Is the e-smith layer is a pain?

You’re right, I ask myself the same question every single day.
And yours are perfectly fair questions… But I have no answer. Maybe the product is too young? Remind you that this community was built from scratch 6 months ago and the last month we have counted 1,7k posts, 150 active members and about 500 registered. Plus 16.500 download just for 6.6.
We’re still small but we could grow up togheter with a more and more active community, a better product that is steadly improving, more content/blog post/reviews and maybe a killer application. :smile:
I give you an example:
Docker is one of the most popular software of the last two years… Is it easy to develop? Nope. Is it easy to use? Yes. And it’s famous because it’s smart, it saves costs hardware/power and brings several new things to the table that the earlier technologies didn’t
SO, we don’t need to make NethServer good, we need to make NethServer AMAZING
Once @Ctek said me “guys that’s a great product why I found it just today? Why Zentyal and Clearos are so famous compared to NethServer?” He was right!
That’s said, things above are the keys IMHO.
And togheter we can do it, that’s my belief.



seems to me you are trolling a bit :wink:

NS is still young, so you can’t expect that it is well know and widely adopted.

then… we’d discuss about the “adopted” meaning… an home user can adopt it and leave it when and how many times he wants…

but NS is mainly an enterprise aimed distro… in that perspective, no one will adopt it without trying it, knowing how it works, how it’s developed… and you can’t do it in 3 days…
nowadays there are dozen of user friendly linux distro you can install in 3 clicks, without even answering a question… that’s good…
but the real thing comes when something stops work or work in the way you don’t like…
would you install an unknown distro (unknown -> you don’t know how it works internally) to a customer that manage 12 tb of data? or one that send and receive 5000/10000 mails daily?
what if it stops working?

don’t get me wrong, but you’d adopt a different point of view, more business continuity oriented

@zamboni Stefano, I disagree with you.
An administrator knowing how the software works internally is a false premise.
I am 100% sure that you nor anyone here knows how the exchange server works internally or how postfix or LDAP works.

Having a very deep inside knowledge of the software used in his environment is not the “way” of the normal sysadmin.
The fact that you know e-smith is a plus point for you. But it does not have to be the “de facto” way of using NS for the rest.

Your statements regarding the layers of NS may be well intended but they have to be realistic. Not everyone has the time to learn it and want to learn it. The information in the docs should be sufficient for normal Admins / Tweakers
For this, keep in mind two things.

1 the normal sys admin does not want to know how the software works (as a driver i do not want to know the way every peace of my machine is doing what it does)

2 the “new” developers that are contemplating the possibility of tweaking / adding / modify the software in NS must have access to plain and simple information. Not reverse-engineer the software to see how they can use it.

I will not spend years trying to learn every command / procedure / function and layer in NS. I simply need to have a wiki accessible where to find this (related to NS).

Perl snippets and functions explained
Perl scripts described and the structure used
Php snippets and functions explained
How they interact with each other.
Database system and API explained
Database format used
bash scripts explained and structure

For example, I needed a deeper explanation of Nethserver::BackupConfig . It was not easy at all to find it.

And In my opinion saying all the time that the UI is bad, and to be a good sysadm you do not use UI is bad.
First of all, we use NS because it’s simple to use.

By your statement that we should forget the UI, means that we should still use Nokia 3100 type of phone because we do not need a nice UI.

This is not the first time you make this statements. Please be considerate about the other users in this comunity.
We (and I mean me) like to use a web-based adm interface or Gui. If you do not prefer to use it, this is ok with me.

