Compare ClearOS with Zentyal



  • Has anybody compared ClearOS with Zentyal side-by-side?

    Both can be a replacement for a Windows Server environment, so I'm wondering if anybody has done a head-to-head on them.

    Let's pretend they would be used for all the common server roles. DNS, AD, SAMBA, Web server, etc.



  • @guyinpv Zentyal has all the functionality in the community edition, while ClearOS you'll pay for the AD component even if you're using the community edition. Otherwise not much difference.

    If you really want to do it right tho, you've got to do it yourself.


  • Service Provider

    I'm of the "choose neither" camp as well.



  • @travisdh1 and @scottalanmiller

    If you were a complete systems novice starting a business and you had someone gave you the two to choose from, which would you pick?

    Building something custom (isn't an option as you just would have no idea where to start)


  • Service Provider

    @DustinB3403 said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @travisdh1 and @scottalanmiller

    If you were a complete systems novice starting a business and you had someone gave you the two to choose from, which would you pick?

    Building something custom (isn't an option as you just would have no idea where to start)

    You wouldn't know about these either. If you don't have the IT team in place, don't run authentication in house. Neither is a very valid option. Use Azure AD or do without central authentication until you have the support staff in place to maintain it.

    I'm not suggesting something custom, just something standard.



  • @scottalanmiller I'm trying to play the fools errand game.

    You're completely new to IT as a business need, you have no experience but a friend told you "hey I've heard of this and this, either should do"

    You clearly have a need for it if it's being discussed, you just don't know how to quantify the need.

    Think of some of the people we have here on ML who ask about AD alternatives.



  • If I absolutely, positively, have to choose one of the two, Zentyal. You'd have to remove limbs before I'd actually use it tho.


  • Service Provider

    @DustinB3403 said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @scottalanmiller I'm trying to play the fools errand game.

    You're completely new to IT as a business need, you have no experience but a friend told you "hey I've heard of this and this, either should do"

    As a good business person, I would not go down that path. It's still deploying something that I don't know how to support. Even if I don't know IT, I know not to listen to random friends give recommendations that I can't safely maintain.

    I'm not saying that either of these choices are terrible, I'm just saying that I don't think any business process like this would lead me to this type of "only these two" decision.


  • Service Provider

    Years ago, I would have answered ClearOS. But that stopped at ClearOS 5.2

    It was a solid single source product very comparable to SBS in the point of view that the SMB can just get this one idstro and do "everything" that they need.

    Most of my SMB clients had SBS and then I used ClearOS 5.X for their router and content filter as well as VPN.

    I could buy a low end Dell with no OS and drop ClearOS on there and be covered with warranty and all the tools I could ever need for an edge device.

    But again this was back in like the 2007 - 2009 time frame.

    Today I would never use either one because of devices like the EdgeMax routers. Those can handle everything and are cheaper all the way around. Purchase, setup, ongoing, etc.



  • If all I did was pick stuff I already knew how to support, I'd never get anything new and improved!

    Zentyal isn't all bad or scary, it's point-n-click UI, nothing too crazy. It can be learned easy enough.

    How is learning a visual UI more difficult or scary than building a server from scratch? That seems the most barbaric method of all.

    What made ClearOS look enticing was that it was the OS and software all in one, with a web interface ready to go. And Zentyal is software running on top of my own Linux install. A little more complicated in a way. ClearOS felt almost like an appliance, in other words.

    If neither of these are a good choice, what's the next option? I refuse to offload this to Internet services, not with our ISP being so spotty. I need to run it on our Xen server.


  • Service Provider

    I would think that CentOS or OpenSuse Leap would be the places to start. What services specifically do you want from your install?



  • @scottalanmiller

    DNS.
    AD.
    Network shares + cloud sync ability.
    Endpoint for workstation backups.
    VPN likely
    Web server (really on a different VM tho)


  • Service Provider

    CentOS is probably the way to go there. Those are all standard functions, no need for a niche product to do them.



  • @scottalanmiller Maybe so. It's really the UI I want. I don't have time to type endless commands on a black screen!


  • Service Provider

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @scottalanmiller Maybe so. It's really the UI I want. I don't have time to type endless commands on a black screen!

    The stock systems have GUIs, too. Most of us just never install or use them. But they are normally available.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @scottalanmiller Maybe so. It's really the UI I want. I don't have time to type endless commands on a black screen!

    The stock systems have GUIs, too. Most of us just never install or use them. But they are normally available.

