Google Operating System – Chrome

July 9, 2009


I remember last year when Google Chrome was launched thinking it was only a matter of time before they followed suit with an operating system. Here are number of my favourite blogs on the subject.

It’s been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Five Reasons Google Chrome OS Will Fail

Eleven Questions About Google’s Chrome OS

Chrome – living in a Google world?

5 Ways Microsoft Will Bring the Hurt to Google Chrome OS

3 reasons you’ll hate Chrome OS

Author: Support @ 1:28 am

Open Source Help Desks

May 4, 2009


Last month we decided that we needed something a bit stronger than Basecamp for logging IT support requests. So it was time again to look at open source helpdesk solutions. Here is a brief summary of our research.

Our requirements are:-

  • Easy and fast to log support calls
  • Web based
  • Customer and contract driven
  • Knowledge Base
  • Service Level Agreements – Reports
  • Friendly and professional looking
  • PHP / Perl based
  • Isn’t a dead project


  1. Asset Tracker – Old, not easy on the eye
  2. Astres – Written in French and designed for Civil aviation
  3. BATTS – Couldn’t see any screen shots or documentation, felt too technie
  4. BugTracker.NET – Needs Windows Server ASP.NET
  5. Bugzilla – Designed more for software development than IT support
  6. DITrack – Command line driven
  7. Double Choco Latte – Maybe a dead project? Doesn’t look too appealing.
  8. Eventum – Software development rather than IT support
  9. Helpdesk Reloaded – Looks dated
  10. Helpdesk Issue Management – No Knowledge base or statistic
  11. Information Resource Manager – I looked at this one a couple of years ago but appears the project is now dead

This list was made up from

In the end we decided to give Sitracker a bash. Hopefully post an update in the future on how we’ve got on with it.

Firefox 3

June 17, 2008

Download Day 2008

If you’ve not already installed Firefox 3 or even worst still, not even installed Firefox before (Web Browser) then today is the day to do so.

Author: Support @ 12:00 pm

Open Source Helpdesk Software – Part One

May 3, 2008

One of our clients has recently asked us to advise them on which open source (free) helpdesk would be best serve their business. Basic requirements are…

  • Enterprise Strength – Is capable of supporting 100’s of users in different physical locations
  • Hardware & Software Asset Register – Can also be used to track the companies IT resources for auditing purposes
  • Web Based – Doesn’t require any additional software to be installed locally, just a web browser
  • Reporting Capabilities – Produce highlevel reports for both helpdesk statistics and asset register
  • Ticket Issuing Number / Reference Number – Users are assigned a ticket number when they submit a support request
  • Ticket Priority – Users and the support team can priorities tickets
  • Knowledge Base – Users can check the knowledge base or FAQ before submitting a support request. The support team can build up KB articles from pervious support requests that have been resolved.

Using and Open Source Helpdesk List we narrowed it down to just three pieces of software. Information Resource Manager, One or Zero Helpdesk and ORTS Open Request Ticket System.

Information Resource Manager

IRM is a powerful web-based asset tracking and trouble ticket system built for IT departments and Helpdesks. It keeps detailed information about each computer, as well as a complete history and a trouble ticket system. The asset tracking and trouble tickets are closely coupled.

Our analysis…

+ Uses PHP (We prefer PHP)

+/- Version 2 coming soon but it will be written in Python (Again we prefer PHP)

+ Easy to use frontend for end users

+ Asset Register

– No CSV/Import into Asset Register

– No end user information

– No reference number is issued for submitted tickets

– Demo seemed buggy / can’t see how comprehensive the reports are

– Can’t read/map emails into the ticketing system directly

More information at…

One or Zero Helpdesk

The OneOrZero Helpdesk is an extremely powerful, yet lightweight, helpdesk package that is coded in PHP and uses MySQL for the backend. It is fast, customizable, runs on virtually any platform, and is free for both private and commercial use.

Our analysis…

+ Basic Reporting


– No email mapping to system

+ Ticketing Number Reference

+ User history

+ Time spent on ticket issue

+ Knowledge Base statistics

+ LDAP integration

More information at…

OTRS – Open Ticket Reporting System

OTRS is an Open source Ticket Request System with many features to manage customer telephone calls and e-mails.

Our analysis…

– Not the prettiest of interfaces

+ Used by some well know companies (SuSE Linux, MySQL, NASA)

+ Enterprise Strength

– Perl (We prefer PHP)

+ Emails are automatically mapped into the system

– No asset functionality

– Technical level required for installation compared to OneOrZero

+ User Feedback on issue resolution

– Ticketing Reference Number

+ Active Directory / LDAP integration

+ User history

– Demo didn’t demonstrate the stats/reporting functionality even though it’s mentioned

More information at…

Conclusion So Far

Information Resource Manager ticks all the boxes but is let down by the demo of the reporting functionality. IRM is also the only one with asset capabilities. One or Zero looks clean, simple to use but doesn’t have email mapping and is it enterprise strength? OTRS has the reputation for enterprise scalability, but like IRM demo is let down the reporting side of things.

