These days, front end web developers aren’t limited to building websites, from the ground up. Many times, the projects they work on are building themes, plugins, extensions and etc, for existing web platforms.

I think building on an existing web platform, offers a couple big benefits, over building a website from the ground up. For me, the biggest benefit is a dedicated team, focused on continued development and support of the platform’s core. The second biggest benefit is the active community, helping with bugs and support.

When core development, major bugs and system support is taken off your plate, more time can be spent focusing on user experience and the overall design. There are always exceptions, of course. Creating a solid user experience and a cool design will likely lead to some support and re-development, but of a much smaller, piece of the whole website.

So, as a front end web developer and designer, how do you facilitate a hosting environment, which makes efficient use of your development and design time?

The answer to your question is Virtualmin and the Virtualmin install scripts.

Virtualmin is a powerful and flexible web hosting control panel for Linux and UNIX systems based on the well-known Open Source web-based systems management GUI, Webmin. Manage your virtual domains, mailboxes, databases, applications, and the entire server, from one comprehensive and friendly interface. –

Virtualmin install scripts significantly shorten installation and configuration time, of many open source, web platforms. The web platforms can be installed, updated, managed and deleted, all within a single administration interface. Many web platforms can be installed and ready to use, in a matter of seconds, depending on internet speed.

This idea sounded appealing to me, many years ago, and if I’m right, I bet it is starting to sound appealing to you, now.

Take a look at all the web platforms available as a Virtualmin install script.

