A few weeks in with DirectAdmin and my thoughts

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bdacus01

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A few weeks in with DirectAdmin and my thoughts. I haven’t discovered everything. DirectAdmin at its core is great piece of software. These of course are MHO. They are also generalities.

Note: I am not looking for a debate. I am simply a Client voicing his opinion. I am not mad or angry or looking for a fight on any topic. I suggest you take the hour or so as I did and voice you own opinion if you so choose.

First some general thoughts. If you take out cPanel and Plesk. DirectAdmin is the number one choice. Which is evident by the mass influx of cPanel refugees. This means more sales, more clients, more support requests, and more opinions…. As friend used to say “it’s just a bunch of work.” Other panels have similar features but the innovation is dead, or they use outdated software in there build. Some other competitor Panels have had no uptick in forum posts… There are some Opensource Panels but frankly just are not viable to me. So in case the last few weeks did not say it loud enough, DirectAdmin it’s you OR Venture capitalists. For most its a no brainer. This place the company in a pivotal spot.

Strength:

Is not interwoven in to the OS: You are not getting something with premade binary’s with non-standard items. So no guessing how it will behave. Just go to the man page and see how..


Simplicity: Example all the conf are in one place in the GUI File editor.


Current: Since its source built. It has the ability to be stable and current at the same time. No waiting for some distro or company to release a binary. This makes the Application in question configurable. Want Process control on PHP go add it to compiler options…


Options: Need a different OS, check. Need a different webserver, check. Need a different spamtool, check. Great options.


Performance: Since its giving you source control and compiled on you system and server. Memory usage is low and performance is top.

Custom settings: You can customize about anything and save that so the system will behave how you want it to. Never losing it at all.


Not for faint of heart: Not a sysadmin? Don’t know what Linux, BSD is? Can’t research in google at the very least? In short if you are a “Business Person” just opening a web hosting business hire a sysadmin. Can’t afford one. Not for you… move on.. Sorry if that’s harsh but sometimes the truth hurts.


Forum Users: This one of the biggest assets. The community is so awesome.




Weakness:

Backup/Restore system: It needs to be more complete and have more location options. You need to be able to choose “who, what, when, where, and how”.

Who: All good here.
What: is good.
When: I think cron covers this.
Where: local, ftp, sftp, AWS, BackBlaze and others. You also need to be able to restore from all locations.
How: Full, incremental, both, and except list. It should include logic based on type chosen example Incremental > full back up= weekly, monthy ect.
Restore: should accommodate from all “Where” and all “How”

Filemanager: Overall is fine. It’s for users is the part that is lost. You need to show it to your non tech spouse or friend and say use this. Then write down everything they say… The “Root” location of User is fine but it should default to opening on the Domains folder. OR “Root” should be Domains folder and allow you to go back to Users. I also agree the function type stuff should just be a bar on the same row as column’s and density not tooltips. Should add options to sort folder or files to top that the users can save.



directadmin.conf: directadmin.conf needs a Admin only GUI screen. All the choices are not face up and apparent. Not centrally located either. Let me give example: You want dkim, ssl, certain letsenctypt settings. All do able if you “knew” there was a setting. You do find the settings eventually and set it. After a few forum posts and searching https://help.directadmin.com In short I should be able to check a box, or add text to the correct area. This way I know I have all the settings set and or added. Without a screen or a well commented file I don’t know. I think this is a multi-faceted issue. The real issue is lack of easy readable organized documentation. Which I will cover later.


Certain features not standard: In the every changing landscape that is Information technology. Certain “features” (directadmin.conf) should follow the 80 20 rule. All of these seem to be documented in the https://help.directadmin.com Here is what I mean.

10 years ago https:// wasn’t the 80% it was 20% now it’s the standard. SSL should just be built in and work by default. Failing only because DNS was wrong or it just couldn’t issue. The system should just set a letsencrypt cert on the server out of the gate. The 20% should be set ssl=0 and turn it off. This goes back to the directadmin.conf issue.

