Virtualmin UI is really really confusing...

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#1 Sun, 04/28/2019 - 06:48
cotumakec

Virtualmin UI is really really confusing...

I tried virtualmin couple times and everytime I try it I always turn off by how confusing the menu is. I thought this have changed after several years. Lets be honest I tried every single control panel out there. This is the most confusing. With other control panel its easy just to add a domain to your server. but with virtualmin that part is really confusing. You may notice I use 'confusing' word a lot. Because Thats what I feel. But my experience differs when using webmin. Its easy and powerful.

For starter, Please change your wording. For a newbie they dont understand what is 'virtual server'. All control panel i tried never used that word, They use 'add domain' and add 'subdomain'

Then the most confusing part, I can't add domain under 1 user only. whenever I create a domain virtualmin also create new user for that domain. So if I have 100 domains I will also have 100 users? There are no other control panel setup this way!

Same with database. Why We can't create database under one user? All control panel that I know can create database under one user and every domain can use database using that single username.

I bet virtualmin will never get as big as cpanel if you never make your UI simpler. You will just attract small percentage of users. Please use more friendly menu name instead of using 'server' jargon.

Sun, 04/28/2019 - 10:43
andreychek

Howdy,

Note that it's no problem to add a domain within an existing user account.

A top-level Virtual Server would indeed need to create a user associated with it, but you can add a Sub-Server to it with no problem -- and that existing user can manage both the main domain and the newly created domain.

To do that, go into Create Virtual Server, then select Sub-Server. A Sub-Server isn't a sub-domain, it just means that it's a domain within an existing account.

You can also create any number of databases, all managed by the same user -- to do that, go into Edit Databases and select "Create new database".

-Eric

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 22:27
krembo99

I must agree with @cotumakec on some points.

The UI and terminology used are definitely confusing.

I just discovered and started testing virtualmin ( as alternative to WHM ) a few days ago and even if I am into hosting for almost 15 years - I felt like a NOOB and it took me almost two days ( and 5 new installs ) to only understand what's where and why. with other systems it usually takes me 15min.I almost abandoned the idea after installing and deleting the instance 2 times. My most experienced employee had the same feeling.

Now I am glad I insisted and did not fall back - Overall it looks really great - but the UX is indeed something to take into consideration.

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 02:35
sactown

I too must agree with cotumakec, very non-intuitive for adding domains. Have been adding and removing domains and subdomains for years in other environments and here it is confusing.

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 07:32
adamjedgar

whilst virtualmin navigation is "street directory material" and i get so frustrated with it at times...on the up side, the more i play around with other control panels of late (such as Centos Web Panel and Cyberpanel), i have to say, the more i am really starting to appreciate Webmin/Virtualmin.

Considering how much functionality this panel has, when compared with the other two i mentioned, it is far more robust. Rarely do i find things in Virtualmin that throw errors because of bad planning and oversite (which happens a heck of a lot with CWP). CWP is so bad, developers i am sure spin yarns to get people off their backs with complaints about cockups. The number of times one reads..."we have already addressed that issue 1 day after an update, only to find it still isnt working even in the next release 1,2 or 3 months later...I spend most of my time with CWP trying to fix irritating and downright stupid problems caused by poor development. One such classic bug is the automated Wordpress installer. What a flaming joke that is!

I dont struggle with those kinds of problems so much in Virtualmin. I think the guys clearly are good at what they are doing and Virtualmin's stability and reliability reflects that. I have a very nervous trust in Centos Web Panel, however, I feel very comfortable running Virtualmin for shared hosting, and especially VPS.

I think my only concern with Virtualmin, and i have experienced this with a handful of VPS over the last 2 or so years of using it...system memory regulation. Its very easy to tinker just enough to get system memory getting out of control...and getting back out of such a hole often is difficult, certainly made more difficult by navigation complexity and unique naming conventions!. This is not something i have experienced with any other control panel (ISPConfig, Vesta, CWP, Cyberpanel).

Perhaps these other panels are restrictive enough i suppose to prevent one from cocking up and sending system memory usage off the charts? Virtualmin i think proivdes for a much easier "under the hood tinkering session" and that im sure is what gets users into trouble in this regard! Its then so complicated, one cant find the way back and ends up having to reinstall...I wish there was a solution to this (some kind of default reset or documentation to this effect?)

One thing i will warn about its competitor CWP...I have a the paid "Pro version" of CWP and i still cant even email the developers without paying $8 one time fee every time i want help.

One thing that i find incredibly annoying with Virtualmin is the lack of separation between Virtualmin Administration and Virtual Server Administration. Its so bloody easy to cockup a virtual server ( thinking you are making more global changes) when logged into it as Root or Super Admin!!! This really needs some kind of rethink!

Virtualmin needs a layer of separation between a root user of super admin and virtual servers so this cant happen. Simply going back to the webmin tab isnt good enough as some things cant be done there.

AJECreative is the home of $5 webhosting, $15/month VPS servers (1cpu,1gb RAM, 25GB storage)
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Wed, 05/08/2019 - 13:12 (Reply to #5)
krembo99

I do not think anyone here will disagree that virtualmin is a good piece of software. and that a LOT of work was put into it . and it is surely better than some of the competition.

I can only truly speak for myself, but I think that what people are trying to say is that if the UI/UX ( and terminology ) would be better - it would expose the power of virtualmin even more to users - and attract also new users which are deterred from using it or discouraged only because of the navigation or the UX .

I am sure long time Power-users have no problem with virtualmin - but Every power-user starts as a N00B - and it is the N00B stage that you want to "catch" the users in order to build numbers of fidelity.

Today people do not have the time or patience to learn something in depth to become experts after 5 years. they want to open an interface, and set up the basics in an intuitive 5-min session, where one look and the UI explain itself without the need to search tutorials, forums, threads, or a dictionary. the kind of experience that WHM gives you ( for example ).

No one doubt the benefits of virtualmin, or the quality of the developers or their hard work - but it can be a lot better if the UI/UX will be more intuitive. With some quite minor changes in terminology, navigation, grouping and streamlining of workflows - virtualmin can really become an industry leader and gain huge popularity ( IMHO ) .

In other words : Capability !== Complexity && Complexity !== Capability

Just my two cents/

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 10:53
BillClune

Although my hosting is TINY compared to some folks, i have been using webmin/virtualmin for a looooong time. I have to agree that sometimes it does get confusing and i shake my head at why they put that option where they did (after spending hrs looking for it). BUT I have to say at least the option is there! When i help others out who are using ispconfig or something like it, i really appreciate Virtualmin more.

Btw creating "user" accounts for your hosting is actually a serious advantage, I believe it also enhances security....

Sat, 07/27/2019 - 17:52
CPConvert

Greetings all

I am a newbie convert / triallist from cPanel (hence the username ;-)

After using WHM / cpanel as root user for over 12 years, Webmin / virtualmin seems amazing, however, I'm struggling to find the basics.

My request to the development team and / or to the community please;

Could you put together an up to date cPanel to Virtualmin / WHM to Webmin conversion document / explainer ? I came across this document that was very helpful: https://doxfer.webmin.com/Webmin/Webmin_Configuration

Meanwhile, would be good to have:

1) Terminology.
OK I get that you guys want to call things by different names. While in cPanel / WHM (and many other panels) an "account" is just that - a user account - which makes sense. A "Virtual Server" as you call it here seems confusing - but alright, if that's the way it will be, please can you add a "Glossary of Terms" to your #1 Introduction section in your documentation (and even better would be a glossary of terms for those moving from cPanel!). If it is there, please point me to it as I was not able to see it.

For example:

WHM = Webmin cPanel = Virtualmin User Account = Virtual Server etc.....

2) Basics that appear to be missing on first set up:

a) Server Contacts / admin / root user email notifications - where / how can I get notifications where do I add my email address for root user? b) hardening / security - document on e.g. prevent logins except for my IP address / Host Access Control c) why webmin and virtualmin are side by side? it's a bit confusing!

Other feedback (will add more when I have chance)

  • Virtualmin website: The documentation appears to be useful - but no search function ??
  • Virtualmin / Webmin UI: could be "prettified" and more orderly,
  • webmin could be "sectioned" a bit more - for example where is the "Mail" tab in left menu and what about mail troubleshooter tool.
Sun, 07/28/2019 - 06:27
anahata
anahata's picture

I think the "Virtual Server" terminology has come in because of what Apache calls "Virtual Hosts".

I like to have each one running under its own user. There is a security advantage as you can make each user's home directory unreadable by other users, so there's no way a rogue PHP script can steal data (like passwords...) from other hosted sites on the same machine.

Agreed the menu structure is confusing and it's hard to find things...

Anahata www.treewind.co.uk West Yorkshire, UK

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 05:13 (Reply to #9)
vns990.co

I suspect you are correct and it would have paid to stay worded as virtual hosts rather than Virtual Server. As posted multiple, I can see the ambiguity.

