I am constantly on the hunt for the ideal GUI configuration tools for Linux servers. Yes, every service on a Linux server (or desktop) can be configured via the command line, but most administrators (especially new ones or admins who are short on time) don't want to be forced to learn the command and command line structure in order to do this.
Although you can gain a great deal from configuring through the command line, there are GUI tools available that are not slouches in the power department. In fact, a set of tools called Gadmintools offer the Linux administrator easy configuration for most popular Linux services.
The following services have Gadmintools front ends:
- BIND DNS
- Squid Proxy
- OpenVPN Client
- OpenVPN Server
The following services will have Gadmintools fronts ends in the near future:
- Courier Mailserver
- Sendmail Mailserver
Each of these services has its own Gadmintools GUI tool that is installed separately, or the entire suite of tools can be installed at once. The GUIs are well designed and include nearly all of the major configuration options. Most distributions include Gadmintools in the standard repositories, so searching your Add/Remove Software tool for "gadmin" should reveal every tool available in the suite.
To install the whole shebang, you should install the package called "gadmintools." To install the individual packages, you just need to mark the packages you want to install. The individual packages will be labeled like this:
Note: If you're using a distribution that uses Apache2, you will not find a Gadmintools GUI for the Apache server; Gadmintools only supports the 1.x releases of Apache. This is the one drawback to the Gadmintools lineup. I hope they focus on getting the httpd GUI up to speed with the 2.x releases, but as far as I know, no plans for this to happen are in the works.
Let's take a look at the tool called gadmin-proftpd. There is always a need for a solid FTP server, and gadmin-proftpd makes this quite easy. In fact, Gadmin Proftpd is by far the easiest way to have a secure ftp solution up and running, based on my experiences.
During the installation of gadmin-proftpd, the installation tool will ask if proftpd is to be installed as a standalone server or using inetd. If the server will not have too many connections, you should go with inetd; if the server will need to serve up numerous connections throughout the day, you should select a standalone installation.
Once gadmin-proftpd is installed, the first thing you need to do is generate a secure certificate for the server. Believe it or not, this is done from within the Gadmin Proftpd GUI (Figure A).
Fill out the necessary information and click Apply to generate the certificate for secure connections.
After the certificates are installed, you need to configure the General tab and then add users to the system. Then, you should select the ftp server to activate (you can have more than one) and then connect.
A really sweet feature of the Gadmintools Proftp tool is the ability to easily control what users can do. If you click the Users tab and then scroll to the bottom, you will see how easy it is to control user permissions (Figure B).
Select the permissions and then click Apply.
After you change permissions (or anything on the Proftpd configuration), it is important that you reactivate the server in order for the changes to take effect.
The ease of configuration and use Gadmintools offers does not stop at ftp — all of the services offered to set up make the administrator's job infinitely easier. Every tool has a very different set of offerings, and each one does the job well. DIYers will love the ease of use Gadmintools offers.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.