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11-15-2013, 12:37 PM
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For this guide, we'll be starting post-install.

You'd either
(A) install cPanel via the command-line (SSH) using the instructions provided by cPanel
(B) use a pre-installed (but not setup) image in SolusVM provided by the host. In this example, we're using an unmanaged Namecheap Xen VPS with 2GB of RAM, and it has a premium cPanel version (with Softalucous!) pre-installed using their "VPS panel" (an unbranded SolusVM).

When you first run cPanel, you'll be presented with a few basic setup screens... (Descriptions are below the images.)


cPanel Setup: Step 1 - Agree

Agreement. You can read it, then click "I Agree / Go to Step 2" to continue with the setup process...

whm-setup-step1-50p.jpg



cPanel Setup: Step 2 - Contacts, Server Name, DNS

Setup Networking. On this page, you'll need to enter several things.


(1) Contact Information -

Select the email where to want to receive emails generated by the server. It's very important to NOT use an email address that will reside on the server. I would also suggest using something safe -- NOT freemails like Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.

The other options are not suggested.
- AIM and ICQ are so 1990s. What tech savvy person (ie, a server admin!) would ever use these now?
- And then I would hate to receive server emails on my phone. These days, most of can check our email from our phones!

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(2) Hostname -

This is what you want to call your server -- the FQND (fully qualified domain name) in the form "servername.domain.com". It's essentially a subdomain, as setup in the domain's DNS records -- wherever that may be (at a registrar, with a DNS service like DNS Made Easy, inside another cPanel or Plesk server, etc).

whm-setup-step2-contact.jpg


(3) Resolvers -

The resolver (DNS server) chosen can have a huge impact on the server. It can affects everything from spam filters, to scripts that connect to third-party sites, to email deliverability.

- Premium quality hosts often have 1-3 in-house resolvers that a customer can use. For example, EuroVPS.
- Many datacenters maintain their own resolvers as well. For example, Leaseweb.
- Smaller hosts almost always rely on public resolvers such as Google (8.8.8.8), Verizon (4.2.2.3 shown above), and others.

The more overloaded (overused, overcrowded) a DNS resolver is, then slower the performance. Sometimes, VPS/dedicated/cloud servers are rejected for "excess lookups" by a third-party site. But it's not your server causing this error -- it's the DNS resolver! For example, the Google resolvers are often rejected by certain SpamAssassin filters, which rely on third-party sites for data. So those spam lookups are not performed, thus allowing more spam to leak through to email accounts where that filter was in use.

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(4) Ethernet -

The main networking/ethernet device is probably already pre-populated. Do not change the default without consulting your host.

whm-setup-step2-hostnames.jpg


cPanel Setup: Step 3 - IP Address

Setup IP Addresses. DO NOT alter anything on this page, unless instructed by your host. cPanel/WHM should automatically detect the IP addresses in use. Click "Skip This Step" and continue on...

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cPanel Setup: Step 4 - Nameservers

Nameserver. This page is broken down in three section/

You'll:
(1) select the DNS software used by cPanel, or select none,
(2) input the DNS/nameservers for the server, and
(3) verify or change the IP A entries for the nameservers


(1) BIND vs. MyDNS vs. NSD ... or disabled

Decide if this server is going to be used for DNS, either as standalone (NOT suggested!) or in a cluster.

If clustering you'll need to use BIND:

If using a standalone DNS -- and again, this is NOT suggested! -- you can use either MyDNS or NSD, depending on the resources of the server. cPanel has already laid out the pros and cons to each method, so read through those if needed.

whm-setup-step2-resolver.jpg


Clustering DNS Notes...

Just like step 2 (DNS), what you choose here heavily impacts the performance of the server. DNS requires more resources on cPanel servers, so be sure it has a minimum 2gb of RAM.

Trivia: When clustered, then this guide is almost rhetorical. It's a chicken and egg scenario. Why? Well, when creating a clustered server (during the Initial Setup, and assuming the other VPS/dedicated/cloud servers are not online yet), you can only start with the current server. The others do not exist yet! Once the first one is done, you can add it for the second server...

... and if you've already set up your first cPanel server, you're probably not reading this guide!

But you needed to learn what everything is... even if you can't do anything with it yet!


(2) Input Nameservers by hostname -

Here enter all the DNS servers used by this server -- either off-server or on-server. Clusters can also be on-server or off-server, but that's another topic.

Important Notes!

