Administration interface (was: Server issues)

Nick Barcet nick.barcet at
Wed Nov 21 18:45:48 UTC 2007

Hello Loye,

Loye Young wrote:
> Besides, why should the customer be put to the choice
> between (a) an insecure, unstable, but intuitive server OS (MS Server)
> and (b) a secure, stable, but inscrutable server OS (Ubuntu SE)? There
> is no reason NOT to give the administrator the security, stability, and
> standards-compliance of Linux with an intuitive, documented GUI in the
> spirit of Ubuntu.

I fully agree with you that, currently, the step is quite high and
believe that this community is actively working at fixing it.
Unfortunately, that seems to be where our views start diverging : it has
been stated clearly that we will not have Xorg installed on Ubuntu
Server Edition, and we are not quite willing to change this at this time.

>> MO instead of using gtk apps to setup a server, ebox
>> ( <> )
> would be a better alternative.
> Again, you are looking at the world through the eyes of one who already
> knows.
> eBox is great if you already know how to set up a webserver using the
> command line and a text editor. But if the webserver itself gets messed
> up (e.g., the admin forgot to put "/Directory" at the end of the site
> configuration block and apache won't start), the admin is SOL.

Yes, this is why the whole thing should be up and running without having
to do something else than selecting an option "install web based admin"
in the installer (or afterward using tasksel).

Here what we are talking about is an incremental process at developing a
very intuitive yet web based configuration tool that will provide, over
time, more and more configuration plugins that will follow the same
philosophy.  This choice has been discussed multiple times and ebox
seems to be the best basis we have.

We do believe that, in the end, users will be in a better situation not
having a full xorg based gui on the server because :
- less code = less security risks
- it frees a lot of memory for server related tasks
- it reduces the risks of someone actually using the machine to do word
processing (or other non admin tasks) on it, therefore helps having a
better up-time
- it does not require to have physical access to the server (links to
security, as the server can then be properly locked-up)
- it allows for a much easier remote maintainability
  * isn't convenient for you to tell your customers that you can
remotely maintain their servers?
  * would you be willing to use VNC to access one of your customer's
machine that you need to work on?

> Instead, we need a desktop GUI to administer Apache, too. There is a
> project to port YaST to Ubuntu (, which is
> a step in the right direction. See also
> I'd prefer a
> gtk tool in order to minimize the number of dependencies, but the
> concept is the right one.

Given my background, I have been using Yast for quite a while, and
beleive me, it is not all as good as it seems at first sight:
- Even though it has a curse interface for remote access, the thing is
incredibly slow and curse is far from being user friendly
- Gtk GUI is slow and sometimes very cumbersome
- Creating additional plugins for it is so incredibly weird (thanks for
the underlying specific language) that there are very few people outside
of Suse that went down that road
- Existing plugins are demonstrating the lack of input controls Yast
allows, therefore bringing it to a rough equivalent of y2k web based
interface.  Web interface input control has greatly evolved since, Yast not.

To conclude, I am very happy that you have the possibility to install a
gnome/kde interface on top of Ubuntu server if you feel like it, but I
doubt that we are going to change our base option at this time to make
it the default...  It is also quite unlikely that we are going to have
the our basic desktop packages be modified because a problem one has
when installing it on a server.


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