Monday, October 26, 2015

10 outstanding open source server tools

1: phpMyAdmin

If you're looking for a tool to make the management of your MySQL database as easy as possible, phpMyAdmin is what you want. It's easy to install and use and it takes up little room on your server. With phpMyAdmin you can manage databases, tables, columns, relations, indexes, users, permissions, and much more. phpMyAdmin is a web-based interface, which makes managing your databases as simple as point and click.

2: Capistrano

Capistrano is a remote server automation and deployment tool that supports scripting and task automation. You can easily deploy web applications to multiple machines simultaneously or in sequence, perform data migrations, run automatic audits, script arbitrary workflows over SSH, and execute any number of other tasks. Capistrano can also be integrated with any Ruby software.

3: MySQL Tuner

MySQL Tuner is a Perl script designed to assist you with the configuration and performance tuning of a MySQL database server. The only caveat to using MySQL Tuner is that it is a read-only script. You don't run the script and then watch it tune your DB server. This script will examine your MySQL server and then report its findings. You can then make suggested changes to your server to increase performance. With that in mind, you'll want to have a solid understanding of MySQL before you dive into using the tuner.

4: ConfigServer Security & Firewall

ConfigServer Security & Firewall is a "Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall, Login/Intrusion Detection and Security application for Linux servers." It's made up of a suite of scripts that offer a ton of features: SPI IPTables firewall, login failure checking, POP3/IMAP login failure detection, excessive connection blocking, SU login notification, SSH port auto-configuration, traffic blocking on unused server IP addresses, and much more. ConfigServer also integrates with cPanel, Webmin, and DirectAdmin.

5: Webmin

Webmin has been around for a long time—with good reason. As an easy-to-install and simple-to-use GUI tool for server admin, Webmin has proved itself year after year. You can use it to administer every aspect of your server—including Apache, MySQL, DNS, file sharing, users, and firewalls. Webmin is so powerful and flexible, you'll be hard-pressed to find a GUI better suited to help administer your Linux server (outside of the likes of the Red Hat and SUSE solutions—which require licenses as well as their respective platforms).

6: VNC

VNC is what you need if you want to enable users to log into the server and enjoy a GUI. But this tool isn't just for allowing users to work with a remote instance of LibreOffice. If you'd rather not work with the likes of Webmin and want to manage your server from a more standard desktop GUI, you can work with VNC. The only issue with adding VNC to your server is deciding which one to choose. I've worked with a number of VNC servers and have found tightvnc to be the best of the bunch. Not only is its installation and usage better documented, it offers better compression for enhanced performance.

7: Apache Cloudstack

Apache Cloudstack is designed specifically for the purpose of deploying and managing a large number of virtual machines. This is a turnkey solution that includes all the features you'd require (such as compute orchestration, network-as-a-service, user and account management, a full and open native API, resource accounting, and a first-class User Interface). Cloudstack currently supports the most common hypervisors (VMware, KVM, XenServer, Xen Cloud Platform (XCP), and Hyper-V), and users can manage their clouds with a simple web interface.

8: OpenLDAP

OpenLDAP is the open source iteration of LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol). Although it's powerful and flexible, the biggest issue facing the system is its complexity. This isn't a point-and-click tool as you'll find with Windows Active Directory. OpenLDAP is complex. And even though there are GUI tools designed to make the management of OpenLDAP easier, the installation and setup is not for the faint of heart.


MONIT is not just a server-monitoring tool. It will also attempt to resolve problems (when/if they arise) by taking predefined actions for certain situations. Say, for instance, MONIT discovers that Apache is using too many resources. Should this happen, MONIT will attempt to restart the http daemon to resolve the issue. MONIT is easy to deploy. (The site says you can have it up and running in 15 minutes—a claim that is very much true.) And MONIT doesn't just monitor services; you can also set it up to monitor files, directories, and file systems.

10: Ganglia

Ganglia is another server monitoring tool, only it's geared toward high-performance systems, such as clusters and grids. Ganglia uses XML for data representation, XDR for compact and portable data transport, and RRDtool for data storage and visualization. There is no other open source tool better suited for presenting data and information of a cluster in a useable, simplified manner. If you happen to administer such high-performance systems, you'd be remiss if you didn't at least take a look at Ganglia as your go-to cluster monitor.

10 open source storage solutions that might be perfect for your company

1: Samba

Samba provides secure, stable, and fast storage (as well as print services) for all clients using the SMB/CIFS protocol (all versions of DOS and Windows, OS/2, Linux, and many others). If you plan to host storage for a variety of platforms, you will not get by without Samba. It's the glue that holds heterogeneous platforms together. In fact, many storage appliances depend upon Samba to get the job done. And now that Samba has nearly seamless integration with Microsoft Active Directory, the solution is all the more flexible.

2: NFS

NFS—the Network File System—was created in 1984 to allow computers to access file systems on remote machines as if they were mounted locally. What's nice about NFS is that it allows you to create a set-it-and-forget-it distributed file system. One caveat: The setup can get a bit complex and you must set up both server and client. NFS is available for every Linux distribution on the planet and can be installed from either the command line or the distribution's package manager.

3: File Server

File Server is a dedicated Linux storage distribution that uses Samba, Webmin, Pydio, SSL, and much more to create an outstanding storage solution without having to piece it all together yourself. One of the best features of File Server is that you can set it up as both a standard Windows-compatible storage solution and as a web-based file solution. With the help of Pydio, you can enjoy an incredibly easy -to-use web interface to store your files.

4: Ceph

Ceph is a distributed object store and file system "designed for excellent performance, reliability, and scalability." In other words, this is storage for the big boys; small shops need not apply. Ceph is the solution you want when you're looking for massive data storage. It also works seamlessly with block storage—so you can use it on a storage cluster for scalability.

