Would you choose to walk or stay

Monday, 15 January 2007

Once upon a time I wrote a collection of shell scripts for managing virtual hosting. Combined these allow me to easily.

  • Add/Remove/List Apache2 virtual hosts.
  • Add/Remove/List virtual domains for use by Exim4.

These work well, but every now and again I think “I want a web-based control panel”.

After mulling this over for a while and remembering how many of the existing control panels are tricky I’m actually going to do it.

There are two hard parts:

  • The user-interface is key.
  • The format I’m using for domains isn’t appropriate.

The last point is the part I’m worrying about right now. So far I have a list of mail domains, and a list of web domains – and the two are unrelated. This becomes obvious when they are listed:

DomainFacilities
steve.org.ukMAIL
bar.steve.org.ukWEB
foo.steve.org.ukWEB

See? No link – I’d expect to see the domains listed as just “steve.org.uk” with links to “Mail” showing the mail setup, and “web” showing the subdomains.

Or maybe they really should be listed seperately – I can’t decide.

(For reference here is my live listing of domains – where the problem becomes obvious. Note that you’ll not have permissions to see my server stats…)

So I need to decide how to handle this – I also need to be "inspired" by OSWD.

I think the plan right now is to store all data in a database, then regenerate the plain text configuration files on demand. That should give me the best approach – if I restrict myself to running HTTPS on a custom port and avoid the ability to modify the files by hand…

Feel free to tell me this is misguided, or inspired.

Although I remember the last time I talked about control panels and I’m still not seeing a good solution.

I want to be able to:

  • Add/Remove/Enable/Disable apache2 virtual hosting setups.
  • Add/Remove/Enable/Disable exim4 virtual domains – with optional mailing lists (ecartis)
  • Have only “server admin” vs. “nobody” – no resellors etc.
  • Avoid PHP like the plague.
  • Have it be utterly secure. (Ha!)

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