Network administrator in a server room in a data center

How Cockpit helps you manage your Linux machines more easily

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Linux isn’t as hard as you might think…especially on the desktop (you really don’t need to deal with many administrative tasks). But what about on the server? Given that you might want to deploy a Linux server at home or in a corporate data center, what’s it like to manage an open source operating system this way?

Thanks to the web-based GUI, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

The GUI in question is called Cockpit, a web-based graphical interface that simplifies many Linux tasks and makes it easier for even those new to Linux to manage these servers. So, whether you’re a Linux novice or an expert, Cockpit is probably the best tool on the market for your server administration duties.

What can a cockpit do for you?

From a well-designed graphical interface, Cockpit allows you to manage the following:

  • network settings
  • firewall
  • Storage (including RAID and LUKS partitions)
  • virtual machine
  • container
  • System log
  • hardware
  • software upgrade
  • Performance
  • user account
  • system-based services
  • SELinux (on RHEL-based distributions)

You can also access your machine’s terminal window and link together multiple Cockpit-enabled servers, making it easier to manage all your Linux servers from a single interface.

cockpit

Cockpit is installed by default on all RHEL-based Linux distributions such as Rocky Linux, AlmaLinux, and CentOS. However, it doesn’t work out of the box. Luckily, enabling Cockpit is as simple as opening a terminal window and issuing the command:

sudo systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket

If you are using a Debian (or Ubuntu) based Linux distribution, you must first install Cockpit with the following command:

sudo apt-get install cockpit -y

Once installed, start and enable Cockpit with the following command:

sudo systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket

return: The 5 Best Linux Distros for Beginners: You Can Do It

access the cockpit

After installing Cockpit and starting the service, open a web browser and point it to https://SERVER:9090 (where SERVER is the IP address of the hosting server). You will see the login window, you must be logged in as a user with sudo privileges.

Cockpit login window.

Cockpit has been successfully installed.

Image: Jack Warren

Open administrative access

If you are logged in as a standard user with sudo privileges, you will need to enable administrative access for that user by clicking Open Administrative Access when prompted.

Cockpit first login window.

We have to enable administrative access for our users.

Image: Jack Warren

You should now find yourself on the Cockpit home screen, where you can start managing your server.

add new module

As you can see above, I included the Podman container in Cockpit. This is a module that allows you to manage container deployments from within Cockpit. You can install many third-party applications, including:

  • Composer – Generate custom images for Fedora, RHEL and CentOS.
  • 389 Directory Server – Web-based Open SOURCE LDAP interface.
  • Session Recording – Records the session of the user interacting with the server.
  • Subscription Manager – Manages all RHEL subscriptions.
  • oVirt Dashboard – Manage virtual machines.
  • ZFS Manager – Manages ZFS filesystems.
  • File shares – mana Samba and NFS shares.
  • Navigator – Full featured file manager for Cockpit.
  • Benchmark – Storage benchmarking tool.
  • Software Updates – Transactional updates from OpenSUSE.
  • Sensors – Lists all available sensors in the machine.

Let me show you how to install the Navigator module.

return: Docker 101: Why you should use Podman containers

Install Navigator on RHEL-based systems

Once done, install the module with the following command:

sudo dnf install cockpit navigator -y

Refresh the Cockpit window and you should see the Navigator entry. Click the entry to display the system’s directory hierarchy, where you can create new directories, upload files, and more.

Cockpit Navigator app.

The file system hierarchy can now be navigated in Cockpit.

Image: Jack Warren

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Install Navigator on Ubuntu-based systems

Import the 45drives GPG key with the command:

wget -qO – https://repo.45drives.com/key/gpg.asc | sudo gpg –dearmor -o /usr/share/keyrings/45drives-archive-keyring.gpg

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Next, we add the 45drives repository with the following command:

cd /etc/apt/sources.list.d
sudo curl -sSL https://repo.45drives.com/lists/45drives.sources -o /etc/apt/sources.list.d/45drives.sources

We can now update apt:

sudo apt update

Finally, install Navigator with the following command:

sudo apt install cockpit-navigator -y

return: How to Install Ubuntu Linux (It’s Easy!)

Go ahead! With the help of a well-designed and maintained web-based interface, you can now manage your Linux servers more easily. Cockpit is one of the first things I install/enable on my Linux server so I can enjoy a more efficient management tool.

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