As there is no conflict of use of a commercial entity logo or trademark I fail to see why the wheel had to be reinvented.

They could even go for something like Webhost webserver or such funny enough this problem also exists with Teamspeak they did the exact same blunder. It's not a virtual server per se and it's wrong technically to call it such.

As the points raised here best state (multiple posts).

Yes these server side apps ? Have access and control of such BUT in most cases, they are not configured to set up fresh VPS's.

Some would say it's splitting hairs but let that be a lesson to software developers.

Your wording of things IS IMPORTANT crucial in a lot of cases it's not something you can leave slapdash and expect it to pay the bills. Just sayiN ;-)

If it sells who cares (if so desired) If it don't that could be why.

hiddenscotland.net Official website of Zello ch

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 14:02
RJM Web Design
RJM Web Design's picture

There are a few e-books on Amazon dealing with Webmin / Virtualmin. They all seem out-of-date. However, I read one and am partly through another, and I have to say they've helped make the learning curve a bit less steep.

As for one panel layout being "better" than another, I have no problem with the Virtualmin layout. In fact, I prefer it to the iconified or tiled layouts that many other panels use. But it's a very slight preference. For me, as long as what's there works and is arranged in some way that makes some semblance of sense, I don't care very much about how it looks.

That's proven to be somewhat of a problem, however, because many clients do, in fact, care very deeply about the GUI. This is stupid in a way because I suspect that 90 percent of my clients have no idea what 90 percent of the icons in cPanel do, anyway. But they still want them to be there. If they're not, they feel like they've been shortchanged in some way: "I used to have all these icons, but now you've taken them away."

To me, that would be like my walking into a supermarket and complaining that they discontinued a certain brand of baby diapers, despite my having no babies in the house; or making a fuss about their not having a certain flavor of dog food, even though I don't own a dog.

To make things even more bizarre, everything they need is, in fact, available in the feature set I configured. It's just not where they're used to it being. It requires no more clicks to get to those things in Virtualmin than it does in cPanel (and in some cases takes fewer), but they're different clicks.

There might be money to be made by someone with the time and talent to create an iconified theme for Virtualmin. As stupid as I think it is that that matters so much to some clients, they're ultimately the ones paying the bills.

--Richard

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 23:54
CPConvert

I could not agree more @RJM Web Design - awesome comment!

Here are my further thoughts;

1) I decided to give Webmin /virtualmin a try after cPanel pricing fiasco. My thought is to experiment and play around with the free version, then upgrade to paid version if all goes well and I was happy with look and feel and functionality.

2) As far as install and set up and system administration goes - it's certainly a bit different - but not too hard after a bit of a learning curve (in comparison to WHM which is very intuitively laid out) - however, it took a couple of hours and I was all set to go.

3) In WHM (webmin equivalent) you can add accounts (users with domains). In Webmin you do it in the Virtualmin section - and you end up with lots of "virtual servers" in a list. This is confusing as I thought that Virtualmin was the enduser panel that endusers log into to manage their account...

4) I'm still not clear how I give access to endusers to be able to login to the virtualmin account - I obviously don't want them logging in to or seeing webmin. As far as I can see, usermin doesn't seem to do much as far as giving enduser access to all of the facilities they need.

5) And while I am on the subject of enduser - yes - I do think virtualmin needs to be made easier to navigate and to have an icon driven dashboard - much like the cpanel enduser screen. I agree with @RJM Web Design here - virtualmin comes across as way to technical for end users - they need simple point and click to set up email aliases, read webmail, access their filemanager and database etc....

That's proven to be somewhat of a problem, however, because many clients do, in fact, care very deeply about the GUI. This is stupid in a way because I suspect that 90 percent of my clients have no idea what 90 percent of the icons in cPanel do, anyway. But they still want them to be there. If they're not, they feel like they've been shortchanged in some way: "I used to have all these icons, but now you've taken them away."

With a few tweaks - I guess webmin / virtualmin could really become something more.

A few things to mention that I do really like: - a lot of config file access via the UI (not always having to go via SSH / VIM to access these - e.g. sshd config) - seems to me it's much more powerful overall than WHM - I love the idea of being able to cluster and use Master - Slave set up / Load Balance :: This is something cpanel has been desperately missing

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 04:22 (Reply to #12)
RJM Web Design
RJM Web Design's picture

I'm happy enough with Virtualmin that I migrated the last of my own personally-owned sites to it yesterday. The only domain remaining on the cPanel server from which they were migrated is a placeholder account for its hostname domain.

Virtualmin is not a "perfect" direct replacement for cPanel (although it's close). There are a few bugs and some quirks that I had to work around. In fairness, most of them actually have more to do with non-standard ways that cPanel does things than with Webmin / Virtualmin, only manifest when doing a cPanel -> Virtualmin migration, and can be easily worked around once one knows about them. The two most critical ones, in my opinion, are:

  1. AWStats loses historical data for the SSL versions of migrated sites. If the site was forced to SSL at some point in the recent past (as is very commonly the case nowadays), that means all historical data is lost for that time period. This is because cPanel separates the data for SSL and non-SSL versions of a site, and the Virtualmin migration routine ignores the SSL data. This can be easily fixed post-migration.

  2. cron jobs are imported verbatim during the migration -- including any PATH information -- but there's no sanity check. Consequently, cron jobs that used non-standard executable paths on the cPanel server that do not exist on the Virtualmin server will "successfully" import to Virtualmin with no warnings, but will not work.

This, too, is a result of cPanel's non-standard ways of doing things and can be easily fixed post-migration. But a sanity check at migration time to check the jobs against the executable paths to make sure they exist (and possibly offer suggestions if they don't) would be a nice addition.

In fairness, I probably could write automated fixes or workarounds for both of the above issues if my Perl skills were better. I know I could do it in PHP. So I don't want to blame an overwhelmingly open-source project for my lack of skill in the language it uses.

As for what's available to users, it seems to me that whatever you enable in the templates will be available to users if they log into https://domain.tld:10000 with their domain username and password. A semi-exception is phpMyAdmin, which will require that they use the SQL password rather than their domain password. There's probably a way around that. I haven't really looked because on the server I'm using Virtualmin on now, I am the human administrator for all the sites. It's something I'll have to explore before moving client accounts to Virtualmin, however.

I also have to test some more obscure things that are important for a few sites in particular, such as how Virtualmin handles migration of sites that use symlinks.

As for the GUI, as I mentioned, I prefer Virtualmin's to cPanel's; and most clients don't really give a rat's one way or the other as long as they know where to find the things that they use. Some of the objections probably can be solved with redirects (/whm and /cpanel -> :10000, /webmail -> /roundcube, etc.).

But there are and always will be some users who throw tantrums if they don't have their iconified GUIs. Adding one would probably make Virtualmin more viable as a direct replacement for cPanel. In terms of how it works, I think it's there already. Migration-related problems are surprisingly few and, so far, very easy to fix. But it looks different, which is a deal-killer for some of the more obnoxious clients.

--Richard

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 21:56
Joe
Joe's picture

We had a poll a few years ago about changing terminology (primarily changing "Virtual Server" to "Domain"), and at the time, leaving things as they are won (though by a small margin). Honestly, I think both terms are confusing...at the time when Virtualmin started, "virtual server" was a pretty good choice, but it was before widespread adoption of virtual machines and cloud-based hosting stuff, and so it didn't cause so many people to have extreme negative reaction to it. It was mostly neutral.

The reason we chose the term was to indicate it was a superset of an Apache VirtualHost (e.g. it's a VirtualHost in Apache, plus a user to manage it, plus a Postfix virtual domain, plus a database and database user, plus a DNS domain, etc.). The idea that the word "domain" could cover all of that seemed utterly ridiculous to us. Foolishly, we thought we could convince the rest of the world that cPanel was wrong to call it that. We still think they were wrong to call it that (and subdomain is even worse!), but we no longer believe we have the power to convince anyone of it. We also don't think we were right to call it Virtual Server. We should have seen the writing on the wall that people wouldn't think "Apache VirtualHost" when they see the word "virtual" in a hosting context.

So, we've had the discussion internally a few times about changing to the word "Domain" in the UI since then, and every time we come closer to flipping the switch. I suspect Virtualmin 7, coming out in another month or two, will likely make that switch. It will make some old-timers grouchy (domain remains a bad descriptor for what it is), and it won't make the cPanel converts fully happy either (our account model is just plain different from cPanel...nothing short of a major overhaul would change that). We'll never be cPanel...we started Virtualmin ~16 years ago because we really didn't like cPanel, so imitating it was never on the agenda. "Not like cPanel" was the whole point. We didn't necessarily do everything right, and we'd change a few things if we were starting over today, but I think it's an extremely solid option with a lot of active installs to prove it. We don't have the budget cPanel has, not even close, but I think we've still built an extremely competitive product, in some regards more capable than cPanel (but admittedly complicated to use in many ways).

