Found a free server control panel called Vesta and its fork Hestia

Having been with ServerPilot for two years, I like its simplicity and support. However, there is one problem using ServerPilot with Linode or Ramnode VPS servers, that is, there is no mail service. This means you cannot create any email accounts on any site hosted.

Just two weeks ago, I found a lightweight and free server control panel called Vesta when I were considering to move sites to HostWinds managed VPS servers. After re-examining all the open source server panels such as CentOS Web Panel, Virtualmin Webmin, ISPconfig, etc. I found Vesta to be a better choice.

However, the custom installation of Vesta CP was not successful. Then I opened a support ticket with HostWinds Support desk, they did the custom installation for me. BTW, I find their support to be extremely fast.

After getting Vesta set up and working after some minor custom adjustments such as changing panel login port, switching from IP login to FQDN hostname login, using hostname’s SSL certificate for panel login, etc. the HostWinds Support team helped me to migrate all sites from Ramnode and Linode servers – this is truly the free migration service as they have promised.

Then I found Vesta control panel’s fork for Debian and Ubuntu OS called Hestia. Since I still had both Ramnode and Linode servers with me before the end of next payment, I played with this Hestia CP on both servers for Debian 9 fresh install with minimal upgrade. To my surprise, installations on both servers went really well – successful on the first install.

I even played with the possibility of backing up Vesta user account and restroing it at Hestia server. No problem either. And it has the following needed features in a fresh and default installation:

  • Additional button beside SSL and LetsEnscrypt to make quick HTTP to HTTPS redirect (it took me several days just trying to do this with Vesta).
  • Two factor authentication (2FA) for HestiaCP login
  • Hostname URL for HestiaCP login rather than an IP based URL
  • Working right after fresh install for admin login password reset email (for some reason I never got the server sent email working with the Vesta install)

While I wrote this, I heard from Hestia team that they are working on the next release, which will feature the following (not a complete list):

  • Improvements to the SSL layer and handling for web domains
  • DNS CAA support (Let’s Encrypt by default plus custom records)
  • SSL certificate support for all mail services at the domain level (with Let’s Encrypt support)
  • A refreshed user experience that streamlines the interface, improving the overall navigation and discovery of common items while remaining familiar to Vesta users
  • An updated file system layout for storing configuration files per-domain, to facilitate easier management through the console and when managing backups.
  • Many, many bug fixes.
  • Security fixes and improved out-of-the-box hardening.

When I became more confident with Hestia on Ramnode and Linode servers, I made the bold move – switching server control panel from Vesta to Hestia on a production server with Hostwinds last night. This means backuping everything and then doing fresh install of the Debian 9 OS and Vestia control panel. I did it manually without using a script. It took me two hours (meaning two hours server downtime) and it worked!

I will write up a tutorial showing how I did it step by step. Cheers!

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