VirtualMin – The most underrated open source control panel

To scale up my website and apps, I recently moved from VPS to Dedicated Server hosting.

The dedicated servers are undoubtedly more powerful than VPS, but they also come along with their own problems of managing. I chose to go for a un-managed server to keep the costs low. And with the new server, the search for a ‘perfect’ control panel started.

At first, I tried the Sentora Control Panel – but it had lot of limitations. I listed the limitations in my previous post here.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon Virtualmin. I read a lot of blogs to find the right panel. I must thank some blogs like this one and this one that did a fair amount of comparison of different control panels – and I feel both of them have underrated the Virtualmin.

Virtualmin can literally (and I mean it) perform ALL the tasks that a server administrator has to do – without knowing any linux commands. Everything is managed by a really nice (bootstrap enabled) Web UI.

Infact it provides so much flexibility (and options) for managing the server that sometimes it may scare away a beginner.

I tried to Open source version which comes for free (to keep my costs low) and I can vouch that this open source version is sufficient for all kind of tasks.

In my next blog, I will list some of the important customization and settings one must do to get things up and running.

Limitations of Sentora Control Panel

I recently moved from a VPS hosting to a Dedicated Server Hosting for many reasons – which I am not listing here.

Typically Dedicated hosting are costlier than VPS and so I wanted to save some money by not opting for managed servers and proprietary control panels.  Instead I chose to go for Open Source web panels. As a matter of fact, I am a big fan of Open Source.

I compared the list of open source web panels on the web and finally stumbled upon Sentora (which is a fork of ZPanel). I decided to try it out.

It has been only few days using Sentora – and I must admit that I am impressed. However, there are some serious limitations of Sentora – especially if you have used any other proprietary control panel in past. For e.g. in past I have used cPanel and Direct Admin.

In this blog I am listing some of those limitations. Before I get into details, I would like to thank the whole Sentora Team for all their hard work and maintaining Sentora.

Limited Cron Job Support

Sentora supports cron jobs. However, it is really – really limited. For e.g.

  • Cron task can only be a PHP file !! What if I want to run a python script or a JAVA program as a cron job ?
  • You can schedule jobs only in the format of periodic interval. For e.g. run every 10 min or daily etc. What if I want to run job on every Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ?
MySQL users have all permissions

When you create a MySQL user, the user has all permissions. This is an issue because sometimes I want to restrict some access to certain users. For e.g. allow Insert / Update and don’t allow Delete on certain Databases.

Sentora does not create a OS User

The main problem that I faced was that when you create a new Client, it does not create respective OS user. I am sure the Sentora team will have reasons to do so, but I will list here the problems that a server admin faces.

  • I could not do a SCP (copy from remote server to local server). The only way to transfer files was via FTP. This is an big issue if the file size is large.

How to overcome these limitations

You can overcome these limitations – but its not a easy job for someone who is not very familiar with the Linux OS.  For e.g. I went ahead and created a OS user for the client. Of-course I restricted the access of the user to limited functionalities.

Here is what I did to overcome the above limitations:

  • Create a OS user. Make sure you restrict his access.
  • Once the OS user was created, I was able to transfer large files using SCP
  • I was also able to set up custom cron jobs using the crontab utility.
  • Login via root MySQL user and restrict the access of SQL users

In my next blog I will document the detailed steps on how to migrate your domains and data from old hosting server (which might be running a different control panel) to Sentora Web Panel.

Why Freedom 251 smart phone could be a sham !

India is land of unthinkable… be it religion, politics, education or technology.

Recently we saw something unimaginable – a Rs. 251 Smart phone. Thats roughly 4 USD !!
This is not the first time India has tried to bring technology to public at unimaginable price. We already saw a failed attempt by previous government in trying to bring Aakash Tablet priced at around Rs 1100. That was approximately 4 times costlier than Rs. 251 smart phone.

We know from past failures that such a low priced tablet was not possible.. Take an example of Raspberry foundation which is trying to develop low cost computers. Their computer with 1GB RAM and 1GHz processor costs $35! and it has no screen! Just plain development board !

So how can a gadget with roughly same specifications be now sold at such ridiculous price. At this price, people would probably buy phone in the unit of ‘Kilos’. It is simply too good to be true.

It could be a very well planned sham !

