A TurnKey Linux software evaluation platform

One Good Turn

Accessing the Virtual Appliance

Assume you are tasked with evaluating the company's internal use of the CouchDB database system. To begin, pick up the corresponding package from the TurnKey website and set it up as previously described.

Once the environment is set up and you have made any changes to the network configuration, access the environment via the specified URL. The associated web interface is basically the same for all virtual environments: You will find the name of the appliance in the header area (TurnKey CouchDB in this example) and two tabs underneath: the application Control Panel and the About info dialog (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The CouchDB appliance TurnKey Linux web interface.

The Web Shell and Webmin modules are represented in the dialog, with a third application-specific button that provides access to all the appliance features. For the CouchDB appliance, this is Futon; for the XAMPP version, it is the phpMyAdmin function.

You can find the relevant links to the application concerned and to information about using the TurnKey app below the icons. The Web Shell link leads to a web-based console that allows you to interact with the TurnKey system.

You can access the virtual appliance's web-based Webmin environment by clicking on the Webmin icon. Access is secured by SSL by default. TurnKey Linux then presents the typical Webmin environment, which you can use to run any required actions on the system, including the backup and migration module (TKLBAM).

If you decide to use the CouchDB appliance, you can access the database functions by clicking on the Futon icon. Here, you can, for example, create new or open pre-existing databases. Via the Tools menubar, you can view the configuration of the CouchDB environment, use the replicator to create duplicates, and view the database status. When using other virtual appliance environments, the functions of the respective environment are available, which naturally differ greatly.

Managing the TurnKey Environment

A customized Webmin module for your TurnKey environment provides all the tools you need to manage the operating system and the desired virtual appliance. When accessing the module, you automatically land on the System page where you can find the backup module, package and user/group management, and functions for shutting down and creating cron jobs. The cron job management lists all the jobs already created in a clear table format. By clicking on a job entry, you open its settings and can view and edit the specific command. You can also suspend cron jobs or change timings.

The system overview page also tells you which processes are currently being run and which filesystems are being created and used by the TurnKey operating system. The system logfiles are available from this site as well. Below the system icons, you will find an update function that tells you whether Webmin has any updates available, so you can update the environment as required.

The Servers menu sends you to another TurnKey system area, where you will find an overview of the installed sever. If you are using CouchDB, you will only find the SSH server here. By clicking on the SSH Server icon, you open its settings where you can, for example, find the authentication configuration and the access control setting. Here, you can also manage SSH keys for users and hosts.

The Tools menu has several useful tools you can use to create and edit custom commands or text files, for example. You will also find the Java-based file manager here. A flexible form is available in the Upload and Download function; you can use it to transfer files from HTTP and FTP URLs to the TurnKey system.

You can view and, if necessary, change your TurnKey system's network configuration from the Networking menu. Here, you will find the firewall and network configuration in this menu. The firewall is configured by default to allow TCP connections to ports 22, 80, 443, 12320, and 12321, so nothing is preventing external access to the TurnKey system. You can prevent unsecured connections to ports 80 and 12320.

If you want to change the system's IP address, open the Network Interfaces settings under Network Configuration . The corresponding page lists the available interfaces, including type and IP address. To edit the configuration of an interface, open it by clicking on the interface name.

Individual Customization

If you want to use the TurnKey platform intensively and give other administrators an opportunity to evaluate it, you will want to use the customization options offered by the Webmin module. For example, you can adjust the language version and create additional evaluation users. These customizations are available through the Webmin menu.

The administration center has special themes for mobile access hidden behind the Webmin Mobile Device Option configuration menu item. Choose the appropriate template via the Design for mobile browsers display menu. You should enforce authentication regardless of the design choice.

With the Webmin server module, you can change the port, the default login and password for accessing the system. The TurnKey system's Webmin module only has a root user after installation, so to grant other users access to the system, open the user settings.

You can create other users here by clicking on Create a new Webmin user . The creation of other Webmin user groups works accordingly, and you can manage MySQL users via user administration as well.

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