Server management professionals need to keep a lot of plates spinning in the air (so to speak) which isn’t always easy. That’s why Linux hosting control panel software similar to Plesk and cPanel were created, to help make their lives that bit easier. They offer toolboxes for busy professionals who have to deal with lots of domains scattered across dedicated and virtual private servers.
These kinds of Linux server management panels are popular with users because they’re good, but some are put off by the fact that they don’t come for free. That’s the reason why some folks opt for free open source Linux control panels. On paper they look to be on a par with the likes of Plesk, but can that actually be true? Let’s cast our eye over a few of these free hosting control panels and see how they measure up.
Ajenti is Linux server management software that’s designed to make website creation less of a chore. It boasts a streamlined and contemporary interface, intended to get you up and running with application servers, databases, and routing with a minimum of fuss. It’s comfortable handling apps written in a good selection of languages, including PHP-FPM, Python [WSGI], Ruby Puma and Unicorn, Node.Js, Exim 4 and Courier IMAP. Everything is pre-configured, so right from the get-go you can use virtual e-mails, DKIM, DMARC and SPF. The Ajenti Linux web panel is scripted in the Python language and it works on a good selection of Linux distributions.
CentOS Web Panel
CentOS Web Panel, as you might have guessed, gives you a clean installation of CentOS. You get a wide range of useful features, but there are far too many to mention here, so here are the edited highlights: Apache web server with Mod Security and automatic rules updates, Varnish cache server, Antivirus + SpamAssassin, Nginx as a reverse proxy, DBMS ( MySQL/MariaDB ) + phpMyAdmin, PHP 5.2-5.6 and 7.x, Postfix + Dovecot + Roundcube webmail, backup solution, Firewall ( CSF ), Softaculous one-click script installer to name just a few.
Froxlor is geared towards those who need to roll out installations of email and web servers in just minutes instead of hours. It has lots of uses, and the one that we are interested in is that of lightweight Linux hosting control panel. You get integrated ticketing system support, different user levels such as customers and resellers, advanced SSL management, IP per domain, and more. All in all, Froxlor is a versatile Linux server management software with a lot going for it.
ISPConfig is another Linux control panel that supports lots of different Linux distributions. It lets you look after one or many servers from the same control panel, regardless of whether it’s a virtual machine or a physical box. It’s happy to handle Apache/Nginx, Postfix and Dovecot/Courier, MySQL, PureFTPD, Bind/MyDNS and others too. There are four different levels of access, so you have the flexibility to have your users log in as administrators, resellers, email users or clients.
Kloxo-MR is a fork of Kloxo. Casual users may initially find it a bit frustrating as it’s very richly featured for a free web panel, and by that I mean that it’s complex. It can take a long list of web and web cache servers in its stride, including Apache, Nginx, Nginx-Proxy and Lighttpd-proxy, Hiawatha, Hiawatha-proxy, Squid, Varnish, in and ATS. It also gives you support for billing software like AWBS, WHMCS, HostBill, TheHostingTool, AccountLab Plus, Blesta and BoxBilling. Kloxo-MR, lets you manage a MySQL/MariaDB server, mail server, DNS server, FTP server and more.
Sentora is an open-source Linux hosting control panel that was brought into being by the original ZPanel’s creators. It’s perfectly happy running software like Apache HTTPd, PHP, ProFTPd, MySQL/MariaDB, Postfix, Dovecots and more, which simplifies the web hosting management process considerably. It also lets you extend its functionality with modules courtesy of the Sentora community.
Vesta is a Linux hosting control panel with a straightforward and intuitive interface. It was conceived as a simple solution and they seem to have got that right. Functionality wise, Vesta lets you run a Web server, DNS server, FTP server, database server, email server, and much more. It also supports Nginx with no fuss and makes fast data backups a breeze. Vesta has advanced installation settings that let you install your server software quick as a flash.
Webmin is a popular web-based Linux hosting control panel, used mostly for user account management, Apache administration, DNS and FTP configuration, and other bits and pieces besides. Many admins use Webmin to handle their LAMP stacks, but for lots of other things to, thanks to the fact that it’s so extendable. Webmin is a Linux control panel that comes with a fair few bundled modules.
How does Plesk Onyx do a better job than these other Linux control panels?
Good question. The short answer is that it does a lot more than its free competitors and it does it better. Plesk Onyx is Linux server management software with a whole host of automated and intuitive tools. It gives users of all persuasions a virtual tool bag that’s both versatile and comprehensive. There are various editions of this hosting platform. It supports Windows as well as various Linux versions such as Cloud Linux, Red Hat Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS, so it’s pretty versatile.
Other benefits include more than 100 extensions that you can use to increase the functionality of this Linux web panel. Multi-server management is available under certain versions. Docker, Github and Let’s Encrypt ( which gives you power over SSL certificates ) extends the list of tools you get with Plesk.
If you manage content with WordPress, the WP Toolkit can help you save time by automating staging. It also comes with tons of useful features and the reassurance of robust security.
Plesk is a hosting control panel that’s certified for use with all of the big cloud platforms, including Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Plesk’s comprehensive list of great features places it well above the competition. The rolling approach to improvement means that despite being good, it’s always getting better, and responsive technical support means that Plesk users are never left alone with a problem.
All in all, Plesk is Linux server management software that offers users a lot for their investment. It outshines the free open source alternatives in many areas, which is why it has become the go-to solution for so many serious users.