DKIM this should be in the system by default. Some might say DMARC as well. Just like Spf. This goes back to the directadmin.conf issue.

webmail.domain.com should be built by default. This should just exist in the system https://help.directadmin.com/item.php?id=633 by default.

DNS: Bind is fine keep it. You should offer native PowerDNS support as well. Its ability to cluster and be Master and Slave simultaneously would be great.



Server to Server user transfer: If I have 2 DA servers and I need to transfer users to a new server this would be a great MultiServer option. In the Admin Backup and Transfer there should be a button that is “Transfer”. Which guides you through from which server to transfer where. This would also be a great place to keep the GUI for external account transfers like from cPanel, Interworks, Plesk, and others…



Documentation and Forum software: I think honestly this is one of the big ones. Here is the short of it. The documentation is hard to find and some of it is marked so old you don’t know if its valid. Here is my example: https://help.directadmin.com/item.php?id=633 So since this isn’t native like I suggest. I find this and think great.. Only to find it is incomplete. It covers http:// fine, but falls short on https:// The guide assumes to much there should be 2 complete sections with examples. In the Apache one you don’t show changing port 80 to 443, to an admin sure I get it. However example would be best since most admins might be new to DA. Same for nginx you don’t mention https:// at all. The documentation should be clear, concise, and cover every feature and option.

Another example is hidden in plain sight. The documentation is lacking and can be seen by the number of forum posts on the same topic. Also evident that some long time forum members have thousands of posts. Alex (zeiter) and Martynas (smtalk)are great and super hero level, but with 13,300+ and 7,700+ respectively this to me points to the disorganization of the Documentation. The documentation should be so good I go to the forum as a last resort. I understand the forum is community driven and the software has been around a long time.


Forum: Now this really isn’t the about the software. Vbulletin version 4 is old and outdated. I know why you are still on it because version 5 is even worse. I know for sure I am a admin for Vbulletin sites and its old…. My suggestion is move to something newer and better coded like zenforo, or ip boards. Blesta uses IPBoards and it is great. A few Photography forums I use have zenforo and its good. The best thing is you can migrate all the old post and not lose anything. I have done a bunch of these.


I suppose I have rambled enough.

Stay well.
 
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VMH-Khan

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Agreed also Auto Login to phpmyadmin and webmail, i think everyone need this :)
 

pmjcreations

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Hello @bdacus01,

I love your signature, especially the last line says help me...it's HERE or Type "your issue your os directadmin" in google

This shows your caring to the community.
 

kebirhost

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Hello,

I am new on DA but i am sure DA will imrove the GUI panel and will be better than cpanel in 1 or 2 years. We should request new features from them. This will encourage them to improve the DA Software.

Thanks,
Melih
 

rotame

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I believe is a very promise panel
Robust solution and professional work
Need GUI to be more attractive , but as they have more clients then they will invest more money and coding
Sure its the 1st alternative option for other panel refugees
 

eva2000

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Thanks @bdacus01 for sharing. I am new to DirectAdmin as well just installed my first license ~12 hrs ago and will also share my experiences later on too.

I agree source compilation opens up so much possibilities for improvements and allowing me to put my own spin on installation/compilation routines to speed up compile times etc :)

And I agree DA forums need to get off vB4 - Xenforo 2.1 is where the forum software should migrate too :D
 

bdacus01

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Hello @bdacus01,

I love your signature, especially the last line says help me...it's HERE or Type "your issue your os directadmin" in google

This shows your caring to the community.
Hello pmjcreations,


Thanks for noticing. I had hoped it came across that way. Let me break my signature down for you. Maybe you will want one too... Each line conveys a simple way for you to "know" who I am. I am new here just like you. So welcome to the forums..

Just a regular guy = I am human just like you. I might be from another country or speak another language. I eat, sleep, care about family and being happy. Just like you.

from Tennessee = I am from the USA and Tennessee. I lets you know when I am awake. That I am from what we call The South in USA.

