8 Little Known Open Source Web Hosting Control Panels

Shared hosting plan users don't get a choice of web hosting control panel. However, there are many options once you graduate to more advanced hosting plans. cPanel and Plesk may dominate the market, but these are expensive and may suit everyone's taste.

Consider one of the open-source options if you're looking for a web hosting control panel for your VPS or Cloud hosting plan. These are often free and allow much leeway in customization and fine-tuning.

1. Ajenti

Ajenti is the popular lightweight control panel among developers (Source: Ajenti)

Ajenti is known to be a lightweight yet powerful control panel for enterprise-based Linux servers. Requiring only 75MB storage and around 35MB RAM, both automatic and manual installations are available. Platforms supported are Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL, CentOS, Gentoo, and others. 

You can also easily port Ajenti to other Linux and BSD platforms too. While the backend is on Python 2.7/3.4, the front runs on JavaScript, ES6, or CoffeeScript. 

Why Ajenti?

Installation is straightforward and thoroughly documented; you do it once only, and you do not need to google for PuTTY downloads again. Ajenti allows you to access your servers anytime, from anywhere. Several pre-installed tools include the web terminal, text editor, file manager, and others. 

You can use the plugins available to extend system and software configuration for added functions. Ajenti preserves your existing configurations, so you know where you're at. Also, it is extensible via Python and JavaScript. There are feature-rich APIs that enable you to create plugins fast and easily. 

There are four core Ajenti products:

  • Ajenti 2 (lightweight admin panel for quicker remote access)
  • Ajenti Core (framework for building web interfaces)
  • Ajenti 1.x (server admin panel)
  • Ajenti V (plugin suite for Ajenti 1.x for web hosting capabilities) 

2. Virtualmin

Based on Webmin, Virtualmin is a comprehensive web hosting control panel (Source: Virtualmin).

Virtualmin is another powerful web hosting control panel for Linux and BSD systems with more than 150,000 users worldwide. Virtualmin has an open-source version (Virtualmin GPL) and two paid options (Virtualmin Professional and Cloudmin Professional). 

Consider the paid options if your website demands critical resources and requires multiple extensions and functions.

Why Virtualmin?

The Virtualmin GPL has roots in Webmin, a highly-popular Linux/ Unix system management user interface. It provides a range of useful productivity-enhancing functions and comes with comprehensive documentation for easy referencing. 

Equipped with flexible domain accounts management capability, you can delegate the management of your DNS, web applications, databases, emails, and more to your users. Virtualmin provides powerful web-based mail clients, including Usermin, with Virtualmin integration, RoundCube, and Squirrelmail.

Virtualmin even supports reseller accounts management, but this is only available if you opt for the paid version (Virtualmin Professional). Supporting multiple PHP versions, you also get Amazon S3 and Rackspace cloud storage with easy backup management. 

Virtualmin rides on Webmin's Two Factor Authentication (2FA) and Let's Encrypt support. There are alerts, notifications, graphs, and logs to furnish you with the necessary valuable insights. Virtualmin GPL provides five installable scripts (WordPress, RoundCube, phpMyAdmin, phpPgAdmin, and WHMCS). Not bad for a free web hosting control panel.

3. Sentora

Sentora impresses with its modular approach (Source: Sentora). 

Sentora is another open-source web hosting control panel developed and maintained by the original members of the ZPanel team. Licensed under GPLv3, Sentora works on Linux distributions (Linux, Unix, and BSD-based servers). They removed Windows support. 

Sentora is built on PHP and supports out-of-the-box software packages, including Apache HTTPd, MySQL/MariaDB, ProFTPd, Postfix, and Dovecot.

Why Sentora?

There are easy-to-use installation scripts that help you get Sentora up and running fast. Because Sentora is under the GPLv3 license, not only is it free, but you can extend and share it as well. Their APIs facilitate third-party applications integrations, and their ‘app store' contains modules where you can extend extra features. 

