The world of control panels is vast. There are plenty of options to choose from, ranging from open source ones to fully fledged behemoths that are costly.
On this occasion, we’ll be talking about ZPanel, which is open-source and simple to install provided you meet the requisites. This guide will help you install it from scratch and ending up with your first test site.
ZPanel is a easy to use control panel tailored to Windows and Linux platforms. It offers handling of domains, subdomains, FTP accounts, websites, quotas, databases, users and much more.
You can check the full feature list right at the official website.
ZPanel is completely free but if you want to support the developers you can donate whatever you see fit or get involved and help them make it better.
For our tests we are going to use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, since it’s recent and has long term support from the creators, Canonical Ltd.
Let’s jump right into it, shall we? Get an account at City if you don’t already have one, if you do, it will be even faster. In any case, go right ahead and create a server using the image named “Ubuntu 12.04 Server 64-bit LTS” on our App Center. Give it a few minutes, login with the default user (located under the virtual machine description), change your password and we are now ready to proceed.
Installing ZPanel manually involves several steps but fortunately somebody built a great script to automate that (Thanks to the user Caffeine Addict). Here is the official forum post with guides for CentOS6, Ubuntu 12.04 and 11.10: http://forums.zpanelcp.com/showthread.php?6820-ZPanelX-is-officially-released!
Click on the Ubuntu 12.04, since that’s the one we are interested in. Let’s go over a quick recap of the instructions:
- Update your server to the latest packages: sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade (this shouldn’t take long as the connection into your server, here at City Cloud, is quite fast)
- Install a couple of auxiliary tools: sudo apt-get install dos2unix wget chkconfig vim
- Convert the script to unix file endings and make it executable: dos2unix ubuntu-12-04-1.00.sh and chmod +x ubuntu-12-04-1.00.sh
- Execute the installer: sudo ./ubuntu-12-04-1.00.sh
Now, we must reboot the server and run the script again. After this, we will presented with an input text asking us for the IP address of the server, which you already know since you are inside it. Enter it and then the domain pointed to the server, which you can setup using the City Network panel (you will have to activate it on your main account, check your email for the corresponding credentials).
Use the same domain as the FQDN as well. And finally, type a strong MySQL root password.
Up next, go get a coffee (as the creator of the script probably did), a tea or your preferred beverage. It should run smoothly and after a few minutes, all should be nice and set. The server will automatically restart but before you close the terminal window, write down the default username and password.
Immediately afterwards, go to “Account” then “Change password”. Change your password and write all the info you have so far: control panel URL, MySQL root password, and admin username/password.
Now, on to creating our first website.
First thing we are going to do is create a FTP Account that you can use to upload your files. Go to the upper menu, choose “File” and then “FTP Accounts”. Select a username, a strong password, and make sure you give it “Full access” rights. Leave the other options as they were.
Great! We now have our first FTP account to fiddle around. The following thing to do is to create a test website, so go to the bottom right part of the menu, locate the part where it says “Domains” and click on “CREATE”. If you haven’t redirected a domain yet, you can do so later on. Either way, write down the domain name and when selecting the root folder, choose the one that corresponds to the user you just created (there should be one other than the root).
We now have created a domain, it will take a couple of minutes for this change to take effect. You can look around the control panel to get acquainted with all the options or setup the domain redirection to the server IP address.
Worth mentioning is that this installation script will setup Apache 2, PHP, MySQL and several other utilities that you can use to build your website. Although while you can change anything you’d like on the server, it’s usually better to do it through the ZPanel administration website.
We just barely touched the surface here. You can go ahead and create a database, or another site, a subdomain, more users, you name it.
While you poke at all the fun things you can do with this panel, we’ll get down to write another post with some more information on how to use ZPanel and make the most of it.
We hope this will be of use to you, until next time.