Zentyal 5.1

Point re­leases that are a year in the mak­ing is enough of a rea­son to pique Shashank Sharma’s in­ter­est. But is his cu­rios­ity mis­placed?

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Point re­leases that are a year in the mak­ing are enough rea­son to in­ter­est Shashank

Sharma. But is his cu­rios­ity mis­placed with this wannabe com­mer­cial server dis­tro?

With the cur­rent state of most mod­ern desk­top Linux dis­tri­bu­tions, it’s hard to imag­ine a time when one was re­quired to manually pro­vide the hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal re­fresh rates for the mon­i­tor when con­fig­ur­ing the sys­tem. You ran a very real risk of torch­ing your mon­i­tor if you got the val­ues wrong.

While desk­top dis­tros have come a long way since, en­abling users to com­plete the in­stal­la­tion in a mat­ter of min­utes, us­ing Linux to run servers is still a more in­volved process. Thank­fully, projects like Zentyal are de­ter­mined to pro­vide a mech­a­nism to put to­gether a multi-faceted server with the least amount of hair pulled.

In­stal­la­tion is fairly straight­for­ward and in­volves lit­tle more than se­lect­ing the destination for the dis­tri­bu­tion and pro­vid­ing key details such as keymap and time­zone. You can con­fig­ure the dis­tro ei­ther from the desk­top or via the web in­ter­face.

The web in­ter­face will then walk you through in­stalling the mod­ules you wish to run on your Zentyal server, such as FTP, mail server, mail fil­ter, anti-virus, in­tru­sion de­tec­tion sys­tem and more. When done, you’ll be dropped to the Dash­board, from where you can con­trol all el­e­ments of the server.

The side­bar on the left of the web in­ter­face will au­to­mat­i­cally grow to ac­com­mo­date the soft­ware you in­stall. You can also eas­ily in­stall up­dates with a sin­gle click. But note that the up­dates for the com­mu­nity edi­tion are not as thor­oughly tested as the up­dates that are pushed to the com­mer­cial vari­ant. The project rec­om­mends us­ing the com­mer­cial vari­ant, which in­cludes tech­ni­cal sup­port and of­fers up­dates for a pe­riod of 4.5 years, for pro­duc­tion servers. Point made Af­ter an year in the mak­ing, the lat­est re­lease, based on Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS, is chock full of bug fixes, us­abil­ity and per­for­mance im­prove­ments, and new fea­tures. Chief among them is the sim­pli­fied auto-up­dater cron job and new slides to help you eas­ily select pack­ages you wish to in­stall. The changelog pro­vides a com­plete list of changes across the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of the dis­tri­bu­tion.

Ex­ist­ing Zentyal users will be able to up­grade to the lat­est re­lease with a sin­gle click and the project is work­ing on pack­ages for Zentyal 5.0, 4.2, 4.1 and 4.0, which will pro­vide an up­grade but­ton on the Dash­board it­self.

Even though the project pro­vides desk­top and ter­mi­nal ac­cess, the web in­ter­face is de­signed to func­tion as the per­fect con­duit for in­ter­ac­tion with the server. You can In ad­di­tion to the myr­iad servers, you can even use Zentyal to de­ploy a Jab­ber in­stance. even pull up logs for the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents such as

Samba and Mail, and even fil­ter them to a spe­cific date range from the com­fort of a browser. Where pos­si­ble, the in­ter­face even al­lows for more el­e­ments to help nar­row the logs even fur­ther, lim­it­ing them to a spe­cific in­ter­face or pro­to­col, when view­ing the net­work logs for in­stance.

How­ever, this fea­ture also re­vealed one of the only bugs we en­coun­tered when test­ing Zentyal. No mat­ter what pa­ram­e­ters we used, we couldn’t get the dis­tro to pull up any logs to dis­play. But for this small bug, the dis­tri­bu­tion works as in­tended.

De­spite its ease of de­ploy­ment, the most strik­ing thing about Zentyal is its self-im­posed lim­i­ta­tion of cater­ing to SMBs, which re­stricts the dis­tri­bu­tion to of­fer­ing only a small num­ber of fea­tures. You can’t, for in­stance, use it to de­ploy a web server, or even a file man­ager, with­out a lot of man­ual con­fig­u­ra­tion. This, in our opin­ion, negates its point-and-click ease of de­ploy­ment.

Un­like most other server dis­tri­bu­tions, Zentyal fea­tures a graph­i­cal desk­top that can be used to fine-tune the sys­tem. Its USP, how­ever, is the easy-to-nav­i­gate web in­ter­face for in­stalling soft­ware and con­fig­ur­ing var­i­ous ser­vices. In ad­di­tion to the com­mu­nity edi­tion, the project also pro­duces a com­mer­cial vari­ant based on Ubuntu Server. ClearOS, NethServer and Univen­tion are quite sim­i­lar and also fea­ture a web in­ter­face.

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