Linux System Administration Tools

Dee-Ann introduces Linuxconf, Webmin, YaST and COAS.
Yet Another System Tool (YaST)

YaST (Figure 3) and its cousin YaST2 (Figure 4) come with SuSE Linux; these items are specific only to a single distribution.

Figure 3. SuSE's YaST

Figure 4. SuSE's YaST2 in KDE

Generally speaking, you'll want to use YaST2 when at all possible; YaST2 is the graphical version, and the older YaST is a great fallback if you aren't able to get into the GUI or have not installed a GUI. YaST2 is laid out in a standard file-manager format, with the menu of categories on the left and icons for the various configuration routines on the right, which change to correspond with your category choice. The categories are:

  • Software: the selection of SuSE software-management utilities, such as the ability to update your system over the Internet or add and remove packages from the SuSE CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.

  • Hardware: a selection of hardware configuration routines, including printers, sound cards and scanners.

  • Network/Basics: the selection of configuration tools formodem and other connectivity devices, Ethernet cards and more.

  • Network/Advanced: the section where you can configure many of your network services, such as sendmail, routing and NIS+.

  • Security&Users: the selection of user and group-management tools, as well as a couple of useful security tools.

  • System: the selection of overall system-configuration tools, including a boot script (rc-config) file editor, boot loader configuration editor and routines for changing the language, keyboard and so on.

  • Misc: a collection of tools that couldn't be otherwise grouped into the other categories. Some of the items represented here involve alternate print setup tools, some for working with log files, and some for communicating with SuSE.

The Caldera Open Administration System (COAS)

COAS comes in a rudimentary form with Caldera OpenLinux but is available for most modern Linux distributions, and is open source and covered by the GPL. This tool comes in four different formats, so you can use the interface that's most comfortable: command-line, ncurses (command-line but menu driven), GUI and Web for remote use. This tool is still under development but will be included in its entirety in later versions of Caldera OpenLinux--though there are rumors that because Caldera now has a stake in Webmin, COAS may be on its way out. This concern is born out by the fact that the COAS web site doesn't seem to have been updated since September of 1999.

This tool is modular, meaning that rather than loading its full set of features into memory when you start it, only the portions you're using come into play. Adding and removing modules is typically transparent as you work with the tool unless you require an external module, one made by a third party or one that for some reason is not included with the core release.

Right now the system is in development, specifically using KDE's Qt library set, but rumor has it that a GTK (GNOME) version is in the works. You can find out more about this tool by visiting www.coas.org, including the list of the tool's anticipated capabilities.

Dee-Ann LeBlanc is a Linux writer, trainer, course developer and consultant who never seems to be able to stick with doing just one thing.

______________________

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

What is File management in Linux

Anonymous's picture

I would like to know what is file management in Linux please

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Ciberaula's picture

The only thing that is better in Microsoft systems is the easy way of doing anything. When become Linux an easy operating system for everyone the people will choose Linux. I think this is near.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Cpanel still does it best IMHO & IMGO
:)

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

cchamb2's picture

I'm just a newcomer to the Linux world and networking, and I would only partially agree with the concept that web-based administrative tools are not yet ready for widespread deployment.

While initial configuration is still best done at command line, the web-based tools will catch on as post-install interfaces through which [remote] tech support people can have the EU (network or system admin) address settings issues.

SABIEN Administration

Anonymous's picture

I agree with the Post Setup GUI idea - this is why I am working on a commercial system

www.sabien.uklinux.net

Though the Gurus will argue this Ive had over a 1000 hits in 2 weeks so the demand for a GUI must be high

info@sabien.uklinux.net

In addition Im going to try and make it clear to a learner what SABIEN is going to do to the config before applying changes and have plently of user friendly context specific help

Thanks,

Steve

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

This author is either out of touch or very unfamilar with configuration tools these days. YaST1 is dead, LinuxConf is not pushed by either RedHat nor Mandrake (and hasn't been for at least a year), and Caldera's COAS isn't really worth mentioning considering it's age and quality.

