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Thread: Webtools - Configure installed Unslung and other packages

  1. #1
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    Webtools - Configure installed Unslung (and other) packages

    I've been kinda quiet on this forum for a few weeks now. This had a reason, I was working on a project called: WebTools. I think this tool can be useful for everyone who's using (or planning to use) the Unslung ipkg packages.

    If you're getting interested -> read on! For Linksys NSLU2 users: WebTools is also being developed for your device. In fact WebTools is developed for all embedded devices!

    Introduction
    With the Unslung packages available for the Linksys NSLU2 and Asus WL-500g, the owner of one of these has the opportunity to expand the functionality to the fullest.

    While the original firmwares offer a webinterface to configure all the functionality of the device, when a user wants to install or configure an Unslung package he or she needs quite some experience with Linux commands to perform all the actions needed to install and configure the extra packages.

    This is where WebTools steps in. It allows the user to easilly install and manage installed packages through a uniform webinterface.

    Goal
    The goal of WebTools is mainly to become a website for configuring installed and installing Unslung ipkg packages. In the long run WebTools might also be used as the default websetup in custom firmwares for devices like the Asus WL-500g and Linksys NSLU2.

    The basic idea is to couple Unslung ipkg packages with a plugin for WebTools and require/advise the user to install the WebTools framework. This way, when a user adds an Unslung package to it’s setup, the package will automatically add a plugin to the plugin directory of the WebTool website. The WebTool framework will then automatically recognise the plugin and enable it for the user.

    In short: WebTools is essentially a lightweight pluginable framework to which (3rd party) plugins can easily be added.

    Still interested? You can find the WebTools project website here: http://webtools.wl500g.info

    Discussion:
    This topic has been started to get a discussion going about WebTools. This includes:
    - Questions
    - Remarks
    - Bugreports
    - Performance
    - Feature requests etc.

    Please don't edit the WIKI pages on http://webtools.wl500g.info yet.

    Warning: There are going to be a lot of changes on the code for WebTools for a while. This also means that I cannot guarantee that 3rd party plugins continue to work in my next releases (Although I'm trying not to break existing code). The main goal of these (developer) releases is to get feedback on the general idea. Perhaps some of you are willing to put some time in creating your own plugins and report how they progress.

    Oh, and one more thing: Please don't judge me on the PHP code produced until now. I'm not a professional webdeveloper
    Last edited by Styno; 12-04-2005 at 15:03.

  2. #2
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    Version 0.2b is officially out

    (Also removed all pre-release posts and move the thread to 'Custom development')
    Last edited by Styno; 12-04-2005 at 14:22.

  3. #3
    GREAT WORK! The WL-500g is slowly but surely becoming one of the most powerful while still economical home routers available (well--its software is being vastly improved, anyway). And now, thanks to users like you, it's becoming user-friendly at the same time--something this router badly needs. Thanks for the hard work.

  4. #4
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    Well I'm enjoying the enormous amounts of feedback until now, LOL.

    Seems like noone is using Unslung packages or has tried WebTools? C'mon folks talk to me; what do you think?

  5. #5
    Maybe everybody is waiting for the 0.3 release? I'm interested in your project, but I don't need it right now, as I'm trying some other thinks like booting a PC over NFS on wl-hdd. I'll check with your next release, as I'll have more time for it. But don't worry, if you stop working on it, there will be complains

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hugo
    Maybe everybody is waiting for the 0.3 release? I'm interested in your project, but I don't need it right now, as I'm trying some other thinks like booting a PC over NFS on wl-hdd. I'll check with your next release, as I'll have more time for it. But don't worry, if you stop working on it, there will be complains
    Well 0.3 release is a long way and will take quite some time as i'm only able to work on WebTools in the evenings and weekends. But if you (or anyone) want to support this project, just try it out and tell me what you think.

    Edit: BTW, what interests you so much about 0.3 that you'll wait for that (I might change the order of implementation if required)?
    Last edited by Styno; 13-04-2005 at 13:46.

  7. #7
    Actually, this is the support for nvram variable, otherwise the package is not really different that for example a webmin interface that I did already setup on my debian chroot until it is adapted to wl modules.
    I'm going to try it right now anyway, to tell you what I think.

  8. #8
    This is a nice set of tools, and I really look forward some dedicated modules like the vsftpd one.

    One think though is the fact the file is in zip form. I don't know if I'm missing something, but I cannot keep the user rights unziping it. Maybe it was supposed to a in tar format?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hugo
    Actually, this is the support for nvram variable, otherwise the package is not really different that for example a webmin interface that I did already setup on my debian chroot until it is adapted to wl modules.
    I'm going to try it right now anyway, to tell you what I think.
    Ok, but I can't imagine webmin installed on the WL-500g... Perhaps if you run it from an usb device, but webmin is probably so heavy it won't run well on the router. Thats where webmin steps in, it may aim at similar functionality as webmin but is much lighter at the same time...

    Have you tried running Webmin on the WL-500g? If yes, does it work well (I'm curious )?
    Quote Originally Posted by hugo
    This is a nice set of tools, and I really look forward some dedicated modules like the vsftpd one.

    One think though is the fact the file is in zip form. I don't know if I'm missing something, but I cannot keep the user rights unziping it. Maybe it was supposed to a in tar format?
    Yes, the zip file format was Jean-Fabrice' concern as well. I shall change it to tar.gz tonight. The zip file orignates from the fact that I develop WebTools on a Windows machine....

