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A technology blog with updates about my projects,
as well as interesting tricks, tips, news, and tutorials.

Using Cockpit to Administer Linux Servers in the Browser

27 Apr 2018

It’s often really nice to be able to log into a web interface and check the status of your server and run a few terminal commands. Previously for this, I was using the Ajenti Server Admin Panel, but I recently discovered a new solution that I like better because of its simplicity and sponsorship by Red Hat. That solution is the Cockpit project. As described on the official website, “Cockpit is a server manager that makes it easy to administer your GNU/Linux servers via a web browser.” I decided to give it a try. Since my server is running CentOS 7, this was very easy to get up and running, and it is actually included by default in the CentOS repositories as the cockpit package. This is a great addition to tools like glances and htop, and makes checking on the server a breeze.

Installing the base package, enabling it, and setting the firewall rules as described on the official website gets you a functional web UI, with things like the ability to login to a terminal session without using SSH, but it’s a bit limited in the default installation. I quickly discovered that cockpit is extendable by modules, and added some additional packages to get more functionality, including:

  • cockpit-storaged
  • cockpit-networkmanager
  • cockpit-packagekit
  • cockpit-selinux
  • cockpit-pcp
  • cockpit-sosreport
  • cockpit-docker

Once all these packages are installed, I was really satisfied with the end result, so I added this to the Ansible script for the site. Now every time I reinstall, I get cockpit without having to do any additional work. The interface allows me to check things like CPU, RAM, network, and disk utilization, at a glance, and with a single click, I can spawn a terminal interface within the cockpit dashboard. It’s also fantastic for managing Docker containers. If you’re an administrator and want a neat way to control your servers, I’d recommend checking it out.

Dylan Taylor
Software Engineer