Another Control/Web Panel Discussion (Updated!)

Scenario: I have been approached by a business contact about moving all their clients over to my servers as a private host for them (no reselling). This is something we have considered for awhile now, as we have a steady stream of clients we constantly refer to our friends over at, but would much rather keep in house.

Background: If we go through with this, I am planning on setting up another node specifically for the web hosting of these clients, to keep my personal server (where I also run demo sites for clients) separate. The number of people hosting on there wouldn't be too great, but enough that having to maintain their accounts for them would be improbable, and I would like to set up a web panel for them to reduce the number of support requests to a minimum.

I have looked at a number of panels, and I cannot justify the cost of a cPanel or DirectAdmin license (as low as it is, we would like to cover our own costs and maintain a small surplus in order to make upgrades possible as often as possible). To that end I am interested in something like Kloxo, ISPConfig or otherwise.

I did search the forums before asking, however most of the threads I turned up are over a year to 5 (even 7) years old. I'm looking to hear about more recent experience if possible.

What panel has served you best for maintaining a mediocre number of sites?

Which one integrates and works best with Linode?

Which do you believe is the most user friendly?

Which is the most conducive to overall security?

I have no desire to turn on FTP, I would prefer to educate these folk in sFTP. I also have no desire to permit shell access, but if the occasion arises…

Biased opinions are welcome, as I am interested in personal experience as much as overall knowledge in this.

8 Replies

What do you want the users to be able to manage with your hosting panel? (e.g. dns records, e-mail accounts, shell accounts, database stuff, …)

You might want to check out the control panel forum at webhostingtalk ( to get some more feedback or look at older discussions. The general consensus seems to be that the free panels are okay for casual usage, but if you are doing commercial web hosting, it is best to just fork over the dough for cpanel, plesk, or directadmin.

My customers don't really need much, so I usually set them up with google apps and configure their sites manually.

From their end, I want this to look as much like a professional hosting scenario as it can; from my end, I want it to be as self sufficient as possible, so we're looking at giving them the ability to manage their email, dns, databases, files, etc.

This is not going to be a hosting company, our work keeps us busy enough that we are not attempting to create a subsidiary business venture, just provide the same services to our clients that another firm would to keep them (and their money, I won't lie!) as close to us as possible.

We want to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible for ourselves, but at present we are also considering the services offered by Rackspace Sites, despite a sour taste left in my mouth from their child Slicehost.

As of right now if we stay the VPS route, we may just dive in headfirst with cPanel. I love free, and I love open source but in this particular case it is our clients needs we must address and if the public domain doesn't cut it, then we will have to do what we have to do. :)

If I understand correctly, these clients currently have a hosting environment. If they're satisfied with it you might consider replicating that environment in order to make the transition as smooth as possible for them – the clients.

If you take them away from something that works for them, then there's going to be a learning curve -- which means more work for you. And if you provide something less capable than what they're currently using then they're going to be disgruntled :)

One the other hand, if they're not happy with the current environment then you might enquire into the main issues and make sure to select a panel that can help resolve those issues.

Just some thoughts :)

I am currently running ISPconfig 3 and I have been happy with it so far. The support via the forums has answered everything I have needed. I looked at Virtualmin after talking to the guys from there at Texas Linuxfest, and I liked it. Kloxo has a nice cPanel look, but once I saw qmail I ran as fast a possible (yes I know that is a religious debate, but I worship at the House of Postfix or Sendmail).

I actually had one customer who liked the ISPconfig 3 better than cPanel because he had a hard time telling what was the control panel and what was his Joomla install with the cPanel.

Here is a list of control panels, though not all are still around: ~~[" target="_blank">]( … rol-panels">](

I would love to look at more of the options out there, but I just don't have the time to do it at this point since hosting isn't my primary business.

Please let me know what you choose and why, as it might be something for me to consider.

Thank you,

Scott Blaydes


If I understand correctly, these clients currently have a hosting environment. If they're satisfied with it you might consider replicating that environment in order to make the transition as smooth as possible for them – the clients.)

They do, but at present their current sysadmin is responsible for handling all requests and the necessities of each client individually. There is no control panel, and their connection with their setup is via email.

The idea here is to build a solution that reduces the amount of required interaction to regular support requests (do we have this? can we have this? I tried to do this, but it didn't work…). I prefer shell for administrating my own setup, but I could not allocate the time between the two of us to administrate a few dozen sites from the command line just to add an email here, set up new domain there.

Additionally, there is no plan to turn a profit on this either, which is why I'm looking for the most cost efficient solution. We want to charge the folks just enough to subsidize the costs of running our servers and write that expense off every quarter.

I think despite my initial claims to the contrary that we're still pretty sold on jumping right in with cPanel at this point. I just wish it would run on Debian, I've never been a fan of RPM package managed systems.

Plesk can run in debian/ubuntu.

We've decided to go with cPanel. We've also decided that we're 99.9% positive that staying with Linode is part of that picture. Linode has been more than good to us, and we'll continue to here to show our appreciation for that.

At this point I'm thinking a 2048 should be more than sufficient for the number of sites we'll be hosting, in conjunction with the cPanel installation. Is there anybody on the forums here who has a node running cPanel that can share their experience with me?

Good choice!

I'm installing cpanel trial just right now. Going to start selling webhosting in a few days. A lot of experience with virtualmin, kloxo and ISPConfig, but none convinced me


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