Part of the complexity has come from not saying "no" to users enough. When we get feature requests, we often implement them before really thinking through if the complexity price is worth paying. We've slowed that down dramatically over the years...we now have discussions about new features, with the default answer being "no". But, all that history is still there in the menus, and I'll be the first to admit they are terrifyingly complex at first glance. The problem is we can't remove things without making somebody angry. Somebody loves that feature, whatever it is. When we remove it, they're gonna be mad, even if it makes the product better and easier to use. For an example, we recently removed the old Java File Manager (and even replaced it with a more powerful JavaScript File Manager that is faster and doesn't need Java to run)...still have a handful of angry users who loved the old file manager (it's still available for installation from the Webmin modules directory, don't yell at me if you're one of those mad users).

Quick answers to some of the questions I see above:

  1. A Domain in cPanel is roughly a Virtual Server in Virtualmin.
  2. A Sub-server is a domain owned by an existing Virtual Server (a "subdomain" in cPanel).
  3. There is no WHM/cPanel dichotomy. There is one login page for both server owners (Virtual Server accounts) and root. When you create a Virtual Server, it creates a user with severely limited Webmin access...give them that information (try it yourself first to see if it has more or less privileges than you want to grant your domain owners). Usermin is not it. Usermin is a webmail client with a few extra features. It is not cPanel. And, Webmin is not WHM. Webmin is for anything management related, including management tasks your domain owner users need to do. Webmin has powerful ACLs to restrict how much a user can do, and Virtualmin uses those to create users that can do domain owner stuff safely.

There is a guide I wrote about a dozen years ago that still sticks around...not much has changed. cPanel still uses the terms I don't like, and Virtualmin still uses the terms that the rest of the world refuses to use: https://www.virtualmin.com/documentation/id,virtualmin_for_cpanel_users

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Sun, 08/04/2019 - 02:31 (Reply to #14)
CPConvert

Hi Joe

Thank you for this detailed explanation which does explain things and makes it a lot clearer.

Not to second guess any of your reasoning or the decisions taken by your team, and I'm not suggesting that you should become a cPanel clone in any way - but wouldn't it make sense to do the following:

1) Terminology

  • Root or System Administrator seems pretty descriptive and is fine for the Webmin user.
  • Virtual Server / Domains = why not just "User Account" or simply "Account" which is descriptive and IMO a lot clearer than Domain (which is also confusing as a domain is a domain, not a user account).

2) Webmin/virtualmin/usermin - fine to have one login but why not:

  • Webmin access for root / administrator level access
  • Virtualmin only access for endusers / Accounts / Domains / virtual servers!
  • Usermin seems superfluous to me - though I'm probably just not understanding its purpose properly). I honestly find it confusing that there are three panels.

I guess whatever you do, there will be those who are unhappy and those who are pleased.

Moving over from WHM / cPanel feels good, it's a bit challenging, but overall, I'm finding a lot to like. I hope I'm not coming across as too negative! Just my 2cents worth and what appears to be a very solid panel.

By the way - this forum would benefit from WYSIWYG editor !!

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 22:40 (Reply to #15)
Joe
Joe's picture

Virtual Server / Domains = why not just "User Account" or simply "Account" which is descriptive and IMO a lot clearer than Domain (which is also confusing as a domain is a domain, not a user account).

This one trips people up, too. A Virtual Server is all of those things and inseparable. There is no concept of a user without a website in Virtualmin (well, in Virtualmin Pro we have Reseller Accounts which is sort of that, but with GPL you create a Virtual Server to get a new user, and it also creates a website). That new virtual server (domain owner) can then have other websites (sub-servers), so it's not a limitation and it doesn't mean you need a new account per website (though for security purposes it can make sense to do so). Again, it's a different account model, and would need a pretty big overhaul to change it. This is probably one of the things we would do differently if we were starting over. The original idea was to get a user from "I want a website" to "I have a website" in as few steps as possible (one step, basically, once Virtualmin is running and DNS is delegated). But, the way people want to think about the problem doesn't match that if they're coming from other models...and it has some other sort of weird edges that feel funny to people (the directory structure for sub-servers is maybe weird to some, and definitely deeper than people expect).

Webmin access for root / administrator level access. Virtualmin only access for endusers / Accounts / Domains / virtual servers!

You're still thinking about cPanel/WHM, and it doesn't make sense when you apply that model to Virtualmin. Virtualmin is not a separate thing. It is a module (well, a bunch of modules and custom UI mode) inside Webmin. There is no such thing as "logging into Virtualmin"...you login to Webmin, which happens to be configured for Virtualmin and have Virtualmin modules available. root logs into Webmin, a Virtualmin domain owner logs into Webmin. The only difference is the privileges their account has.

Moving over from WHM / cPanel feels good, it's a bit challenging, but overall, I'm finding a lot to like. I hope I'm not coming across as too negative! Just my 2cents worth and what appears to be a very solid panel.

We always welcome feedback, even negative, as long as it is constructive and comes with an open mind. You're doing fine, and we're glad to have you in the Virtualmin community.

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Sun, 08/04/2019 - 02:43
noisemarine

Webmin is used to manage the server. It's a web interface to what you would do in the CLI. Virtualmin builds on Webmin by grouping together tasks suited to a hosting environment. You could do almost everything manually in Webmin, but Virtualmin speeds things up. Account creation for example makes the user account, sets up the Apache/nginx configuration, adds the domain to postfix along with any user accounts, creates a database, sets up awstats, and so on. Think of Virtualmin as an addon to Webmin with a hosting focus. They both have their place in administering your server.

As Joe said, Usermin is a webmail interface with some extra features. Mostly, I install RoundCube to mail/ and move on with my life (Virtualmin -> Install Scripts). :)

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 02:50
expansity
expansity's picture

Guys,

Listen....

The only cPanel I know, is the one you get on shared hosting when you sign up for a website, and with my limited experience, Virtualmin is miles (and I mean MILES) ahead of Cpanel in that sense (not sure if there is another version of cPanel).

I wrestled with Virtialmin for more than a month, when I moved from shared hosting (cPanel), doing everything myself, and managing my own VPS. I figured out how Virtualmin works, learnt how it implement things, and coming from other free cPanels, Virtualmin is a GOLDMINE, w.r.t its functionality (they have literally thought of 99%), and its polished and complete (features). ALL FOR FREE!!!

The best thing is to learn how Virtualmin implements things, and there is a reason why they do it that way, as you start using other functionality, which links into each other. So, what I am saying, there is a clear pattern or strain of doing things. So no functionality is half backed.In hindsight you'll appreciate their way of thinking; it worked for me.

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 04:45
Jfro

COPY POST sorry:

7) I am still rather unclear exactly what Usermin is for.... if Webmin is for server admin (e.g. WHM / root user) and Virtualmin is for end users (e.g. cPanel / users who want to manage their files etc) - then what is Usermin for ? Is it for multiple users under Virtualmin users ?

why don't try to setup and login usermin on :20000 yourself as a normal user account.

So define different users : emaill and ftp , email only, ftp only and so on.

Play also with webmin virtualmin user and admins and their rights. ( yup not always what they see ( in menu's) if no rights for that, those things don't work)

My advice experience is you have to "play" with all three first before using it further and also do some tests, security and so on, then setup a live box and explain / docu for your whatever users!

Docu here virtualmin and wiki is not always upto date so important to have a look yourself and test before you give such docu to your users as kind of manual!

He if find myself that icon sh.t nonsens , you have to remember whatever icons from whatever apllication what they do , text is more explaining , for menu , login, exit and so i understand icons easy.

BUT Example whatever aplication for: "ftp user rights setting" why you have to learn wich icon if text is plain explaning such directly?

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 06:02
adamjedgar

I think that perhaps what is needed is for a community survey on interface configuration and most importantly design.

That surely would iron out the issues with complexity and confusion?

I personally have a bit of issue with the term virtual server, however reverting to domains might actually just make things worse!

For example, a virtual server is a user account, not a domain. 1 user account can have many domains, but each domain can belong to only one user. The problem is, how do we define the term "user account" in hosting? It's a crappy phrase that cpanel clearly decided was so crappy they would just jump over it and go on to the next level...what one puts on that user account (a domain name). As a consequence, newbies in Web hosting get completely bloody confused between buying a domain name at a registrar, and hosting that domain name on a webserver. Few people really understand a website only works because two parts that seem to have the same name, are actually different and needed in order to make it work.

