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Interview

Michael „d00p“ Kaufmann, lead developer of Froxlor

About ten years ago Michael "d00p" Kaufmann developed Froxlor, one of the largest server management platforms in the German-speaking area and offers it free of charge. Since then the application has been used ten thousand times and is highly praised.
What his motivation is, what stumbling blocks there were and what this has to do with aixit, we shed light on in the big interview:

Michael, please explain to us what Froxlor is doing?
Basically Froxlor is a web interface to manage customers, domains, databases, FTP users, etc... Especially for small to medium sized hosting companies that automatically configure your web server and other services. The whole thing is called server management platform.

What is a special feature of Froxlor in comparison to other platforms?
I often get the feedback, which I personally think is very nice, from users that Froxlor doesn't dig so deep into the system compared to many other systems. There is no own service that has to run, other applications are not excluded, every other service can still be configured freely. This gives the admin the freedom to customize his system without restricting Froxlor's tasks.

How did Froxlor come into being, what were the beginnings?
The predecessor of Froxlor is SysCP. During my training, I joined it out of self-interest, because I did web hosting myself and needed a management panel for it. Over time I got involved in programming and joined the development team.
The project manager resigned later and did not want to continue the project. Since the source code was open, but we didn't have the permission to develop further, a few developers and I split off with a fork and called this Froxlor.
Here we reworked and pushed a lot, with new features and fixes, so that in the end it became a pretty good system.

How did you come up with the name?
That was just a fantasy name. We just spun around and then Froxlor came out. But I still think it's a very nice name today.

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SysCP was Open Source from the beginning and Froxlor is also since its creation about 10 years ago, what were the reasons?
On the one hand we wanted to continue the way of SysCP.
On the other hand, we always appreciated the feedback and the help of the community. So bug reports and feature requests were always part of the development and from my point of view Froxlor lives from this contribution from the community.
Personally, I also like the Open Source idea itself. The approach that when I can use something, others can certainly use it motivates me tremendously. 15,000 installed versions also show that there is a need for this.
And through the large sharing and use this very nice community aspect arises.

Nevertheless, you put a lot of time into this project. Didn't you even think or wish to market Froxlor commercially?
Of course you dream at a young age that you could make a living from it or that there are huge sales. But it's probably not big enough for that.
I think if I had more time for development, you could think about writing and offering paid external modules, but I just don't have the time.
I earned a little bit with paid support, that was quite nice, but of course you can't live on that.

In 2015 a vulnerability was discovered in the Froxlor source code and caused a small wave. How was that for you and how do you deal with it?
At first I was shocked and wondered what I was doing. But then it was just a matter of fixing the gap.
Much more ailing than the message itself were the comments to the code, which is open for everyone. If at the end the style is criticized more than what it does, it's annoying. Especially because it's still partly the historically grown code of SysCP, which we just reworked. But I'm above that now, because there's a lot more positive feedback.

At the same time you also work as a developer at aixit, please tell us briefly what your tasks are here?
Here I develop our internal portal. What our basis is for ticketing, invoicing, order management, customer administration, monitoring and surveillance, reading out electricity and traffic, etc.

Was it always possible to get both under one roof?
It has always worked well so far. Especially, of course, because the aixit management also gives me the freedom to take care of Froxlor requests during working hours. That's not self-evident these days and I'm quite grateful for that.
Now a mean question, which tool is more powerful: Froxlor or the aixit portal?
The portal already covers many more tasks and has a different size. Froxlor doesn't have to be that extensive. That's why the aixit portal is already a different house number.

Finally: You are a passionate bassist, have you ever thought about writing an application that makes learning songs easier or does this remain your analog hobby?
The really active years were a bit ago. Back then I already had a few spinning things in my head here and there like you could build something to play bass with Raspberry Pis. But I never realized it. I missed you time and above all the desire, because it was somehow nicer to just make the music than to develop something here.

Many thanks for the interview.

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