Creating Different Versions of cPanel for different User Groups in WHM

cPanel Packages work great in Domain of One’s Own or Managed Hosting environments where an administrator wants to offer different versions of cPanel to the end user. (i.e. Student vs. Faculty accounts; Beginner vs. Advanced accounts; 1GB vs. 5GB accounts… you get the picture.) Watch the video tutorial below to get a sense of what’s possible, and how you would go about creating your own cPanel packages in WHM.

Introduction: 0:20
Overview: 2:23
Package Settings: 5:15
Feature List: 7:28
Installatron Apps: 9:22
Changing Packages: 14:42

A written guide on cPanel Packages can also be found here.

What to Consider When Organizing Faculty Sites and Coursework in cPanel

I get asked all the time how to best organize work, specifically for Faculty course sites, within cPanel.

Should Faculty put everything in one cPanel, or multiple, separate cPanels? Should they use single application installs or a multisite? Should they use subdomains or subfolders?

My small preface here is that there’s no one “right” way to do all of the above. At the end of the day it really comes down to user preference and what you as the administrator are approving and supporting. This post also doesn’t claim to list all options, but simply the ones that have worked well in my experience:

One cPanel vs. Multiple cPanels

^screenshot pulled from my Multiple cPanels Guide

First and foremost, Domain of One’s Own is priced on a per cPanel basis. In an entry-level package, an institution is given up to 500 cPanels on their server. Those cPanels can be owned by 500 users or by 50 users, and will ultimately be determined by DoOO admins as to whether or not they want end users to have the option of owning more than one cPanel account.

Nine times out of 10 I’ll say that the majority of work can be done within a single cPanel account (with perhaps a bump in storage quota & site resources as needed). cPanel allows for an unlimited number of sites/domains/applications to be added to a single dashboard, which means that a Faculty member could be managing multiple projects, course sites, etc. within their one account.

One exception to the above might be if a Faculty member is the liaison for an institutional club, organization, or event that changes ownership quite frequently. For example: it would be a real pain for the Professor X to leave the university, take their personal portfolio with them, and accidentally remove the website for the school newspaper. In these instances where it is crucial for coursework and personal work to remain completely separate a club or event, a separate cPanel account does make sense.

Single Application Installs or a Multisite?

Again, this really comes down to user preference and the project in mind. There are some obvious benefits to a WordPress Multisite over single WordPress installs– the main one being that management happens within a single application dashboard. If you want to install new themes, update software, configure site settings, etc. you’d really only be doing it once with the knowledge that your work is applied to multiple locations.

Multisites are also great for maintaining previous course sites. For example: Professor X might want to install a WordPress Multisite for their Photography 101 class on, and then have subsites for each semester:

In the above example, Professor X might not be concerned with having separate site designs for each semester, but still wants to keep an archive of previous student work.

Even still, I tend to find myself working with applications as single installs as I need them since I don’t usually have the foresight to think through future projects and set up a multisite in advance. (Now it is possible to convert a single WordPress install to a WordPress Multisite after the fact, but the process is not simple.) I also personally like having separate dashboards for each project because I like keeping projects completely separate, even if it means a little more management on my end. Not entirely rational but there you have it.

There’s plenty of reading out there on the pros & cons of each, so I definitely recommend doing your homework when trying to nail down what will work for you.

Extra Reading:
• WordPress Multisite vs a Single Site vs Multiple Websites [Infographic]
WordPress Multisite vs. A Management Tool: Which Do You Need?
Managing Multiple Sites: WordPress Multisite vs Separate Installations

Subdomains vs. Subfolders

Subfolder examples:

Subdomain examples:

With this one I won’t try to recreate what was already brilliantly said by Tim in this guide, but I will reiterate the following:

Subdomains are generally a cleaner, more elegant solution to organizing your site. You’re less likely to get conflicts or errors. However, when using subdomains there is an extra step involved: you must first create the subdomains before you can install anything on them.

Conflict Example for Subfolders:
Professor X installs a WordPress instance on, and then creates a page that sits at /blog. Fine. But then Professor X could technically go and install another WordPress instance on the subfolder called Yikes. Now Professor X has two separate application installs and both are using /blog. #conflict. If that second WordPress instance was installed on the subdomain, all issues would have been avoided.