Additionally, the author forgets Mandrake Control Center (MCC) which is probably the easiest to use control panel.

-Tim

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

To Tim:

What can you do with MCC. For example do you configure dns, mail server,Sql. Or can you use all of servers as integrated for a domain.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

To the best of my knowledge you can not configure a mail server or MySQL with mcc. MCC, like Mandrake is oriented toward the desktop. However, phpMyAdmin is included with and is an excellent way to handle MySQL stuff.

MCC takes care of things like Bootup configuration, DHCP, Dialup internet, security settings using "msec," package management, X11 config etc. Think something between YaST1 and YaST2-like functionality, and you get a pretty good idea of what MCC is.

-Tim

tournament

 tournament's picture

In your free time, check the sites about betting ...

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

hmm, interesting... so you're advocating that MCC will work on my Slackware setup? Since YaST is indeed dead, can I use MCC on SusE?

Re: Linux System Administration Tools (2)

Anonymous's picture

I believe it very well might run on Slackware. I tested one component (Menudrake) on Debian and it worked fairly well. With a bit of work, you could definately get MCC to work on pretty much any setup. And you are free to do so since it is Free Software.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Relax, cut the author some slack ok? The point of the article was show the different configuration tools (old or new) that can be used for system management. True linuxconf is not pushed anymore by RH or MDK but this utility is still very much included in the distros and just not installed on default. In fact, a lot of sysads still use linuxconf particularly on RH setups just because IT IS THERE.

The author did in fact mentioned the outdatedness of COAS and YaST1 being replaced by YaST2. The mere mention of them is just for academic comparison.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

My point is that one should not write an article claiming to cover the major configuration tools and then basically spend most of the time talking about tools that are no longer of use.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

What is the replacement for linuxconf in RH 7.3?

Easy and complete solution is Easilix SM!

Anonymous's picture

Why Nothing about the Easilix SM. That is unified, secure, complete, easy and simple Linux server and system admin tool. More than tool, it is complete solution especially for intranet. I tried to use both of them (webmin and linuxconf),but my opion is Easilix much better than all.

Re: Easy and complete solution is Easilix SM!

Anonymous's picture

Yeah it's great. Should it can install on PentiumMMX machine or Vmware just to testing? I have problem with it when in partition disk, I always got error message. Could you help me?If you have some good idea please mailme: olymtang@hotmail.com

Re: Easy and complete solution is Easilix SM!

Anonymous's picture

How can i find it?what is its web page or download url?

Re: Easy and complete solution is Easilix SM!

Anonymous's picture

You can download full ISO from:

http://www.easilix.com

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

First of all I think people should know that the only GUI tools that are alive are Webmin and Yast.

Second, GUI tools can screw you over if you don't know how to do it manually. Webmin asks you to configure the modules before you get to use them. That means you are screwed if you don't know how to configure them manually in the first place.

It may sound like I don't like GUI tools but I do. I just don't want new Linux users to think that GUI tools will save them if they don't know how to do something at the command line.

SABIEN Linux Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Im currently working on a administration system for Linux that will be commercial

Though the Gurus will argue this Ive had over a 1000 hits in 2 weeks so the demand for a GUI must be high

www.sabien.uklinux.net

In addition Im going to try and make it clear to a learner what SABIEN is going to do to the config before applying changes and have plently of user friendly context specific help

I would really appreciate any feedback

info@sabien.uklinux.net

Thanks,

Steve

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

What about VI, sed, awk and emacs?

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

are you kidding?

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

People seem to forget a very important thing. Computers are very complex. Configuring, installing and troubleshooting a server is a task for a highly qualified professional and a layman will not be able to do it properly weather it is GUI or console. Recent IIS adventures have shown us that. As a professional I would take flexibility over ease of use any day. Desktop systems are different, but a generic desktop user doesn't want to configure his/her computer at all GUI or console. Generic desktop user gets scared of MS control panel let alone console. It would be much easier for a professional to help end-user if directions to reconfigure computer would sound like "type ... press ENTER' then "click here, click there, press OK, click Preferences..." So, I think projects like linuxconf and YAST are very bad for Linux. Webmin in my opinion is a very poor substitute for SSH.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Ok well someone here needs to go back to Linux or *Nix school.

