About advanced ISPConfig installs that cannot be done with autoinstaller

Discussion in 'Installation/Configuration' started by dfumagalli, Mar 17, 2023.

  1. dfumagalli

    dfumagalli Member

    Please don't stop updating the Perfect Server "manual" Howtos.
    We need to install at-rest database encryption, various volumes and other stuff that simply cannot be done with the auto-installer.
    We install multi-server setups too and I've noticed even those have been converted to auto-installer so we cannot use them any more.
    We don't mind paying for another PDF manual (we purchased them for years) that is updated.
    As of now, we are doing some mix-and-match with ancient multi-server instructions (Debian 6-8!!!!) and more recent single server (Ubuntu 20.04) but stuff keeps changing and we'd rather follow a precise setup than "inventing" commands that could lead to an unstable set-up.
    Taleman likes this.
  2. ahrasis

    ahrasis Well-Known Member HowtoForge Supporter

    Perfect Server Tutorials are there to help though they may not be the latest but almost. You can still use them as guides without waiting for the up-to-date manual.
  3. dfumagalli

    dfumagalli Member

    That's not my point.
    We can install new Ubuntu servers with special requirements (Key vault encrypted Percona MySQL clusters etc.) only because, over the years, we have written extensive internal guides.

    However, if someone with fewer "years under the belt" needs to install ISPConfig with something non-standard, he'll be really stuck, even purchasing the PDF manual.

    It's one thing to use it and the website old tutorials as a guide, but when you begin having to:
    - Set up different MySQL parameters (i.e. MaxFiles) that are only present here,
    - Set up for PHP 8.2 and no guide tells how to find replacement mods for those removed from PHP 7.4.
    - Get crazy finding out how to merge NN versions of RoundCube install instructions.
    - Find out why PhpMyAdmin spits blank pages and / or huge numbers of errors.
    - Smash your head on the wall because you have several different Postfix and Dovecot sets ups spread around the website and the PDF manual.

    and much more,

    then you begin missing a more updated "Perfect server" install guide. Or an updated multiserver guide.

    Having neither is really going to turn off potential ISPConfig adopters.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2023
  4. Taleman

    Taleman Well-Known Member HowtoForge Supporter

    There is also the case of updating the OS. After the OS got upgraded to next release, admin was supposed to follow the perfect server guide for the new OS to get configurations and installed packages correct. Now that perfect server guide for Debian 11 and Ubuntu 22.04 does not exist, this does not work.
    For dist upgrade Debian 10 to 11, there is https://www.howtoforge.com/update-the-ispconfig-perfect-server-from-debian-10-to-debian-11/ so similar guide for Ubuntu 22.04 is needed.
  5. ahrasis

    ahrasis Well-Known Member HowtoForge Supporter

    Indeed, because non-standard was never covered in the first place, so I don't understand what you really want.

    Perhaps the latest Perfect Server Tutorial? That will of course very much depends on @till the writer himself. Others can write as well but that is his copyright, so I am not sure one should wait since as an alternative the Auto Installer tutorial is also there to help, which you seems very unhappy about.

    To me the obvious, if not the best, is to follow the common standard here. However, that does not mean advanced users cannot install / modify ISPConfig setup to any others of his likings.

    For instance, you can still setup ISPConfig with nginx web server on Ubuntu 22.04 with no tutorial for it, nor for Ubuntu 20.04, but with very minor adjustments from old Perfect Server Tutorial 18.04 because it will still work fine.

    I upgraded to Ubuntu 22.04 and it works for me.
  6. dfumagalli

    dfumagalli Member

    You can easily "pull-out" a portion of a full setup instructions written in text and replace it with your own advanced setup. For example I can follow a "Perfect xyz server" and replace MariaDB with Percona. It's just a couple of steps and Percona's instructions neatly suffice.

    Now, compare it with a canned procedure where all you are told is: "download the installer on quasi-bare metal and start it".
    But this is not the worst part. The worst is that this isn't just not written in text. It's executed. You cannot tell the auto-installer: "hey, stop here, I plug in my Percona setup in place of yours and then go ahead with the next install tasks". Something you can effectively and easily do when following written instructions.

    The result is and highly standardized basic system. Which, for sure, has many positives but it becomes unusable as soon as you have to steer a tiny bit from it.

    Yes, the "it works for me" is good for you. I had to upgrade 70 servers by hand, from 14.04 - 18.04 to 22.04.
    Guess how many "worked for me"?
    2. Two.

    All the others, including some 20.04, broke down PhpMyadmin (had to go debug mode, find out the errors, alter PhpMyadmin source code) and/or broke down RoundCube (which loves to explode in flames, especially if you had to install a theme or add-ons) and/or broke down Postfix/Dovecot, for which, sometimes I'd rather cut my fingers than to fix some exotic errors they can spew out.

    But - and here comes the cold truth - ISPConfig exists because less experienced admins cannot do that by themselves.

    You, I and others senior colleagues of mine can do that. Having written instructions gently taught us about the various "gears in motion". We had steps to check and - if one broke - we could go look for Server Fault dot com or AskUbuntu about *those* steps.

    Not so when the instructions are about "have a fresh server, press the button and wait".

    ISPConfig detailed instructions exist for everyone else. Those who can admin a system, who can customize some bits (change MySQL engine, web server, install a GlusterFS and have some ISPConfig vhosts run over it) but aren't ultra-senior.
    Those guys are going to miss a nice Perfect Server Setup of old. They won't "learn by doing" because an obscure installer is going to take over. They won't even be able to customize the installation procedure even if they "learned already". Because, unless I missed some last development, the automated setup does not come with "pluggable install-beans" where you can replace a setup step with a 3rd party one.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2023
  7. ahrasis

    ahrasis Well-Known Member HowtoForge Supporter

    I am not worried about web apps like RC and PMA that much but if you are a concerned admin, you shouldn't wait that long to upgrade from one version to another because a lot changed during that waiting period, and of course, that is up to you.

    I cannot comment much on mail server because I am yet to run my own and merely am using relay, similarly about dns server, because current preference is to use public server (CF), however, I do think they are not much of a hassle as well in OS upgrade as well.
    dfumagalli likes this.
  8. till

    till Super Moderator Staff Member ISPConfig Developer

    That's why we created the auto-installer instead of the old manual install guides, as too many users complained that they did not want a guide where they have to run each command manually. And yes, it might be that I will write a manual guide again in future if I find some free time to do so.

    If you want to create a multiserver setup, then you can find the installation guide here:


    Besides that, we do not support custom setups and never did. If you do not want a standard setup, you'll have to write and update your install instructions anyway. And regarding your update issues, I dist upgrade my Debian ISPConfig setups /which are standard setups) for many years, some starting at Debian 5, without any major issues. And when you update 70 systems, then you should know after you updated and fixed the first one which additional steps are required to upgrade your custom setup.
    Th0m likes this.

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