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Software to coordinate management of domains

Discussion in 'Database Discussions' started by markwelch, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. markwelch

    markwelch Registered

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    I'm trying to find a control panel or script solution that would simplify the management of domains, and adding new domains, into a multi-domain hosting account.

    Several folks have pointed to cPanel and WHM (one wrote this morning that WHM would absolutely solve my problem), but I've used cPanel in the past and this morning I spent 20 minutes combing through the (poor) documentation here and I cannot see anything in the WHM documentation that suggests that it has these features.

    The issue: I own about 50 domains, and I would like to add more, but I am no longer willing to invest so much time to "setting up and configuring domains" within the control panels I've used. Generally, adding a domain requires several distinct steps (not counting domain registration and configuration of nameservers at my domain registrat), followed by several additional distinct steps to configure email for each domain.

    There are tens of thousand of people like me who manage many domains, who would very much prefer to have a tool that would "align" or "sync" all the domain configuration settings (either for ALL domains in my account, or for named groups of domains). I'm also concerned about all the "special extra steps" required to enable commonly-desired features across multiple domains (for example, enabling inbound catchalls and forwarding, and disabling all outbound email from domains).

    I'm focusing right now on the software interface for managing multiple domains. If I add 20 domains next week, I don't want to be forced to walk through the same "simple yet not idiot-proof" 12-step process (where a mistake may be difficult to diagnose) to set up the domain, and then another 8 steps to configure email (catch-alls, forwarding to my primary domain).

    My domain-name registry provides easy ways to perform multiple actions on many domains; yesterday, I just checked about 3 dozen domain names in my list and clicked 'nameservers,' and immediately updated the DNS for 3 dozen of my domains (adding two extra nameservers to the existing two for each). Likewise, I can click and renew a bunch of domains at once. The registrars recognize that we want to manage a bunch of domains together, and not walk through the same series of manual steps again and again.

    Surely there's a control panel or proprietary solution that provides this for domain management within the hosting environment (whether that's shared hosting, VPS, or dedicated server).

    I suspect that there is software out there to do this, but I just don't know the right "buzzword" or jargon to search for.
     
  2. cPanelDavidG

    cPanelDavidG Technical Product Specialist

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    This is the cPanel community forums. This is where system administrators share ideas and practices for maintaining cPanel/WHM servers, as a result you likely wouldn't find much formal documentation here. I recommend going to DocsIntro < AllDocumentation < TWiki if you're looking for formal documentation.

    You mention having to do complete many steps to accomplish a task, but you haven't fully mentioned what the task is. Are you just looking to have many domains point to the same site? Can you elaborate?

    Feel welcome to continue this conversation via sales@cpanel.net for faster responses.
     
  3. markwelch

    markwelch Registered

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    I've been there. I can't find what I'm looking for.

    The "task" is simply setting up the domains, each of which points to a subdirectory -- exactly the way it's always done (under some systems, there's a directory for a "primary domain" and then all the other domains are treated as "add-on domains" which are subdirectories of the primary domain, an arrangement I don't like; under my current host, each domain is in a subdirectory under /home/webadmin/ and has an html subdirectory which is where apache retrieves pages.

    I haven't created a list of the exact steps (nor a list of the many mistakes that I've made while following these steps at different hosts), but they include:
    - Add the domain into the account interface (enable DNS);
    - switch to the 'site' tab and "add domain" again (which I assume creates the subdirectory and configures apache for it);
    - navigate through a series of steps to enable email;
    - more steps to set up catchall and forwarding (so that all incoming email directed to {domain}.com is forwarded to an address (for example, {domain}@{primary-domain}.com).

    I've learned and re-learned a half-dozen different interfaces; all require many steps, and all provide multiple opportunities for mistakes (often there is a 'wrong' default setting that I must change over and over and over).
     
  4. cPanelDavidG

    cPanelDavidG Technical Product Specialist

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    In cPanel/WHM, you can set up Addon Domains that point to any directory on the cPanel user's account. They do not need to be subdirectories of the primary domain. When the directory you want the Addon Domain to have its content served from does not exist, it will automatically be created. cPanel/WHM handles all the necessary DNS and Apache settings for you.

