It’s alternatives day, and I’m going to show you how to install an alternative to cPanel on an alternative to CentOS, all within the comfort of your very own data center or cloud-host provider. However, don’t think of either of these platforms as knock-offs, because both are incredibly powerful and perfectly capable of getting the job done, even in an enterprise setting.
For those who don’t know, AlmaLinux is a new 1:1 binary compatible Linux server distribution that is free and readily available for anyone to use. DirectAdmin, although not free, is a perfectly capable replacement for cPanel/WHM that offers features like:
Create/Modify admins and resellers
Mail Queue administration
SPAM fighting tools
In other words, this tool has just about everything you need as a hosting provider. Of course, as I mentioned, DirectAdmin isn’t free. You can create a 60-day trial license to kick the tires (which you should do), but once that trial is over, you’ll have to pony up the monthly cost of a license. Find out more about licensure on the DirectAdmin pierce matrix.
The next question is, how hard is DirectAdmin to install? If you do it the right way, it’s not terribly challenging. Of course, you must first sign up for your trial license.
SEE: Kubernetes: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
A word of warning about the license: during the sign-up, you must present a valid IP address. That IP address must be a public-facing IP. If you’re testing this, you’re probably doing so in a LAN-only situation. I got around that by presenting my public-facing IP address but used the private IP address I assigned to the server when accessing DirectAdmin. This will work, but (obviously) only for the testing portion of your rollout. Once you decide to deploy this into production, you must use a public-facing IP address (or domain).
Once you have your license, you’ll be presented with a user ID and a license number—which you’ll need during the installation. With those two pieces of information in hand, let’s install.
What you’ll need
- Your license
- A running instance of AlmaLinux
- A user with sudo privileges
How to install DirectAdmin
Log in to your AlmaLinux server. Change to the root user with the command:
The developers have written a handy script that will take care of the entire installation. This method does not require user input, but does take quite a long time to complete (give yourself over an hour for the script to complete).
To download and launch the script, the command is:
bash <(curl -Ss https://www.directadmin.com/setup.sh || wget -O - https://www.directadmin.com/setup.sh) auto
The script will download and install all necessary requirements for DirectAdmin. During the installation, you will be asked for the following information:
- The device associated with the LAN IP (such as eth0 or ens5)
- External license IP
- ID associated with your license
- Your trial license number
If you're not asked for this information, fret not, you will still be able to access DirectAdmin under a trial license. No matter, you will eventually have to pony up for a full license to continue using the platform.
When the script completes, it will display your login credentials (Figure A).
Not only will you be given your authentication credentials, but also the IP address used to access the control panel. This IP will be the WAN-facing address. Instead of using that, point your browser to the LAN address with the port being 2222, as in http://SERVER:2222 (where SERVER is the internal IP address of the hosting server).
You will be presented with the DirectAdmin login page (Figure B).
Use admin as the login name and password you were given at the end of the script run. Once you successfully authenticate, you'll find yourself on the DirectAdmin main page (Figure C).
And that's all there is to getting this powerful hosting platform up and running on the equally powerful AlmaLinux. Enjoy your new favorite cPanel replacement (should you choose to stick with it).
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