If you work with VirtualBox and host numerous servers and/or desktops as virtual machines (VMs), sometimes you might wish you had the ability to manage those VMs remotely…as in with a web-based GUI. You’re in luck–that’s feasible, thanks to a tool called Virtualmin. This easy-to-install web-based manager seamlessly integrates with Webmin, so when you install Virtualmin, you’re also getting Webmin.

There are two versions of Virtualmin: Virtualmin Professional and Virtualmin GPL. I’ll illustrate how to install the GPL, which is the free/open source version of the tool. For more information about the differences and costs of the two versions, check out this price matrix.

SEE: Ebook–Executive’s guide to virtualization in the enterprise (TechRepublic)

Installing Virtualmin

I’ll demonstrate the installation on a Ubuntu 16.04 machine. The Virtualmin installation will only work on the following operating systems:

  • CentOS/RHEL/Scientific Linux 7 on x86_64
  • CentOS and RHEL 5-6 on i386 and x86_64
  • Scientific Linux 6 on i386 and x86_64
  • Debian 6, 7, and 8 on i386 and amd64
  • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, 14.04, and 16.04 LTS on i386 and amd64
  • FreeBDS 7.0 and 8 on i386 and amd64

If you attempt to install on any other platform, the install will fail. The install is handled via a simple to use installation script. Download the script to your user Downloads directory and do the following.

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Change to the Downloads directory with the command cd ~/Downloads.
  3. Give the script executable permissions with the command chmod u+x install.sh.
  4. Run the installation script with the command sudo ./install.sh.

You’ll need to respond to a few quick questions. The first question requires that you select your OS. If your platform is listed, type “y” and hit Enter on your keyboard; otherwise, type “n” and hit Enter to exit the installation. The next question requires that you enter a fully qualified hostname for the Virtualmin server (Figure A).

Figure A

After entering the hostname, the install will start and complete. Depending on your hardware and network connection, this portion of the installation can take awhile, so step away and take on another task. Once the install completes, you’re ready to move to the web-based GUI phase of the install.

SEE: Quick glossary: Virtualization (Tech Pro Research)

The final setup

Open a browser and point it to https://IP_OF_SERVER:10000 (IP_OF_SERVER is the actual IP address of your Virtualmin server). You’ll be required to walk through a post-install setup wizard, which allows you to optimize Virtualmin for your environment. Click Next and answer the first in a series of optimization questions (Figure B).

Figure B

The optimizations include:

  • Preload Virtualmin libraries
  • Run email domain lookup server
  • Run ClamAV server scanner
  • Run SpamAssassin server filter
  • Run MySQL database server
  • Run PostgreSQL database server
  • MySQL configuration size

During the post-install wizard, you must also set the MySQL database password so Virtualmin can access the database (this will be your MySQL root user password). The next step in the post-install wizard is setting the primary and secondary nameservers (Figure C).

Figure C

Nameservers must be resolvable from the outside world and cannot be an IP address. If you don’t have access to such a nameserver, click the option to Skip Check For Resolvability and click Next.

Finally, you must select the password storage mode. You have two options:

  • Store plain-text passwords
  • Only store hashed passwords

Select the option that best suits your needs and click Next. Note: When hashed passwords are used, password recovery for virtual servers will no longer be possible, and the MySQL password for new servers will be different from the administration password (and will be randomly generated).

At the final screen, click Next, and you’re finished. At this point you’ll be greeted by the Virtualmin dashboard (Figure D) where you can start working with or creating your VMs.

Figure D

Remote VMs made easy

If you need to manage your VMs remotely, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better solution than Virtualmin. Get this solution up and running, and see if it doesn’t make your VirtualBox VMs easier to take care of.