What is needed is a fresh approach to naming virtual servers that makes sense in this regard. What is really needed to redifine virtualmin virtual server is the "iPhone moment" ( which literally belted Nokia out of the park in one fell swoop)

AJECreative is the home of $5 webhosting, $15/month VPS servers (1cpu,1gb RAM, 25GB storage)
Centos7, Debian9, or Ubuntu18LTS
Available Control Panels = Centos-Webpanel, Cyberpanel, or Virtualmin

https://ajecreative.com.au

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 06:24 (Reply to #20)
RJM Web Design
RJM Web Design's picture

As a consequence, newbies in Web hosting get completely bloody confused between buying a domain name at a registrar, and hosting that domain name on a webserver. Few people really understand a website only works because two parts that seem to have the same name, are actually different and needed in order to make it work.

If I had a dollar for every time I had to explain that difference to users, I'd be quite a wealthy man. Users who come to me with domains that they already own often believe, for reasons that made no sense to me before, that they no longer have to pay the renewal bills for those domains that their registrars send them. Now it makes a bit more sense. cPanel's use of the term can make users who are... let's just say "less than genuises," believe that the domain registration has been magically subsumed into the hosting account. Brilliant!

--Richard

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 06:16
RJM Web Design
RJM Web Design's picture

Honestly, I don't think it matters much what you call an account. "Virtual server" is fine with me. I also don't think the nomenclature matters much from the end-user's perspective because it is what they log in to, not something they create.

In other words, no matter what you call a user-level account, when a site owner logs into it using their credentials, they're already inside of it. The nomenclature difference between creating a "virtual server" versus a cPanel "account" or "domain" is something that root and resellers have to understand, not end users; and frankly, it's not rocket surgery to understand -- especially since it actually does make more sense than cPanel's nomenclature, for the reasons that Joe pointed out.

--Richard

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 17:53
CPConvert

Thanks for comments.

I believe I represent your typical average "newbie" Virtualmin user and as I have said already - none of my comments are meant in criticism of what appears to be a very strong product (that I am glad to have found) - only observation. My feedback can either be ignored, partially acknowledged or provide a catalyst for change ;-) I'm not opposed to any of the above! :-)

Yes I have set up several test accounts (independent domains as independent virtual servers) and have been testing and playing with all of the settings. I'm working on VPS with CentOs7.

I'm approaching this "experiment" from two angles;

1) As a root administrator wanting to A) set up my server the best it can be (e.g. secure, logical, stable) and B) enable fast and easy / efficient / secure creation of user accounts (virtual domains) by having a "template" etc that can be applied to new accounts (e.g. from WHMCS).

2) As an enduser with the ability to login to my "cpanel-esque" control panel (because that is what they are used to and therefore expect) to do things like e.g. set up new emails; check spam folder on server; use file manager; login to phpmyadmin; make website backups; use e.g. softaculous and - all the other typical things endusers often want to do.

As for 1) above - I believe I have managed to achieve most of this - I imagine it will get easier over time as I become more familiar with where things are.

As for 2) above - I believe this is a big issue for anyone used to cpanel environment. That is not to say cpanel is the best, or is the most user friendly or whatever - it is just a fact that a lot of users expect a simple GUI and easy to navigate panel that is logical and offers all of the features they need. Most Endusers don't give a rats about cpanel price changes or Oakley Capital Investments buying them and shoving it right up the webhosts. I do - and that's why I want to find an alternative.

However, so far - I am hesitant to bring my several hundred clients over from cpanel. I am still exploring Virtualmin in the hope that I can find a way to simplify it a bit.

Maybe I need to hire someone to walk me through customising Virtualmin to make it more simplified.... or perhaps there is someone out there currently working on a new skin to make the changeover less painful.

I realise for most seasoned Virtualmin users, newbie cpanel converts are not at all interesting - however - I imagine there are many thousands looking for an alternative webpanel now - and that could bring a really good boost for virtualmin's income / development.

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 22:56 (Reply to #23)
Joe
Joe's picture

"Maybe I need to hire someone to walk me through customising Virtualmin to make it more simplified..."

Have you logged in as a domain owner user (a virtual server account)? The interface your customers see is vastly simpler than what the root user sees, and is wholly configurable. The default is pretty restrictive, and only has the basics, I think...stuff like creating email addresses and aliases, managing databases (even that might not be on by default, but can be), looking at logs, and creating new sub-servers (if available to the account). I think most of our users add more to the end-user privileges rather than want to simplify it more.

--

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Tue, 08/06/2019 - 05:39
CPConvert

Yes, I've done all that and I must say - while I really love the stability of webmin - it's never going to work for my clients. I realise webmin will never be cpanel.... but look at the new skin that's just been released for Direct Admin... I know it's not perfect but.... the people over at DA are really capitalising on this crazy cpanel move.... Just sayin.

https://custombuild.eu/evolution/traditional.png

(from forum : https://forum.directadmin.com/showthread.php?t=58500&p=299418#post299418)

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 06:41
CPConvert

Hi Joe

"Have you logged in as a domain owner user (a virtual server account)?"

Yes, I have done so - Perhaps I am missing how to create this "simplified enduser" experience - because after playing with things for a week or so and understanding more about the framework, I still think it's confusing have webmin, virtualmin and usermin - especially for endusers (my clients).

I've tried to do this myself by way of packages and templates, but it's just too difficult as most of the stuff that's visible is hardwired to be there for all users.

"The default is pretty restrictive, and only has the basics" - if you mean usermin then yes, but I am not really sure I see the point of usermin. If you mean virtualmin, I'm afraid I can't agree - my installation 1st launch of my fictitious user - virtualmin was quite over populated with a lot of options - not to mention Webmin too..... I have done my best to simplify by using package / plan templates but still it's a lot to take in....

Tue, 08/06/2019 - 21:57 (Reply to #26)
Joe
Joe's picture

No, not talking about Usermin. Usermin is a webmail client with some other features...not a management tool, at all.

I don't think we have any desire to do a cPanel skin...I find cPanel pretty ugly (and confusing, honestly). But, I know Virtualmin is also very intimidating for new users, and it's something we'd like to improve on, and have been working on.

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Tue, 08/06/2019 - 22:14 (Reply to #27)
Joe
Joe's picture

But, I just double-checked, and I'm still confused about what you're seeing that seems way too complicated. This is what I see when I login to a virtual server account with the default settings: Virtualmin virtual server user screenshot

There's almost nothing there, and the Webmin tab is just the basics (user information, password, some basic system stuff like process list and file manager, etc.), and even all of that can be removed with configuration.

But, again, if "must look like cPanel" is the requirement, we'll never be that.

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Tue, 08/06/2019 - 23:53
CPConvert

Thanks for the reply.

I've played with various options and now seem to have lost webmin from the end user screen!! - only "virtualmin" and "dashboard" show up at top -

Here's what I see

https://i.imgur.com/dchRstk.jpg

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 01:48
TimRiker
TimRiker's picture

I think "Domain" and "subdomain" are both overloaded with other meanings. I like "Virtual Server" for the reasons already expressed above. As it's not a new physical or vm server, perhaps "Virtual Site" should be considered?

The number one thing I'd like to see worked on is the search interface. Think windows control panel, or perhaps ccsm (compiz). Both are complex with so many options, it's not clear where they should live sometimes. Which item is dependant on which? etc. Both of these have a usable search interface to find the setting you are after whether on a top level or far down on a particular tab. Android settings app is another good example.

The "search" in webmin/virtualmin should search the text of any setting or description, then get a list of hits with highlighted text matches, the mostly text layout in webmin/virtualmin become more of a clear win over the gui/icons in other panels. Currently it seems to search the help, but not the settings. Perhaps I'm not using the right terms? At any rate, it often does not get me to where I thought it would. :) "User Mail" seems to work, "FPM" is missing a lot of things I think it should find.

This is non-trivial to implement, as is should only show search results from modules that are enabled and that are accessible to the current user. Also the "text" that is searched is located in the language files and varies based on language.

I would prefer that usermin were integrated with webmin/virtualmin on the same menus.

Administrators are sometimes behind a firewall such that getting to port 10000/20000 might not be allowed. I sometimes run webmin under /webmin/ on the parent hosts apache/ssl server. ie: vm.example.com/webmin is the setup for hosts on vm.example.com. The easiest way to set this up is to run the miniserv on localhost and then setup apache proxy to connect to it. It's a bit dangerous though. If you do an apache edit that causes apache to fail to start, you've also lost webmin! Ouch.

Some things I can't find, like the curren (6.0.7.gpl) FPM code is breaking all FPM pools every hour. I don't know where the cronjob config is that runs every hour, and I don't know of a way to disable the current, broken, FPM checks. Logging in as root and chattr +i conf.d/*.conf is my temporary work around.

Overall, virtualmin rocks, and I highly recommend it. It tries hard to put configuration in places that are well thought out, and work well with command line administration along side the web based administration. It follows the distributions existing standards most of the time. I like most of the design decisions.

