PCLinuxOS Day 6 – Starting with the control center, ending with Webmin
Before I begin I would like to inform the loyal readers that it is necessary for me to pace this series of articles a bit. It is getting quite busy and in order to keep a certain standard of quality in my articles I prefer to slow down a bit.
The next few days/articles I will spend time in the PCLinuxOS control center. It is a central hub for all kinds of system-related tasks, which at least means you need to have administrator rights.
The first thing I noticed wass the very clean and consistent layout of the control center. It was mentioned in the LinuxFormat article, but it definitely shows that the developers took the time to create and/or use a consistent icon set.
There are nine sets of tasks that can be performed: sharing (file/print/webserver), groupware, remote access, altering the system boot, managing the hardware and peripherals, setting up various types of mount points, network and internet connections, security (audit and firewall) and system management (user management, authentication, localisation, backup policies). Under options you can toggle the expert mode. When you use that, you can set up specific shares, the level of security and audit policies and the authentication method. Perhaps when I digg deeper I will also notice specific differences in the various tasks.
Under Groupware there was only one icon: Configure the Internet Mail services. It was as good a starting point as any and I started there. The first message I got, was “postfix is not installed”, but clicking “Next” started the download of the necessary packages. Nice, though it would be nice to see a progress bar or an indication of how much is being downloaded. When it was done there was a brief message flashing that Sendmail was to be removed in order to avoid conflicts.
It’s then that I realized I was actually setting up your PCLinuxOS box as a mail server. Well, okay, why not. The next step was quite cryptic, at least when you don’t have a lot of experience in setting up a mail server (me, guilty as charged). I decided to stick to the default entries and clicked next. Nope, first a local domain name, but that was easy enough.
Step number three dealt with the helo and verify commands, step four with the message queue and message sizes (more familiar terrain) and step five with the network configuration. With this information the wizard succeeded in setting up the Postfix Mail Server. Wow! No doubt I did something special, but now what? Time to check out the documentation. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any references to Postfix in the old and the new wiki. In the forum I did find a reference to Webmin. Time to install that, but also time to move on. I did run an $ apt-get install webmin to get going. Strange enough the install didn’t check whether a local webserver was actually present. That was to be solved in the next phase.
The entry Sharing allows you to perform three tasks:
1. Setting up a file and print server
2. Setting up a web server
3. Manage and create shares.
In order to get Webmin running I decided to start with the web server. As expected the wizard explained that “apache-mpm-prefork” was not installed (actually, I only expected “apache”;) ). “Next” again started a download of the missing packages. Then another screen appeared with the message that “apache-mod_userdir” wasn’t installed. After this the Web server configuration wizard could do it’s thing.
And that was warning me, that I was in dhcp and that the server may not work with my configuration. Right, but let’s ignore that for the moment, shall we? The next screen made sense. I could set up the web server for internal or external use. Internal should suffice for now.
In the next step I had to decide whether users would get a directory in their own home directories (http://www.yourserver.com/~user). The box was ticked by default and I kept it that way. The document root was set at /var/www/html. With this information the wizard configured the system as an Apache server. Typing http://localhost revealed the page with the message “It works!”
Getting Webmin to work
I knew from experience that the Webmin pages could be found at https://localhost:10000, but that didn’t work immediately. Starting webmin from the commandline revealed that one environment variable needed to be set: export BROWSER=mozilla. Once this was dealt with the URL would launch, first bringing up a window about the site’s certificate. It’s all local and you can accept it without too much hesitation.
Webmin needed a username and password. It wouldn’t accept “jan” but it did accept “root”. I don’t think webmin is a tool for novice users, but it’s a heck of a tool to get to know when you want to grow in using Linux.
The usermin package isn’t in the PCLinuxOS repository. I decided to download the rmp package from the Usermin webpage http://www.webmin.com/uintro.html. Of course then I had to look around on how to install an RPM package. It had been a while, but $ rpmi -i usermin-1.320-1.noarch.rpm seemed to do the trick.
And so another session had to end. It was fun to play with PCLinuxOS this way, but who could have imagined I would wind up here. At least I didn’t.