Is it e-Waste from some country ?
One possibility is that this could be e-Waste of some developed western country. We know that with growing environmental concerns, some of the developed countries who have strict environmental regulations are finding it difficult to dispose off their e-Waste.
It is possible that one of those countries is trying to dispose its e-Waste. So they might be giving it for free OR in-fact could also be paying something to take away that e-Waste from their countries.
Some smart guys are importing that, getting money and then re-assembling it to sell in Indian market. And in the process, making some extra money also.
Thats the only way it could become affordable to sell a smart phone at Rs. 251/-

It could be well planned corporate fraud !
Another possibility is that this is a well thought fraud! Yes you read it right – well planned corporate fraud
The company right now is taking orders and are promising to deliver the phone in next few months. Based on the orders they receive, they could apply for a big loan. After few months they may file bankruptcy or default on the loan — just like Mr. Kingfisher did. We have seen how big corporations have defaulted on their loans.

In my opinion the current government should be cautious and should keep a close eye on this. This could potentially snowball into another controversy around ‘Make in India’ about how the government has made doing business easy but has left too many loop holes for big corporations to exploit.

If I were you, I would just wait and watch and believe only when I see myself.

The opinions expressed here are my personal opinion. I am neither a ‘bhakt’ nor an ‘aaptard’ ..  just another blogger trying to finish this blog before my son wakes up !

Why should we fast

fastingFasting – Is commonly observed in all religions. All religions have recommended fasting for various reasons. I am not getting into debate of ‘religious fasting’.

The point I want to make is: Since every religion advices fasting, there has to be some logic behind fasting – may be scientific, may be physiological or may be psychological.

I believe that fasting makes you mentally strong. It can bring some discipline in your mind and body. It helps you control your senses and emotions.

In my opinion, fasting is like vaccination. The concept of vaccination is that you inject a very small quantity of virus into your body and your mind and body learns how to fight against it. Thus, in future when the Virus attacks your body, your mind and body are fully prepared to fight against the virus. Same is the logic with fasting also. Once in a while we should fast so that our mind and body learns how to behave in a hostile situation, so that mind can learn how to control your senses, emotions, weakness.

Consider this – Lets say you have never ever fasted in your entire life. One day you are in a terrible situation and you can’t find anything to eat. It will be very difficult for you to be normal that day without food. On the other hand if you are some one who regularly fasts, then it would be probably very easy for you to survive one day without food.

Fasting does not really mean – stop eating food. Fasting could be of any type. The idea of fasting should be – Quit something that you feel you cannot live without for 1 day. It could be anything. It could be coffee, beer, smoke, chicken, smart phone… .whatever you feel like.
Live one day without it. It will help you.
For e.g. quit smoking for one day. May be it will help you quit smoking for ever some day when you want to.
Quit coffee / beer for a day. You never know, some day your doctor may advice you for medical reasons and that day this little trick would help.

For once, disassociate fasting with religion and try it. Its amazing.

AIB Knockout – Right ya Wrong

Few weeks ago AIB Knockout rocked the Indian media. Everyone had their opinion – some dubbed it abusive, some thought it was a new genre is comedy.

If you have not seen the video, then check it here :

So called “fundamentalist” were offended by the language, content of it. Naturally, it was banned. So called “liberals” termed it as curbing the freedom of speech.

I saw the video. First of all, it was damn funny. I will not really call it creative, but it was a different kind of humour. It was more like our “ragging” sessions in college. Hell ya – it was so much fun abusing everyone.

However, there is a bitter side to it. Probably it should not be on Youtube.

Consider this : You are travelling in a public transport along with some other friends / colleagues . One of your friend forwards you an adult (read: Madarc**d, Behenc**d etc.) joke on your mobile. Market mein naya aaya hai and you want to share it – with those who are right now with you. How would you share it:

  1. Forward it to the friends via What’s app / SMS / Email whatever.
  2. Read it slowly ensuring that fellow passengers don’t hear it
  3. Read it loudly to ensure that all passengers hear it and enjoy it

I would do (1) or (2). Definitely not (3). My guess is no body in their sane mind would do (3).

That’s the problem with AIB Knock-out video on Youtube. Its public domain. So how do we really share this super hilarious video ? Just like you would share your adult jokes.

Ideally – AIB guys should have posted it on their personal website. On youtube there should be a censored version of it. More like a teaser. And those who are interested to watch the full video should be requested to sign up and give consent (in the form on End user agreement) that they have no right to complain about this video in any manner.

Thus, the video remains private, and legally AIB could have indemnified themselves by taking the consent in the form of EULA before showing the video.