Sentora supports reseller accounts. The multiple clients' management determines each client's login criteria and quotas for each account. They have a template system that allows you to custom-brand your control panel; this is especially useful for resellers. Sentora's documentation is comprehensive enough to help you with any queries. 

You can also check out their community support forum. However, if you require more premium quality support, you can pay a minimal monthly subscription for quicker response from their support and development team. Sentora is meant more for SMEs looking for a cost-effective yet highly-functional control panel. 

4. Aapanel

Aapanel is an excellent free option for unlimited domains (Source: Aapanel).

There are over 3.6 million Aapanel users worldwide, proving its reliability and usability. Their latest aaPanel 6.8.26 version supports over 100 functions, including one-click LEMP/LNMP/monitor/FTP/database.

Supporting Linux servers, Aapanel comes in both free and paid versions. If you need to use their professional plugins, you'll have to go for the paid versions.

Why Aapanel?

The installation is super easy and within two minutes. You can then manage your server via a straightforward and clean interface, removing command line usage. There is a Domain Manager that allows you to manage unlimited domains via one interface. Also, create websites with flexible configurations, bind domain names, and more through Aapanel. 

You can check your resource utilization in real-time to manage better load capacity. Also, add reverse proxies and use their logs for easy troubleshooting purposes. The Database Manager makes for complete management of all your databases in one place. Create, configure, back up, and restore your databases promptly. 

Use their File Manager to upload, download, package, and decompress files. Also, view and edit your files at a glance. You can peruse Aapanel's app store to install third-party plugins and manage all your software installations via this interface. Aapanel offers a one-click inspection of 16 server security risks, firewalls, and more. Also, you get unlimited SSL certificates.

5. VestaCP

VestaCP leverages Softaculous, an auto installer (Source: VestaCP).

VestaCP shines as a web hosting control panel through its Softaculous auto-installer. Based on the GNU General Public License V3, it is not only free, but also you can modify and redistribute it. There are commercial plugins available that, of course, require a fee to use. 

Although not as lightweight as Ajenti, VestaCP still manages to be speedy and even provides keyboard shortcuts. The control panel can run on Debian, Ubuntu, and Centos/RHEL. 

Why VestaCP?

The installation (via Softaculous) requires a click, which is super straightforward. Hence, you can perform future upgrades, clone installations, import, backup, and restore via a click. Also, extend your functions to over 439 apps, including Nibble Blog, WordPress, OpenCart, PHPBB, PrestaShop, and Joomla.

There's also Nginx + PHP FPM and advanced caching, which help with speeds. The web interface is on PHP and JavaScript. It is clean and nothing out of the ordinary, yet complete with the necessary features to help manage your hosting.

Developers get a lot of control thanks to its support for over 381 commands available via console. They emphasize security with a built-in firewall loaded with enterprise-security features – smart filters to ban any suspicious incoming IP addresses. VestaCP utilizes Linux passwords that rely on the Linux PAM authentication mechanism (SHA512 hashing algorithm) for higher security. 

You get a comprehensive backup system that you have control over. By default, you get three backups created by Cron Job each night. Additionally, website analytics give valuable insights into your visitors and their behaviors (number of visits, origins, visit duration, and more). Overall, VestaCP is seamless to use for newbies.

VestaCP supports 26 languages, including French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, and Japanese. Hence, no worries about global use.

6. Froxlor

Froxlor is geared more toward those more tech-savvy (Source: Froxlor).

Under the GPL license, Froxlor is another lightweight control panel developed by a team of Germans. 19,682 websites currently run Froxlor, most of them in Germany. Written in PHP, Froxlor does well in creating and managing Ubuntu, CentOS, and Linux-based servers. 

Although many believe that Froxlor is more for ISPs, it can also be used by businesses that require fast deployment. 

Why Froxlor?