More to follow soon!

Author: Support @ 11:33 pm
Category: Open Source

Linux FTP Server with a Graphical User Interface (GUI)

March 27, 2008


Linux is a great Operating System which can give small businesses access to enterprise quality products normally only available for the big boys. The downside to going down the Linux and Open Source route compare to a Windows based solution, is the configuration can be less user friendly. This was highlighted recently when I needed a FTP Server with a graphical user interface which a Windows end user would be happy using.

Don’t get me wrong the open source movement is improving all the time, you need only take a look at Ubuntu and compare it to Windows Vista or Mac OSX, you’d be surprised. Although most comments on Linux forums when this question is asked, is why do you need GUI for FTP Server?

Simple, not all businesses have an IT department and 99% of people would run scared if you showed them command shell, "I want Windows" would probably be the cry!

Back to the topic in hand, a Linux FTP Server with a graphical user interface (GUI). Well, I struggled to find any all in one solutions which seem to be abundant on the Windows platform, Xlightftpd, Cerberusftp, Filezilla Server etc. The solution so far seems to be add on programs that provide GUI to existing FTP software on the Linux platform. Which kind of makes sense given the maturity of FTP Server software on Linux, why re-invent the wheel?

The List

I’ve not had chance to test any as yet but will report back when I find a suitable solution, in the meantime he is what I have found so far…

GPROFTPD- Proftpd FTP server


GPROFTPD is an easy to use GTK+ administration tool for the proftpd standalone server. GProftpd and Proftpd gives admins access to virtual hosting, 8 layers of security including chrooted users and encrypted transfers on both the data and/or control channels. It is ideal for both standard ftp serving and webhotels.

PureAdmin – Graphical FTP Server Management Utility


PureAdmin is a graphical tool used to make the management of PureFTPd a little easier. It uses the GTK+2.x widgets for its GUI and thus are not dependent on a specific desktop environment such as GNOME or KDE. It is, however, designed with the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines in mind so it should integrate nicely with at least GNOME.

KcmPureftpd – KDE Admin Pure-ftpd


KcmPureftpd is an KDE KControl module for configuring pure-ftpd FTP server. The goal is to have medium users to configure their server securely and conveniently, without the burden of knowing tons of command line switches.

kproftpd – KDE Frontend for configuring ProFTPD

Kproftpd is a graphical Qt and KDE libs based frontend to the ProFTPD ftp-server. The target is to build a easy to use application, to configure the proftpd. its designed with the help of KDevelop.



Webmin is browser based product that allows you to manage a wide range of services running on your Linux box, including FTP servers.

ProMA – Web Based admin tool for ProFTPd


ProMA is a PHP-based system for administrating a ProFTPd server that stores users in a MySQL database. Its features include support for multiple administrators, mail notifications when new users register and when accounts are approved, closing of accounts temporarily, and a notepad per user for the admins.



A very simple Java based admin tool for use with ProFTPd.

PPMy – Web based ProFTPd Manager


PPMy is a simple Web-based administration utility to administer users and groups to a ProFTPD server, storing users and groups in a MySQL database.

GADMIN-ProFTPd – Gnome Admin


GAdmin-ProFTPD is a GTK+ frontend for the ProFTPD standalone server. It gives admins access to virtual hosting and eight layers of security, including chrooted users and encrypted transfers on both the data and/or control channels.

ProFTPd Admin – Another Web Base Admin Tool


A web-based tool written in PHP aimed at managing users and groups for a ftp-server called "proFTPd".



Missed any worth mentioning? Leave a comment and we’ll update the post.

Author: Support @ 11:56 pm

21 Ways to Bullet Proof your IT infrastructure

January 23, 2008

bullet proof

If backups is about making sure your company data is safe, then building IT redundancy is making sure you have the infrastructure to read that information back. So how can you increase the resilience of your business infrastructure?

Increasing sales, number of clients and profit margins are top priorities for businesses. Building redundancy and fall over systems for the business are probably bottom of the pile. Why, simple because investing in such backup systems doesn’t increase sales, clients or profits. But, if your business does suffer a major disaster, then these redundancy systems have everything to do with profit margins.

image 1. Network and Desktop Protection – I think most people realise they need an anti-virus solution to guard against viruses, a firewall to protect their business network from the outside world. However, without sounding like an insurance sales man, sometimes this is not enough protection. On the desktop front, you need to consider malware, root kits, Trojans along with viruses. Many of the latest anti-viruses solutions guard against all these things. Depending on the size of your company, you might also consider additional protection for your network. This could include dedicated firewalls, internal firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Spam, Malware and virus filters etc.

