Proprietary control panels are a fixture in the web hosting world. Most hosting accounts, whether for shared or dedicated hosting, feature some type of control panel that the provider either licensed or created from scratch. Some hosting companies build complex and often ridiculed control panels, while others rely on the simplicity and dependability of well-respected automation systems like cPanel/WHM. If you cannot afford a commercial control panel or would prefer something open source, however, you may need to dig a little deep to find one you like.
The following is a list of free and open source hosting automation alternatives.
- Webmin, Virtualmin, Usermin, Cloudmin – This suite of control panels comes with pretty much everything you need to manage every aspect of a Linux or Unix-based server, from system administration (Webmin) to virutal private servers on a cloud system (Cloudmin), and everything in between. All of the control panels are free, although you can purchase a license for Virtualmin and Cloudmin for paid support.
- ZPanel – Offering next-generation features for server management, ZPanel is a hosting panel for Windows, Linux, UNIX, and Mac OS X servers. The developers classify it as easy to use but robust enough for even large businesses.
- OpenPanel – Designed to be a “platform for developers”, OpenPanel is a modular server management system that is designed to be easy to use yet give you “full control over all technical processes on a server”. In addition to its GUI web-based panel, it features a command line interface (CLI) for full system control. It has multiple layers of management for administrators and users.
There are many other free and open source control panels, but the above three should give you an idea of the power and scope that is available. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, and some of them may even offer features not found in commercial systems.