Wednesday, September 29

I'd like to take a moment to cast some opprobrium in the direction of Plesk, the control panel software that runs on this server.

In fact, what Plesk does - a slick, unified GUI for managing just about everything on a shared server - is difficult and, to a point, really impressive. True, the overriding aesthetic is basically Microsoft Corporate, and so is the organizational logic of the interface, but someone has done admirable work here.

The point up to which Plesk impressed me was that moment when I realized that every single script we had moved to our shiny new server was broken in at least one important way. Nearly a month later, this simple transition has caused me more frustration than any other software-related problem set I have ever encountered.

Aside from my inefficiency (I'll admit that I haven't been playing the conscientious administrator to my best ability here), I think the underlying problem is that Plesk takes a flexible, generally manageable system (a Linux or BSD, plus Apache, qmail, &c.), and imposes a rigid fiction on top of it. That superficially friendly GUI requires an underlying framework, one which is impossible to break out of unless you want to scrap the entire thing.

All of this might be acceptable if the system as a whole could be expected to work. Unfortunately, it tends to be completely fucked.

My hypothesis is that this sort of thing is what happens when you try to impose a yes-or-no, checkbox driven interface onto a system which is at heart language based. It is like the difference between a multiple choice test and an essay. Of course, it may just be that Plesk sucks.