Thumbs Down to CentOS Web Panel (CWP) by Simple Machines

  • Posted on: 21 June 2020
  • By: Michael
tl;dr
Don’t use CentOS Web Panel (CWP) for production use. Hobbyist use, as long as you accept probable downtime, should be okay.

I’m looking for a cPanel alternative. Not because their product is bad, but because cPanel’s pricing went nightmarish after being bought by the group of investors led by Oakley Capital (also owners of Plesk and SolusVM).

An example: A dedicated server license is now half the cost of a generic wholesale server. Or looking at it another way, you can get almost double the server specifications for the cost of the server plus cPanel’s licenses. (I know, that sounds wrong, but in fluffy numbers a $150/month server is about 2x the spec’s of a $100/month server. Economies of scale and all that.)

Since I’m looking, I figured I’d try to find a web hosting control panel that would do the web server version of Utopia. Namely a NGINX reverse proxy front end with Apache and PHP-FPM on the back end. (That’d be Drupal Utopia, adding Varnish, which can be done, is generally considered more of a pain for most sites than it’s worth. If you need 100+GB of RAM, you’d want Varnish in there, otherwise ‘eh...)

See CWP’s pretty picture here (ignore the Varnish bits): http://centos-webpanel.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/https_nginx_varnish_apache_diagram.jpg

CentOS Web Panel (CWP) seemed like the perfect fit. Price is right ($11.99/year) and they claim to have what I want out of the box.

Unfortunately I never did find out if their NGINX + Apache + PHP-FPM would server a Drupal site. As after 5 days, I had hit so many issues with just ‘missing’ documentation and one outright bug that I finally threw in the towel and opened a support ticket to find the ‘answers.’

Their answer was a paywall.

Yes you read that right, a PAYWALL!

So I asked for a refund. Which, with complete silence on their part, was processed ~2 days later.

+1 for the refund I guess. -10K for their concept of professionalism.

Such possibilities, such disappointment...

My hunt continues...

Best,
Michael

# # #

Tickets and replies.

Control Web Panel Support Ticket: #194928
Title: Unless these can be fixed, CPW is non functional from a production Drupal hosting aspect.
Date: 06/18/2020 (00:10)
Who: Michael, Client

An open letter to Simple Machines, CentOS Web Panel, CWP.

Hello,

I’ve been using WHM (server level) for the last 10 years and cPanel (account level) for 5 to 10 years prior to that. Almost entirely for Drupal development services and Drupal support activities. Ref: http://inet-design.com/

The ability to have an auto install of a working Nginx/Varnish/Apache + php-fpm environment is what lead me to purchase a copy of CWP7pro.

And I have tried to make CWP work, but your documentation is lacking to the point I can’t get a functioning Drupal site served. These are the things that are currently blocking me from being able to use CWP.


A) Where is the documentation?:

- To permanently set, disable, or completely remove [whatever] so this error NEVER happens again:

“Forbidden
You don't have permission to access / on this server.
Server unable to read htaccess file, denying access to be safe”

- To permanently turn off ModSecurity. (CWP7pro.admin)

- To permanently turn off all ModSecurity notices. (CWP7pro.admin)

- To permanently disable and turn off, by default, all Mod Security Configuration for EVERY existing and new domain. (CWP.user)

- To be able to permanently dismiss any ‘Notifications and Alerts’ so it is not displayed again. (CWP7pro.admin)

- To permanently turn off, or completely un-install, Pure-FTPd. (CWP7pro.admin)

- To increase username length in database, userdatabase and usercreate cwp to at least 8 characters to be consistent with cPanel. This is needed so that CMS transfers do not entail manually changing every credential they have. (CWP.user)
Ref: http://forum.centos-webpanel.com/index.php?topic=7371.0

- To set the default action on creating a new Addon Domain to also create the associated sub-domain.
Ref: Why are you not using the standard cPanel action here out of the box? It’s expected. If I create

Domain: example.com
- then the -
Sub-Domain: example.com.my-server-fqdn.com

should be auto-generated as well.

- To set a path/file location for domain php.ini files. (CWP.user > Php.ini Editor)
Ref: The current setting have the file located in the domain’s working directory. This is extremely BAD as those directories are wholesale moved and swapped out in the normal course of business. Combined with the next 2 items CPW is non functional from a Drupal hosting aspect.


