Installing Webmin Control Panel

Part of the appeal of running a linux based home server is the opportunity to practice and get used to working from the command line. Everything you need to do can ultimately be done via the command line, but sometimes having a graphical tool makes this work easier, especially if you are not entirely familiar with the commands needed to do what you want to do. Ubuntu does not have a desktop environment by default, but there are web based tools which you can install to allow you to work with the server just as you want to.

There are many control panels available, and Webmin is one of the most popular and well supported. It allows you to manage almost anything you will need on your servers, from users and running services to backups and databases, through a variety of modules. As this is a web-based control panel, you will need to have installed and set up your web server beforehand. Webmin is not available through the default Ubuntu software repositories, so first we need to add this to the list of sources so the server knows where to get it from.

The /etc/apt/sources.list file is the list of sources which your server will download software packages from. Open this file using the nano text editor:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

and add the following software repository to the bottom of the file:

deb sarge contrib

Press Ctrl + O to save, and then Ctrl + X to exit nano. Next, download the Webmin PGP key and add it to your system. This is the digital key used to sign Webmin releases. Adding it to your server means your server will check first that the package it is about to install has been digitally signed as legitimate by the publishers of Webmin.

sudo apt-key add jcameron-key.asc

Then update your software repositories list, and install Webmin

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install –y webmin

Once complete, the installer tells you that you can now login using your IP address (or hostname) and port 10000, with a root or sudo user account.

Logging In

Webmin uses a secure HTTP link for logging in, so on a web browser, go to port 10000 at your servers IP address, i.e. https://<server_ip_address>:10000. Your web browser will most likely present a warning about the websites certificate. When establishing a HTTPS connection, websites present certificates to your browser, which have been signed by a Certificate Authority (CA) your browser knows about and trusts, to confirm that they are who they say they are.

A certificate proves, for example, that really is Facebook, as is able to present the certificate which Facebook had signed and verified by a trusted CA. Trusted CA’s cant sign certificates for private IP addresses, i.e. a 192.168.x.x address, but you can tell your browser to accept the certificate, so you don’t get this message each time you log in.

Either way, the actual security of the connection is not affected. Your connection to your Webmin is still encrypted and secure.

You can now log in to Webmin using the username and password of a user who has sudo privileges on your system.