Cockpit: manage ALL your servers

Cockpit screen showing storage devices

Whether your are a newbie or a seasoned system administrator you will surely have dealt with SSH and administering multiple machines. You know that you can do that for a few machines, but when the number goes up, it soon becomes a nightmare without help. Meet Cockpit, the administrator-approved web-based tool to manage all your servers.

What is Cockpit?

An image showing the overview section of Cockpit

Cockpit is a tool that allows an administrator to perform routine administration tasks through a web interface. While most administrators will still prefer SSH for many tasks, Cockpit is not your simple SSH replacement, it does much more. As a matter of fact you can open a virtual terminal right through your web browser through Cockpit.

From monitoring networking to log visualization, Cockpit has a module for every basic administration task you can think of: monitoring, log visualization, performance charts, network configuration, storage configuration, services configuration, even containers and much more.

An image showing the Cockpit dashboard with one server

Maybe Cockpit strongest point over SSH is the capability to manage multiple Cockpit instance through one interface. In order to connect to another server you only need a valid user account and (preferably) a registered SSH key.

An image showing the Cockpit login page

What about security? Isn’t it unsafe to run commands through a web connection? Cockpit implements secure standards such as SSL (self-signed by default), authentication and authorization is handled through the underlying module in the system (e.g. PAM, LDAP, Kerberos). By default Cockpit will create a self-signed certificate and will use local accounts to authenticate the user, the service will be available through port 9090.

Cockpit supports the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

How to get started

If you’re using a major Linux distribution chances are that Cockpit is already packaged. If you’re using a different distribution you can refer to your distribution manual.

Red Hat-basedDebian-basedArchLinuxSUSE
# yum install cockpit
# systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket
# firewall-cmd --add-service=cockpit
# firewall-cmd --add-service=cockpit --permanent
# apt install cockpit
# systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket
# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 9090 -j ACCEPT

If you’re using UFW instead:

# ufw allow 9090
$ sudo pacman -S cockpit
$ sudo systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket

You will also need to open port 9090 on your firewall.

# zypper in cockpit
# systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket
# firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=cockpit
# firewall-cmd --reload

From now on Cockpit will be available through your-ip-address:9090 or your-fqdn:9090. In some versions the Dashboard and Storage modules are not installed by default, in order to install them you can search for cockpit-dashboard and cockpit-storaged.

Image courtesy of mark | marksei

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The IT guy with a slight look of boredom in his eyes. Freelancer. Current interests: Kubernetes, Tensorflow, shiny new things.

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