आप कट लिये

ये क्या हाल है मेरे देश का
ये किस राह जा रह  देश मेरा

भ्रष्टाचार से लड़ाई है, ख्वाइश है इन्साफ़  की
फिर क्यूँ लिखे है माफ़ी नामे अफ़जल और कसाब की

सैकड़ो दिये जलाये निर्भया के अधिकार के लिये
फिर क्योँ उस अपराधी  को छोड़ा, केवल मानवाधिकार के लिये

बुद्धिजीव होने का है अभिमान, दे रहे है दोगला ज्ञान
ठोकर मारो ऐसा ज्ञान , हमे चाहिये नारी का सम्मान

आप का ही भरोसा था , आप को हम दिल दिये
इससे पेहले कि हमे होश आता , उसके पेहले ही आप कट लिये

What I saw in Gujarat

Ahmedabad_BRTSLast year I got a chance to attend a conference in Ahmedabad. Me, and couple of my office colleagues were attending the conference. We were put up in hotel Marriott. Of course the stay is Marriott was excellent and memorable. However in this blog post I am not going to advertise about the Marriott. I will tell you what I saw and experienced in city of Ahmedabad.

I was travelling from Bangalore, so it was a almost a shocker for me. During the peak hour traffic also, it was very rare to find any traffic jams. I just looked around and I noticed something unique.

There was a separate lane for city buses. All the city buses were commuting only in that specified lane. The rest of the traffic was moving outside those lanes. Due to this, the city buses were commuting very fast; and there was not much traffic on the normal roads for private vehicles like cars, auto rickshaws, bikes etc.

Not just that – the ticketing system of the public transport buses was also unique. Electronic tickets with smart cards were being issued for travelling in the bus.

The only other place in India where I saw smart card based tickets was in Delhi Metro and Bangalore Metro.

The only other city where I saw smart card based tickets for buses was in Singapore.

I was awed. Just to re-confirm what I witnessed, I started a conversation with the taxi driver and asked him if this is how the public transport in in the rest of the city. He said – “Yes, most of the city it is like this. Where ever it was feasible to do so, the government has done this.”

Check out this video which is about success story of BRTS (Bus Rapid Transition System) ..

PS : I am linking this video not to praise BJP .. but as a proof that it really exists…

Leave aside the Good governance and all the political message in the video .. Just check out how simple ideas can make life better…

क्या भारत का संविधान जन्ता को धोख़ा दे रह है

कुछ दिनों पहले मुझे  व्हाट्स ऐप्प द्वारा  एक सन्देश प्राप्त हुआ जिसका शीर्षक था : “क्या भारत का संविधान जन्ता को धोख़ा  दे रह है”
मैं इस ब्लॉग के माध्यम से उस संदेश  का उत्तर देने का प्रयत्न कर रहा हूँ।  ये विचार मेरे निजी है और ये आवश्यक नहीं है कि आप भी  इन विचारों से सहमत हो।

क्या भारत का संविधान जन्ता को धोख़ा  दे रह है — नहीं
भारत के संविधान क मूल मन्त्र है – सभी भारतवासी एक समान है

प्र – नेता २ जगह से चुनाव लड़ सकता है पर आम आदमी २ जगह से मतदान  नहीं कर सकता
उ – संविधान में इस बात क प्रावधान है कि कोइ भी व्यक्ति २ जगह से चुनाव लड़ सकता है।  किन्तु यदि वो दोनोट जगहों से जीट जात है तो उसे एक जगह से स्तीफा देन पङेगा क्यूँ कि वो एक हि जगह से जनता क प्रतिनिधित्व कर सकते है

प्र – आप जेल में हो तो मतदान नहीं कर सकते किन्तु नेता जेल में हो तो चुनाव लड़ सकता है
उ – इसका कारण भेद भाव नहीं है अपितु सुरक्षा है।  यदि एक कैदी को मतदान के लिये आज्ञा दी तो सभी को देनी पडेगी और फ़िर आम नागरिकोँ तो सुरक्षा प्रदान करने में मुश्किल हो सकती है।  नेता भी यदि जेल में हो तो उसे मतदान करने का अधिकार नहीं
नेता को जेल में रहकर चुनाव लड़ने का अधिकार इसलीये है क्यों कि जेल में रहना इस बात का प्रमाण नहीं कि उसने कोइ आपराध किय है।  उदहारण स्वरुप गांधी जी भि जेल में गये थे किन्तु वो अपराधी नहीं थे।
यदि नेता के खिलाफ़ अपराध सिद्ध हो गय हो और फ़िर उसे जेल हुई तो संविधान उसे चुनाव  लड़ने का अधिकार नहीं देत।