There are some I don't like. For example the default "parent virtual server" path is /home/* and thus the username / top virtual server name already needs to be unique. The FPM setup is also unique on this very same username. Yet the pool.d/*.conf files are named by domain-id and not by username. Why do we have two different unique names for the same thing? This means "ps auxw|grep fpm" shows some, probably unknown, domain-id instead of the much more useful username after the fpm app arguments.

Another example is the files in virtual-server/domains/ themselves. Again, if the username needs to already be unique, why don't the files match the username?

In short, there is room for improvement, but overall good choices have been made. Thanks for all the great work!

Linux Technologist

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 05:09
krembo99

I must again ( like in the beginning of the thread ) give my two cents here .. and emphasis that it is not a testimony to the product itself which seems very complete and robust - but for my own UX ( user experience )

I think that the emphasis should move a bit from the terminology to the essence which is the logic. After playing a bit with Virtualmin - I came to the conclusion that for me, the logic was what confused me ( and still does) and not only the terminology.

In other systems I used ( and yes - against popular feeling I must cite WHM/CPANEL again .. ) there is a very clear logical division as to what each one is for, what you can do with it and most important - WHO. I found that virtualmin lacks this clear division whereas low-level users sometimes need to access webmin / virtaulmin in order to do operations that normally the root admin should not do for them.. What I mean is that in the example of WHM - it is only for resellers / root. and Cpanel is only for final clients.

On top of that - also the inner logical division of where to find what is a bit confusing and maybe even lacking. The overall feeling is that I need to open 3, 4,and 10 menu items until I finally find what I need - only to forget it's location later and then search again.

I feel strongly that in light of current events ( Cpanel pricing madness ) you were actually given a golden opportunity to capitalize on many users that just want a simple migration and find another management system. You have a great system and a complete robust one - and I feel that just resisting and repeatedly stating " we are not Cpanel and will never be" is a bit missing this opportunity window where there are presumably thousand of customers that are looking for an alternative. Being similar in UX to Cpanel or Directadmin is not a bad thing especially when those products where ( and still are ) somehow market leaders. I think no one is really asking you to use the same logos or the same colors or the same fonts or even the same exact menus. what people want is a similar smooth experience where we know where everything is without even looking for it. I know this is the feeling I had the first time I opened WHM/Cpanel, and also DirectAdmin. It took me no more than 15 minutes to know where to find what I need and to navigate freely and naturally, In webmin I can not say the same.

I read a lot of similar threads here where the term " confusing" repeat itself.

I think what I am trying to say is just that there is a golden opportunity now - if I was the CEO I would take advantage of that, and fast :-)

Resisting market forces ( and potential clients feedback ) can only go so far. again - you have a great product. why not make it greater ?

p.s.

Also producing some updated dedicated tutorials for Whm/Cpanel refugees regarding migration / similarities / differences or workflows / migrations explanations does not seem like a bad idea.

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 07:09
Jfro

Uh Being similar in UX to Cpanel or Directadmin is not a bad thing

I don't understand such opinion, if i want and used to Software and UI as a lot here are used to work with as Virtualmin Webmin is.

Why changing that to be a more look alike ( i also don't mean colors and such stuff is ..................pff

I a like to drive a Volvo that looks feel and behavior as a Volvo i'm used to it, i don't want that that Volvo is becoming Simular to any other car even as those are market leader.

Functions and so on that are extra handy yep, but look and feeling and UX and changing important procedures / names whatever nono . ;)

You CPANEL guys do try that in DA forum to bad bad guys ;)

if you like Cpanel why not stay there only paying a litle more. ;)

My 5 cents.

If i don't like i don't use, and use other, if to expensive i take a pot of coffee and doing my best to get to known the budget version i do'nt like better, so i can work with and get used to that one to. Almost always it is a matter of willing to and some extra time. ;)

UH YEP there is stil some work todo ;)

That you , me or other people comming from other Panels and need more time doesn't mean the panel and interface and UX is bad, only that it is different, and if costing more time than DA then it is probably more different.

People are also different, knowing someone takes more time then knowing someone else, i like that part very very much, one grey silly same world is what BIG company with Monopols are trying, please don't go with that flow!

OYEA if DA or Virtualmin wanted to be as simular as CP for whatever reason, that isn't never be a issue for long long time, they have their own Custommer base with their own look and feel and so on.

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 20:34 (Reply to #32)
krembo99

@jfro - I think you are missing the whole point.

1 - The problem is not for us ( root admins ) but for the FINAL USER. people express concerns because spending more time to learn might be ok for the admins. but certainly not ok for FINAL USERS which only want a simple way to create a website / mail etc ...

2- No one is asking to CHANGE what exists. But instead create a theme that will accommodate other type of ( maybe less advanced ) users.

3- when talking about UX ( not UI ) is more about the smoothness of flow ,and logical division. again- for final users - but yes, also for admins. somehow it is difficult for me to see how to manage 2k clients with 5-6k domains in virtualmin. but I am willing to be proven wrong..

4 - People are upset and want to move from cPanel not because of the price increase itself - but because of how it was done ( 30-400% increase with only ONE week notice ) and the way the new owners / management is handling things - which probably will kill Cpanel in the near future. ( But I do not want to get into this discussion here )

5 - If I was the only one that finds Virtualmin a bit confusing and intimidating - than OK. But if many other express the same feeling - than maybe there is some valid issue / concern here ?

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 22:52
hdaric

If I could take a few moments and try to distill a few points people have been making in hopes to stop this from turning into a big argument.

There is a different between core design philosophy (why you are making a thing and what problems it is trying to solve) and the user experience. If I were going to try to broadly summarize webmin/virtualmin/usermin's core design philosophy, I'd say it is a product designed to: * Provide a free and open source option for web hosting control and web server administration. * Cater to system administrators who do not want to have a control panel dictate how they set up the hosting stack. You should be free to choose the tools you prefer to use and *min should try to work with the services provided and still let you edit service configurations directly should you prefer to do that. * Provide admins and users an extensive web-based control panel so that they don't have to resort to working on the command line if that isn't something they want to do. I'll bow to longer-time users of *min if you'd like to add some additional points to the list above. The user experience, on the other hand is about discoverability. It is about a product working in a logically consistent fashion and that helps new users get up to speed with the product quickly. Every product that has a lot of features has a learning curve, but the UX can make on boarding someone much easier or much harder.

I don't think anyone here is arguing that the design philosophy is bad or needs to change, they are simply saying that in their opinion there are parts of the user experience itself that could be improved.

When you really get down to it, while there will be people who prefer XX feature works like it does in some other control panel, no one has yet suggested that *min should be scrapped and replaced with a product just like cPanel or Plesk or InterWorx. I think people are simply trying to express that perhaps there's a way for the product to remain true to its core design philosophy while still helping new users make sense of the product.

For example, if you had a friend who had never used *min before or any other control panel, how exactly would you explain the differences between Webmin, Virtualmin and Usermin to them? As we've seen in this thread, even seasoned users disagree exactly how to categorize each product. If the products can't be clearly and consistently explained, that might mean there is some room for improvement in each product's focus.

Now imagine that a new user who is not a system administrator signed up for hosting and the server uses *min. Without guidance, if they were just given a set of links to Virtualmin and Usermin without explanation, what do you suppose the end user might assume about those products? What is Usermin for? They might say, reasonably, that Usermin is where they as the end user should go to manage their account. They'd only be partly correct. Some tasks the user will have to manage in Virtualmin and others are best accomplished in Usermin.

I understand that Usermin was originally designed to be a webmail client for users and that it has had other features added onto it over the years, but most users aren't going to take the time to understand the history of the product. They just want to use it. If the answer to why a feature works or appears the way it does relies on someone explaining the history of the product, that's probably a fail, because then you're just talking about technical debt and not good UX.

Can these users eventually learn the product and become proficient? Sure! However, if some things are too frustrating some users will go looking for something else.

As several people have said, the situation with cPanel has provided other control panels with a serious opportunity, and so it's not a bad idea to consider ways to make potential paying customers feel more at home. That can be done without sacrificing the core design philosophy of *min at all.

Even with constant improvement, is *min going to be the right choice for every user? Never. No one control panel can ever, (or should ever) try to be everything to everyone, but the product can stay true to its goals while helping new users who might well love the design philosophy if they had access to a UX that is a bit friendlier.

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 04:53 (Reply to #34)
krembo99

@hdaric Couldn't agree more ( with every word )

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 02:18
Jfro

All take more time to teach you users. As this i quite common.

I don't say you can't have other opinions!

You want changes where our User has experiencie with this interface and UX.

I explained with a car, if you change from Fuel to Electric you have to take some time to as Seller to explain a lot and the User have to invest some time to.