I am a php code monkey and i write code in php bunch of (insecure) instructions

My conclusion is that we (the community ) need more information and documentation to be able to add code to NS.
Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Best regards


I will answer in brief…

UI: it is important, but the magic is done elsewhere
documentation: I agree with you 1000%
knowledge: it is needed if you want to develop (at internals level) or simply administer it (knowing how to edit a conf file or adapting it “in the NS way”); obviously the first level is quite higher than the second.

finally, I repeat: I see many people here just begging for features or complaining for missing things… all of that without knowing in what NS is different from the others distro… guys, test it, break it, try it, play with it and enjoy yourself
that’s all, I won’t add more in this and related topic (discourse is complaining that I’m posting too much)

We need them in this community.
We need to know where we have room for improvements.
We need to have different points of view.

Everyone will follow his own path, someone will become a developer, someone a tester, someone will write documentation.
We need to remove obstacles from every possible path.

To me, more than 15 years ago, the templates system appeared as a simple and powerful tool, but I understand that:

  1. someone might find it complex
  2. year over year, things change and we may find something “better” than templates

No Stefano, I’m not trolling.
But like any question themselves, This type of question can be disturbing.

As we can see in this thread, there’s a real barrier between the common user or the common sysadmin and the Dev Team.
It’s not lack of comunication, it’s not lack of interest,( it’s not lazyness :cold_sweat: ), it’s surprisingly a “technical” barrier.

For exemple: Is the thread " What is the most awesome module feature for NethSErver that not exist yet "
There’s lot of ideas, with a way easier to doing or tweaking things, two or three interrested members could/would do the package, release themselves the idea.
Actually it’s not possible.

Other exemple:
If a bug occur with a software( i.e Owncloud ) even the Owncloud documentation don’t proceed anymore, cause of the system template that transform the way owncloud interact with the system… Only the DevTeam who made the specific template can help…

You’re right, it’s normal for young communities like ours and it’s called skill/knowledge inequality and I agree we must face it! But it needs time and effort from everyone.
Imho there are many methods to tackle it

  • One method is simply to ask the experts/dev into “support” and “development” categories, the first for generic issue the latter for development questions. Many people are ready to help you over there.
  • We have many FAQ and HowTo here on community, we could condense them on a unique document and add interesting “solved” topics too. Newcomers will be motivated to read the docs to get the answers they need. While reading it, they also realize and see a lot of other platform expertise there that continually accumulates. This progresses them rapidly up this knowledge continuum.
  • We could organize technical hangouts and create contents about development, something like this:

1, I can use oC 7 in NS, and when oC changes the php config to whitelist allowed clients… where in NS do I find that…?
2, I can spin up Ubuntu server, install oC 8 from repo, and when oC changes the php config to whitelist allowed clients, everything I need to know is right there in oC docs.

Is Webmin can be a solution to remove the lock, this barrier?

Webmin consists of a simple web server, and a number of CGI programs which directly update system files like /etc/inetd.conf and /etc/passwd. The web server and all CGI programs are written in Perl version 5, and use no non-standard Perl modules.

Potentials advantages are:

  • It’s in Perl, the same language as the e-smith layer if I’m well understand.
  • It’s deal directly with the configurations files. It’s mean every original project documentation is still valide. for exemple, the original documentation of squid installation is entirely pertinent to configure the squid webmin module.
  • It’s deal directly with the conf files, so it’s more affordable, easier to manipulate by the way perhaps more trusty.
  • A way to make things more “vanilla”, like vanilla distributions.

All this could reduce tasks for the DevTeam, could remove this lock the e-smith layer is, and finally could make things easier for the user understand the system. By the way make Nethserver more attractive for common sysadmin.

I’ve mentioned webmin with another fw script previously and everyone lost their minds, but indeed number 2 up there is basically managed with webmin, but, it’s not the end all solution, example, trying to get Time Machine to accept a directory on that server still require going directly in the conf files because webmin doesn’t have access to the necessary files, otb, and, for instance, collectd… webmin is little help there, but with NS it’s a couple of clicks… well, I did break it once because of how I installed that NS instance, but you get what I mean.

No, I prefer NS webgui interface over webmin, to me webmin is just quicker cli and you have to be careful not to make conflicting changes… esmith doesn’t let you break the server by making to many changes without applying them in the correct sequence.