Hoping this overview helps clarify some of the options out there for site organization, but I’d be interested to hear in the comments if there’s something working for you that I didn’t mention above!

ELI’s 7 Things about Domain of One’s Own

Well, Domain of One’s Own has finally hit the big time 🙂 Earlier this week the 7 Things to Know about Domain of One’s Own case study was published by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. You can download it from their site, but I’m keeping a version here for posterity as well. I was lucky enough to work on the paper with Martha Burtis, Sundi Richard, Lora Taub-Pervizpour, and Keegan Long-Wheeler to brainstorm with ELI’s Malcolm Brown, Greg Dobbin, and Stephen G Pelletier to try and frame this in a way so that folks will get a sense of what it actually is. I really like the first paragraph of the “What it is?” because it captures nicely how Domains is a powerful combination of philosophy, practice, and tech:

A way of thinking as well as an application of technology, Domain of One’s Own refers to the practice of giving students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to obtain a domain with hosted web space of their own …. By enabling users to build environments for learning and sharing, such domains make possible a liberating array of practices that encourage users to explore how they interact with and present themselves in the online world. While giving users more control over their scholarship, data, and digital identity, these domains encourage an ethos of openness, freedom, and exploration and nurture a practice for shaping and thinking about one’s presence on the web. DoOO also draws users into a community of practice focused on collaboration and sharing.

These concepts were at the heart of the experiment when it started at UMW, and more and more schools are picking up on the simultaneously practical and idealistic vision of making the open web a viable platform for teaching and learning. That’s an awesome thing and can and should be celebrated. It’s taken many, many folks to make it work, and there is no way a two-page report will capture all the nuance and history, but it does an excellent job of providing a snapshot for folks who are dreaming about re-centering ed tech around student, staff, and faculty-centered web for teaching and learning. Avanti!

Activating Installatron Apps on a per User/Group Basis

I’ve seen a little confusion surrounding the ability to enable/disable applications on a per user/group basis within a Domain of One’s Own environment, so I thought I’d follow up with a little tutorial:

We should already know that it’s possible to set different user groups for cPanel accounts via Hosting Packages, and then customize the cPanel features that are accessible to each user group (i.e. Hosting Package) via Feature Manager. But is it also possible to customize which installatron applications are available to each user group?

In short, this is 100% possible. Follow the steps below to read more about this:

Pretend Scenario

Domain of One’s Own administrators have determined two user groups within their hosting environment: Beginner and Advanced users. All users will receive the ‘Beginner’ or ‘default’ cPanel package upon sign up, and then administrators can switch to the Advanced hosting package for one-off users as needed. Now, our administrators want to make sure that our Advanced cPanel accounts have access to more installatron apps while the Beginner cPanel Accounts only have access to, say, WordPress, Omeka, and Scalar.

How To Create Groups of Users in Installatron

Installatron > Groups > Create a New Group:

If you’ve got existing hosting packages already set up, I recommend naming these Installatron groups with corresponding titles. From there, you can assign individual cPanel usernames or entire cPanel packages to that Installatron group:

Click Save.

Now navigate to Installatron > Access Control and select the newly created group in the top right hand corner:

Proceed to enable/disable applications like normal. (Steps on this can be found here.) Click save.

Now, any cPanel username or cPanel package that was added to the Installatron group list will see those changes immediately:

Simple as that!

Community Highlight –

I can’t believe that my last blog post was roughly a month ago! There’s so much that I need to share in this little space and the work at Reclaim is far from slowing down any time soon. But what better way to jump back into blogging than to start a new series of posts showcasing work done in the Reclaim Community? This sort of thing is long overdue, frankly, but there’s no time like the present. On a semi-regular basis, I want to start featuring more work from the DoOO community on my website under the community category because 1) cool sh*t deserves recognition and 2) being able to point to this space for schools that are considering similar projects would be awesome. So, without further ado, everyone check out the new website for!

The team, Daniel Villar-Onrubia, Lauren Heywood, and Noah Mitchell, did a wonderful job in making the homepage both inviting and informative. They tailored sections for both students and educators, followed by easy step-by-step instructions for getting set up in a web hosting environment. Web Hosting can quickly feel intimidating, so ‘getting started’ steps are immediately followed by links to the knowledge base.

