As part of the HP Microserver build: seeking to have a web based GUI remote administration tool to allow the box to be easily administered without having to result to a remote shell / command line interface I opted to install Webmin. Webmin is a web-based interface for system administration for Unix. Using any modern web browser, you can setup user accounts, Apache, DNS, file sharing and much more. Webmin removes the need to manually edit Unix configuration files and lets you manage a system from the console or remotely. Read on...
Installing Webmin cannot be immediately done through the standard Ubuntu 10.04 package manager system since it's not in the repository, instead I opt to use the debian installation file direct from the Webmin website. It'll download the necessary dependencies and will automatically start the Webmin server daemon.
Update installing Webmin from apt
Webmin can be installed from apt which is great and a better solution to using the debian packages since using apt should also pick up updates automatically, here's how...
1. First install the dependencies:
sudo apt-get install -y perl libnet-ssleay-perl openssl libauthen-pam-perl libpam-runtime libio-pty-perl apt-show-versions python
2. Add the webmin repositories to apt:
sudo add-apt-repository 'deb http://download.webmin.com/download/repository sarge contrib'
sudo add-apt-repository 'deb http://webmin.mirror.somersettechsolutions.co.uk/repository sarge contrib'
3. You should also fetch and install the developers GPG key with which the repository is signed, with the command:
cd / && sudo wget http://www.webmin.com/jcameron-key.asc
sudo apt-key add jcameron-key.asc
4. You will now be able to install with the commands :
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install webmin
Once installed the webmin web interface should be accessible through a web browser on port 1000 of the server IP. i.e. https://serveripaddress:10000
Where you will be presented with a login screen and can login with your Ubuntu user account and Webmin should greet you with the system information page.
Given that the Microserver was being setup headless without a monitor I chose to use Webmin to install the majority of the packages I required through the Webmin Software Packages menu, notably:
- SSH - to allow remote shell access and sFTP
- Tightvncserver - to act as a backup VNC server since the default Ubunutu remote desktop server, vino, can be at times slow and has presented screen updating issues in the past
- uShare - to allow the server content to be shared over the local area network via DLNA and uPNP to devices such as TVs, Apple TV, Xbox, PS3, mobile phones, iPads etc.
- sound-juicer - to rip CD's easily with ID3 tags
- sensor-applets - to monitor system temperatures through the Gnome panel
- proftpd - to provide FTP server functionality
Webmin SSH Access
One of the neat features of Webmin is the built-in Java based SSH Console found under SSH Login, this allow SSH access from anywhere using just a Java enabled browser; in order for this to work the SSH package must already be installed.
The default Webmin SSH Login module I find frequently fails to connect despite entering the relevant credentials possibly due to either being out of date, hostname resolution issues and/or the use of an SSH v2 server as opposed to an SSH v1 server. To overcome this I've found that the Webmin SSH2 Login module package overcomes this issue. To install the SSH2 Login Module:
- In Webmin click the 'Webmin' category in the left hand menu
- Click 'Webmin Configuration'
- Clecik 'Webmin Modules'
- Check the radio button for 'Third party module from'
- Browse for 'SSH2 Login'
Once installed on the left hand side menu under category 'Other', 'SSH2 Login' should appear click this and provided your browser has Java you will receive a login terminal.
You will probably also want to take a look at the 'SSH Server' module from the left hand side menu which will present you with an array of options for managing the SSH server, in particular tightening security.