    Email is already enabled by default for all domains and accounts on a cPanel server. What you can do is set up a Domain Email Forwarder that points to a single address. This will act as a catch-all and direct all email to a specific email address.

    There was a recent bug where the cPanel interface would not let you enter an email address as the destination of a Domain Email Forwarder. The fix for this issue is currently propagating.

    While this is just 2 steps, if you are doing this for thousands of domains and you are comfortable with programming in a language such as PHP, you may wish to consider using our APIs to automate these tasks. While third-party utilities exist for mass adding of Addon Domains, I am not aware of a utility that will set up Domain Email Forwarding for many domains simultaneously.

    You mentioned disabling outbound mail from these additional domains. On a cPanel/WHM server, there are 2 ways of sending mail: 1) having an email account and using that account to send email and 2) having a script send email.

    Do you intend to allow any web-based scripts to send email from the server? If not, then you can have PHP and CGI scripts run as they would on a default cPanel/WHM installation (no SuPHP, no SuExec, running as user nobody) and just enable the following setting in WHM -> Server Configuration -> Tweak Settings:

    For additional protection, I recommend you go to WHM -> Security -> Security Center -> SMTP Tweak and enable the SMTP Tweak. This will prevent someone from trying to upload their own MTA to your server and try to send spam from your server.
     
  5. Spiral

    Spiral BANNED

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    Sounds like you are wanting "Parked" domains!

    In Cpanel, "Add-On" domains allows you to setup additional domain names
    under the same hosting account but setup in it's own sub-folder on the
    account and separate FTP login so you can run a distinctly separate site
    from the main domain on the account. There is also a "subdomain" feature
    which works much the same but sets up subdomains instead of domains.

    A "Parked" domain on the other hand allows you to add additional domains
    to the same web site and you can use any of the domains you "park" to
    bring up the same web site. Updating anything on the site, updates for
    all domains as they basically act as alternate names for the same site.

    Now regarding your mentioning WHM, that is used for managing the server
    itself and for creating multiple (totally separate) hosting accounts on the
    server where as Cpanel is for managing individual accounts. The above
    mentioned "Add-On", "Subdomain" and "Parked" domain features in Cpanel
    are methods of adding additional addresses to the same hosting account
    which may or may not point to the same content on the account.

    Regarding managing DNS, Cpanel can do everything for you handling and
    updating DNS records and managing ZONE files and most everything is done
    for you completely automatic when you add or delete domains, setup, edit,
    or delete hosting accounts, etc. The only thing you would need to do
    outside of your Cpanel server is simply change the DNS servers on the
    domains at the registrar to be managed by your server. Once that is done
    and only done once, all DNS is automatically handled from your server.

    If you find you do the same setup routine such as adding a domain,
    setting up a default catch all, maybe adding specialized custom DNS entries,
    adding the same files to accounts, or whatever out of the ordinary but
    repeated often, you can very easily utilize the many hooks and API functions
    put in place in the Cpanel/WHM software to script those activities so that
    all your repeated routine steps in what you do are reduced to a single
    automated process. This is actually quite simple to setup.

    But generally to answer your question, yes Cpanel and WHM will do everything
    you asked about and then some. It's designed as a complete management
    system for managing all your domains and web hosting accounts along with
    the server applications that those domains run under.
     
    #5 Spiral, Jul 17, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2009
  6. markwelch

    markwelch Registered

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    Not parked domains

    NO, I am not seeking to set up "parked" domains. I am seeking a way to more easily host multiple active domains, each with different content pages, but all configured in exactly the same way.

    Several cPanel and WHM users have contacted me today, making clear that these products will definitely NOT meet my needs -- there are still a series of steps to take for each domain separately.

    I'm sure that the API could meet my needs, if I could find a programmer familiar with it to do the work. Unfortuntely, I've had very, very, very bad experiences with developers over the past 3 years, and I cannot imagine how I would identify and select a programmer to do this task.
     
    #6 markwelch, Jul 17, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2009
  7. Spiral

    Spiral BANNED

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    Ok, not exactly the same site. There is still about a dozen ways to do this including as I just said parked domains (I can show you how to get sites to self evolve dynamically depending on the URL used to connect).