    Ya the Gnome 3 environment on CentOS will give you pretty much everything you need. Other than the AD integration, but there are GUIs for that.



  • @johnhooks Call me crazy. I kinda like these purpose-built UI control panels.
    I also use Webmin on top of a server. So these are Ubuntu or CentOS boxes without a desktop/windows system, but one of these control panels on top.

    Honestly I've never built a server using just KDE or Gnome or whatever. I've almost always just done a purpose-built control panel.



  • @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @johnhooks Call me crazy. I kinda like these purpose-built UI control panels.
    I also use Webmin on top of a server. So these are Ubuntu or CentOS boxes without a desktop/windows system, but one of these control panels on top.

    Honestly I've never built a server using just KDE or Gnome or whatever. I've almost always just done a purpose-built control panel.

    I would steer away from webmin if possible. Cockpit gives you a reasonable amount of info/control for RHEL based systems without going overboard. It's also developed by Red Hat. I think if I had to use webmin I would do it only through an SSH tunnel.



  • @johnhooks One thing I like about Webmin (unless I read them wrong), is that they don't change the default installations of the underlying applications. The configs and everything are in normal locations. You can even do CLI work and edit configs side-by-side with Webmin and won't hurt anything. Seems to me it's just a UI for running common scripts and editing configs.
    Other control panels require installing all applications themselves, and customize things and move files around and make it so you can't (or at least shouldn't) edit anything manually. That I don't like.

    Never used or heard of Cockpit. On CentOS for my web servers I might run CentOS Web Panel, or Vesta.



  • Wouldn't this be similar to the Jurassic Park Effect? You're deploying systems that the user/admin doesn't generally, have any idea how the underlying components work?

    All of the functions you mentioned have fairly common and standard Linux alternatives like Samba4 and BIND.



  • @coliver It could be an example of the Jurassic Park Effect, yes. Because the person setting up and managing the system doesn't know how the underlying system works in full.

    Because of the specific gui built on top. I might be wrong but I thinkg @guyinpv does have an understanding of the underlying system though, as he said he can modify the individual configs even with the GUI to get things to work.

    I don't believe @guyinpv is looking at these because he has no other options, but because he wants to see how they function, and tinker with them.


  • Service Provider

    @coliver said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Wouldn't this be similar to the Jurassic Park Effect? You're deploying systems that the user/admin doesn't generally, have any idea how the underlying components work?

    It's exactly that. Not quite as extreme as doing it with storage due to the nature dependencies that we have on storage. But the same general problems exactly.



  • @scottalanmiller Does this matter? I've installed and used thousands of pieces of software without knowing everything about how the underlying components work. I can install Windows Server and use AD and not know how the underlying subsystem works too. What's the point?
    If anything, using Win Server abstracts the components away from me even more so than something like Webmin. At least with Webmin, I'm well aware it is just a GUI for making config changes, and I know underneath is BIND or SAMBA. With Windows I don't know anything about the subsystem, and they don't exactly let me have raw access to it.

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Technology would not be where it is today if people were not abstracting core stuff into simpler and simpler interfaces. I could probably write this forum post by sending obscure commands over SSH to a server with my API key, but frankly I'd rather just use the GUI and not deal with core components directly.


  • Service Provider

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Have you read the article that this is based on? It's very clearly not a problem with GUIs. It's about third party, non-expert dependencies that create a gap between you and the system that you are managing. GUIs from Microsoft or Red Hat I have no issue with. But a company or product that just slaps a GUI on top of an already existing management structure is generally problematic. You don't have the necessary vertical integration and release cycles.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Have you read the article that this is based on? It's very clearly not a problem with GUIs. It's about third party, non-expert dependencies that create a gap between you and the system that you are managing. GUIs from Microsoft or Red Hat I have no issue with. But a company or product that just slaps a GUI on top of an already existing management structure is generally problematic. You don't have the necessary vertical integration and release cycles.

    To play devils advocate can't the same be said about things like XO?


  • Service Provider

    @johnhooks said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    To play devils advocate can't the same be said about things like XO?

    Yes, indeed. They could be. I was going to mention this but didn't go into detail... critical different is a management API. It's a layer from the integrated original team specifically for this purpose.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Have you read the article that this is based on? It's very clearly not a problem with GUIs. It's about third party, non-expert dependencies that create a gap between you and the system that you are managing. GUIs from Microsoft or Red Hat I have no issue with. But a company or product that just slaps a GUI on top of an already existing management structure is generally problematic. You don't have the necessary vertical integration and release cycles.

