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I am running an openSUSE server without any GUI components (for the classical reasons: performance, security, patching, etc.).

Are there Linux related graphical tools that I can run on my local (Windows) machines (alternatively local Linux VMs) that allow me to control/administer the remote server? Basically tools that connect and read out the current configs (e.g. networking, partitions, etc.) and allow me to make changes on the local GUI that are then via commands over SSH (or some other protocol) automatically transferred back to the openSUSE server to actually change the settings there?

All the options that I was able to find so far are approaches that require GUI elements on the server such as X11Forwarding or VNC access, for example this question. Is this the only available way?

  • webmin might be one option – roaima Dec 5 '15 at 14:24
  • There are numerous tools that exist for remote administration purposes that offer graphical interfaces. Like you said, many of them will run locally on the remote machine and can be accessed via X11 Forwarding or VNC (or xRDP, which I prefer over VNC any day). Some run an agent on the remote host and open a listening port that you can browse to for web-based administration. – rubynorails Dec 5 '15 at 14:42
  • @PhilipAllgaier nonsense - it would be a web listener for an HTTP server or something similar, just like Apache or Nginx. It would more than likely support SSL encryption and would not be a security issue at all, as long as people know what they're doing. – rubynorails Dec 5 '15 at 16:17
  • yast2 isn't enough ? – Archemar Dec 5 '15 at 18:10
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You can either setup a management agent on the OS - or setup some tool that can manage your system over SSH. In terms of maturity and ease of use - I'd say go for Webmin or one of the alternatives.

Here are some other examples, in order of increasing complexity:

Webmin

  • Webmin is a web-based interface for system administration for Unix. Using any modern web browser you can manage a system from the console or remotely.
  • Webmin can also be setup to manage remote systems, as described in The Cluster Webmin Configuration module
  • Usermin can be used by non-root users and and Virtualmin can be used to manage virtual domains and such.

A few notes on security:

ISPConfig

  • Manage one or more servers from one control panel;
  • Open Source and supports SuSE among other distributions;
  • Take a look at the Online Demo to see if it does what you want;

Rundeck - runbook automation

  • Create jobs, track and manage jobs from a Web interface
  • Requires scripting

Puppet, Chef, Salt, Rex or Ansible - Configuration Management

Different approach to administration - with configuration management.

Other options:

  • From what I was able to gather from a bit of research in relation to those tools you mentioned (especially Webmin), some say they are not recommended for production environments, since they are prone to security vulnerabilities and open up the servers unnecessarily. So that then basically only leaves manual SSH terminal work for production enviroments again? – Philip Allgaier Dec 5 '15 at 16:09
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    Every service and open port is prone to security vulnerabilities, and that includes SSH :-). There is nothing preventing your from using Webmin over SSH, for example. That way, webmin would listen on localhost - and you can use a 'secure' ssh tunnel to access it. Or setting up something like OpenVPN. Most of the security concerns come from improper use / setup. – Criveti Mihai Dec 5 '15 at 16:12

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