2. External Backup Email Address – Make sure you have a backup email address that can be used, should your primary address not be available. I would suggest a free email account from someone like Google or Yahoo. Make sure you check the account every so often, else it could be deactivated if it lies dormant for too long. Google Gmail can easily integrate into existing email clients such as Thunderbird or Outlook. You can also download the desktop notification program.

image 3. Online Backup Solution – Backup solutions can be a real pain in the backside. If you have tape solution, you probably need to change the tape on a daily basis and store the tapes in a different location for protection against fire. An online backup solution means your business data is stored offsite in a secure environment. Changes in your business data are automatically encrypted and transferred over the internet to secure location. I would recommend that businesses should have a local backup solution for full quick system recovery and an online backup to protect against complete loss of business premises.

4. Temporary Premises – What would you do tomorrow if you lost your office or factory space? This could be due to fire, flood, maintenance or temporary access to the internet. It maybe worth looking at what office space is available to rent at a moments notice in your area. You could consider a two way agreement with a neighbouring business for office space, or maybe just you’re local Starbucks for internet access!

5. Physical Security – One factor that is often over looked when it comes to protecting your IT infrastructure is physical security. Gaining access to your network, servers and backup tapes is often easily achieved by physically walking into a business premises. Think about quality locks, keypads, swipe cards, visitor badges, safes etc can restrict access to sensitive areas of your business.

I once did a weeks professional training course on hacking (very interesting) by ex-MoD expert, the last day he show us how easy it was to pick and spring padlocks, so make sure you buy quality locks that require the key to engage the lock.


6. User Logon Profiles – Once your staffing levels reach around seven or more, your business could benefit from having a client-server environment. Typically, this will involve a server which authenticates user login details, desktop settings, user files and application settings. This means a user will be able to log in to any computer within the business and have access to their desktop. So next time a computer breaks down you can simply login to a spare machine.

7. File Synchronisation – If you run a business with a server that hosts your company files and documents, you should consider enabling offline file synchronisation. This means if your server or network is unavailable you can continue accessing your personal documents. Once the issue has been fixed, changes to your documents are synchronised back to the server. This is also handy for laptop users who are out and about on the road.

8. Make use of Redundant Hardware – Instead of throwing out that old machine why not install Linux operating system which requires a lot less memory, disk space and processing power compared to a Windows system. What’s more, Linux is free and has a wide range of freely available software you can use. For example your machine could run an as:-

– Intranet or CRM server
– Email Server
– Backup storage
– Network Monitoring System
– Snort (IDS)
– Additional Spam protection
– Firewall (SmoothFirewall)
– Internet access for the staff canteen or warehouse
– Public information point, coupled with a trendy flat screen!
– DNS, Proxy or DHCP server

9. Refreshing Hardware and Software – As the business grows, you should set aside money to replace existing hardware and software. You don’t want to upset the apple cart, but at the same time you don’t want the company to stay stuck in the dark ages. Refreshing parts of your IT infrastructure from time to time will not only give your workforce the best tools, but often additional redundancy features. As mentioned in tip 8, make use of redundant hardware and software as fall over systems to your new equipment.

image 10. Backup Internet Connection – This suggestion all depends on how much your business is dependent on internet access. Consider how much it costs your business per hour without an internet connection. If you are talking in the hundreds then it might be worth considering a backup internet connection. If possible choose an ISP that uses a different technology other than your primary supplier. For example, ADSL internet that uses a standard phone line and a backup connection that uses a cable modem from a cable provider. If you purchase the correct network equipment, you could utilise both connections for increase speed and bandwidth. You could also consider a two-way agreement with a neighbouring business to use their internet connection should yours be unavailable.

11. Knowledge Base System – There are many ways that your business can introduce systems to harvest the knowledge of your staff. This might be a company Wiki, Social Bookmarking, helpdesk or Customer Relationship Manager. Implementing such systems will not only have a positive affect, but also protect against loss of information when staff move on.

12. Software Drivers, Applications, Network Settings and Serial Keys – It is easy to think that once the business data is safely backed up, that the company is protected. However, if the business can’t rebuild the business platform (IT infrastructure) quickly, the company data starts to lose its value. Make sure you have access to driver disks (CDs), application software, router settings, application serial keys etc

13. Software Updates – Make sure you software is kept up-to-date with the latest security patches. This can include applications, operating systems, network devices and servers. A word of warning, sometimes updates can cause a few problems. So be careful when it comes to updating critical systems such as servers and network devices. Its why you need tip number 14!

image 14. IT Support Company – You might be or have a computer guru within your business and have no need for a day-to-day support from an IT company. Although what happens when the computer guru is off or leaves? You never know when disaster strikes and you end up over your head with IT problems. You panic and ringing the first IT support company you come across. Instead, shop around, talk about your current IT setup. Ask if they would be available to help should you land in hot water.