5: FreeNAS

FreeNAS is another storage-based Linux distribution that can be installed on nearly any platform to create an outstanding storage solution. It features replication, encryption, data protection, snapshots, file sharing, an easy-to-use web-based interface, and a powerful plug-in system. FreeNAS provides a versatile solution that any platform can connect to and any business can enjoy.

6: Openfiler

Openfiler makes it easy for you to deploy both storage area networking (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) with all the bells and whistles your company needs. Openfiler offers a community edition and a commercial edition. The commercial edition is ideal for iSCSI Target and Fibre Channel Target stacks and features high availability cluster/failover as well as block-level replication for disaster recovery.

7: ZFS file system

ZFS file system is one of the better file systems to use when considering a storage solution. It offers excellent scalability and data integrity. When you're installing most Linux distributions, you can choose the file system you want to use. If setting up a Linux storage solution, ZFS will go further to ensure data integrity than any other file system. If you do decide to dive into ZFS, make sure you do plenty of research and understand what it does and how it works.

8: OpenMediaVault

OpenMediaVault is an open NAS solution built on Debian that features services like SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, DAAP media server, RSync, and BitTorrent client. OpenMediaVault offers a massive plug-in system—so if it doesn't have what you need, you can add it with ease. This might well be one of the best out-of-the-box storage solution experiences you'll ever have. It's that easy to use. OpenMediaVault also enjoys full-on UPS support.

9: Lustre

Lustre is a "scale-out architecture distributed parallel filesystem." It's lightning fast and can handle petabytes of data and tens of thousands of nodes. The description alone should indicate that Lustre is designed to address large-scale storage needs. Since 2005 Lustre has been consistently used by half of the top 10 supercomputers on the planet. Ideal industries for Lustre include meteorology, simulation, oil and gas, life science, rich media, and finance.

10: Linux

I cannot, in good conscience, list the best open source storage solutions without including Linux itself. Why? Because most Linux distributions can easily serve as an effective storage solution. Of course, depending upon your size, you may need to tweak various aspects or turn to an enterprise distribution (such as Red Hat or SUSE). But for network storage, Linux has you covered.

10 Linux GUI tools for sysadmins

What are some good GUI tools that can simplify your Linux sysadmin tasks? Let's take a look at 10 of them.

1: MySQL Workbench

MySQL Workbench is one of my favorite tools for working with MySQL databases. You can work locally or remotely with this well designed GUI tool. But MySQL Workbench isn't just for managing previously created databases. It also helps you design, develop, and administer MySQL databases. A newer addition to the MySQL Workbench set of tools is the ability to easily migrate Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Sybase ASE, PostgreSQL, and other RDBMS tables, objects, and data to MySQL. That alone makes MySQL Workbench worth using.

2: phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin is another MySQL administration tool... only web based. Although it doesn't offer the bells and whistles of MySQL Workbench, it's a much more user-friendly tool. With phpMyAdmin you can create and manage MySQL databases via a standard web browser. This means you can install phpMyAdmin on a headless Linux server and connect to it through any browser that has access to the machine.

3: Webmin

Webmin is a web-based one-stop-shop tool for administering Linux servers. With Webmin you can manage nearly every single aspect of a server—user accounts, Apache, DNS, file sharing, security, databases, and much more. And if what you need isn't included with the default installation, a massive number of third-party modules are available to take up the slack.

4: YaST

YaST stands for Yet Another Setup Tool. It enables system configuration for enterprise-grade SUSE and openSUSE and serves as both the installation and configuration tool for the platform. With YaST you can configure hardware, network, and services and tune system security, all with an easy-to-use, attractive GUI. YaST is installed by default in all SUSE and openSUSE platforms.

5: Shorewall

Shorewall is a GUI for configuring iptables. Yes, there are other GUIs for tuning the security of your system, but many of them don't go nearly as deep as Shorewall. Where an app like UFW is one of the best security tuners for the desktop, Shorewall is tops for the server. With this particular security GUI, you can configure gateways, VPNs, traffic controlling, blacklisting, and much more. If you're serious about your firewall, and you want a GUI for the job, Shorewall is what you want.

6: Apache Directory

Apache Directory is about the only solid GUI tool for managing any LDAP server (though it is designed particularly for ApacheDS). It's an Eclipse RCP application and can serve as your LDAP browser, schema editor, ApacheDS configuration editor, LDIF editor, ACI editor, and more. The app also contains the latest ApacheDS, which means you can use it to create a DS server in no time.


CUPS is the Linux printer service that also happens to have a web-based GUI tool for the management of printers, printer classes, and print queues. It is also possible to enable Kerberos authentication and remote administration. One really nice thing about this GUI is its built-in help system. You can learn nearly everything you need to manage your print server.

8: cPanel

cPanel is one of the finest web-based administration tools you'll use. It lets you configure sites, customers' sites and services, and quite a bit more. With this tool you can configure/manage mail, security, domains, apps, apps, files, databases, logs—the list goes on and on. The only drawback to using cPanel is that it's not free. Check out the pricing matrix to see if there's a plan to fit your needs.

9: Zenmap

Zenmap is the official front end for the Nmap network scanner. With this tool, both beginners and advanced users can quickly and easily scan their network to troubleshoot issues. After scanning, you can even save the results to comb through them later. Although you won't use this tool to directly administer your system, it will become invaluable in the quest for discovering network-related issues.

10: Cockpit

Cockpit was created by Red Hat to make server administration easier. With this web-based GUI you can tackle tasks like storage administration, journal inspection, starting/stopping services, and multiple server monitoring. Cockpit will run on Fedora Server, Arch Linux, CentOS Atomic, Fedora Atomic, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.