  1. Blog
    • b2evolution – A multilingual multiuser multi-blog engine.
    • Mephisto – Mephisto is a blog engine with some simple CMS-ish concepts (sections, pages) and a very flexible templating system.
    • Movable Type – The Movable Type platform makes it easy for you to both author content and interact with your community of readers.
    • Nucleus – Maintains multiple weblogs.
    • Textpattern – A free, flexible, elegant, easy-to-use content management system for all kinds of websites, even weblogs.
    • Typo – Typo is a lean engine that makes blogging easy.
    • WordPress – A semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.
  2. Calendar
    • EGroupware – EGroupware is a enterprise ready groupware software for your network.
    • PHP-Calendar – A web-based calendar and event scheduled written in PHP.
    • phpScheduleIt – A web-based resource scheduling system that allows administered management of reservations on any number of resources, such as conference rooms.
    • Plans – Plans lets you put calendars on the web.
    • WebCalendar – A PHP application used to maintain a calendar for one or more persons and for a variety of purposes.
  3. Commerce
    • Autoload – Autoload is osCommerce with everything you need added for running an online storefront.
    • Dolibarr – Dolibarr ERP/CRM is a powerful Open Source software to manage a professional or foundation activity (small and medium enterprises, freelancers).
    • Magento – Magento is a new professional open-source eCommerce solution offering unprecedented flexibility and control.
    • OpenX – OpenX is an open-source ad server, with an integrated banner management interface and tracking system for gathering statistics.
    • osCommerce – osCommerce is the leading Open Source online shop e-commerce solution.
    • PHPCoin – The phpCOIN (Clients, Order, Invoices, and Notes) package was designed for small to medium sized webhosting resellers.
    • Simple Invoices – Simple Invoices is a simple, community developed, free/open source, web-based invoicing system.
    • SugarCRM – A powerful open-source package for managing customer relationships.
    • Vtiger CRM – A free, full-featured, 100% Open Source CRM software ideal for small and medium businesses
    • WHMCS – WHMCS is an all-in-one client management, billing & support solution for online businesses.
    • ZenCart – Zen Cart is a free, user-friendly, open source shopping cart system.
  4. Community
    • AROUNDMe – AROUNDMe is the perfect solution for community builders wishing to bring together multiple mutual interest groups within a shared knowledge network.
    • bbPress – bbPress is forum software with a twist from the creators of WordPress.
    • CivicSpace – CivicSpace is a free open-source software platform for grassroots organizing and civic activity.
    • Drupal – A full-featured content management/discussion engine suitable to setup a news-driven community or portal site.
    • IntegraMOD – IntegraMOD is a pre-modded version of phpBB with great modifications that are made compatible with each other.
    • phpBB – A high powered, fully scalable, and highly customizable Open Source bulletin board package.
    • Simple Machines Forum – Simple Machines Forum (SMF) is a free, professional grade software package that allows you to set up your own online community within minutes.
  5. Content Management System
    • CMS Made Simple – CMS Made Simple makes it easy to set up a site and then hand it over to non-techies to maintain.
    • Joomla – Joomla is a powerful Open Source Content Management System.
    • Mambo – Mambo is a powerful Open Source Content Management System.
    • Moodle – Moodle is a course management system (CMS) to help educators create effective online learning communities.
    • PHP-Nuke – A content management and portal solution featuring web-based administration, surveys, customizable blocks, modules and themes with multilanguage support.
    • phpWebSite – phpWebSite provides a complete web site content management system.
    • Radiant CMS – Radiant is a no-fluff, open source content management system designed for small teams.
    • Typo3 CMS – TYPO3 is a free Open Source content management system for enterprise purposes on the web and in intranets.
    • Xoops – XOOPS is an extensible, OO, easy to use dynamic web content management system written in PHP.
    • Zikula – Zikula is software that creates an impressive, dynamic web site and provides you with a site you can administer with a minimal amount of HTML knowledge.
  6. Database
    • DaDaBIK – DaDaBIK is a free PHP application that allows you to easily create a highly customizable front-end for a database in order to search, insert, update and delete records.
    • phpMyAdmin – A browser-based MySQL database management interface.
    • phpPgAdmin – A browser-based PostgreSQL database management interface.
  7. Development
    • Django – Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.
    • Ruby on Rails – An open-source web framework that’s optimized for programmer happiness and productivity.
  8. Email
    • cgiemail – The purpose of cgiemail is to take the input of WWW forms and convert it to an e-mail format defined by the author of the WWW form.
    • FormMail – FormMail is a generic HTML form to e-mail gateway that parses the results of any form and sends them to the specified users.
    • NMS::FormMail – NMS::FormMail is a generic HTML form to e-mail gateway that parses the results of any form and sends them to the specified users. It is a drop-in replacement for the older FormMail program.
    • phpLedMailer – phpLedMailer is a simple, cool, easy-to-use single-mailing-list application.
    • PHPList – PHPlist is a web application that implements a personalised mailing list manager or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
    • poMMo – poMMo is versatile mass mailing software. It can be used to add a mailing list to your Web site or to organize stand alone mailings.