Sitting at, the knowledge base is arguably my favorite part of the project. The icons feel like literal stepping stones to navigate the waters of a new web space. More than just documentation with screenshots, this page thoughtfully answers questions like: Why is this important? How do I design a space that’s accessible for everyone? How should I be sourcing images I find on the web? How do I create a privacy policy? How should I structure and organize my various projects? This knowledge base takes on more than just the ‘what-to-do’s’– it tackles the ‘why’s’ and ‘how-should-I’s’, which is equally just as important in a space of newfound digital literacy.

I often get questions from prospective DoOO institutions about how other schools handle Terms of Service and Code of Conducts in this digital space. Having examples is a critical part of that answer, and I really love Coventry’s take on this. They’ve linked to their Terms & Conditions and Code of Conduct right on the footer of their home page, as most institutions end up doing, but Coventry has taken it a step further. They’ve added a Sign Up Notice, written in plain English, in an effort to be completely transparent about how user data is being processed and how it can later be removed. Users have to agree to this before even authenticating with Single Sign On to begin signing up.

If you’re interested in chatting further with Coventry’s Domain of One’s Own team, they can be reached at And as always, feel free to check out other DoOO projects at

A Trip to Wake Forest

Right after the Domains19 Conference, Jim and I had the pleasure of visiting Wake Forest University for a two-day workshop around administering their new Domain of One’s Own instance, Wake Sites. I always appreciate this one-on-one time we can have we schools when afforded the opportunity, and our time at WFU was nothing but productive and rewarding.

On the first morning, we met up with Carrie Johnston, Digital Humanities Research Designer at WFU, to get a lay of the land and take a quick tour of the awesome library which is connected with the Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Digital Scholarship space, and One Button Studio (more on that later).

From there, Jim and I jumped straight into a packed two days that covered everything involved in managing, supporting, and administering Domain of One’s Own. We worked with members from IS, DISC, and IT to look under the hood and conceptualize the technical and pedagogical elements that make up DoOO, and thought through how this initiative might have a lasting impact on WFU campus. On top of the fantastic turnout and conversation, we were stoked to find out that WFU has 14 (!!) instructional technologists ready to rock Domains. So cool.

Jim’s Post: Reclaiming Wake Forest
Carrie’s Post: A Week of Reclaim Hosting

This workshop also stands out to me as a personal favorite, because Jim and I were able to lean on the expertise of others by pulling them in remotely. On the first afternoon, Tim joined us on the first day to speak to Reclaim’s workflow regarding bulk migrations into Domain of One’s Own. On the morning of day two we brought in Lauren Heywood, Martha Burtis, and Alan Levine speak on their various experiences with Domain of One’s Own. Lauren spoke about the OWLTEH usage of SPLOTs, Coventry’s progress with DoOO, and different tools that Faculty are using beyond WordPress. Martha spoke about the DS106 Assignment Bank, her experience with UMW’s Digital Knowledge Center, and why there was a need for DoOO at UMW in the first place. Alan spoke about SPLOTs, Domains as a viable options for EdTech, and tools beyond WordPress.

Not only do I think that giving the folks in the room a break from listening to Jim and myself drone on and on, but the perspective that Tim, Lauren, Martha, and Alan brought to the conversation was invaluable and I’m so thankful!

I mentioned earlier that I had more to say about the One Button Studio.. and that’s because it’s so freaking cool! Taken straight from the website, “The One Button Studio is an automated video recording facility with a student focus…No need to mess with camera, lighting, or audio equipment. Just bring a USB thumb drive and the studio will do the rest.”

Brianna Derr, Manager of Advanced Learning Projects for Academic Technologies, gave us a tour of the One Button studio during one of our breaks and my mind was blown! I really love how dead simple it was to turn on the lights and begin recording almost immediately. The simplicity helped make the the studio space feel very approachable and doable for a newbie such as myself. Click here to read more about the One Button Studio mission!

A sincere thanks to Wake Forest University for hosting the workshop- Jim and I had a blast!

