Awesome Linux Tools - Cockpit

Originally published here

In this episode of Awesome Linux Tools, Jay provides a quick review of Cockpit, which is one of many Linux web management interface. Cockpit is among one of the hottest web management interfaces now, because of its simplicity, ease of use and customizability through add-ons.

In this video, Jay shows how to install Cockpit and presents some of its features. Check out this overview and find out if Cockpit is worth installing for you or not.

I just felt like creating the topic and commenting on it, since the page itself wasn’t created yet and I don’t want to forget my ideas.

Anyway, I have had my junior sysadmin learn Linux the hard way, by going straight into the terminal. His first experience? Creating users, groups and managing Samba shares through helper scripts that I made. Pretty fun stuff for a newbie.

In any case, my opinion about Cockpit is that it’s ok when you don’t have a lot of servers / VMs to manage, but after a point, it becomes really hard to manage them through cockpit. Besides, if you have a server with 40 VMs and all of them run cockpit, the resources used by 40 cockpits is likely equivalent to 1, 2 or more VMs depending on their size, so I prefer a minimalistic approach to linux server management.

That means using pssh or mpssh to send files or scripts to multiple servers at once and running multiple commands in parallel on multiple servers. If I need a bit of manual intervention, but still need to run many commands to many servers that can’t be automated, I’m just using a terminal multiplexer (usually dvtm, but most people prefer tmux) on a jump server and set the multiplexer to send the same keyboard input to all the instances open in the terminal. Basically when I type “echo this” it will send the command to all the open tabs in dvtm, on which I’m having opened SSH sessions.

Pretty neat, especially when doing Proxmox major version upgrades on the whole cluster (10+ hosts), because you have to go through the questions like “this conf file changed, but was modified by the package maintainer, what you want to do, keep yours, install the maintainer’s, edit it, abort?” This becomes pretty unwieldy when you have to do it on multiple servers, but when you use a multiplexer, it gets surprisingly easy.

Obviously, I’m a pretty seasoned sysadmin. Not among the best, but I know my stuff and I prefer hitting the keyboard rather than a clicky GUI. Still, I believe cockpit has some nifty add-on, like for KVM/QEMU, so you can stop using Virt-Manager (although virt-manager is pretty good), in case you’re not a fan of Proxmox and don’t want to use TrueNAS Scale, oVirt or OpenShift Virtualization.

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