    I think we're getting too abstract here.
    What specifically are you talking about as an example? Are you saying Webmin is doing this? What existing management structure is Webmin superseding?

    In my case I typically am not installing KDE or Gnome or anything, I just have CLI-only installations, so there is no existing management interface, just my raw scripts and configs. So Webmin, I don't think, would be acting as a 3rd level in this sense. It's directly acting on the default configs and scripts.

    I can see how it would not make sense to install Linux with KDE or XFCE and then install another alternate GUI on top when there might be a GUI for any given service already available.


  • Service Provider

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Have you read the article that this is based on? It's very clearly not a problem with GUIs. It's about third party, non-expert dependencies that create a gap between you and the system that you are managing. GUIs from Microsoft or Red Hat I have no issue with. But a company or product that just slaps a GUI on top of an already existing management structure is generally problematic. You don't have the necessary vertical integration and release cycles.

    I think we're getting too abstract here.
    What specifically are you talking about as an example? Are you saying Webmin is doing this? What existing management structure is Webmin superseding?

    In my case I typically am not installing KDE or Gnome or anything, I just have CLI-only installations, so there is no existing management interface, just my raw scripts and configs. So Webmin, I don't think, would be acting as a 3rd level in this sense. It's directly acting on the default configs and scripts.

    I can see how it would not make sense to install Linux with KDE or XFCE and then install another alternate GUI on top when there might be a GUI for any given service already available.

    Webmin is what I mean here, though. It's interacting with non-guaranteed interfaces. What it is doing is a kludge, it has to be because of the third party nature. Webmin does probably the best job out there for this, but it still adds challenges.

    There are existing text, TUI and GUI tools for those systems from the original vendors who ensure testing and integration through every patch, update, documentation, etc. Webmin tries to do this, but it is not at all the same.



  • @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Have you read the article that this is based on? It's very clearly not a problem with GUIs. It's about third party, non-expert dependencies that create a gap between you and the system that you are managing. GUIs from Microsoft or Red Hat I have no issue with. But a company or product that just slaps a GUI on top of an already existing management structure is generally problematic. You don't have the necessary vertical integration and release cycles.

    I think we're getting too abstract here.
    What specifically are you talking about as an example? Are you saying Webmin is doing this? What existing management structure is Webmin superseding?

    In my case I typically am not installing KDE or Gnome or anything, I just have CLI-only installations, so there is no existing management interface, just my raw scripts and configs. So Webmin, I don't think, would be acting as a 3rd level in this sense. It's directly acting on the default configs and scripts.

    I can see how it would not make sense to install Linux with KDE or XFCE and then install another alternate GUI on top when there might be a GUI for any given service already available.

    When I mentioned it I was specifically referring to Zentyal and ClearOS. Webmin is slightly different, although it can still suffer from the same problems.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @scottalanmiller said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    @guyinpv said in Compare ClearOS with Zentyal:

    Are we suggesting here that the best way to do anything is only deal with raw components directly?

    Have you read the article that this is based on? It's very clearly not a problem with GUIs. It's about third party, non-expert dependencies that create a gap between you and the system that you are managing. GUIs from Microsoft or Red Hat I have no issue with. But a company or product that just slaps a GUI on top of an already existing management structure is generally problematic. You don't have the necessary vertical integration and release cycles.

    I think we're getting too abstract here.
    What specifically are you talking about as an example? Are you saying Webmin is doing this? What existing management structure is Webmin superseding?

    In my case I typically am not installing KDE or Gnome or anything, I just have CLI-only installations, so there is no existing management interface, just my raw scripts and configs. So Webmin, I don't think, would be acting as a 3rd level in this sense. It's directly acting on the default configs and scripts.

    I can see how it would not make sense to install Linux with KDE or XFCE and then install another alternate GUI on top when there might be a GUI for any given service already available.

    Webmin is what I mean here, though. It's interacting with non-guaranteed interfaces. What it is doing is a kludge, it has to be because of the third party nature. Webmin does probably the best job out there for this, but it still adds challenges.

    There are existing text, TUI and GUI tools for those systems from the original vendors who ensure testing and integration through every patch, update, documentation, etc. Webmin tries to do this, but it is not at all the same.

    For instance Webmin has a fairly competent IP Tables interface. However the FirewallD interface, until a recent update, was terrible.