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I'd like to ask if anything like this exists. A browser-based tool for looking at a Linux system, managing it, and helping newbies diagnose problems.

What I'm thinking of is something like this :

  • it's a program that you install and run locally, but acts as a web-server so that the user interface is a browser

  • it's a combination of documentation, sys-admin tool and tutorial. So that, of course, you can look at man pages through it, or run commands. But more interestingly, you might read a "HOW-TO" page that says "look at the apache config files at /etc/apache2/apache2.conf " and that becomes a link to the file itself, letting you open it up and read it.

  • can be extended with plug-in editors / highlighters. Perhaps a log file will be easier to read if it can be syntax coloured and errors highlighted in red.

  • plug-ins can be shell scripts. And can be used to write diagnostic tests. So, for example, if you need to look in one of 8 different places to find out what sort of audio setup your linux box has, someone could write a shell (or perl) script that looks in these places, extracts the relevant information and displays it on a page alongside tutorial information about how to solve a particular problem.

I'm sure you can think of many similar scenarios.

So, does anything like this exist? Unix is an awesome system with built-in man support, command-line tools and scriptability. But is an impenetrable jungle for the uninitiated. On the other hand, hypertexts with linked html pages are much easier to navigate and aid discovery. And the browser can display diagrams and documents more readably than the terminal or Emacs. Is there any project that tries to bring the best of these two worlds together?

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Two names come to mind: webmin and cpanel. I user neither, so this is not a recommendation nor a discommentation. –  Gilles Dec 29 '11 at 23:50
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2 Answers 2

webmin, THE tool, it doesn't have all the features you have mentioned, but has a lot more.

Still it doesn't intended for the new user of linux, since you should have some knowledge about the meaneing of the services, permission and so on, but it give you a nice GUI front end to work with, and don't bother with text editors and so on.

Since Linux is not just a Desktop OS, but a Server OS too, hence you have a lot of options and tweaks you can do with it, with power comes complexity, and it is worth it, but you should learn how to use it.

Webmin give the ability to connect to the server remotely, and it doesn't require a lot of dependencies to be installed, since it is Web based interface.

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Webmin provides a lot of Linux features on web. You can install it on your Linux machine and then manage it via a browser. I would recommend to be very careful since you are giving access to newbies.

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