Webmin in my opinion is a very poor substitute for SSH.

That's a very uneducated statement. First of all SSH and Webmin are two VERY different things. SSH (secure shell) is a replacement for telnet and many of the r* services.

Webmin is a web-based administrative tool that use Perl/CGI to alter system configuration files. So tell me where is the corelation between the two?

While I am not a HUGE fan of this GUI admin tools Webmin has to be one of the best (if not the best) webbased tool for many of the Unix system administrative tasks that are out there. Webmin is a tool for those seasoned Unix admins out there who want to reduce some typing but otherwise you still have to know what you're doing.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

All these tools are good, but as long as each app has its own proprietary conf file syntax, a front end tool like webmin will have to know each one of these formats and mess around with regexp. These means hard work and posibility for error. All conf files should be xml-s and posibly also restricted by some standars. This should be the future. Imagine the posibilityes. It would be so much easier to front end an xml.

Come on, you gotto grow up.

Anonymous's picture

Seriously, what was the point in saying 'What can i say?" Did that bit of cuteness add anything of value to this thread?

If you have nothing useful to say, then you have nothing to say, so say nothing.

XML is rubbish

Anonymous's picture

All XML does is call each "proprietary conf file syntax" XML and leaves the poor user to trackdown the definition of this particular XML format. Added to which the vast piles of verbage that XML adds make the file harder for humans to read and understand.
Saying that "All conf files should be xml" is like saying "All conf files should be text, with lots of extra bits to make it hard to read".
TWW

Re: XML is rubbish

Anonymous's picture

XML has its good points. As does SQL? or say HTML? A little knowledge never hurts. Remember BBS systems? and then there was this thing called hypertext. The point is not how XML works but rather how various systems work with XML. After all effenciency is the goal here as is smaller code. Dont you think?

This is not

Anonymous's picture

GUI admin tools do not automate. They do just the opposite. They lock you into a GUI. Linuxconf is a perfect example. The traditional, well documented, human readable, hand editable config files are overlayed with Linuxconf config files - files that are nonstandard, less readable and poorly documented.

This means the GUI becomes your only option. The only way to make config changes is to plant a shaved ape in front of a terminal. "This file is automaically generated - Do not hand edit!" Automation is no longer an option. No scripting allowed. The Windows Way. Lotsa ROI cause your shaved ape doesn't need to know what he's doing. Just point and click. And if it doesn't work... call tech support and curse your own impotence. Just like NT.

Re: This is not

Anonymous's picture

Very lucid.

I would love to talk to you.

310-980-6241

Al

Re: This is not

Anonymous's picture

Absolutely. I find that the only thing I can count on when dealing with various different Unixes (SunOS, HP-UX, Linux) is the text config files and Vi. That's all I need, and thankfully, Debian keeps true to this.

Open COE

Anonymous's picture

Still very immature, there is a project called OpenCOE to implement the DoDs cross platform system management APIs for user and software management. If you are familiar with DII COE, you might want to check out http://rhinohide.cx/opencoe

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Outdated arcticle: RedHat doesn't deliver linuxconf anymore with RedHat 7.3, yast1 is history with SuSE 8.0.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

I beg to differ, linuxconf is very much still included in the RH distros. It is included as an option and not installed as default. It may be outdated, But IMHO it still does the job it was originally designed to do.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Of course linuxconf is in RH 7.3!!! check the contrib dir!!!

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

what replaces linuxconf in redhat 7.3 ? what replaces yast in suse 8 ?

