The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I really had to wonder what I did to earn my current project.

I think I've mentioned several times how much I dislike control panels (yes, I thought I did … here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). And yet what do I find myself doing as a project?

Installing yet another control panel.

Since we don't currently use this one, I will name names for the one Smirk has in mind—Web-CP. Smirk wants to use it since the price is right (free as in beer). And yes, I can understand his reasoning for this and in fact, I can agree with him.

But that doesn't mean I like the darned things.

Especially this Web-CP thing. I don't really know what to make of the following post on their support forums:

The goal of this post is not to intentionally make anyone mad, put off or making you feel inadequate where linux is concerned. However, it is assumed you ARE VERY familiar with linux - no matter what distribution you use—this software is NOT for a newb Linux user—it requires an above average knowledge and skill to install, run and maintain. Not only linux, but php, mysql, html and about 15 other packages that it takes to run webcp.


“Newb Linux user?”

But besides that … 15 packages in addition to PHP, MySQL and Apache?

But besides that … it takes a skilled user to use? That's the part (well, one of the parts) I have qualms about this package. The way it's worded makes it seem like it requires a skilled person to use the package, which isn't why Smirk wants the thing. Smirk wants a control panel to let a person manage their website—you know, add subdomains, users, email addresses, databases, that type of thing. Simple stuff like that. But using the online Web-CP Demo doesn't instill confidence that this thing will be simple to use.

For one thing, the navigation is horrendous, leading to a horrible user experience. There are also limited actions and it's hard to see how to actually manage a website. Granted, this is a demonstration, but given that there's fairly complex but quite terse, installtion instructions involving the installation of 18 packages (including the custom compilation of PHP so you can run PHP scripts from the command line) it's not something that is … um … easy … to test (and yes, I've mentioned to Smirk several times just how … um … convoluted … the installation is) to possibly get around several demonstration based limits (not to mention that it's only supported for Fedora Core 1—anything else and you are pretty much on your own—needless to say, the distribution we're using means we're pretty much on our own).


So, not only do the various Linux distributions insist on adminstrating the systems as they see fit (and it gets back to a saying I've heard: “when you've seen one Unix system, you've seen one Unix system”) but then you have to twist and contort a possibly annoying administration system for use under a control panel that insists on doing things their [the control panel's] way. So what I'm really grousing about is that not only do the distributions not work the way I expect a Unix system to work, but the control panels can't be made to work the way I expect a control panel to work (that is, if I actually liked using control panels, which I don't).

I'm seriously considering that it may be easier to write a simple control panel that it would be to adapt some mutant PHP-based control panel.

[Smirk did give me an option to swap projects with P, which is setting up the backup system which has to deal with both Insipid and Blech … and honestly, I don't know who has it worse!]

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