प्र – बैंक की नौकरी या फ़िर अन्य नोकरिया
उ – भारत का संविधान सभी नागरिकों को समान रूप से देखता है।  इसी कारण वर्ष चुनाव लड़ने का अधिकार सभी को है – चाहे वो किसी भि जाति का हो, चाहे अनपढ़ हो, या फ़िर लूला या लंगड़ा हि क्योँ न हो
जनता का प्रतिनिधित्व करने के लिए किसी डिग्री कि आवश्यकता नहीं है।  केवल करुणा भावना की आवश्यकता होती है।
किन्तु किसी नौकरी को करने के लिये आपको उस काम में कुछ हद तक निपुणता होनी चाहिए। उदहारण स्वरुप क्या आप अपने पैसे ऐसे बैंक में रखना पसन्द करेंगे जाहा के कर्मचारीयो को जोङ गुणा भाग हि ना आता हो।  क्या आप चागेंगे की देश कि सिमा कि रक्षा ऐसे लोगो को दी जाये जिन्हे शास्त्र चलाना हि ना आटा हो
ध्यान रहे शिक्षा मंत्री का कार्य पाठशालाओं में शिक्षा प्रदान करना नहीं होत अपितु ऐसी नितिया बनाना होता है जिस से कि देश का हर नागरिक शिक्षित हो सके

प्राचीन भारत का उदहारण ले तो – उत्तम  राजा वो नहीं जो उत्तम योद्धा हो , उत्तम राजा वो है जो अपने देश वासीयो को अपने पुत्रों के समान समझे और उनका रक्षण करे
सीमाओ कि रक्षा के लिये तो एक कुशल सेनापति कि आवश्यकता है और स्माज को शिक्षित करने के लिये उत्तम गुरु कि आवश्यकता है

वैधानिक चेतावनी – मैं ये नही कहता कि नेता जो कर रहे है वो सही है , अपितु ये केहने क प्रयास कर रह हुन कि हमारा सँविधान किसी व्यक्ति विषेश के प्रति भेद भाव नहीं करता
यथार्थ ही संविधान में समय अनुसार उचित परिवर्तन कि आवष्यकता अनिवार्य है किन्तु संविधान को दोशी मानना उचित नहीं है।

Why people vote for money

This happened a couple of weeks ago …

A group of “middle-aged” guys were discussing the usual politics stuff.
Some were supporting BJP and some AAP… No one was talking is favor of Congress and Gandhi family. I was not surprised. 😉

Slowly the topic of discussion changed  to “Why people vote for money / liquor / Saree / TV etc”. Almost everyone in the group had same opinion that those who vote for money are uneducated, fools, selfish, traitors etc.

Suresh who was quiet for most of the discussion had a different (and interesting) opinion about this.

Suresh : Guys, how many shopping malls are there in the vicinity ?
Junta : Around 4 – 5
Suresh : Where do you go to buy your groceries most often ?
Some said ‘XYZ’, some said ‘ABC’ etc
Suresh : Why don’t you go to the grocery store at the end of your street ?
Most common answer was : “We get good discounts in that mall”
Next common answer was : “I go to that mall so that we can have nice food also”

Suresh : You will only save a couple of hundred rupees every week by going to the malls where discounts are offered on groceries.
In order to save those few hundred rupees, you will avoid going to street grocery shops.
People like you are the reason why we have so much traffic on the roads. People like you are the reason why fuel prices are high. People like you are the reason why the pollution in the city is high.

Answer honestly, are you not creating more problems for the city/county just to save few hundred rupees ?
Can you not really afford to spend few hundred rupees extra for the good of this country ? You can. But you still want to save those few hundred rupees.

We might not vote for money, but in order to “save” few hundred rupees we do more bad than good to the country.
So, how can we expect that a person who earns only a couple of thousand rupees in a month will vote responsibly. He has an opportunity to earn some money. Why should he let it go ?

If I give you 3000 rupees in a month and ask you to commute to office by public transport instead of you car… will you do it ?

Point is everyone is Selfish.
No-body votes for a “bigger cause”. People vote for themselves.

Did you Vote ?

A couple of Thursday’s ago … some where in my parking …

[Me] : Hey, How are you doing…

[Educated Neighbour] : I’m doing good.

[Me]: So, did you vote this time ?

[Educated Neighbour]: Naah…. (with a big smile).

[Me] : (With a straight face) Why ? What happened ? Everything all right ?

[Educated Neighbour] : I did not get my name in Voter’s list..

[Me] : Hmmm … Did you not apply ?

[Educated Neighbour] : Yaar.. They came to my office … but I was busy that day…

[Me] : Oh…

[Educated Neighbour]: Anyways, In my native I have my name in voters list..

[Me] : Good… So are you going to vote there ? Its only a couple of hours drive …

[Educated Neighbour]: No yaar… It will be too hectic …

[Me] : Hmmm….

[Educated Neighbour] : I hope this time Modi wins…

I stood there confused… and he walked away humming the BJP election song : “Ache din aane wale hai… Modi ji aane wale hai…