I.m More then 30 years in IT, that is normal and common with almost every software change to other vendor ( sometimes even same verndor windows 3.1 , 98, xp, 7, 8, 8,1 and 10 all complaing persons in stead the invest that same time in learning how its works in the other / new situation) , &, only copycats there it is not.

So i don't say changes are or coul be bad, only that it isn't needed for the meant is , minor ok, when big it's up to decide to Virtualmin themselves if they want to do that see the Microsoft windows learnpath where also a lot of people still complaining! ( is it better UX hmm if users where used to xp or 7 arguing is normal about that) ( Oyea windows 10 is better only privacy sucks there)

More or better functionallity if it makes sense yup, where texts are hmm you can make some better yup. though that is a normal software and development path..

Virtualmin is there for years having Custommer Hosters and Endusers Base, they have deserved this with doing a good job, and their Users are used to have it this way, so i don't say they can do still better. ( everyone can) but don't have you existing userbase learniing Cpanel UX way where virtualmin isn't CPANEL)

So i didn't mixed things as you can read above and did understand you well.

A own opinion is OK, but don't force that opinion as a lott of you are trying up to the Developers that isn't a kind way of doing and unpolite even. ;)

JOKING. ;)

if Your friend or Endusers have to change Partner ( Wife , Man, IT) they have to learn some to. ( that could be however also exiting) So is this  why not explaing this in a nice marketing way to your Custommers so wow we have now a new control panel so you don't have to pay that much more CP want from you/us and still you can do your things some even better)

a great challenge even and don't make things to easy then people make a lot of dangerous even security failures while and that is TRUE user don't read anymore, if a message popup the klick next next close message and so on.

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 05:01 (Reply to #36)
krembo99

@Jfro

You ARE ( again ) missing the point.

Adding a new theme that is a bit different in logical organization does not mean discarding the old one.

Let me translate it to you in simpler words :

The existing ux / theme / organizational logic will stay for existing users. so no one will take your volvo from you.

A new one will accommodate new users and new customer base. Again - not hurting one bit from what you have now. Not hurting functionality. not hurting UX, not hurting design, Not changing anything.

That way each one person can decide which one they prefer to use.

At the end - IMHO this is a milestone decision and opportunity for the creators of virtualmin. and only they can decide on whats coming - but I believe that an addition ( and not absolute change ) can only benefit everyone.

And I will re-itterate. the problem / challenge is end users . Not me that can get by with a CLI for almost everything..

PS.

BTW - note that this thread started long before the cPanal drama and has little to do with it at all.. The ongoing events just intensified the issues and not created them.

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 05:57
Jfro

UH why wrong? There are API's and docu to make / change theme's yourself custumized for you Users. ( even template and so on) So i didn't mean Theme with that meaning you can have it "almost" as you want it! ( everyone with some knowledge could do that for his/here/it company)

The Meaning of things naming convention as used and so on base workflows that is what i meaning. ( virtiual server and so on, some are here above confusing yep , but doesn't mena if the choice was to go that way long ago that it is wrong, overtime changing overhaul to have it more as other Control panel users are used to, hmmmm)

Depending on how much time and Developers working on virtualmin other things are more important if "spare" time yup ofcourse new theme or more different templates are interesting.

If you follow read forum for  years you can see time is problem, docu isn't upto date and some other things those are way more important then theme / template everyone can customize while open source and so on!

That is the meanreason i m against such changes while other more important things have to be done first and their time isn't that much.

So if developers other working for hosters for example could as in DA also code several different theme's plugins and templates i'm not against that at all!

Don't understand me wrong for that, the way of naming and working / work flow changing is not OK when the old way has proofen to work also, if really better for they can think about that.

Time of developers from virtualmin they have for what you all asking is "way to little" so others have todo if really needed wanted i expect?????????

i'm not against driving in other cars then volvo only not want to drive in cars i don't like as cpanel is for me a good example. ;)

I don't use them then, so if you / your users dislike it so much don't use it, or change the look and feel Theme yourselves.?

Yep i know DA and plesk also! work / have worked with them...

p.s. The topic starter started this as in compare to other PANELS , then later also extra more a lot Cpanel as in some other topics. because of the likers form CPANEL but dislikers what they have to pay for. ;)

You all can Buy a not full ready cheaper house, an do or have done the look and feel later yourself or pay for third parties, that is possible with virtualmin to, in comparation Virtualmin as cheaper solution then Cpanel, even much more is then possible i believe then the more stricter Cpanel. Tuning and pimp your cars you can with Virtualmin!

I think The Webmin filemanager as it is has started such way to become what it is, so work from supporting members / developers as a example!

If you don't like as it is, > then try to work together with some of those developers then don't be shy! ;)

Stick your heads together and do some coding on against api , themes, templates and plugins, i'm sure if startup going such way Virtualmin developers are happy to support also where they can! ;)

QuoteFor example, if you had a friend who had never used *min before or any other control panel, how exactly would you explain the differences between Webmin, Virtualmin and Usermin to them? As we've seen in this thread, even seasoned users disagree exactly how to categorize each product. If the products can't be clearly and consistently explained, that might mean there is some room for improvement in each product's focus.

I already an way more users write this is only DOCU and wiki have to be up to date explaining how it works coudl be enough for that a liite bit of time learning curve isn't bad.

DOCU / WIKI HOWTO and some other security update impovements are way more important.

Main EXAMPLE the PCI complaint DOCU WIKI is years Behind! https://www.virtualmin.com/documentation/security/pci

I hope you all see my point with the live example above i give you? ;)

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 06:46
Jfro

OYEA you all ( existing / ex Cpanel) can help spare some time to have this ready in more languages to?

https://www.virtualmin.com/documentation/system Virtualmin for Recovering cPanel Administrators - Tips for users who are familiar with cPanel, but not the underlying webserver terminology. Virtualmin uses Apache terminology for most functionality, and has a few other differences in how it presents options to the end user, which can be confusing for users migrating from cPanel. This guide covers the most common pitfalls and causes of confusion.

leads to ;) https://www.virtualmin.com/documentation/system/cpanel for now a 404 page not exists...

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 10:05
Jfro

And a websearch you see projects you can give new life for webmin virtualmin themes if you like.

https://theme.winfuture.it/

http://skcript.github.io/better-authentic/

http://www.xenlayer.com/xenlayer-theme.html

And a lot more yup old but are open source as base with the themes from virtualmin themselves you have very much opportunities to code a them with almost in it as you want also the look and feel ux and so on.

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 09:31
Ilia
Ilia's picture

@anahata — Agreed the menu structure is confusing and it's hard to find things

@CPConvert — Virtualmin / Webmin UI could be "prettified" and more orderly

@RJM Web Design — There might be money to be made by someone with the time and talent to create an iconified theme for Virtualmin. As for the GUI, as I mentioned, I prefer Virtualmin's to cPanel's; and most clients don't really give a rat's one way or the other as long as they know where to find the things that they use. But there are and always will be some users who throw tantrums if they don't have their iconified GUIs. Adding one would probably make Virtualmin more viable as a direct replacement for cPanel.

@CPConvert — In WHM (webmin equivalent) you can add accounts (users with domains). In Webmin you do it in the Virtualmin section - and you end up with lots of "virtual servers" in a list. This is confusing as I thought that Virtualmin was the enduser panel that endusers log into to manage their account

We are working on making users coming from other control panels to transition more smoothly. Webmin/Virtualmin is incredibly powerful product, and this is why, at first, it also looks much more complex, confusing and sometimes even intimidating.

Aside from making iconified navigation (you were heard and I will discuss it with the team), which is extremely time consuming by the way, we are looking forward to present step-by-step tours and guides for all new users, in upcoming Virtualmin 7 release . It will help to level user's expectations in terms of overcoming terminology misunderstandings and bringing to user's light other UI related principals and unconventional features.

Furthermore, It's psychological matter. No matter how much KDE or GNOME's UX feel alike as Windows and Windows feels alike as MacOS - there will be post-switch discomfort, whether you want it or not, simply because of the fact, as it's just different product. It's absolutely normal though and must be apprehended. Our intend is to make it more smooth and less painful, and we will try our best to do it for you and your users.

@CPConvert — I'm still not clear how I give access to endusers to be able to login to the Virtualmin account - I obviously don't want them logging in to or seeing Webmin. As far as I can see, Usermin doesn't seem to do much as far as giving enduser access to all of the facilities they need.

After you create virtual-server, the username/password that is set upon its creation, would become credentials for the server-owner. You can also switch to the current server-owner from navigation menu by clicking to Administration Options/Switch To Server's Admin link.

@CPConvert — And while I am on the subject of enduser - yes - I do think Virtualmin needs to be made easier to navigate and to have an icon driven Dashboard. With a few tweaks - I guess Webmin/Virtualmin could really become something more.

