lt;i&gt;Hope this helps with your plans.[/i&gt;

Thanks, Joe!
We seem to have covered most of it..... here we go!

Oh, Chris, you are right but to find ANYTHING that actually works, doesn't cost you your rocks - and has responsive support is pretty magic .... and strangely, mainly confined to the GPL origins area....

Sun, 11/27/2005 - 01:57
Joe
Joe's picture

Ah, turns out I have to eat my words on this one:

You asked:

<i>Should I then uninstall the GPL completely first, before hitting the buy button?</i>

And I answered:

<i>Nah. It won't hurt anything, unless other things have been configured.</i>

It will, in fact, prevent installation of the new Virtualmin Professional module RPM to have the GPL version installed from a .wbm module. It must be uninstalled before running the installer.

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Sun, 11/27/2005 - 05:31
himagain

&lt;i&gt;It will, in fact, prevent installation of the new Virtualmin Professional module RPM to have the GPL version installed from a .wbm module. It must be uninstalled before running the installer.

Posted by Joe Cooper[/i&gt;

Hi Joe,
Lucky I took Sunday off, then! :-)
So, just 2 b sure:
HOW should I uninstall it? ( Quick look didn't see any uninstall option)
It's 10pm here, so off to bed and up real early to have a go - if you or someone answers along the way. :-)

Cheers!
Philkin

Sun, 11/27/2005 - 20:05 (Reply to #10)
Joe
Joe's picture

<i>Lucky I took Sunday off, then! :-)
So, just 2 b sure:
HOW should I uninstall it? ( Quick look didn't see any uninstall option)
It's 10pm here, so off to bed and up real early to have a go - if you or someone answers along the way. :-)</i>

And I'm coming in under the wire and getting an answer to you before your Sunday off is over. ;-)

To delete modules, browse to Webmin:Webmin Configuration:Webmin Modules. The third section is Delete Modules. Select all of the Virtualmin modules (there is the core Virtualmin Virtual Servers module, plus several optional plugins to manage Mailman lists, AWStats, Subversion repos, etc.) and click Delete Selected Modules.

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Sun, 11/27/2005 - 15:06
himagain

&lt;i&gt;Just a clarification regarding this comment and Bug #141. It is analogous to AgileBill in this regard, so it would only make sense to have it installed one time for the entire hosting business, not per client.

Nevertheless, I agree that it would be nice to have support added for this product and others. It sounds like a simpler and much more inexpensive alternative to AgileBill, and it is always good to have some choice and competition.

Posted by Alan Dobkin&lt;/i&gt;

Hi Alan ( and Joe?),
In Fantastico they cleverly added in install support for THEIR SOHO (like SiteBill etc) and as soon as it was ready, their Reseller accounting package and both of these are commercial, requiring a separate license.
A simple thing for the brilliant programmers here to add in :-)and with a few carefully chosen others, a way to pick up the odd extra dollar or two as affiliates or... owners.
E.G. A VirtualadminPro auto install option with the GPL WebMin, clearly stated as a commercial upgrade offer for the purpose.

Programming and/or Sysopping is obviously not where I am at, :-)- but my previous life was as an international Productivity Improvement Counsellor. (How to optimise R.O.I.)
So:
MARKETING
Two important things now happen:
1. CHOICE ( Controlled!). The client is given appropriate options - especially ones to help both sides....

2. OPPORTUNITY (Easy!) It is erroneously called &quot;back end sales&quot; by the kids out there in Internet sales, but the key is to have your client &quot;only&quot; hitting a button - not being asked to do anything complex, different/new.
In the real world like buying a car - options are added to the buy contracts[b&gt;so easily&lt;/b&gt;. No real extra thinking, just the decision to accept the &quot;opportune add-on&quot;.

I would think that today, over 90% of all dedicated Servers now being bought(rented) are by kids with less experience than even mine.
Their plan is to make a million as Webhosting Reseller Resellers.
(Precisely the reason for my abandoning the practise).

The only two guys out there making real money I know in this field, sell such a complete package RTG, as I'm partially outlining above.

Cheers!
Where is my answer to the install problem, people? All you clever real Sysop types should have jumped in and answered this one by now and not leave it all to Joe! :-)
(Him waiting poised to hit buttons and go!)

Mon, 11/28/2005 - 01:42
himagain

Hi Joe,
Are you one of them insomniacs?? Or mebbe a real Sysop type.. :-)

&lt;i&gt;And I'm coming in under the wire and getting an answer to you before your Sunday off is over. ;-)
&lt;/i&gt;
Sorry, to tell you this, but in the proper side of the world it is already Monday :-) Hmmmnn, probably the worst case of all: a codecutting-Sysop.......

&lt;i&gt;To delete modules, browse to Webmin:Webmin Configuration:Webmin Modules. The third section is Delete Modules.
Select all of the Virtualmin modules (there is the core Virtualmin Virtual Servers module,
&lt;/i&gt;
WELL! THAT was easy! If I'da known that I'da done it myself!

&lt;i&gt; plus several optional plugins to manage Mailman lists, AWStats, Subversion repos, etc.) and click Delete Selected Modules.
&lt;/i&gt;
Didn't see these as a sub-option but there is zero left in the Directory!
Going to the beach to celebrate surviving another day ( 6PM Mon local, beautiful evening, warm and spiced with Jasmine..)
THEN will do the re-install! ( music fx left speaker)

Thanks as usual,

Philkin