Ramesh Vishveshwar
By
March 29, 2019

ALTERNATIVES TO CPANEL

 

I am sure a lot of you are familiar with this image
Image result for cpanel

cPanel is ubiquitous when it comes to web hosting. However, it does come with a monthly fee (USD 14.95/mth as of this writing). There are however, free alternate solutions which have a good user base and positive feedback. Let’s get our panel on.

VestaCP

Language

Frontend PHP, Backend PHP/C/bash

WebServer

nginx

Database Management

Yes

DNS

Yes

FTP

Yes

Email

Yes

Multi Server

Partial

Providing a simple yet feature-rich interface, VestaCP is popular amongst startup hosting companies. They offer keyboard shortcuts which along with the sleek interfaces making this control panel super fast. A minimum of 512MB RAM and a 20GB disk space can easily handle 8000 visitors a day. VestaCP comes with a built in firewall that allows for smart filters and IP banning

 

VestaCP is also integrated with Softaculous which means you are able to do a one-click install of 493 applications.

Demo URL – https://demo.vestacp.com/

Ajenti

Language

Backend Python, Frontend JS, ES6 or CoffeeScript (v2), Python (v1)

WebServer

Nginx

Database Management

Yes

DNS

Yes

FTP

Yes

Email

Yes

Multi Server

No

Ajenti is available as a lightweight Admin Panel (Ajenti 2) or a full fledged hosting management system (Ajenti 1). I prefer version 1 as it offers more features. Version 2 offers a remote terminal and allows you to do everything that you traditionally needed a SSH connection for. There is a file manager, text editor and a package manager

Version 1 provides more features for managing websites by setting up FTP users, MySQL users. You can also setup nameservers and firewall rules on the server from Ajenti

http://ajenti.org/static/home/img/screens/ajenti-v/2.png
http://ajenti.org/static/home/img/screens/ajenti-v/5.png

There is no Demo URL for this tool.

KloxoMR

Language

Frontend & Backend PHP with MySQL

WebServer

Lighttpd or Apache

Database Management

Yes

DNS

Yes

FTP

Yes

Email

Yes

Multi Server

Yes

KloxoMR is based of an older control panel called Kloxo (that is now defunct). It installs on CentOS and RHEL distributions. Written in PHP, it is extensible and easily integrates with various billing software like WHMCS, TheHostingTool and Boxbilling.

With KloxoMR you can also setup multiple PHP versions (one primary and another secondary) for those applications that are particular about PHP versions. In terms of features (and UI), I think this is as close to cPanel as it gets with supported addons such as ClamAV and Spamassassin.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Kloxo-mr-dashboard.jpg

No Demo URL exists

ISPConfig

Language

Frontend & Backend PHP with MySQL

WebServer

 Apache

Database Management

Yes

DNS

Yes

FTP

Yes

Email

Yes

Multi Server

Yes

When I first heard the name “ISPConfig”, it seemed like a command you type in. However, don’t let that fool you. It is feature-rich and supports multiple servers from one single panel. Something recommended for those serious about managing hosts located at different nodes/locations.

This is another tool written in PHP with MySQL backend, you can manage websites, email and DNS settings from a single interface. Security features such as firewall and anti-virus are inbuilt.

 

https://www.ispconfig.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ispconfig_dashboard.png

Demo URL: https://www.ispconfig.org/ispconfig/online-demo/

Sentora

Language

Frontend & Backend PHP with MySQL

WebServer

Apache

Database Management

Yes

DNS

Yes

FTP

Yes

Email

Yes

Multi Server

Yes

Sentora is based on an another control panel – ZPanel and works on a wide variety of Linux flavors. It has all the features of a regular control panel such as multiple users, quota management. Email is provided through Postfix, Dovecot. Sentora installs best on a new server and gets installed at a subdomain level.

https://www.topbestalternatives.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Sentora.jpg

Demo URL (not official): http://sentorademo.tk/

Conclusion

While we saw some of the GUI based web control panels, there are also options that let you setup and manage websites through the command line. I wrote about easy engine in an earlier article (https://blog.chicagovps.net/easy-wordpress-install). There is also centminmod which runs only on CentOS but offers a lot of features. You can easily setup up multiple websites (with Let’s Encrypt SSL), individual FTP users for each site, setting up caches and the ability to choose your PHP version.

I want to close this article with some friendly advice – Control panels need to be secured as they offer direct access to modify your server. The panels we saw have firewall & security features. However, more security never harmed anyone. If you are the only user, add additional security such as whitelisting your IP or changing the default ports where the panel runs.

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