Reclaiming Wake Forest

I’ve been traveling pretty consistently to colleges, universities, and conferences talking WordPress, WordPress Multiuser (than multisite), ds106, and Domains of One’s Own for around 13 or 14 years now. When I visited Wake Forest University soon after Domains19 last month I wondered how many different university campuses I’ve seen over that time? I’m no Bryan Alexander so it’s not hundreds (or even thousands?) of schools,  but at this point it’s probably approaching 100.* But all this self-congratulatory, thought-leaderish campus tour talk is to say it does not get old for me. I like college campuses a lot. I spent most of my adult life connected with them as either a student or a professional, and at their very best they represent a protected space for free thinking, exploring, and experimenting in a collaborative environment. I understand all too well that’s not the whole picture, but it’s a powerful enough reality to make the inevitable campus politics coupled with trailing edge salaries almost tolerable 🙂

Fact is, every time I visit a campus part of me is transported back to the moment I was a freshman stepping foot on George Mason’s campus for the first time in 1989. With that experience came a sense of  personal independence and the promise of possibility that has been hard to reproduce in other experiences I’ve had since. I was there to learn—whatever the hell that meant to me then. It’s a feeling that I often get when stepping onto a new college campus, and that was definitely the case at Wake Forest University last month. It’s a gorgeous 350 acre campus north of Winston-Salem’s Old Town. The university re-located there from the town of Wake Forest  (near Raleigh, North Carolina) after the Reynolds family (of the  RJ Reynolds Tobacco fortune) donated the land in the 1950s. In fact, pretty much everything surrounding the campus is part of the Reynolda Historic District, and we were lucky enough to stay at Graylyn, a Norman Revival style mansion on 85 acres replete with outdoor (and indoor) pools, a farm complex, the garage guest house, and the main manor house. The place was nothing short of insane, making my transition from Europe that much easier 🙂

Staying at hotels on the National Register of Historic Places certainly adds to the overall experience. What’s more, my daughter Tess was traveling with me on this trip and she will never take my complaining about travel seriously after that. 

“But godspeed the punchline, Jimmy, you started this post with an actual point, didn’t you?” You are probably thinking. And, to be clear, I did have something I wanted to share, and while I feel your pain it’s probably not as acute as yours. Wake Forest, thanks to championing of Dr. Carrie Johnston, has been working on rolling out Domain of One’s Own across campus. They have been quite thoughtful and thorough about the rollout, and this trip was an opportunity to meet with the various parties involved for a hands-on for system admins, as well as some practical examples of possibilities. Lauren Brumfield and I have done a few of these, and I really think we have a pretty good rhythm at this point. In fact, after this workshop I realized Lauren is probably more on her game during these workshops than I am, between her confidence presenting, expansive knowledge of all elements of a Domains setup (no small thing), and her growing ability to read the room and make the necessary adjustments she has far exceeded the skills of her, admittedly limited, docent. 

Before day 1 got started we got to meet Carrie who was waiting for us at Lauren’s reserved parking spot (they most have sensed what I just articulated finally) and I became an immediate fan. Carrie came to Wake Forest after doing a Digital Humanities post-doc at Bucknell University. It’s at Bucknell that she first started exploring hosting for DH projects through Reclaim Hosting, and when she got her position as Digital Humanities Research Designer at Wake Forest that she started to push for a digital home for a variety of web-based projects. And, filed under it’s a small world, the CIO of Wake Forest is Mur Muchane, who was previously at Davidson College and also came to visit UMW’s Convergence Center when I was working there in 2015.  Mur is awesome, and it was immediately obvious he is a strong advocate for the digital work happening on campus. It was an absolute joy to chat with a CIO that so deeply understands and so willing to respond to the diverse technological needs of any campus community trying to imagine teaching, learning, and scholarship in the digital age. 

So, with Mur being the start of our first day at Wake Forest I already got the sense this was a school with support and resources for the digital work already happening. That was cemented when I realized the workshop would have well over 25 people attending both days. I don’t think we’ve ever had this kind of turn out, and when we did the introductions that morning I realized that their were 14 Instructional Technologists on campus, all of whom have extensive experience running faculty sites through cPanel. It’s as if I was in heaven. Wake Forest has been providing much of the resources we package through Domain of One’s Own, and in many ways we are simply a solution to integrate automation of accounts, single sign-on, and get the servers off-campus. It was really a heartening to see that the work we are doing at Reclaim is truly based in the work Instructional Technologists have been doing for years to provide alternative online publishing platforms for their community. Much of the morning was focused on migrating the accounts from their existing cPanel accounts to their Domains instance, a.k.a Wake Sites, which will be dead simple thanks to cPanel’s transfer tool. The afternoon was a deep-dive into managing WHM (the cPanel server) and WHMCS (the client manager software for the cPanel server). It was an intense, but rewarding, first day.

