cPanel is a Unix based web hosting control panel that provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a web site. cPanel uses a three tier structure which makes is possible for administrators, resellers and end-user website owners to control the various aspects of website and server administration through using a standard web browser.
In addition to the GUI, cPanel also has command line and API-based access that allows third party software vendors, web hosting organizations and developers to automate all standard standard system administration processes.
cPanel has the ability to function as either a dedicated server or virtual private server. Application-based support includes Apache, PHP, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Perl and BIND (DNS). Email based support includes POP3, IMAP, SMTP services.
The software was originally designed as the control panel for Speed Hosting, a web hosting company that no longer exists.
cPanel provides front-ends for a number of common operations, including the management of PGP keys, crontab tasks, mail and FTP accounts, and mailing lists.
There are several add-ons available, some for an additional charge, the most notable are the Auto Installers like Installatron, Fatastico, SimpleScripts, Softaculous and WHMSonic (SHOUTcast/radio Control Panel Add-on).
Auto Installers are a bundle of scripts which automate the installation (and update of) web applications such as WordPress, SMF, phpBB, Drupal, Joomla!, Tiki Wiki CMS Groupware, Geeklog, Moodle, MagicSpam WHMCS, and ZamFoo.
cPanel manages some software packages separately from the underlying operating system, applying upgrades to Apache, PHP, MySQL, and related software packages automatically. This ensures that these packages are kept up-to-date and compatible with cPanel.