If it was just few tweaks you and your users would already have it running on your servers. However, it is not, and we will try to see what we can do in this regard.

@Joe — The reason we chose the term was to indicate it was a superset of an Apache VirtualHost (e.g. it's a VirtualHost in Apache, plus a user to manage it, plus a Postfix virtual domain, plus a database and database user, plus a DNS domain, etc.). The idea that the word "domain" could cover all of that seemed utterly ridiculous to us. I suspect Virtualmin 7, coming out in another month or two, will likely make that switch. It will make some old-timers grouchy (domain remains a bad descriptor for what it is), and it won't make the cPanel converts fully happy either

In my perspective, there is no easy solution to this, as it affects users with different mentality, and possibly, there is no reason to change the terms at all, if we introduce our users, right upon the start, with the terminology that is being used around.

@CPConvert — However, so far - I am hesitant to bring my several hundred clients over from cPanel. I am still exploring Virtualmin in the hope that I can find a way to simplify it a bit. Maybe I need to hire someone to walk me through customising Virtualmin to make it more simplified.... or perhaps there is someone out there currently working on a new skin to make the changeover less painful. Yes, I've done all that and I must say - while I really love the stability of Webmin - it's never going to work for my clients. I realise Webmin will never be cPanel.... but look at the new skin that's just been released for Direct Admin... I know it's not perfect but.... the people over at DA are really capitalising on this crazy cPanel move.... Just sayin.

I would love to assist and guide you through the adjustment process, if still needed. You, and anyone coming from cPanel on this thread, can submit a message using my website and I will get back to you as soon as I can. :)

@CPConvert — I've played with various options and now seem to have lost Webmin from the end user screen!! - only "Virtualmin" and "Dashboard" show up at top

It's most likely because you logged in as server-owner.

@TimRiker — The "search" in Webmin/Virtualmin should search the text of any setting or description, then get a list of hints with highlighted text matches, the mostly text layout in Webmin/Virtualmin become more of a clear win over the GUI/icons in other panels. Currently it seems to search the help, but not the settings. Perhaps I'm not using the right terms? At any rate, it often does not get me to where I thought it would. :) "User Mail" seems to work, "FPM" is missing a lot of things I think it should find.

Search has two functionalities. First is to quickly filter menu's content and second, is to run server search (hitting enter on search field is needed). The server search is actually searching through the settings as well. The results are highlighted as bold text but it can be improved, I will take care of it.

@TimRiker — I would prefer that Usermin were integrated with Webmin/Virtualmin on the same menus.

Usermin is made for users (one domain (virtual-server) can have multiple users, for example). Webmin/Virtualmin can run as administrator (with administrator login), as reseller (with reseller login) and as server-owner (server-owner login).

@krembo99 — Menu items until I finally find what I need - only to forget it's location later and then search again.

You are right, and I also felt this way, before we made the ability to add any page to favorites. Favorites are user based, and each standard page has a star at the table header, clicking which, in no time enables you to add the page to favorites. Later you can access Favorites from right side slider or using (Alt+F) shortcut (by default). You can also click a star at navigation menu (on by default). Favorites can be also be rearranged (drag&drop), edited or deleted using UI (Alt+F).

@krembo99 — I feel strongly that in light of current events ( cPanel pricing madness) you were actually given a golden opportunity to capitalize on many users that just want a simple migration and find another management system.

We will really try our best, and come to an optimal solution to accomplish it in shorter period of time.

@krembo99 — what people want is a similar smooth experience where we know where everything is without even looking for it.

It wouldn't be an easily achievable goal, for the reasons mentioned above, nevertheless we will try our best to smooth out the transition for the new users.

@hdaric — *min is about cater to system administrators who do not want to have a control panel dictate how they set up the hosting stack. The user experience, on the other hand is about discoverability. It is about a product working in a logically consistent fashion and that helps new users get up to speed with the product quickly. Every product that has a lot of features has a learning curve, but the UX can make on boarding someone much easier or much harder. I think people are simply trying to express that perhaps there's a way for the product to remain true to its core design philosophy while still helping new users make sense of the product.

Any logic is based on underlying experience. Any change requires learning and overall, the higher level of awareness. In short period of time the logic that is used behind in Virtualmin will become explicitly obvious.

@hdaric — Can these users eventually learn the product and become proficient? Sure! However, if some things are too frustrating some users will go looking for something else.

You are right, and we do our best to keep the users far away from being frustrated.

@hdaric — As several people have said, the situation with cPanel has provided other control panels with a serious opportunity, and so it's not a bad idea to consider ways to make potential paying customers feel more at home. That can be done without sacrificing the core design philosophy of *min at all.

Do you see any other ways of doing it, rather than using the same iconized UI?

@Jfro — Virtualmin is there for years having Customer Hosters and Endusers Base, they have deserved this with doing a good job, and their Users are used to have it this way, so I don't say they can do still better.

Thank you for your kind words. There is always room for improvement.

@Jfro — I don't use them then, so if you / your users dislike it so much don't use it, or change the look and feel Theme yourselves?

We'd better help with this, if needed, and in time it's more realistic, rather than in short term, as this is extremely time consuming process, and also complicated as well.

@krembo99 — Adding a new theme that is a bit different in logical organization does not mean discarding the old one. The existing UX / theme / organizational logic will stay for existing users, so no one will take your Volvo from you. A new one will accommodate new users and new customer base. Again - not hurting one bit from what you have now. Not hurting functionality. Not hurting UX, not hurting design, not changing anything.

You are right, however it's not that fast nor straight forward to achieve.

@Jfro — Virtualmin for Recovering cPanel Administrators link leads to a 404 page not exists.

Thanks, I have fixed that.

@Jfro — And a websearch you see projects you can give new life for webmin virtualmin themes if you like.

None of those projects can help in any way, to anyone.

Regards, Ilia (Theme Developer)

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:43 (Reply to #41)
RJM Web Design
RJM Web Design's picture

Thank you, Ilia.

For what it's worth, I like the Authentic Theme as it is. I think it's especially convenient for webmasters who administer their own servers and maintain the sites hosted on them. The menu is on the left, and the stuff you need to see or tweak is on the right; it's easy to switch between sites; phpMyAdmin requires only one login; and so forth. Everything is right there and fewer clicks are required to do routine tasks. For maintaining my own sites, I find this much easier than that other control panel.

In fact, the "testing" server I set up to test Virtualmin is now in full-time production status. I also canceled the license for that other panel on the old server, reinstalled the OS, and installed Virtualmin on it (GPL for the time being). I have a few ideas I want to test on it (for example, a Backblaze backup module based on rclone). My Perl skills are very weak, but simple projects like that would be good practice: and because the server's not in production status, there's little risk involved.

Long story short, I'm happy with the UI and UX. My concern is the minority of end-users who don't like it simply because "it's different" and they're either too busy or too lazy to explore it. Everything they need is there. They just have to look for it.

But in the end, they're still the ones paying the bills, so we can't just blow them off. Better to try to give them what they want. Hopefully it will bring more users to the base and more $$$ to the project.

Thanks again for your work.

--Richard

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 16:57
CPConvert

Dear all

Let's work together to make "Theme options" for those who want them. For those who don't want to change - well, change should be optional. Basically - we are talking about "skins" and the one you choose is up to you.

RE TIME = MONEY : I think most people would be happy to pay for the option of a new theme / skin - if it meets their expectation (e.g. provides a simpler icon driven UX / UI). If you don't want to pay - then stay with current theme. Everybody is happy then?

RE Terminology : Although some phrases like Virtual Server is confusing - personally, I think this is less important. If you can find your way around - it's easier to learn the terminology ;-)

@ Ilia - thank you for your efforts. I look forward to seeing the results of your fresh energy.

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 10:24
hdaric

Hi Ilia,

To answer your points:

Any logic is based on underlying experience. Any change requires learning and overall, the higher level of awareness. In short period of time the logic that is used behind in Virtualmin will become explicitly obvious.

I absolutely agree that if you give someone enough time, they can learn how a system works, even complicated ones. My point was that *min could go a good deal further in helping people get stuff done efficiently while helping them learn the system.

Let me give you a common example, and because I don't want to make this about a cPanel vs. *min comparison (it's not), I'm going to use Plesk as an example, though I could as easily use CWP, InterWorx or most other panels as an example.

A typical task for a lot of end users as part of them setting up their website is creating a database.

What steps are typically involved?

  1. Creating a database.
  2. Creating a database user just for that database (for security).
  3. Add the user to the database.
  4. Assign that user the appropriate permissions.

On Plesk, here's how that task is accomplished:

  1. Log into Plesk as the user.
  2. On the main screen there is a link to Add a new database.
  3. On the add database screen are also the fields to create a new database user and assign permissions to that user. Fill out all of the listed fields and click OK.
  4. The user is immediately taken to a screen showing the new database and offering a ton of options for next steps including importing, working with phpMyAdmin, etc. At this point the new user has 100% of the information they need to set up a web script to use a database or whatever else they want to do with it.