15. IT policy – Make sure your staff are aware and understand how they should use the IT infrastructure correctly. Although you might think it does not need spelling out. Having a company IT policy written down on paper and signed by staff will not only act as a preventative measure, but also keep you protected should you need to let a member of staff go.

16. Fire proof safe – We briefly mentioned this one before, but its worth considering a fireproof safe to secure backup’s, software and serial keys etc. Even if you can’t afford a fireproof safe, regular safe is better than nothing.

image 17. UPS and Surge Protection – Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) allows you protect your computer systems from power cuts. This is a absolute must for any servers in your business. Even if the power cut lasts longer that 20 minutes, the UPS will gracefully shutdown the computer.

18. Hardware Supplier – Another reason to have a relationship with a local computer support company. Typically, they can arrange the correct equipment to be ordered cheaper and quicker that businesses that don’t purchase hardware on a regular basis. More than likely, they will have spare equipment they can lend you.

19. Backup Backup Backup and Test – You can make sure all your bases are covered, but if you don’t have access to your company data, it can all be a complete waste of time. So make sure you have a backup solution or two! Also, unless you test your backup solutions, you can’t say with a 100% certainly that you’re covered.

20. Disaster Recovery Document – Have your IT support company produce a comprehensive imageand professional Disaster Recovery Document. Generally, the report should cover things like IT settings, a recovery plan and suggestions to increase protection. Make sure you have copy available outside the office, which is held securely, remember this is the keys to your business!

21. Come back stronger – If disaster does strike, before you start the recovery process it might be worth taking a step back and thinking how you would do things differently.

What measures do you take to protect your IT infrastructure?

I’m expecting 5 or more from our good friend, Jason!

Getting Started with Open Source Software

December 12, 2007


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a number of business owners about IT services. One of our principles is to use open source software whenever possible to help lower development and licensing costs. Although, I still find that many businesses are simply not aware of the free software.

As with anything, the best way to learn about something, is by example. So here are several good examples of Open Source Software that you can use within your business. But before we get started here is a quick explanation…

What is it Open Source Software?

In basic terms its free software that can be used in businesses and at home. Although unlike Freeware which is just free software, open source software doesn’t belong to anyone, which means you can have access to the inner works of the software, called the source code. So if your company doesn’t like how the software works, they can have it changed.

Creating PDF Documents


You don’t need to purchase expensive software to produce Portable Document Files or PDF’s. Instead download and install PDFCreator which creates a virtual PDF printer on your machine. Once installed, you can convert any file into a PDF documents simply by launching the relevant application and selecting the PDF printer when printing. PDFCreator will then ask you where you would like to save your newly created PDF.

Microsoft Office Alternative

office desk, computer coffee and mouse

Open Office is a full office suite which shares many of the features and styles found in Microsoft Office. What’s more, it can open and edit existing Microsoft Office documents. Open Office contains a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, database and drawing applications. So, if you have computers without Office and can’t quite justify the expenditure, why not give Open Office a bash.

Mapping Ideas

mind maps

I think mind map software is a great product for all types of businesses. Although you can create hieratical charts within Microsoft office, they are often to formal for creating ideas. FreeMind is piece of software where you start with a centralised idea (hub or trunk) and branch out ideas and as you formulate your project, the map grows. The idea is not be accurate or too formal, just a quickly way to get your ideas recorded.

Plan your projects using Mind Mapping software

Photo and Graphical Editing


Although Adobe Photoshop is an excellent piece of software, it comes with a heft price tag and is quite often over kill for most users needs. There are cheap alternatives, but if you still need something with advance features, then GIMP could be the ticket. Paint.Net is also worth considering as middle weight application and if you need a vector editing package, InkScape.

Compressing Files


Back in the day when you wanted to compress a file or send a batch of files via email, you would use a program like WinZip. Since 2001 Windows has incorporated compression or file zipping as standard. Although you may still find the need for something more powerful that can split files, encrypt, password protect and open other compression formats such RAR files etc. Step in 7zip, which has all the features you will every need when it comes to compressing and un-compressing files.

Give me more

Want more?

Still not enough, check out Open Source Alternative.

What are your favourite open source products for the desktop?

Terinea Tags: open source software, , , ,

Author: Support @ 4:10 pm
Category: Open Source

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