CentOS 7 | DA | CB 2.0 | MariaDB 10.4 | PHP 7.2 = it is a quick way to give tech info out to those helping me. They now know my OS type, I am on custombuild version 2, I use Mariadb 10.4 and php 7.2. Now they don't have to ask those questions to me.

The help me = I want to help. We should all care to help each other in all aspects of our lives. In this case its because I know we are all new and some of us are in a panic. Its instructive as well some people just post I have this issue and don't give out enough info. Its also a way to make people "Fishers" for their own problem.

Stay well. Wherever you are..
 
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bdacus01

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Hello,

I am new on DA but i am sure DA will improve the GUI panel and will be better than cpanel in 1 or 2 years. We should request new features from them. This will encourage them to improve the DA Software.

Thanks,
Melih
Melih,
Welcome to the forums. I have already spoken to them. I know they will too. All this new found popularity caught them off guard and as they say "Rome wasn't built in a day". What Voldermort Panel did was help change the industry. I think for the better. Everything happens for a reason you see. The thing I agree with is we don't want a Cpanel clone we want the best DA there can be.


Stay well wherever you are..
 
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bdacus01

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Jul 22, 2017
Messages
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Location
Murfreesboro
I believe is a very promise panel
Robust solution and professional work
Need GUI to be more attractive , but as they have more clients then they will invest more money and coding
Sure its the 1st alternative option for other panel refugees
Rotame,
Yes first class company all the way. Maybe its all the cold weather in Canada that makes them nicer :). You should have seen the old gui...go look at "enhanced". Yep number one choice.
 

bdacus01

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Messages
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Thanks @bdacus01 for sharing. I am new to DirectAdmin as well just installed my first license ~12 hrs ago and will also share my experiences later on too.

I agree source compilation opens up so much possibilities for improvements and allowing me to put my own spin on installation/compilation routines to speed up compile times etc :)

And I agree DA forums need to get off vB4 - Xenforo 2.1 is where the forum software should migrate too :D
Eva2000 of Centmin Mod fame,

Welcome to the forums.. I have always wanted to try out CMM. I need to just for fun, tech is fun for me.. You and Martynas will get along great I am sure. We see Eye to Eye on the forum thing for sure...

Stay safe down under..
 

eva2000

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Eva2000 of Centmin Mod fame,

Welcome to the forums.. I have always wanted to try out CMM. I need to just for fun, tech is fun for me.. You and Martynas will get along great I am sure. We see Eye to Eye on the forum thing for sure...

Stay safe down under..
Yup - already have a few ideas for DirectAdmin optimisation borrowing over from my Centmin Mod LEMP stack work including reducing DirectAdmin compilation times by 20-80% :cool:
 

sparek

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Jun 27, 2019
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One question I think DirectAdmin needs to ask themselves is ... who are they catering to?

Coming over from cPanel, this is a question that seemed to frustrate me the most with cPanel. Is your product geared towards hobbyist with one or two servers or is your product geared towards hosting companies with 10, 20, or more servers?

At one time I was managing over 60 cPanel servers - not being able to do certain things from the command-line, where tasks could be easily scripted, was a major PITA. Having to compile everything with EasyApache3 was also a pain.

I understand that DirectAdmin is not cPanel - and I know there are users that have been around for some time with DirectAdmin, so suddenly changing the way DirectAdmin operates would be an undeserving slap in the face to them. BUT... just because cPanel did something one way and DirectAdmin doesn't want to be cPanel, doesn't mean that it's wise to just blatantly ignore the way cPanel did things.

The move from EasyApache3 (compile) to EasyApache4 (RPM) in cPanel was (in my opinion) one of the best moves that cPanel made. Specifically, this made managing PHP versions tons easier. The expansion of cPanel's API to include command-line tools was also a good move.

I understand that compiling everything opens up a lot more doors for customization - but it also greatly increases the install time and can slow everything to a crawl when a busy server is having to recompile a new version of PHP or needs a new module added to it. And it can be more prone to errors because one server might have a necessary library, another might not causing the compile to fail. Again, if you have just 1 or 2 servers you can sit there and watch everything compile on those servers and notice errors. But as you scale up to 20 or more servers, monitoring all of those compiles can be difficult.