On *min that same process looks like this:

  1. Log into Virtualmin.
  2. Navigate to Edit Databases in the sidebar. [This could confuse a new user, as they are looking to create a database.]
  3. Click "Create a new database."
  4. Enter a name for the database and fill out the optional items if you want to. Click Create.
  5. Virtualmin tells you it is creating the database, updating the Webmin user and reloading Webmin and that's it. There are links back to the database list, etc.

Let's pause for a moment in this process and consider what the new user knows at this point. They know they've created a database and they know the database's name. They also know that Webmin did some stuff. They don't know, because there is absolutely no indication of this anywhere that Webmin went ahead and added a user to that database or what that database_user's password might be or what permissions that user was given to this database.

The only indication of what Webmin does by default can be found on the Passwords tab of the Edit Databases screen. There you are incorrectly told that you can change the database_password (for MySQL/MariaDB/PostgreSQL, you don't assign passwords to databases, the database USER has a password). But there at the top it says "This form can be used to change the primary database passwords for this virtual server. By default they are kept the same as the server's administration password."

Now, if you want to be more secure about how you handle your database users, you still need to create another user and assign it appropriate permissions to the database. How do you do that? Not in Virtualmin. You need to switch over to Webmin with the appropriate permissions. So we continue the process (so it matches what Plesk does):

  1. Switch to Webmin.
  2. Click on Servers in the sidebar and then MySQL Database Server (if you're using MySQL or MariaDB).
  3. Do not click on the database you want to add the user to (as a new user might assume), instead click on the Database Permissions item under Global Options (even though what we are about to do will only affect the one database from the end-user's perspective).
  4. Click on "Create new database permissions".
  5. Switch from Any database, to the specific database you want to add the user for, Switch from Anonymous to a specific username, select the host and permissions then click Create.

Even after all of that, the new user STILL doesn't know the password for the user permissions they just created because for some reason the password field isn't shown on this screen like it used to be.

Do you see any other ways of doing it, rather than using the same iconized UI?

I do and it doesn't involve any additional icons or even changing the way *min works. To continue with the database creation example:

With minimal changes to the existing process:

  1. Log into Virtualmin.
  2. Navigate to Edit Databases in the sidebar. [Change the name of this option to just "Databases" so there can be no confusion.]
  3. Click "Create a new database."
  4. Enter a name for the database and fill out the optional items if you want to. Click Create.
  5. Don't just tell the user you are creating the database, you should also explicitly tell them you are adding the Virtualmin user as a database user as well and remind them what the logins are. You don't have to display the password, just remind the user what it is. For example:
Creating database DBNAME... Done
Adding user USERNAME to database with full permissions... Done
Reloading Webmin... Done

Reminder: The password for the user we've added to your database is the same one you use to log into Webmin with.

These changes would in no way alter the process for *min experts but it would allow newer users to walk away from this process with all of the information they need to start working with the database.

If you wanted a bit more secure setup from the start it would require a few more changes:

  1. Log into Virtualmin.
  2. Navigate to Edit Databases in the sidebar. [Change the name of this option to just "Databases" so there can be no confusion.]
  3. Click "Create a new database."
  4. Enter a name for the database and fill out the optional items if you want to. Click Create.
  5. Let the user know you've added a db user with a reminder like above, but you should also offer to link them to the the db permissions screen to add a new database user and password.
  6. User clicks the link and that deep links them directly to the page where they can set up a new user in this database (ideally with the database itself pre-selected and the username entry option (rather than Anonymous) already selected. Add a password field here so the user can enter one, select the permissions and then click create.
  7. The confirmation screen reminds the user of the database name, the database username and the database username password as well as the permissions configured and then there are links back to the common database-released destinations.

This requires a few more changes, but it provides all of the needed functionality quickly and in a discoverable fashion without forcing *min experts to change how they do things.

Anyway, this is just one example, but I hope it's properly illustrated the concept.

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 11:07
tpnsolutions
tpnsolutions's picture

Hi,

When you create a database in Virtualmin, the user that is added to the database is the same user you are logged in as by default (typically the domain user). So in terms of username and password, if you were successful in logging into Virtualmin, it's implied you know the credentials for the database too.

If you want to for security purposes set a different password for the database, you can.... If you want to create a user who can access the database, you can also.

I think you are trying to compare apples to oranges here.

Yes, Virtualmin is different then cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin, etc...

The core of Virtualmin is Webmin, which was designed with system administrators in mind. While we do our best to make things easy to use, many of the core features are still built around good system administration, so it does go a long way in having some basic understanding of how Linux works.

"Ignorance is bliss" - Thomas Gray

Best Regards,
Peter Knowles | TPN Solutions
Email: pknowles@tpnsolutions.com | Skype: tpnassist
Tue, 08/13/2019 - 11:44
hdaric

Hi Peter,

I have to be honest, I just don't understand your "people should be smarter" style argument, as it has no place in my particular example.

How would anyone, even those of us who are hardcore Linux sysads, know that Webmin adds the logged in user as a database user or know the permissions that user is given?

They wouldn't, because at no point in the process does Webmin disclose that fact. It's also not something that MySQL or MariaDB does (without a control panel), so there's absolutely no way to inherently understand this.

I really don't think it's too much to expect from a UX standpoint to have the product acknowledge what it is actually doing and it certainly doesn't require much code to add that functionality.

No one here is arguing that anyone dumb-down the product, just make it more intuitive.

I wouldn't expect Webmin to explain to the user what databases are, what they are used for or how MySQL works. I would like Webmin to make common tasks easier, though. Otherwise, why bother with a control panel at all? Lots of admins could deploy the entire stack manually and manage everything separately, but why should they? Work smarter, not harder, right? Clearly the *min developers must feel strongly about this, or the product wouldn't exist. Why would the developers work on a script autoinstaller at all? It's not hard for those of us with the appropriate knowledge to manually install these things? Yet, even those of us with the appropriate skill appreciate a helping hand from time to time.

Please understand that the suggestions in this thread are not some sort of indictment of the hard work of the *min developers. They are just thoughts from people who are looking to help improve the product for both seasoned system administrators and newer users alike.

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 13:54
tpnsolutions
tpnsolutions's picture

Hi,

The hierarchy of things works like this...

  1. Create Virtual Server - during this process you assign the domain a "username" and "password".
  2. Create Database - the database will be owned by the "Virtual Server" hence inherit the ownership of its "username" and "password" by default.

Does this make a bit more sense?

*** there are certainly more verbose options that could be offered without question, I'm not arguing that fact. I am simply stating if you understand the logic for how things work, it makes more sense generally speaking. ***

Best Regards,
Peter Knowles | TPN Solutions
Email: pknowles@tpnsolutions.com | Skype: tpnassist
Tue, 08/13/2019 - 14:43
hdaric

Hi Peter,

I do understand the concept behind why it was set up that way initially, and I'm not suggesting that anyone change that, but I think that as far as user experience goes, it is better to not assume the person using the product fully understands every aspect of the intent behind the design of a feature. It's always better to make such things explicitly clear to the user if it is important.

The problem with that is the user logging in as the Virtual Server admin isn't always the person who creates the account and there's no indication to a user logging to the account that this "inheritance" model is in effect for databases. That user is also not necessarily going to be someone who is a system administrator.

It's definitely an area where a small amount of work could pay big dividends and with a little more work, the experience could really shine.

I don't want to make it sound like my one example is critical above all others, it was merely meant as an example of an area where the user experience could be improved.

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 15:00
tpnsolutions
tpnsolutions's picture

Hi,

If you're available on Skype, message me "tpnassist". I'd love to chat more about your ideas.

Best Regards,
Peter Knowles | TPN Solutions
Email: pknowles@tpnsolutions.com | Skype: tpnassist
Wed, 08/14/2019 - 08:58 (Reply to #49)
krembo99

@tpnsolutions

How about setting some repository, maybe some of the users can actually help with issues / suggestions ? or even open some thread to get feedback from users ?

I think virtualmin is a really good and powerful product. on the same time I think it can be more intuitive.

Sometimes, while working on a project for a long time, one gets so immerse in it that it is difficult to see the overall picture as it appears to someone new with a new perspective. External perspective can be very valuable once one is open to accept it. especially on long projects. IMHO it is true in engineering, in architecture, in design, and yes - also in designing and implementing admin panels.

I believe that some help / suggestions from users / community ( and especially those who are new and have a fresh look, and do not have the long term experiance and deep / intimate knowladge of the product ) can be a very helpful tool. I know I use it myself in long term project.

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 20:03
hdaric

Sounds good. Contacted.

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