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

suse dropped yast (the original one) in favor of yast2. one of the big changes in suse 8.0 was the switch from using the /etc/rc.config file to the /etc/sysconfig directory structure (as specified by the LSB). since yast2 is more modular than yast, it was much easier for suse to upgrade yast2 to work with the changes. however, there seem to be a lot of people who are upset over the loss of yast.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

If your doing an install on a system that is basically not GUI capable (I don't recall the requirements for a GUI install with SuSE, but I've worked on several systems that didn't meet them) yast is much prefered. The "text mode" yast2 is painfully slow on such systems, and a real pain in the ass to navigate without a mouse. Basically, it's only a problem on systems 5 or more years old, but enough people have those lying around that they'd like to throw Linux on that it becomes an issue.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

DaveCallaghan's picture

I standardized on SuSE because I have Intel and PowerPC-based systems. Configuring an RS/6000 with a terminal and a keyboard using YAST is difficult, but still possible. Barely. The end of YAST may mean the return of AIX for me, depending on how they resolve the text-only YAST2 issues that you mentioned.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

What is the replacement for linuxconf in RH 7.3?

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Hmmm, could have used some deeper information than "these tools exist." Linuxconf is famous for goobering up configuration files. Some GUI tools maintain their own configuration databases, rather than simply being a front-end to the existing, standard text configuration files, and are responsible for some serious hose jobs. It would be valuable to know how they work under the hood. I like Webmin very much, I understand it is a Perl frontend to text configuration files. That's how it should work.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Why nothing about the Mandrake Control Center ? They provide a feature that should be in every config tool imho: explanations. Each config tool reports what it is doing, what files are modified and what commands are executed.

This helps the user to learn how a config task is done, can also be used to debug by experimented admin and give more confidence in the tool because it eliminates the black box syndrom.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Why Nothing about the Easilix SM. That is unified, secure, complete, easy and simple Linux server and system admin tool. More than tool, it is complete solution especially for intranet. I tried to use both of them (webmin and linuxconf). But Easilix much better than all.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

Easilix isn't Open Source as in Free Software. It's likely that the article discusses administration tools that follow the spirit of the Operating System being managed, and the likelihood of already finding the tools packaged freely with that Free Open Source Operating System.

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

I'm a Mandrake addict.

but seeing how YaST2 runs in KDE (screenshot above) I think that my love for SuSE is starting to shine yet again...

Just another proof that the more time passes on, the more the open source movement is strong... so strong...

Re: Linux System Administration Tools

Anonymous's picture

It's rather amazing... and does a lot of things. It's the easiest I've ever seen on linux (just try to set up your cable modem - Eth card, etc...)

And which is better: it does not overwrites your old configuration files under /etc/sysconfig, but makes rotated backups of these (unlike Webmin).

Apart from this, it interoperates perfectly with Webmin.

Webmin is excellent

Anonymous's picture

Whilst I still prefer to edit configuration files by hand, I was amazed by Webmin's depth when I used it for the first time earlier this year.

Webmin has modules for configuring a huge number of services (including Apache, BIND, DHCPD, NIS, NFS, PAM, sendmail/postfix/qmail, sshd, WUFTP/ProFTP) and performing a large number of tasks (including adding users, scheduling at and cron tasks, modifying disk quotas, killing processes, viewing system logs). There's also several other modules that can be downloaded.

This tool has not caused any problems for me since using it for many mundane system administration tasks (this can not be said of Linuxconf) for the past month, and would be perfect for delegating simple tasks to help desk workers or colleagues.

The other advantage of Webmin is that it imports and uses the existing settings quite well, rather than overwriting settings with another default copy (something YaST does quite badly).

Highly recommended.

None of them, excellent.

Anonymous's picture

Administration tools use different interfaces. They aren't full-featured. Also some tools interfere with manual file editing. As an result, Linux makes everyone to being expert.

Re: Webmin is excellent

Anonymous's picture

I agree. I have been linuconf for *quite* some time now. Even though i personally prefer editing configuration files by hand, i too was amazed at the depth of webmin.

I have found modules for servers like Tomcat, Orion and other application servers. Not to mention the fact that we have come up with our own to let the users tailor their own settings.

Webmin's an excellent software and highly recommended from me too :)

Re: Webmin is excellent

Anonymous's picture

Agreed; the only issue with Webmin is security, and I believe that can be addressed by sending the Webmin-relevant HTTP requests to the target system over an SSH session.

White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState