What's New in Parallels Plesk Panel 11.5

We are happy to announce that Plesk 11.5 is now publicly available!

The goal of this release was to make the Panel a better and more reliable tool for both Web hosts and Website owners. In fact, with this release, we consider the Panel to be vastly improved product. To reach this goal, Plesk was significantly reworked both inside and outside. We improved almost every aspect: Plesk internal architecture, the GUI, the website file structure, and many more areas.

We know that change sometimes requires re-training and re-learning, so we have become cautious about making changes to Plesk. However, this time, as we make some significant changes to dramatically improve Plesk, we hope we are doing it right - with a public preview process that started 6 months ahead of the release, with literally thousands of feedback reports analyzed, and with multiple discussions with customer groups at conferences to validate these changes.

Please download and try Plesk 11.5. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Here is a closer look at the changes.

     

More Choice and Control

  1. You can have multiple versions of PHP on any server, and define the PHP version per website. Now you can install any PHP version on Plesk for Linux in addition to the supplied one. This can be your custom PHP build or PHP downloaded from an alternative repository. Additional versions are selected per site and work with the FastCGI or CGI handlers.
  2. To gain maximum performance, you can use our new Hybrid Web Server. You can run PHP scripts using the nginx web server (while other scripts can still be executed in Apache). We call this a Hybrid Web server - where static content and PHP scripts are both sent to nginx.
  3. Better webmail solutions. You now have support for Roundcube as a webmail client. It is supported out of the box in Plesk for Linux. Also, Horde is updated to Horde IMP 5.0.
  4. Plesk 11.5 supports Secure FTP. Be PCI compliant and mitigate risks of intercepting user passwords.

     

Improved Transfer from Earlier Versions

Plesk 11.5 makes transfer from Plesk 8/9/10 and 11 much easier with pre-checks of possible transfer limitations, consolidated and easy-to-browse logs, non-invasive information messages and multiple smaller improvements.

  1. The Migration and Transfer Manager is now frontloaded to inform about possible limitations in advance, giving the opportunity to reconfigure servers (enable services, add disk space, etc) before beginning.
  2. More streamlined process that separates errors from simple information. The user is no longer bombarded with numerous warnings during the server-to-server transfer process (which was previously called "migration"). Added "Information" messages for informing user about harmless events.
  3. Much easier troubleshooting with all relevant logs in one folder. For example, everything about recent transfer is in /usr/local/psa/PMM/logs/migration-2013-04-10-19-39-22-557/
  4. Enabled transfer of sites with remote databases. Now such sites can be transferred without "Database already exists" errors. Just be careful and do not remove the database with the old site (suspend the old site instead).
  5. Uses pigz instead of gzip for backup compression. In our tests on hardware servers, backup speed increased by 3.5 times.
  6. Much faster on Windows:
    • Mail data are dumped and restored in native mail server format (IceWarp, Smartmail, MailEnable) instead of slow IMAP
    • Introduced deferred file transfer for less traffic and sooner response.
    • Now using native MS SQL backup (faster) for local MS SQL installations.

      

Responded to Customer Frustrations and Requests about "Pain Points"

  1. Support additional administrators on Linux. No need to share your password.
  2. A DB user can access multiple databases. Same credentials for all databases.
  3. Automatically generated passwords. Don't waste your time on thinking up a strong password, just click the Generate button.
  4. Easy creation of the Control Panel user account for mail users. Just check the option when creating a mail user.
  5. Support for mixed case domain names and apostrophe symbols (') in mail names: o'ReiLLy@Example.coM.
  6. Optional restriction of changing system user name (the one customers use for access over FTP).
  7. Clearing mail queue right from the UI.
  8. More detailed Disk Usage chart to prevent questions "What takes those 10Gb?"

We know that there are still things to improve on. If you want to suggest a new feature or an improvement, visit http://plesk.uservoice.com to submit your ideas and vote to increase the priority of your favorite items.

     

Lower Re-Training Time

To lower re-training time for Linux administrators, we significantly reworked the structure of the user's home directory. Put your files where you need them, don't be confused with "strange" system folders, and easily locate what you need.

  1. In earlier versions, users had to see many internal directories they didn't really need. Some important directories, like "logs" were located deep inside the home directory structure. DocRoot directories had meaningless names and it was quite complicated to bring secure files outside of the DocRoot.
  2. Yes, we understand that changing directories' structure may seem even worse than changing the UI, but the former structure caused so much confusion that it had to be changed at some point.
  3. Now, any user starts only with:

    error_docs/

    httpdocs/

    logs/

It is much easier, isn't it?

      

Reworked User Interface

Website management & usability is what Plesk was created for, so we reworked the UI to make working with sites and domains the central focus of Plesk. Although the Plesk 10.x UI perhaps seemed attractive, its site operations usability definitely required some improvements:

  1. The website management page was not the default one. This required a number of steps from a user to get to the list of sites or domains after logging into Plesk.
  2. Website management page was focused on settings. The list of settings was the first thing users saw on the screen, although a typical site hardly requires changes to its settings more often than once a month.
  3. After adding a new site, the users were left frustrated with multiple icons on the screen and the "What do I do next?" question.