    No offense meant to these users but they don't have a clue what they are talking about. Cpanel will do everything you ask and then some and there are many different ways of going about specifically what you ask.

    The only thing you cannot get around and you will have this no matter what you do is setting up the authoritive DNS server to use at the registrar because this can only be done where your domain was purchased but aside from that, you can completely automate everything so that you can setup new accounts in literally seconds perhaps down to a single step with a few mouse clicks with Cpanel. You can even have multiple accounts built automatically from a list of domains names or database.

    I am a programmer but you don't need a programmer! Most everything you ask for you can actually do without any coding just from cpanel alone without any scripts or addons or anything just from the built in feature already at hand to automate account setups such as features, account packages, zone templates, and skeleton directories!

    I seem to understand better about what you are asking specifically than most but then I've also done everything imaginable with Cpanel and know how everything operates intimately both on the front and behind the scenes so I know how to do things easily many things other people might say can't be done. If you want to take it to the extreme so even the accounts set themselves up automatically, you would need a little scripting but not much.

    Really you have no need for a programmer as that is something you could probably shell script yourself in just a few minutes even if you aren't well versed in programming but if you really need outside help, just contact me and I can certainly give you a helping had with that.
     
    #7 Spiral, Jul 18, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  8. Doug E

    Doug E Well-Known Member

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    I've got a few hundred domains, most of them on cpanel. I have no problems adding a few every month but I didn't read exactly what you need though it seemed to me the basic stuff made to sound more complicated. I'm going to guess whatever you currently use is some in-house, custom hosting providers software.

    What I recommend is taking some of that big ballin money you make from all 50 of your domains, rent a $7.95 hostgator account which comes with cpanel as a control panel, and try out the domain adding feature.

    I read whatever you use to manage your domains with currently is a 12+8 step process. With Cpanel you cant mass import a list of domains in one step, but the process for each one is easy enough and consists of entering the domain name, then copy pasting your password twice, clicking Add Domain! and it configures your ftp, mail and all that automatically based on your account settings which are preset by you and affect all domains.

    Take my advice, break the bank, spend 8 bucks testing out a hostgator cpanel setup for the basic feel. I could be mistaken, but they only allow reseller access. But that will be enough to show you how to add your domains and how you would manage them.
     
  9. cPanelDavidG

    cPanelDavidG Technical Product Specialist

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    Ah, so not add-on domains either. Actually, it's much easier to automate the creation of full hosting accounts than mere add-on/parked domains.

    You could use Packages and Feature Lists to handle the standardization of disk quotas, available features etc.

    Anything else that needed automatic configuration (e.g. Domain Email Forwarders), could be accomplished via building a shell script called /scripts/postwwwacct

    Can you elaborate on the steps that would still need to be taken manually? There may be WHM settings that eliminate the need for some manual steps.
     
  10. markwelch

    markwelch Registered

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    > "What I recommend is taking some of that big ballin money you make from all 50 of your domains, rent a $7.95 hostgator account which comes with cpanel as a control panel, and try out the domain adding feature." <

    I think that's a fantastic idea. In fact, it's such a good idea that I travelled back in time to try it out last week.

    I posted this thread AFTER signing up for a HostGator account and learning that I would need to walk through a series of steps to set up each domain individually. The steps seemed quite similar to the sequence I currently use; ultimately I felt that it made no sense to learn a new complex series of steps instead of continuing to use the current complex series of steps. I called and spoke with HostGator, and they acknowledged that setting up each domain would require a series of steps -- and in addition, they would need to manually adjust the default settings in the account (for example, to enable catchalls).

    I appreciate that some folks seem to believe that cPanel and WHM make this really easy. Unfortunately, I do not want to create separate accounts for each domain (which is apparently what WHM does), and I would prefer not to structure domains as "add-ons" (with public directory and subdomain alternatives).

    It appears that there is no multi-domain hosting solution that would allow for easy configuration of multiple domains; I'll stick with the service I have, and for now I will not bother adding any new domains.
     
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