I am currently using openSUSE 13.1 KDE. The big reason why I like openSUSE is YaST.

YaST does so much and makes many parts of life easier. YaST not only graphically allows me to add/remove/manage repositories, and packages. It allows me to manage my firewall, kernel, services, groups, sudo and a lot more from a GUI. My favorite is that YaST allows me to set up Apache Virtual Hosts with a few clicks of the mouse on my local desktop (I am a web developer).

Now I can and know how to manage most of these things in terminal, but sometimes I like the GUI.

Are there any alternatives to YaST out there? Either distro agnostic or specific to a distro (any linux distro). I just want to see what else is out there.


3 Answers 3


Why not to depend on YaST

There is nothing that does what YaST does for non-SUSE distros. There are little tools here and there but nothing as comprehensive. It's a blessing and a curse. People that come to depend on YaST miss out on how things under the hood actually work.

I would take the time to actually "learn" how things work rather than looking for another crutch. I'm not saying this to be mean, I used to use YaST in my day job and appreciate what it provides but it's a crutch.


1. Yast4Debian

If you're truly motivated I did come across this project which appears to be on hold but might be a good code base for you to pick up if you're truly looking for developing something like YaST for other distros.

2. YaST in Ruby

Also it looks like the upcoming version of YaST for SuSE 13.1 was ported to a Ruby implementation, so it might be easier to port thanks to this effort.


Why did you want to port YaST to Ruby?

YaST was developed in YCP — a custom, simple, inflexible language. For a long time, many YaST developers felt that it slowed them down. It didn’t support many useful concepts like OOP or exception handling, code written in it was hard to test, there were some annoying features (like a tendency to be “robust”, which really means hiding errors). However, original YCP developers moved on to other projects and there wasn’t anyone willing to step in and improve the language.

It was obvious that the only way out of this situation is to change the implementation to some other widely used language (most people were thinking about scripting languages, like Ruby or Python, which offer great flexibility and shorter code compared to e.g. C++ or Java). Such a change would mean we wouldn’t need to maintain our own custom language. It would also allow us to use many third-party libraries and make contributing to the project much easier for outsiders. People wouldn’t have to learn a whole new language just because of YaST.

Changing the implementation language of such a big codebase as YaST is a huge effort, so it’s no wonder that developers mostly only talked about it — for years. It required someone external to the team (David) to decide that’s talking isn’t enough and we should just do it :-)

How were the results?

Good :-) We translated 96 YaST modules in total and currently there is no YCP code used in YaST except few obscure places like examples in the documentation (which need to be manually rewritten to reflect current best practices). YCP is also still used as a serialization format for some data files and for communicating between YaST components, but this does not affect development and we will probably get rid of that too over time.

3. Yast for Enterprise Linux (RHEL + Unbreakable)

Oracle has this hosted project which looks to be a modified version of YaST that's specifically for use on RHEL + Unbreakable Linux. I would assume that you could then use it for CentOS and possibly Fedora too.

I'm not sure of its status but might be worth a look. Though it's likely developed in the original YaST codebase, so you might want to take a look at the Ruby implementation first.

  • 4
    I can agree it is a crutch, and like I said I can go into a commandline and do what needs to be done, and I go back and forth (sometimes I use commandline, sometimes I use YaST), it just depends on my mood. But there is an argument to be made for having a GUI system like YaST on a desktop computer, or even on a development stage server environment. While commandline is always important to know, and a GUI can be "undependable" at times. We live in a GUI world, and I think it could benefit Linux adoption as a whole. Like I said there is good and bad to the idea. Feb 21, 2014 at 23:38
  • I'm sure "purists" originally didn't like GUI DEs in the beginning.(note: that last statement is only an assumption) Feb 21, 2014 at 23:41
  • @DanielToebe - agreed it's a GUI world, much of the management of servers though (Unix) is down from the command line. Your Q is fair enough and I won't hijack your search, this is 1 answer, perhaps someone will produce something that can do what you want. Webmin is about the closest I've seen to YaST and it's a distant 2nd.
    – slm
    Feb 21, 2014 at 23:41
  • @DanielToebe - I think early on ppl desired a more visual i/f so I don't think it's wrong to use a computer via one, the management of a computer or racks of computers is another matter and that is the paradym where the GUI falters. Even MS after years is offering a console management tool, yielding to the administrators that have years clamored for one similar to what Unix has has all along.
    – slm
    Feb 21, 2014 at 23:44
  • I actually like to hear this, just this isn't the proper forum for this discussion. Please post whatever you feel your response should be. If I can't find an answer then I will attempt to start a project for it in the future. I asked this question knowing I would get similar responses. Feb 21, 2014 at 23:46

There is nothing that really compares to YaST for CentOS or Debian. The closest applications might be these:

Webmin is quite powerful and should do a lot of what YaST can do (v hosts, firewall, network mounts).

There are several other options, comparable to Webmin.

  • Yes I used to use Fedora and YUMEX but I have not tried Webmin. Right now I am downloading Mandrake derivatives (Magiea, openMankrake, PCLinuxOS, and Rosa), because they have A system manager GUI built in. Feb 21, 2014 at 22:14

I can't believe nobody mentioned MCC, but then only the older Linux people would remember it and some of them may not know it still exist! Mandrake used to be the #1 distro, a spot it held for about a decade. One of the reasons was MCC (Mandrake Control Center) which was like the Control Panel in Windows. It was a central location for most of the system configuration tools.

When Mandrake teamed up with Conectiva they became Mandriva and it became the Mandriva Control Center. Today, many of the developers produce Mageia Linux and it's called Mageia Control Center. The reason I gave you a little history is so you can look up all three names and take a look at it. You'll find it hasn't changed much except for making it more powerful.


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