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CentOS + CPanel sucks

Recently I switched one of my websites to a VPS server. It's so much better than shared hosting. Even if I do still share a physical machine with N other people, as a VPS I have full root access which makes things much better. I made the mistake of trying "managed" hosting first, which means the tech people at the hosting company help you set things up.

Bad idea. That plan was on CentOS 4.2 and used CPanel. CPanel doesn't even support Apache 2 yet. Let alone Ruby on Rails. They've apparently been promising Apache 2 support for months and have yet to deliver except in their experimental branches. The CPanel forums are littered with people complaining about it. Running a Rails app with any kind of acceptable speed demands some features of Apache that Apache 1.x does not have. Apache 1.x has fastcgi, but it sucks and judging by mailing lists and my own experiences, getting it to actually work is a miracle. The people at my hosting company surely did not succeed in doing it.

So I "downgraded" my hosting to one where I run everything myself (it's $15/month cheaper) with no CPanel, and got Debian 4, and now everything works fine. Took me one evening to get it all going. And now I don't have the useless overhead of CPanel to deal with. I run Apache 2.2 and a cluster of Mongrel servers for my Rails app and the speed is much better.

In addition to that, I had to set up EVERYTHING on my server. So I got my first taste of setting up a DNS server (bind) , which was a really good learning experience. I never knew how DNS worked at that level of detail until I set it all up myself. So I set it all up, then ran some tests, and found out I did it entirely wrong, so I redid it chrooted and disabled DNS recursion and all those bad things and now hopefully I won't be cracked within a week.

Then I had to set up sendmail. I accomplished this by glancing at the horrific configuration file and then immediately uninstalling it from the server. I don't need another mail server that badly. In the end, my opinion of CentOS + Cpanel is pretty low. The CentOS repository was severely lacking in a great many packages that I needed. I had to resort to compiling crap on my own, and it didn't work. Debian at least has mostly everything I want via apt-get. And CPanel is severely limiting if you want to do anything outside of the narrow bits of software it officially supports. It sucks hard for running Rails.

August 31, 2007 @ 11:47 AM PDT
Cateogory: Programming


Quoth numerodix on August 31, 2007 @ 11:20 PM PDT

VPS is a wonderful concept, but it's pretty expensive, isn't it? For my modest needs I can use shared hosting at $10-20/year and I'm covered. VPS runs in the hundreds last time I checked.

Quoth Brian on September 01, 2007 @ 12:39 AM PDT

Yeah, it is a bit expensive. But possibly worth it. I was already paying $100 a year for my shared plan. Perhaps stupidly.

Quoth bug on September 01, 2007 @ 6:43 AM PDT

Mind in that case, post a full how-to of setting a server by yourself? I know it's not as easy as it sounds.

Quoth Brian on September 01, 2007 @ 9:50 AM PDT

That would be a fairly large undertaking, yes. I'll see if I can remember some of the links I used though.

Quoth Jason on September 04, 2007 @ 8:40 AM PDT

CPanel is very old, and is becoming more and more obsolete, in my opinion. The biggest problem is how "installed" it is.

Not to even mention it still ships the ugliest webmail systems known to man (Horde, Neomail, SquirrelMail). I loved SquirrelMail back in the day, then Zimbra and RoundCube came out...

It's a great tool to get started with as a server owner and a server user, but you reach a certain limit, then cry.

(Though, quite admittedly, Plesk and Ensim are so much worse.)

Quoth Zyon on February 24, 2008 @ 4:33 PM PST

As a cpanel host, I agree: cPanel can be problematic, many of the features are disintegrated, and it requires A LOT of babying and upkeep. Despite that, it's incredibly popular because cPanel hosting licenses are very cheap (compared to say, Plesk). I'm glad you like your VPS -- there's nothing wrong with VPS hosting, even if it's on a shared machine. More and more Fortune 500 companies are virtualizing their various processes for exactly the same reasons you described.

Excellent post! And kudos to you on your VPS choice!

Kind regards, Martin Key

Quoth Stephan on March 17, 2008 @ 7:15 AM PDT

Amazing to see this. I had completely rude and harassing service from Martin from Zyon ( ). Individually, his service was the rudest I have ever had from a host. Moverover, his company gave me false information and refused to give details about the company. I am reporting them to the Arizona Better Business and PayPal. Avoid the company.

Chris @ Shared Hosting
Quoth Chris @ Shared Hosting on August 26, 2008 @ 2:58 AM PDT

Cpanel has some fantastic little gizmos, but it is in drastic need of a makeover.

I agree with Jason the squirrelmail is pretty damn ugly, but at least there are other options.

Quoth nobleflash on December 23, 2008 @ 4:43 PM PST

I also have switch to VPS. Now i am using Centos+webmin, but still dun know how to setup for the mail server..

Quoth jesse on December 13, 2010 @ 3:43 PM PST

Im not a fan of cPanel, I'm not sure why exactly but I never did like it. I do like Plesk, though some things I find a little annoying. I switched to a VPS and it's awesome. I had to go with managed because I've screwed up a lot of VPS's on my own when trying to do it all through SSH, but I've gotten pretty far, it's no easy task :P

Quoth Hosthater on December 27, 2011 @ 11:16 PM PST

Boycott the panel join us