I am experimenting with the Remi repository for CentOS for PHP on a test DirectAdmin server. Early results are promising. The Remi repository keeps up-to-date PHP versions - PHP 7.1.30, PHP 7.2.20, PHP 7.3.7, etc. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I would propose that DirectAdmin add the option to use this repository natively in DirectAdmin, perhaps something like a php1_source option to CustomBuild that can be set to compile or remi (and/or something else).

There is a CodeIT repository that offers up-to-date Apache versions, perhaps that could be integrated as well for Apache updates. Perhaps there are other repositories for Exim, Dovecot, PureFTPd, everything else DirectAdmin uses.

The point being... if you manage a lot of servers... compiling everything is a pain. The more you can replace that with RPMs or packaged binaries, the better off I think you are. This still gives you the option to compile everything from source if you need to.

Of course, this would only be an option for RHEL/CentOS based servers - Debian and FreeBSD would not be able to use these repositories - although maybe there is a similar Debian repository that would work for Debian based servers. I'm not suggesting that you move completely away from compiling everything, but having the option to use packaged binaries would be helpful (I think) to me and perhaps others.

The DirectAdmin API actually works quite well. The hooks in DirectAdmin might need a little bit of work and offering a direct command-line tool for the API might be beneficial (although, honestly it's not that hard to script a local cURL script). This is probably more of a case of documentation than the actual API. But again, this is an area where I think cPanel largely got it right and to ignore that because it's cPanel and you don't want to be cPanel I think is a mistake.

My main advice with regards to the API is to be sure that it is opened up to be able to do everything from the API that you can do from the GUI. I'm largely not a fan of GUIs - although I do realize they are necessary, especially from an end-user perspective. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have had to log into any of our server's WHMs this month to do something - I do almost all of my work from the command-line shell. And for what it's worth, I've been able to do much the same with DirectAdmin, I'd just like to keep it that way.

But overall, yes I do like DirectAdmin. The ability to customize and actually configure something without having to jump through arbitrary hoops is a welcome change from cPanel. None of this is intended to be criticism of DirectAdmin. I'm a tell like it is type of guy. Just because a question doesn't have an answer or an easy answer doesn't mean it's not a question worth asking. And pointing out flaws or areas where I think improvements can be made isn't meant to be critical of the system, it's just meant to offer insight or perspective into that area.
 

bdacus01

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Is your product geared towards hobbyist with one or two servers or is your product geared towards hosting companies with 10, 20, or more servers?
cPanel
Seems clear to me... The goal is to have one or 2 major groups. Users and tech users (hobbies, dev companies) The people in the middle vanish no big money there. So Users use WIX, Weebly, Godaddy. Big company's big money easy. Tech users need smaller license 1 - 5 accounts they will buy a VPS roll it their self unmanaged maybe managed. All the little companies cpanel will take their money (never turn down money) but its not their Bread and butter or they dont want it to be. Same reason OnApp never made Solusvm Version 2. Now Plesk owns them.... we know who owns plesk.


I understand that DirectAdmin is not cPanel - and I know there are users that have been around for some time with DirectAdmin, so suddenly changing the way DirectAdmin operates would be an undeserving slap in the face to them. BUT... just because cPanel did something one way and DirectAdmin doesn't want to be cPanel, doesn't mean that it's wise to just blatantly ignore the way cPanel did things.
I asked DA never ever planed to be like cPanel.

The expansion of cPanel's API to include command-line tools was also a good move.
For sure so big companies can integrate. Oh the small ones can to if the want and have the time and the resources. Again follow the money..

I understand that compiling everything opens up a lot more doors for customization - but it also greatly increases the install time and can slow everything to a crawl when a busy server is having to recompile a new version of PHP or needs a new module added to it. And it can be more prone to errors because one server might have a necessary library, another might not causing the compile to fail. Again, if you have just 1 or 2 servers you can sit there and watch everything compile on those servers and notice errors. But as you scale up to 20 or more servers, monitoring all of those compiles can be difficult.