Day 2 started with me giving a talk about some practical examples of Domains and various uses, as well as the philosophy behind the approach that seemed to be fairly well received. My point has not really changed in 13 years, given faculty and students a space on the web to fashion their online identity using relevant tools, and sites they create should be managed and controlled by them and ultimately portable. After that we had Martha Burtis, Lauren Heywood, and Alan Levine  join us remotely to talk about SPLOTs.

They killed it, and the discussion provided the framework for the rest of the day, which was to highlight the power of creating application-based templates through Installatron, and playing with what that looks like with the various SPLOTs we’ve already integrated in Wake Sites, such as TRU Collector, TRU Writer, various portfolio templates, and more. 

The workshop was really heartening for me because sometimes even I sometimes wonder if Domains is the best way at some of these things. And while there are always better ways, my trip to Wake Forest reminded me that the infrastructure Reclaim is providing and supporting is fundamental to framing a digital transformation on campus that is premised on equipping people to both understand and take more direct ownership of the work they publish on the web. A welcome reminder, and a special thank you to Carrie Johnston for making it happened, bringing us there, and being awesome.

*If I ever have the time and headspace I’m gonna try and piece that list together.

Onboarding for DoOO

One of my responsibilities as Account Manager for Reclaim Hosting is to constantly be questioning how we can make the overall customer experience better for our Managed Hosting and DoOO schools. My natural thought process here has been to break the ‘customer experience’ down into phases, and then evaluate those phases. More or less, here’s the general experience: 1. initial contact, 2. interest follow up, 3. contract commitment, 4. setup and onboarding, 5. post onboarding follow up, 6. regular check-ins, 7. ongoing support, 8. contract renewal, 9. repeat 6, 7, & 8.

As Reclaim has grown, we’ve done quite a bit of work to organize and streamline phases 1-3. We’ve created a Sales channel in Zendesk that all leads are funneled through, integrated the use of SuiteCRM, and Jim and I meet once a week to make sure we’re on the same page about the status of all accounts.

When I moved into the Account Manager position, one of my first ideas was to rethink how we handle phases 5 & 6, which at the time felt almost nonexistent. We now set reminders to check in with accounts a few weeks after they receive initial training, and we also send out semesterly newsletters that are specific to each school to help prompt regular communication. These newsletters not only share the latest happenings at Reclaim, but they also share specific statistics about the project server (like # of accounts, disk quota, bandwidth, etc.)

Phase 7, ongoing support, has always been top-notch, and I think phase 8, contract renewal, has been a natural symptom of that. Even still, we’ve just brought on Judith, our new Customer Support Manager, to help us stay organized and manage that growth. We’re also in the process of hiring two part-time employees to take on support during off-hours.

I write all this to say that its now time to turn to Phase 4, the training, which is arguably the most important step. “Teaching to fish,” as they say, will ultimately set a solid foundation for thoughtful check-ins, decreased # of support tickets, and a longer project timeline. The training phase can obviously vary depending on the given project, but the initial onboarding for Domain of One’s Own is more or less the same.

Up until now, when new DoOO schools have entered Phase 4, either Jim or I will hop on a call with the new administrators and take them on a walkthrough of their new DoOO system. We give them the ‘keys to the kingdom’, so to speak, but so much ground is covered in that initial meeting that you can kind of sense eyes glazing over. What’s more, the new admins haven’t had a chance to roll up their sleeves and dig in, so they don’t have any questions and discussion can end rather quickly. As a result, we end up repeating a lot of that initial training in a follow up meeting a few weeks later. This ends up making more work on our end, and ultimately drags out the training for the new admins.

