Tools to be installed are a lightweight window manager, a method of locking the screen, web based system management software, web browser and a light weight file manager.
Installation of Fluxbox
Fluxbox is a resource light window manager that will work well for simple system administration. Tip: I get tired of typing 'sudo' for every command, so we will remain as root, as the first command shows. To install Fluxbox and the display manager perform the following commands:
$ sudo su -
[sudo] password for boxadmin:
# apt-get install fluxbox xorg xdm
The result is a login screen for the server. Login with the user name and password and be amazed at the awesomeness of Fluxbox. OK. Now for some tools to use in our now graphical server. A simple transparent screen lock utility, xtrlock, web browser, Firefox and a file manager, xfe, will be installed .
Dillo is a simple lightweight browser that would fit into this lightweight theme, however, https (SSL) is in a alpha stage and not well supported. SSL is needed for Webmin.
The first thing you will notice in Fluxbox is there is no start menu. To access applications right click on the desktop to display the menu. Start a terminal session by left clicking Applications -> Terminal Emulators -> XTerm. From the command line we will install our tools.
$ sudo su -
# apt-get install xtrlock
# apt-get install firefox
# apt-get install xfe
The basic tools are now installed. The next step is to make a simple key binding to activate the screen lock without having to go through the menu. Using the nano editor make the following changes to the last line in the file ~/.fluxbox/keys.
Mod1 F12 :ExecCommand sleep 1 ; xtrlock
Pressing the key combination [alt]+[f12], will execute xtrlock. The mouse pointer will change to a lock and the screen will remain visible, but the keyboard and mouse are captured. Typing in the user password will change the mouse pointer back and normal use will resume.
Webmin is a web based interface for system administration. I use Webmin a lot for small sites. To make Webmin a little more secure I setup the firewall to block access to a single IP address or subnet as well as not allowing Internet side access (which I will not cover here). Before Webmin is installed, some dependent packages need to be installed. The Webmin distribution is downloaded using the wget utility and installed with the dpkg package management tool.
# apt-get install libauthen-pam-perl libnet-ssleay-perl libio-pty-perl libmd5-perl openssl
# wget http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/webadmin/webmin_1.430_all.deb
# dpkg -i webmin_1.430_all.deb
After installation is complete, Webmin is accessed from the Firefox web browser at the following URL.
There will be some error messages complaining about the security certificate. Follow the on screen steps to add an exception for your server. Now you have a resource light GUI interface to your Ubuntu Server box.
Ubuntu Server http://www.ubuntu.com/products/WhatIsUbuntu/serveredition