    I'm also trying to get WebTools into Unslung package list tonigh, so you can just 'ipkg install webtools', but I doubt if this will succeed in one evening...
    Last edited by Styno; 13-04-2005 at 18:32.

  10. #10
    Hum this is maybe where my Wl-HDD choice brighten: Actually I can run webmin and many other think not at light speed, but fast enough to use it normally. Of course, a dedicated and lighter administration pack is welcome. But you would be surprised by the number of programs that can run out of a Wl-HDD with debian install (I even run X with a VNC server )

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by hugo
    Hum this is maybe where my Wl-HDD choice brighten: Actually I can run webmin and many other think not at light speed, but fast enough to use it normally. Of course, a dedicated and lighter administration pack is welcome. But you would be surprised by the number of programs that can run out of a Wl-HDD with debian install (I even run X with a VNC server )
    Hmm, that ain't 'good' news for WebTools... Do you have any idea how easy it is to create new content for Webmin?

    About the tar files: I converted all the files in WebTools-0.2b to Unix and created tar.gz files for download.

  12. #12
    I like the idea to be able to see if something is possible, then to use a specific tailored package for the device. You webtool falls in this category to replace webmin.

  13. #13
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    I just tested WebTools on my WL-500g (I had some problems with my HDD, thats why I didn't have the chance to test it earlier) and immediately ran into some bugs. But I've fixed them and now I have a Linux question:

    The thttpdphp daemon is running with the nobody account. So WebTools is not allowed to write to a config file in /opt/etc because it doesn't have admin rights. I think there are 3 options here:
    - Change to admin temporary while editing the config file
    - Run the webserver using the admin account (security risk)
    - Change the permissions of the config files in /opt/etc.

    Which one should be the best solution for this problem?

    Edit: And the answer is: Run the webserver with the admin account.
    Last edited by Styno; 13-04-2005 at 23:07.

  14. #14
    Just for your information...

    The reason I don't use the web interface much on the router itself is because of the insecurity of it. The password, an extremely important item, is transferred unencrypted. That's... not good at all.

    But this is a different topic--I know. Here's the interesting bit: Webtools seems like a tool for newbies to me (which is a good thing, of course!). However, the installation procedure may not be extremely user-friendly (even if it was, there's still the complex bit of setting up a flash device for some users!). This forum has very little information about installation procedure that must not be adapted in some way to fit a user's circumstances, and how often does a newbie even know his circumstances or how to manipulate linux commands to do this?

    I cannot dismiss the fact that you have a nice installation procedure on the website, Styno. However, it's hard to keep into perspective how much else is going on there that newbies probably don't understand. I think one way to handle this could be to set up a new page on the generic web interface which allows users to do all of this simple stuff (set up their USB device, download and install the latest webtools).

    I don't know. This is all stuff I probably would work more on if I knew how to compile the firmware for WL-500g. But I can't even figure out something so simple yet (I have limited experience with linux compilations but slightly more with actual programming; if I can get coLinux working correctly it will probably work).

    ANYWAY--I'll repeat that I think Webtools is a definite step in the right direction. In my mind, the ultimate goal is for users to not, at all, have to use a shell--ever. And if that happens, you can bet this forum will pick up.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for your input Tomilius, I appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomilius
    The reason I don't use the web interface much on the router itself is because of the insecurity of it. The password, an extremely important item, is transferred unencrypted. That's... not good at all.
    Knowing that the Asus webinterfase (that's what you're talking about right?) is only reachable from within the LAN or WLAN area's, there's not much to fear from the password being unencrypted?
    Quote Originally Posted by tomilius
    But this is a different topic--I know. Here's the interesting bit: Webtools seems like a tool for newbies to me (which is a good thing, of course!). However, the installation procedure may not be extremely user-friendly (even if it was, there's still the complex bit of setting up a flash device for some users!). This forum has very little information about installation procedure that must not be adapted in some way to fit a user's circumstances, and how often does a newbie even know his circumstances or how to manipulate linux commands to do this?

    I cannot dismiss the fact that you have a nice installation procedure on the website, Styno. However, it's hard to keep into perspective how much else is going on there that newbies probably don't understand. I think one way to handle this could be to set up a new page on the generic web interface which allows users to do all of this simple stuff (set up their USB device, download and install the latest webtools).
    You are absolutely right, compiling a complete list of command to be executed until you have working WebTools (Or other Unslung package for that matter) would be an absolute must and the list would be long, very long.

    On the other hand: Unslung packages and WebTools are both new to the Asus WL-500g, think back to the days that Oleg brought us Samba: No webinterface, lots of commands to execute to get things running. But now, after a few more firmware releases you can configure it, partly, through the webinterface.

    When WebTools is mature enough to actually be used by newbies, I'll think of having a chat with Oleg to see what can be done to integrate WebTools into the firmware. This could greatly reduce the barrier for using WebTools AND Unslung packages. This stage is IMHO some distance away and until then the only thing I can do is make the HOWTO on as complete as possible, so there probably is a need to add info about enabling flash etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomilius
    ANYWAY--I'll repeat that I think Webtools is a definite step in the right direction. In my mind, the ultimate goal is for users to not, at all, have to use a shell--ever. And if that happens, you can bet this forum will pick up.
    Well, as the Goal on webtools states, this is something I'm trying to accomplish with it.
    Last edited by Styno; 14-04-2005 at 08:38.

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