Enter new onboarding video, Introduction to Domain of One’s Own:

The idea here that this video will replace that first introductory training meeting. New DoOO schools can view this at their leisure (and then rewind, pause, and view again) before meeting with Jim or myself. My hope is now when we do meet, new DoOO admins will have the basics down pat and we can get to the good stuff like SPLOTs, email templates, migration strategies, etc., as well as any questions that come up from watching the video. I’ll also be sending this overview to DoOO schools that might need a refresher (perhaps they’ve hired a new team member, for instance), or potential DoOO schools that want an in-depth look beyond

^summary page on the DoOO Onboarding video

This video has been a long time coming (it was recorded back at the beginning of February) but it feels good to finally take this step. Next on my list is thinking about how this information, the metaphorical ‘keys’, are delivered to a new DoOO team. I’ve got the DoOO Admin landing page in my back pocket, but now with the onboarding video, system credentials, and initial strategies to send, I want to do this in a clean, thoughtful way that won’t get lost in an email. I’m currently looking at Dropbox’s Showcase amongst other ideas, but will welcome any recommendations!

Berg Builds Community

It’s been a week of travel and on-the-ground work at Reclaim’s Headquarters in Fred Vegas, but I would be remiss if I did not share the awesome community portal the folks at Muhlenberg College have built with their Domains instance.

Community site for Berg Builds

It’s a beautiful thing, scores of featured sites  around the community that can be filtered by a few key categories such as research, travel, portfolio, student, staff, faculty, etc. The screenshot above does not capture the long scroll of sites that provides an instant sense of just how much work is happening in the Muhlenberg community, and for me that is everything. I continually return to the idea that these educational publishing platforms are at their core a way to reveal the life of the mind of a community, and Berg Builds has nailed it. From what I understand the great Tim Clarke is behind this project, and he has really done a brilliant job, simple, elegant, and sensitive to the issues that surround be out there in this day and age. 

The opt-in/opt-out form does a nice job of inviting submissions as well as providing a place for users to remove their work if need be. And the blurb introducing the form lays it all out:

We try to keep up with all the great work happening on Berg Builds domains. But sites come and go, people wander, the world forever marches onward. If we’ve missed your site and you would like to be included in this community, please use the opt-in form below and let us know!

Working on the open web adds our voices, knowledge, and experience to the greatest collection of human creativity ever known. But we understand that folks seek visibility of their work on the web in different ways. While we encourage everyone to share their creations within our Berg Builds Community site, we also understand that you may have reasons why this doesn’t feel right. If you would like to have your site removed, please use the opt-out form below and we will honor your request.

I remain a true believer that working on the web can provide a unique space to share our work, and I also believe there is a special place on the web for higher ed given its foundational role in help shaping the internet. That said, we know the other side of that coin all too well these days, which makes the work Muhlenberg is doing to highlight the good work folks are doing all the more special. Opening up the inscrutable black box that is web hosting for discovery and connections is an act filled with hope and promise—it’s hard not to feel inspired.

I am looking forward to a play-by-play of this project, and imagine it’s either already published or on the way. And hey, there may even be a presentation in the works for Domains19—ya never, never know!

Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing

I appreciate NYU Libraries’ straightforward approach to their Domain of One’s Own project, they basically say, we’re hosting …. that’s it. In fact, it’s right in their domain:

So when someone recently asked me for various examples of how schools are approaching Domains, I headed over to NYU’s instance, and I was struck again by their ability to quickly distill what this service is and is not.

The Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing table breaks down the difference between something like a WordPress Multisite instance versus a Domain of One’s Own quite nicely. You could argue the last point about portability given WordPress sites on WPMS are pretty easy to migrate, but regardless it is spot on.

Web Hosting vs. Web Publishing
Requires intermediate web publishing skills Great for those new to website development
Backend Server Access via cPanel, SSH, and FTP Simple User Interface
Allows for one-click installs and endless customization of self-hosted WordPress, Scalar, and Omeka Limited to WordPress and NYU-approved themes and plugins
No charge to NYU users and easy to migrate upon graduation No charge to NYU user

I sometimes get defensive when folks I respect bemoan how hard self-hosting remains. I do think the point is a fair one and a Domains roll-out will never (nor was it ever meant to) replace various other university-provided tools that create less friction for publishing—even if some need replacing. But I do think web hosting as a basic utility should have a more prominent place at universities like it does at the NYU Libraries. The way they frame it around research, scholarship, and publishing for the digital era should not seem alien anymore. It should be yet another service universities offer alongside the others because there will increasingly be more and more faculty and students who want and need control over their publishing environments for the academic work they are doing.