(A) cPanel is lying to you! You DO NOT need two IP addresses for nameservers! You can enter the same IP twice, but with two different A records. For example, 1.2.3.4 = ns1.domain.com, and 1.2.3.4 = ns2.domain.com. The issues is NOT the IP addresses, but rather the single point of failure. One server is one server, regardless of the IP addresses it has! Of course, this is NOT suggested, and you should either cluster the DNS or use a third-party DNS service like DNS Made Easy (which has a cPanel plugin).

(B) Reverse DNS -- aka rDNS or PTR -- is sometimes user-controlled via VPS panels like SolusVM. It really depends on the host. And do NOT try to contact the datacenter unless you're a direct customer of the datacenter! Contact your host.

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(2) Input Nameserver by IP -

When you input the nameservers, it'll automatically populate the IP addresses (A entries) currently found at the master DNS (registered nameservers).

This is almost correct, but go ahead and verify it. If there's a discrepancy, DO NOT just change it! You'll want to verify that your DNS records are correct at your registrar or master DNS server (like DNS Made Easy, etc). You can analyze DNS at http://intodns.com/

The other common reason to manually alter this is when only 1 IP address is available. As explained above, you can use the same IP twice for two hostnames -- either this server or another that's being used for DNS. However, this is NOT suggested, as it's a single point of failure. When your DNS goes down, the records disappear from the internet, and must re-propagate again. So what would have been a few hours of downtime can be a few days worth net-wide!

whm-setup-step2-ethernet.jpg


Continued in next post...

Hopefully you're using a good host. Better check and see!
If not, consider exercising the refund policy and going with somebody better ... before it's too late.


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03-28-2014, 01:23 AM
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After step 5 configures itself, you'll quickly finish up by selecting services that will be used.


cPanel Setup: Step 5 - Services

FTP, mail (email), and cPHulk (cPanel security). On this page, you'll need to select several things.


(1) FTP server -

There's only two choices for FTP in cPanel -- PureFTP and ProFTP -- and only one works with cPHulk. (And cPHulk is very useful! More on that further down.) Pure-FTP really is best -- it's faster, more secure, and uses less resources on the system. The only reason to even use ProFTPD is the .fpaccess files, which nobody really uses (or even understand, for that matter).

If this is your server, not to be shared with others (ie, novice users that "need" plain FTP), then just turn FTP off. Disabled it! Use SFTP instead, which is FTP over SSH.

Plain FTP is a huge risk for security, and it attacked by bots daily trying to hack your server. Even when running an FTP server, you should use FTPES (FTP with explicit TLS, aka a secure method to use FTP), and change its port from the default 21. (But that's another topic.)

whm-setup-step5-p1-ftp-75p.jpg


(2) Mail Configuration (email server) -

As is the case with FTP, cPanel only comes with two option -- Dovecot and Courier.

The only apparent reason to include Courier is for legacy support -- it's the popular email software of yesterday. But it's 2014 now. Courier is so 1990s. There's zero reason to use it on a new server. Courier has less features, and takes more resources. It's honestly a lose-lose scenario. This is why Dovecot is the default, and should not be changed.

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(3) Convert Mailbox Format -

The is one of those settings where, if you don't what it means, just tick the box and let cPanel do it's thing. While I can appreciate support for legacy applications, enough is enough. The old mailbox format is ancient, and to even give the option to use it is ridiculous.

It should be checked by default.

whm-setup-step5-p2-mail-75p.jpg


(4) Configure cPHulk -

One of the best aspects of cPanel is the security features it has built-in. And one of those features is the cPHulk brute force protection that can protect all of your PAM services -- cPanel logins, WHM login, sshd (secure shell, SSH), ftpd (Pure-FTP only), imap (incoming email), pop3 (incoming email), and smtp (outgoing email).

A detailed guide for cPHulk can be found here: How to use cPanel/WHM cPHulk to block unwanted login attempts

Read that before selecting settings.

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(5) Configure Perl Modules -

The is another setting where, if you don't what it means, leave it alone. Perl modules can be installed later in the "Software" section of WHM. Blindly installing unneeded software is not suggested.

whm-setup-step5-p3-mailbox.jpg


cPanel Setup: Step 6 - Quotas

The final step is to turn cPanel quotas on or off. By default, quotas are on, and this is how cPanel/WHM will determine when accounts are over their bandwidth or file space. Even if the control panel is used for a single user, this information can be valuable. There's not reason to turn it off. Leave it alone!

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Done!



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