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Yes, I see webmin like a quicker CLI too…
The e-smith layer don’t let you break the system, it a huge advantage, but it’t don’t let you make things too…
Is existe another solution between this two one?

Zentyal use webmin… What are the drawbacks with Zentyal ?

Having installed webmin and zentyal together on a ubuntu server I’m not sure what you mean.

Zentyal doesn’t use webmin. They are two separate beasts. Zentyal moved their focus away from what NethServer provides. You’ll find a lot of past Zentyal users now using NethServer.

In wikipedia

THere’s the link See alsoo Zentyal ?!?

That’s the price you pay for the automation and 1 click install :smile:


I don’t agree much with this sentence. I will report something happened to me.

We needed to use unix extensions on SMB to make some sort of roaming profiles for the clients (Firefox will not work if home directory is on a SMB share without unix extensions, to be explicit). Unix extensions are disabled on the smb.conf file template and are highly discouraged, but we were brave :slight_smile: and changed just one line in one template file. Starting from that point, our smb.conf file is pretty and regenerated every time with unix extensions enabled.

How much time took me to figure out how to fix it forever within templates? Not more than 10 minutes, including read up where template files were placed and find the right one. How much time did I lose to find that missing unix extensions were the culprit (it may be matched to troubleshoot misbehaviors in a production environment)? Days.

We are discussing of reading some pages once in a lifetime and profiting for the rest of it… Are we really asking ourselves if it is worth or not?

Also, I read somewhere that documentation was written from developers, and usually they are terse. Yes, they are. At the beginning I also found out documentation to be a little sparse, but it changed as soon as I read it through, although quite quickly paced. Once I grasped the gists of the documentation, all the information needed flowed quite instantly.

Just my 2 cents, of course.


Sure, but let me try to explain in other way that the actual approach is very difficult.
It lack of PEDAGOGY !

Certainly this doc is good, certainly it’s THE reference, but this doc is made by a developer for a developer.
For exemple, you don’t give an Holly Bible to read to a seven year old children…Because, you will discourage to read this book, the book is not targeting such audience…
If you want to motivate a children on the spiritual path, you give a book (another book) accessible to him or her.

I try to explain that this e-smith doc is not targeting the sysadmin, there’s a technical barrier here.
Certainly to rewrite this doc:

  • Here in this place, to not have to go in other place to learn. Here it’s Nethserver, not SME server.
  • Targeting the sysadmin, with exemples, with howtos, with tutorials, to make things easier, to make things afordables.

Because make a menu item, with the e-smith layer, it’s not like make a menu with Joomla…

With an affordable doc, with tutorial, with a retargeting doc, there will much more guys here doing things that asking for feature.

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Are you serious? Really?

Please explain which is the technical barrier here, because I don’t see it. I’m a sysadmin and I (hopefully :wink: ) fully understood the e-smith layer plus its implications, learning in little time how to fiddle with it.

I may agree on this, but I think the developer has done a great job so far and are busy with other important tasks, so this is probably a task for NethServer community :smile:

Ok, and this is something @alefattorini and the other people in Nethesis are pushing a lot. Unfortunately they don’t have time, so they are asking (politely) to the NethServer community to do it, which is, from my point of view, quite understandable.

You are talking about two different products and purposes. Configuring a menu within a CMS (where it was already expected that a user will create a new menu within its web interface) is one thing, creating a new menu to manage the OS where there isn’t any is another one. Think of it as you want to implement a new e-commerce platform on Joomla: you may think for the same level of complexity. And still, creating a new configuration menu within NethServer is simpler than creating a new CMS extension :wink:

I’m not in the position of saying anything (since I effectively didn’t do anything yet for the community), but this calls for a “then start it yourself” :stuck_out_tongue:


I’d read about your project… You know how to make an entry in this left menu :smiley:

But, you will do isn’t is? :smiley:
Please, share with us your knowledge

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