(   )
                          (    )
                           (    )
                          (    )
                            )  )
                           (  (                  /\
                            (_)                 /  \  /\
                    ________[_]________      /\/    \/  \
           /\      /\        ______    \    /   /\/\  /\/\
          /  \    //_\       \    /\    \  /\/\/    \/    \
   /\    / /\/\  //___\       \__/  \    \/
  /  \  /\/    \//_____\       \ |[]|     \
 /\/\/\/       //_______\       \|__|      \
/      \      /XXXXXXXXXX\                  \
        \    /_I_II  I__I_\__________________\
               I_I|  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
               I_II  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
               I II__I  I     XXXXXXX     I
            ~~~~~"   "~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sat, 23 May 2009

A Sysadmin's Lament, or why cPanel Sucks

I've been wrestling with cPanel [0] on and off for years - more lately, and it always reminds me just how much it sucks. It can be convenient if you don't know how to maintain Linux servers and the various associated Internet services (Apache, BIND, etc.), but there really is no playing nicely with it from a command line sense. Once installed, it takes over your system, rendering it impervious to standard sysadmin tricks. What's more, its convenience is really it's downfall, because when something goes wrong with it, two things are true:

  1. The person using it has no idea what is wrong, OR
  2. The person using it knows what is wrong and how to fix it, just not from within cPanel

The end result of this is when cPanel fails, and it will fail at some point, fixing it is near impossible without calling on cPanel for support (I suppose they like it that way).

It's also one example of a software system that if it were open source, it wouldn't change this situation at all. It's basically a giant mass of Perl code that somehow manages to work (mostly), while aggravating the experienced sysadmin. Its automated upgrades are one example of an epic fail waiting to happen. On several occasions I've had clients call me to fix broken email, only to find a cPanel upgrade has b0rked some key part of the Exim config file. Umm...first, upgrading key system software is not to be taken lightly, and let's not even discuss why the fuck Exim is being upgraded automatically. Second, upgrades should never, and I mean never touch config files without asking. Debian has it right on this one [1]. Do yourself a favor - turn off cPanel upgrades immediately after installation (or better yet, don't install it).

Finally, I can't possibly let this post go without whining about how cPanel and all the other web-based hosting/sysadmin control panels have created an entire generation of so-called 'system administrators' in need of a giant clue bat.

There, I feel better now.

posted at: 09:09 | path: / | permalink | Linux, Sucks, Sysadmin, cPanel