    • RoundCube – RoundCube Webmail is a browser-based multilingual IMAP client with an application-like user interface.
    • SquirrelMail – SquirrelMail is a standards-based webmail package written in PHP.
    • Z-push – An implementation of Microsoft’s ActiveSync protocol which is used ‘over-the-air’ for multi platform active sync devices.
  9. Guestbook
    • Advanced Guestbook – Advanced Guestbook is a PHP-based guestbook script.
    • Guestbook – Firebook is a free guestbook software, which can be easily installed for your own homepage, and which will run stable, secure and efficiently.
  10. Helpdesk
    • FAQMasterFlex – This is a database-driven application for creating and maintaining Frequently Asked Questions.
    • Help Center Live – A problem reporting and help desk application.
    • PHP Support Tickets – A feature-rich PHP helpdesk.
    • phpMyFAQ – phpMyFAQ is an open source FAQ system using PHP.
  11. Horde
    • Chora – Chora is a Horde application for viewing code repositories that are managed using the CVS or Subversion source control systems.
    • Forwards – Forwards is a Horde module for setting user e-mail forwards with support for several popular mailers.
    • Gollem – Gollem is a web-based file manager, which is part of the Horde project.
    • Horde – Horde is a framework for PHP applications. It is typically used in conjunction with other scripts such as IMP (for webmail) and Kronolith (for calendars).
    • Horde Webmail – Horde Groupware Webmail Edition is a free, enterprise ready, browser based communication suite.
    • IMP – IMP is a PHP-based webmail system, which is part of the Horde project.
    • Ingo – Ingo is an email filter rules manager. It can generate Sieve and procmail scripts and upload them to the server.
    • Kronolith – Kronolith is a PHP-based calendaring system, which is part of the Horde project.
    • MIMP – MIMP is a webmail client for mobile devices, which is part of the Horde project.
    • Mnemo – Mnemo is the Horde notes and memos application. It lets users keep free-text notes and other bits of information which doesn’t fit as a contact, a todo item, an event, etc.
    • Nag – Nag is the Horde task list application. It stores todo items, things due later this week, etc.
    • Passwd – Passwd is the Horde password changing application.
    • Turba – Turba is the Horde contact management application. It is a production level address book, and makes heavy use of the Horde framework to provide integration with IMP and other Horde applications.
    • Vacation – Vacation is a Horde module for managing user e-mail vacation notices or auto-responders.
  12. Photos
    • Coppermine – Coppermine is a multi-purpose fully-featured and integrated web picture gallery script written in PHP.
    • Gallery – Gallery is a web based software product that lets you manage your photos.
    • Zenphoto – Zenphoto is an answer to lots of calls for an online gallery solution that just makes sense.
  13. Project Management
    • dotProject – An open source project management tool.
    • redmine – Redmine is a flexible project management web application.
  14. Survey
    • Advanced Poll – Advanced Poll is a polling system with powerful administration tool.
    • LimeSurvey – LimeSurvey is a set of PHP scripts that interact with MySQL to develop surveys, publish surveys and collect responses to surveys.
  15. Tracker
    • Bugzilla – Bugzilla is server software designed to help you manage software development.
    • Flyspray – Flyspray is an uncomplicated, web-based bug tracking system for assisting with software development.
    • Mantis – Mantis is a free popular web-based bugtracking system.
    • Trac – Enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects.
  16. Wiki
    • DokuWiki – DokuWiki is a standards compliant, simple to use Wiki, mainly aimed at creating documentation of any kind.
    • Foswiki – Foswiki is the free and open source enterprise collaboration platform, a fork of TWiki.
    • Instiki – Instiki is a wiki clone with strong focus on ease of installation and running.
    • MediaWiki – MediaWiki is a free Wiki software package, used to run WikiPedia.
    • MoinMoin – Advanced, easy to use and extensible WikiEngine with a large community of users.
    • Php-Wiki – A Php-WikiWeb is a web site where anyone can edit the pages through an HTML form.
    • TikiWiki – A full featured free software Wiki/CMS/Groupware written in PHP.
    • TWiki – TWiki is a flexible, powerful, and easy to use enterprise collaboration platform.
  17. Others
    • eTicket – eTicket is a widely-used open source support ticket system.
    • eXtplorer – eXtplorer is a web-based File Manager.
    • Feng Office – A full-featured content management/discussion engine suitable to setup a news-driven community or portal site.
    • osTicket – osTicket is a widely-used open source support ticket system.
    • Piwik – Piwik is an open source web analytics software. It gives interesting reports on your website visitors, your popular pages and more.
  18. More are added as the Virtualmin developers have time

Wow… that is some list. Is it all really that easy to set up, within Virtualmin?

I don’t need you to take my word for it, but you really should try it out. Don’t worry if you aren’t in the business of web hosting. Virtualmin is awesome as a development environment as well.

Virtualmin is not free, but it is very reasonably priced. Two of the main developers have helped me out, many times, over the years. They are passionate about their software and ensuring that it works correctly.

I’ve successfully used Virtualmin for several years and in that time I’ve only found one thing, I would consider a short-fall. Virtualmin and its built-in virtual web server system, doesn’t easily support web platforms requiring JDE or JRE (Java). This has never been a huge deal for me, because I’ve only had one client ever ask for it.