Lightweight Nginx Control Panel?

Posted January 16, 2015 51.9k views

I’m new to DigitalOcean as of about 4-5 months ago, but I’ve really only configured the default setup (SSH, Wordpress, security, etc), and now need to move on. This is my first VPS setup, and I’ve thus far only used the command line.

I’m now to the point where I need to set up SSL, and some email accounts, and I feel like that may be a bit of a pain with just command line, though I don’t actually know. Here’s what I need / care about:

-Set up multiple email addresses for 2-3 domains.
-Forward email from those addresses to my primary gmail address.
-Does a lightweight panel effect performance (site load times mostly) on low / mid traffic websites? (Especially on a highly optimized, lightweight Wordpress site)
-Set up SSL for domain(s).

That’s roughly all I need to do now, but I have ZERO experience doing those things via command line, without a control panel (my history consists of cpanel and Hostgator up until now). Performance is important to me, but I’m not going to flip out over 5%~ or less impact for convenience. I’m just wondering if a lightweight panel is right for the above tasks (and future general use), or if I should stick with the command line (while I respect the simplicity, I don’t share the elitist mindset that comes with 100% command line, so keep that in mind). If I do add a panel, what’s a great option for a LEMP setup?

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6 answers

Checkout Vesta Control panel it’s free and they use nginx out of the box. The only problem you are going to have with any control panel is that you cannot install it on top of the server you already have running. It would need to be a fresh droplet with nothing but the OS.

You can always install cpanel if that’s what you are familiar with. In my experience control panels do not affect performance very much. I have a $10 droplet running Cpanel and about 15 of my client’s website. But I also have nginx running as proxy server, varnish for my cache, and mod_pagespeed to help with html best practices.

Hope this answers your questions.

Good Luck!

  • Why can I not install a control panel on top of an already existing droplet? I’ve never heard of this / read about it, so I’m a bit confused. Could I not just command line install an open source control panel, log in, and then configure it?

  • The reason why you cannot install a control panel in an already up and running droplet is because the install packages for this control panels automatically install the software they need, including apache/nginx, php, mysql, etc. So if you try to install cpanel or vesta they might give you an error or create conflicts with other software installed.

    These are excerpts taken from Vesta and Cpanel pages:

    The Vesta Control panel can be installed on a RHEL, CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu server.For a smooth installation you will need clean system "minimal install base". If installation fails you can force it using --force option. If you want to get full list of available options run installator with --help argument.
    Before you install cPanel & WHM or cPanel DNSONLY, you must know the following information:
    1. Because cPanel is designed for commercial hosting, we only license publicly visible, static IP addresses. We do not license dynamic, sticky, or internal IP addresses.
    2. We do not provide an uninstaller. After you install our software, you must reformat the server to remove it.
    3. Only install cPanel & WHM on a freshly installed operating system.
    4. We recommend that you use the cPanel & WHM installer, which will install all of the services that it needs. If you install services before you install cPanel & WHM, you will encounter compatibility problems. When you install your operating system, deselect software package groups like Gnome, KDE, or other GUI desktop environments.
    5. You will need a package handler like yum. This package handler is included in default installations of CentOS and Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®.

    If you want to try, you are more then welcome to, but in my experience make sure you back up your droplet before you do.

  • Gotcha, that makes sense.

    Upon further research, it looks like I won’t even need a panel. I was very misinformed about how email servers worked (long story short, I thought the server hosting the domain HAD to control the mail - never put much thought into it). I’m just going to use a provider such as Google, or whatever else I can find. I essentially just needed email addresses, I don’t care where the mail server is. As for SSL, that shouldn’t be too hard via command line. Either way, thanks for the information, as me questioning it lead to my knew knowledge :)

Panilux Panel is native support Nginx with pagespeed and spdy, and PhpFpm.

Dont worry about .htaccess files. You can convert to nginx rules with “.htaccess converter” tool on domain settings.

Basically what you are telling is that you need to setup a mailserver and also you want a control panel to manage your email accounts. You should look into iRedMail. iRedMail will configure your email server in minutes with a control panel to manage them. Here is a tutorial from the community, it’s a bit old though. The new version of iRedMail 0.9.0 supports Ubuntu 14.04 and 14.10 and LEMP stack.
This is a guide on how to install it from the official documentation
EDIT: You should install on a fresh droplet!

by Bulat Khamitov
If you would like to create your own online e-mail system, you can use iRedMail. In this article we will explain how you can do it on your Ubuntu 12.04 virtual server.

I’m using Ajenti + Ajenti-v for about a year. It’s free and open-source. It’s written with Python, it uses system’s packages, it supports nginx+fpm natively, you can even run and manage nodejs, python and PHP websites at same droplet with one unified panel. The best part is that you can edit almost any configuration (nginx settings, fpm settings etc.) from virtualhost’s panel directly.

Check it out:,

  • Unfortunately, Ajenti used to be my favorite, but they have not pushed out any updates in years. It’s really sad, I was really liking their setup. I hope they come back one day, but I don’t see it happening. :(

Hello, all

I will recommend you to check this question which was previously asked in our community:

There a lot of web panels available (most of them are free to use) that you can choose in order to manage your server. What I can recommend is to try them as in this way you can see if it really suits your needs.

I will list the top control panels that I recommend:

CentOS Web Panel
Vesta CP

and of course I need to mention Plesk although it’s not free it’s been available for a while and it’s always been the main cPanel competitor. It has a lot of build-in features and a lot of plugins that you can install and you can always reach to their support team if needed which is something that might come handy in time.

You’ve now got some great options if you want to use a control panel with your server but you don’t want to pay for a license. I’ve tried to lay out most of the available options, but which one is best will ultimately depend on your individual needs.

Hope that this