Installation is straightforward, and the dashboard sports a structured and systematic approach which is good. You see everything upfront at a glance and easily manage domains/subdomains, IPs and ports, emails, databases, and more. Froxlor is one control panel that gives you a lot of control. After all, it is your web hosting. 

You can configure the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses accordingly for each domain with respective ports. You also have the flexibility to use different PHP configurations for each domain. Determine the ports that use SSL and control the SSL certificates per domain. They use Let's Encrypt free certificates.

Froxlor supports resellers and customers' accounts. You determine the resellers' and customers' access and privileges. Also, they provide APIs for you to customize and extend the functions of your hosting. Froxlor allows you to create your own branded control panel by creating your theme. Interactive graphs on HTTP, FTP, and mail traffic are also available. 

However, their documentation is lackluster; this is a huge turn-off, especially when this is an open-source tool where documentation is essential. That said, those with mad tech skills could find Froxlor enticing.

7. Cyberpanel

CyberPanel makes for fast WordPress site deployment on the Cloud. (Source: CyberPanel

CyberPanel, an open-source web hosting control panel for OpenLiteSpeed and LiteSpeed Enterprise servers, comes with a one-click WordPress cloud installer. To date, there are over 18,000 CyberPanel users. Their CyberPanel Cloud makes managing your servers on the Cloud easy from a single Dashboard. 

CyberPanel itself is free. However, there are chargeable premium add-ons. There is a 7-days free trial for each add-on plan. 

Why CyberPanel?

Deploy your websites quickly on the Cloud through a one-click installation. You can install, remove, back up, and manage your website from one interface. The File Manager enables you to edit, compress, decompress, upload, and download files; it comes with a code editor. You can track and monitor your resource usage from the dashboard.

WordPress Manager is for you to manage your WordPress sites on the Cloud. However, this module is chargeable and is popular, as each WordPress site deployed through the WordPress Manager comes with the LSCache plugin pre-installed; this translates into speedy websites. Also, it extends the backup function to the database or data level.

CyberPanel also comes with ModSecurity, a web application firewall. They offer Let's Encrypt certificates and automatically renew them for you. Use their one-click installers to install other applications on your server (WordPress, Mautic, Joomla, Drupal, and more). 

8. Easy Hosting Control Panel (EHCP) 

EHCP is a basic yet powerful enough web hosting control panel (Source: EHCP).

EHCP (Easy Hosting Control Panel) is an open-source control panel based on the GPL license. Based on PHP, it has garnered more than 64,000 downloads to date. As such, you can modify it for any purpose. Supporting Ubuntu, Debian, and Debian-based Linux, EHCP also comes in the professional version, which is chargeable.

Hence, consider the professional version if you require more features and modules. EHCP offers free and premium support, with the latter for a price. 

Why EHCP?

Installation is straightforward via easy-Install scripts. There is a one-click installer for WordPress. Although the interface is dated, EHCP provides the functions you need to manage your websites, FTP accounts, domains, subdomains, DNS, emails, and more. EHCP supports resellers and users via a single dashboard. 

You configure different menus for four types of users – server admin, reseller, domain admin, and email user. Manage each domain through passwords. EHCP adapts to languages which makes it easy for global adoption. It is also object-oriented and modular. Hence, you can easily extend the functions via Ubuntu's apt-get command. Explore the templates for further customization. 

EHCP supports SSL certificates, a basic security need for all websites. Also, you can check out the resource data statistics to help you better understand your server's health. 

Wrapping Up

The shift to the web is undeniable, especially in this flourishing digital age. Many leverage websites to increase their reach, and all websites require web hosting. Control panels tag along with web hosting plans like Batman and Robin. 

Any website that grows past the early stages will need an affordable and reliable web hosting control panel. cPanel is powerful, but its constant price hikes hit website owners where it hurts. Feel free to check out the above list of little-known open-source web hosting control panels for an alternative; you may find one that pleases you.

Read More

Photo of author

Article by Timothy Shim