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Admin_Support_Systems


Complete Virtual Mail Server


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Administration Interface

In an effort to validate this HOW-TO, I have run through it a number of times. Install the components, test, fix, fiddle, piss around, document, re-test, re-document, etc. Once it was finally all working, I ripped everything out and started over, found new errors and added new functionality to this HOW-TO. In reality this document is a great example of scope control run amuck.

After a few rounds of this and lots of jumping back and forth between ssh windows, I decided that an administrative interface was in order. I selected webmin to serve as my administration interface. The selection was based on the fact that it is web-based (I have no desktops installed on my Linux machines), it supports all of the functions we need (plus a mess more) and finally it can be extended with custom modules that I will need to some other totally unrelated work.

Even with this tool, all of the instructions I have provided are command line based. I simply use webmin as a support tool to help me validate that things are working the way I expected and so on. Setting things up the first time is far faster and easier from the command line, webmin just prevents me from having to open many shell sessions for jumping around and checking things.


Installing Webmin

I will be running webmin on both servers to make it easy to configure the components on the different servers. The rest of this document will assume that you have installed webmin as required by your server config.

I selected webmin to serve as my administration interface. The selection was based on the fact that it is web-based (I have no desktops installed on my Linux machines), it supports all of the functions we need (plus a mess more) and finally it can be extended with custom modules that I will need to do some other totally unrelated work.

I will take you through the basic steps of the installation to get it working, but if you really want to understand webmin, there is some great information out there. Of course http://www.webmin.com is the best place to start for the latest info and in support of this, there is an excellent book by Jamie Cameron available for download on the webmin website under the documentation section.

When you emerge webmin with the USE flags set as outlined above, it will want to emerge Postgres at the same time. I don’t want to get ahead of myself so at this point; I temporarily excluded it when I emerged.


Shell: emerge webmin
# echo "app-admin/webmin -postgres" >> /etc/portage/package.use
# emerge -av webmin
 


Once emerged, all you should have to do is start webmin and point your browser to port 10000 of the machine you just installed webmin on.


Shell: Starting Webmin
# /etc/init.d/webmin start

Browser Address:  https://localhost:10000/ or https://systemIP:10000/
 


Since we want webmin to startup when the system reboots:


Shell: Starting Webmin on boot
# rc-update add webmin default
 


Tip: My installation defaulted to using SSL thus https above. Also, you will need to logon with a userid and password. For this first logon use the root userid and password for the system that webmin has been installed on.

Apache and PHP

At this point everybody wants to jump in and start installing the fun parts however I am going to make you hold off a bit. I would much rather get a stable working base in place so that when we get to the guts of all of this, we will know that any problems are not coming from our support systems. This will make problem solving a whole bunch easier.

There are plenty of guides out there about how to set up apache with php and numerous posts on http://forums.gentoo.org detailing how to solve problems with the installation (search for 'apache php'). So, that said, I'm not going to cover it here. Set up the apache and php installs and then continue with this howto.

Before moving on, be sure and test your installation of Apache and verify that everything is working properly. I was using virtual hosts and didn’t test it properly. I started running into all kinds of problems and didn’t know where to put the blame. After spending 3 or 4 hours messing around with the apache config, I finally found out the problem was not with apache at all, but with one of the sites that I was trying to move into the virtual world (which I hadn’t bothered testing properly … go figure).

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Last modified: Sun, 08 Jun 2008 07:42:00 +0000 Hits: 15,723