B) What needs to be done to fix these issues?:

- Have Apache actually use the master php.ini (usr/local/php/php.ini) as the base php.ini and not have its settings automagically overridden unless the USER explicitly sets an override value somewhere else. (CWP7pro.admin > PHP Settings > PHP.ini Configuration)

- Be able to turn off by default all domain php.ini level files. (CWP.user > Php.ini Editor)

One example of how this goes wrong:

The master php.ini (usr/local/php/php.ini) in CWP7pro.admin has memory_limit set correctly to 512M, yet the CWP.user automagically sets it to 200M. Furthermore that overwrites a ‘Master Value’ that is being set from who knows where to 128M, which itself is automagically overwriting the master php.ini value of 512M. 512M should be both the Local and Master value. Unless I change something! Details:

Contents of File: /usr/local/php/php.ini
memory_limit = 512M

....-inet-design.com/srvNNphpinfo.php
Forbidden (see above)

....-inet-design.com/srvNNphpinfo.php
Directive, Local Value, Master Value
memory_limit, 200M, 128M

C) Other issues:

- It is hugely annoying to be already logged into one of your systems and constantly have to fill out the Google “I’m not a robot” CAPTCHA. Multiple times because the time out is so short. Please remove all CAPTCHA requirements from logged in users.

# # #

I’ve provided root access to the server for your investigations.

Please get back to me with working solutions, or I’ll need a refund.

Best Regards,

Michael
Internet Design Alliance, owner
http://inet-design.com/


Control Web Panel Support Ticket: #194928
Title: Unless these can be fixed, CPW is non functional from a production Drupal hosting aspect.
Date: 06/18/2020 (08:09)
Who: Igor, Staff

Hello,
You have to talk to a specialist about "how to configure server".
We will be happy to assist you but unfortunately, you don't have an active support service or your support service has expired.
For a more detailed check of your server and services configuration issues, you can check our Support services.
Each configuration changes or issue which requires free time for resolving will need to be done via our Support services.
Support orders are usually approved within 24 hours, once the order is approved you will be able to use our support tickets.
Please note that a one-time support service is for a single issue only and can't be used for multiple issues.
You can check our Support Service using the following Link
http://centos-webpanel.com/support-services
You can also use our support forum and try to search for anything related there
http://forum.centos-webpanel.com/
On our wiki, you can also find some useful instructions
http://wiki.centos-webpanel.com/
Regards,
Igor S.
Not satisfied with my response? Send your comments with the ticket id at: info@centos-webpanel.com
Now you can send me a tip if you are satisfied with my assistance :)
http://support-donations.centos-webpanel.com/igors.html
Business services:
AntiDDoS Proxy - http://centos-webpanel.com/website-ddos-protection-proxy
Service Monitoring - http://centos-webpanel.com/services-monitor
Nagios Monitoring (FREE for Enterprise Support):
Now we can monitor your server resources on our monitoring servers, for more info you can contact us.
If you have any suggestions about CWP features or if you want to report a bug, you can contact us at info@centos-webpanel.com


Control Web Panel Support Ticket: #194928
Title: Unless these can be fixed, CPW is non functional from a production Drupal hosting aspect.
Date: 06/18/2020 (16:18)
Who: Michael, Client

Hello,

I find your response both disturbing and inappropriate. I, a new customer, have asked for A) documentation to make your product work, and B) asked for a fix to a bug with your product.

Your reply is a paywall?

Salutations,
Michael

Closed by myself at this time.


Control Web Panel Support Ticket: #670341
Title: Refund and cancel
Date: 06/18/2020 (16:19)
Priority: High
Who: Michael, Client

Please refund my purchase and cancel this service.

Ref: Ticket #194928

Regards,
Michael


Email
Subject: You have a refund from Dalibor Simunovic
Date: 06/20/20 09:59:06
From: PayPal
To: Michael

Hello, Michael

Dalibor Simunovic issued a $11.99 USD refund

The money has been refunded to your PayPal balance.


Email
Subject: Your Feedback is Requested for Ticket #670341
Date: 06/20/20 10:01:10
From: Control Web Panel :: Support Billing
To: Michael

This support request has been marked as completed.

We would really appreciate it if you would just take a moment to let us know about the quality of your experience.

{feedback link}

Your feedback is very important to us.

If you like CWP and want to donate for the faster development, you can do it on the bellow link
{donations link}

Thank you for your business.

CWP Development Team


If you’re read to here, here’s another issue that I found:

They put several different domain configuration files inside the site's top level directory. If you, like I do on a routine basis, move sites around, then their configuration files are now ‘lost’ and have to be (manually I’d guess) rebuilt each time you do site maintenance.

To be fair, cPanel does something similar to your top level .htaccess, but that’s at least solvable by adding a one line cat to your move scripts.

Lastly a link from their own forums:

Please do not update my cwp without my consent
  • “I have several VPS (OpenVZ and KVM) with different providers in differen countries and suddenly from this morning I have in several sites issues,... sites have error 503 Service Unavailable”
  • “you need to have cwppro for php selector's as they will go down if you don't”
  • “Too many bugs. It's an unusable control panel.”
  • “About 30 websites in my 5 vps sercer are all died today”
  • “So scared with each update that I just gave up using this panel for any thing serious.  Too risky and I hate to have not idea about changes”

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