I am experimenting with the Remi repository for CentOS for PHP on a test DirectAdmin server. Early results are promising. The Remi repository keeps up-to-date PHP versions - PHP 7.1.30, PHP 7.2.20, PHP 7.3.7, etc. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I would propose that DirectAdmin add the option to use this repository natively in DirectAdmin, perhaps something like a php1_source option to CustomBuild that can be set to compile or remi (and/or something else).

There is a CodeIT repository that offers up-to-date Apache versions, perhaps that could be integrated as well for Apache updates. Perhaps there are other repositories for Exim, Dovecot, PureFTPd, everything else DirectAdmin uses.

The point being... if you manage a lot of servers... compiling everything is a pain. The more you can replace that with RPMs or packaged binaries, the better off I think you are. This still gives you the option to compile everything from source if you need to.

Of course, this would only be an option for RHEL/CentOS based servers - Debian and FreeBSD would not be able to use these repositories - although maybe there is a similar Debian repository that would work for Debian based servers. I'm not suggesting that you move completely away from compiling everything, but having the option to use packaged binaries would be helpful (I think) to me and perhaps others.

The DirectAdmin API actually works quite well. The hooks in DirectAdmin might need a little bit of work and offering a direct command-line tool for the API might be beneficial (although, honestly it's not that hard to script a local cURL script). This is probably more of a case of documentation than the actual API. But again, this is an area where I think cPanel largely got it right and to ignore that because it's cPanel and you don't want to be cPanel I think is a mistake. My main advice with regards to the API is to be sure that it is opened up to be able to do everything from the API that you can do from the GUI. I'm largely not a fan of GUIs - although I do realize they are necessary, especially from an end-user perspective. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have had to log into any of our server's WHMs this month to do something - I do almost all of my work from the command-line shell.
For sure make sure you make your own post when you feel like you have points you want to make.

And for what it's worth, I've been able to do much the same with DirectAdmin, I'd just like to keep it that way.
I hope you can.

But overall, yes I do like DirectAdmin. The ability to customize and actually configure something without having to jump through arbitrary hoops is a welcome change from cPanel. None of this is intended to be criticism of DirectAdmin. I'm a tell like it is type of guy. Just because a question doesn't have an answer or an easy answer doesn't mean it's not a question worth asking. And pointing out flaws or areas where I think improvements can be made isn't meant to be critical of the system, it's just meant to offer insight or perspective into that area.
I agree but it seems like we had this covo before...
 

Eureka

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Melih,
Welcome to the forums. I have already spoken to them. I know they will too. All this new found popularity caught them off guard and as they say "Rome wasn't built in a day". What Voldermort Panel did was help change the industry. I think for the better. Everything happens for a reason you see. The thing I agree with is we don't want a Cpanel clone we want the best DA their can be.


Stay well wherever you are..
The thing I agree with is we don't want a Cpanel clone we want the best DA their can be.

Great words mate:)
 

bdacus01

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The thing I agree with is we don't want a Cpanel clone we want the best DA there can be.

Great words mate:)
yep. I mean I left cPanel to come here. I discover its great. Like everything it needs some tweaks, but if you want cpanel stay with them...Right?
 

Eureka

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yep. I mean I left cPanel to come here. I discover its great. Like everything it needs some tweaks, but if you want cpanel stay with them...Right?
I left Cpanel back in 2004, I have used Plesk in the past but did not like it.

I always thought in my opinion that Cpanel was bloated so I started looking for another CP to use found a host back in 2004 who was using DA, so I was setup with a reseller account and loved it.

I purchased my first Owned DA license in 2005 and have never looked back, forum is a great asset for learning, regarding the forum software, I am used to the layout of vBulletin I know it is old...but I also prefer using the old enhanced skin in DA:)
 
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