We thoroughly read thousands of feedback reports to analyze these problems. Although we knew design changes are painful, we decided to make them for the sake of our customers. And here is how Plesk 11.5 addresses the issues above:

  1. Sites are the most important part of Plesk, so now they are the first thing users see in the Control Panel. We removed the Home tab as these shortcuts appeared to be an extra and unnecessary page.
  2. Sites are presented in the form of an Active List - with direct access to actions relevant to sites. Each list item for a website is made bigger to display more information and relevant actions for the site. We see great potential in the Active List representation form and plan to extend its functionality in future Plesk releases. A Classic View is also possible.
  3. For each site, you will see a list of operations you have seen before. Moreover, we separated two important options that were very hard to discover: "Website settings" and "PHP settings". In addition, the new "Web server settings" option will make the website owner's life easier by giving them the tools to adjust Apache, nginx, or IIS settings directly from the UI.
  4. After you create a new site, you can select one of the quick site construction ways: Presence Builder (if available), Applications (if available) or Generic Site (upload files and create databases).
  5. Once you make your choice (Presence Builder, Applications, or Generic Site), you will get a shortcut to the selection. For example, if a site is based on Wordpress , you will see the link to the Wordpress administrative interface right below the site name.
  6. The most important information from the Home page (like system info, Plesk version, and so on) was moved to the right sidebar on the Websites & Domains page, so you can easily locate it when necessary.

     

Seamless Webmaster Experience

In Plesk 11.5, we analyzed numerous possible gaps and inconveniences which could frustrate a Webmaster, and we fixed them. Setup and operate sites in an SEO-safe manner which includes appropriate configuration of redirects, domain aliases, www-prefix and appropriate site suspend.

  1. Domain aliases and domains' WWW-prefix are re-configured in a search engine-friendly manner ensuring higher rank of your site in search results. This includes the configurable canonical name (AKA preferred name) for a site - either with the WWW prefix or without it.
  2. Domain forwarders are also search engine-friendly now - you can choose from two types of redirect (moved permanently or moved temporarily).
  3. Plesk 11.5 also suspends sites in a search engine-friendly manner, preserving indexed pages for search engines and preventing them from being substituted with the "Site not available" page.
  4. Now you can configure Apache, nginx, IIS settings for individual sites both for common needs and also for some custom tricks*.

* administrator only

      

Reworked Applications Experience

The over 200 free and commercial applications in the Parallels catalog are now easy to browse, easy to find, quick to install, easy to upsell (if hoster), easy to update (even auto-update!). In Plesk 11.5, there is:

  1. Much easier setup of Applications Upsell for hosting providers - by means of Add-ons. Also, search-as-you-type is now supported when adding applications to a service plan or add-on.
  2. Quick install of applications with no questions asked - Install apps seamlessly.
  3. Much easier application browsing. Now you can filter out free and commercial apps, sort them by popularity, see the number of apps in each category (no empty categories or applications whose requirements cannot be met by your environment).
  4. You can install a specific version of an application (for example, if you expect plug-in compatibility issues).
  5. Keeping applications up-to-date is easier now. Users get update notifications and can turn on automatic updates of apps. Hosting providers can turn on forced updates of all applications on the server.
  6. We added the support for APS mail aspect into 11.5. So, such applications as OpenXchange can be seamlessly integrated into the Control Panel.

     

More User-Friendly and Convenient Command Line Utilities

For many years, the primary focus of Plesk were assumed to be using the UI. However, we believe that command line is equally important and the command-line tools should also be easy to work with. Plesk 11.5 makes the CLI convenient for server administrators with easy hub with BASH auto-completion to access Plesk tools, logs, configs and administrative database (1) and config monitor to watch recent changes and restore to a safe point (2).

  1. In 11.5, we introduce a universal utility that allows running all Plesk CLI utilities on Linux, working with Plesk databases, and even more. And yes, this utility supports autocomplete.

    plesk bin domain --create … - create a new domain

    plesk logs … - check logs

    plesk db - just open the Plesk database

    plesk version - check the current version

    plesk help - find out more

  2. Monitor and backup server-wide settings (the cfgmon utility) - if the configuration is broken, you can revert to a previous version or see the changes made to it (even if it was modified by Plesk itself).

    plesk sbin cfgmon --list-all - see modification dates for all known files

    plesk sbin cfgmon -s /path/to/file - see the history of file changes or see the changes themselves

    plesk sbin cfgmon -f /path/to/file -r 12 - compare the specific older configuration with the current one

     

Third-Party Repositories and Updated Components

Plesk 11.5 makes server administrator and infrastructure provider life easier with support of well-known Atomic and Remi repositories which provide multiple third-party updates. Plus, Plesk 11.5 contains updates for a variety of third-party components including (but not limited to)

 

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