cPanel is clearly the leading control panel for server administration, resellers, and general website management. However, this software is not perfect, and its shortcomings may warrant users to seek alternatives. The two biggest drawbacks to cPanel is its status as a closed product that limits extendability and a license that is not very cost effective for smaller companies. If you find the limitations or costs of this award-winning control panel to be a bit much, here are some free alternatives that may pique your interests.
An open-source solution, Web-cp is a derivative of Web://cp and picks up right where that project left off. It utilizes a four layer module system that supports server, reseller, domain and email management, which is becoming standard functionality in many premium control panels. And just like the original project, Web-cp is written in the PHP language so it should not put much, if any, additional stress on the server. This control panel makes it a great option for the server that lacks power but still needs to run a great deal of add-on software components.
VHCS is another free open-source control panel that makes a viable alternative to cPanel. The feature list for this panel is impressive, consisting of support for server and domain management as well as extensive reseller capabilities. VHCS is compatible with a nice selection of Linux distributions, including Debian, CentOS, SUSE and Fedora. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this control panel is the fact that the software is written in a collection of compiled and interpreted languages, which gives it common capabilities and a little edge as well. Its graphical user interface is written in PHP for web page support, its back-end daemon is written in C, and the engine is written in Perl to enable streamlined system management. On the surface, VHCS seems to be a worthy free alternative to the mighty cPanel.
Webmin is a free control panel distributed under an open-source license. It is heavy on Perl programming and Spam Assassin in addition to several other applications one would expect from a good cPanel competitor. Webmin also has additional counterparts that are also free, most notably, Usermin and Virtualmin. Usermin is a more stripped down version that allows users to manage their webmail while Virtual Min, which comes in a free and paid version, is the control panel designed for resellers. Boasting robust features such as cluster server management, Webmin is currently one of the most popular free alternatives to cPanel.
When looking for a cPanel alternative, keep in mind that price is not necessarily the most important factor. Whether you are out for something that is open or closed source, the product should be easy to use, well supported, and most importantly, efficient for your needs. And while cPanel may not be able to suit every requirement, remember that it is number one for a reason.