Open Source Help Desks

May 4, 2009

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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

http://www.opensourcehelpdesklist.com/

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.





Linux FTP Server with a Graphical User Interface (GUI)

March 27, 2008

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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

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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.

http://freshmeat.net/projects/gproftpd/

PureAdmin - Graphical FTP Server Management Utility

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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.

http://purify.sourceforge.net/index.php

KcmPureftpd - KDE Admin Pure-ftpd

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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

http://freshmeat.net/projects/kcmpureftpd/

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

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

http://www.webmin.com/

ProMA - Web Based admin tool for ProFTPd

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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.

http://freshmeat.net/projects/proma/

JProftpd

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

http://www.cli.di.unipi.it/~checchi/

PPMy - Web based ProFTPd Manager

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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.

http://ppmy.sourceforge.net/

GADMIN-ProFTPd - Gnome Admin

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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.

 http://mange.dynalias.org/linux.html

ProFTPd Admin - Another Web Base Admin Tool

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

http://proftpd-adm.sourceforge.net/

 

Others?

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

Author: Support @ 11:56 pm




Getting Started with Open Source Software

December 12, 2007

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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

books

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

paint

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

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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




What are Firefox profiles?

November 28, 2007

firefox profiles

As applications are increasingly becoming available online, the web browser is become more of a focal point for modern computing. If you have a computer you use for both work and play it can be a bit of hassle to signing in and out of these apps. Using Firefox profiles you have separate your web accounts.

Creating a new profile is like running Firefox for the first time, a fresh and clean Firefox without your browsing history, user details, extensions and modifications. But don’t worry your previous settings are still available under the “Default” profile. You could just have a separate profile for trying out new Firefox Add-ons.

Creating a Firefox Profile?

To create a new profiles you need to run the profile manager, which for some reason is not available within the browser. First you need to close down Firefox and open it again with the profile manager switch.

  • Windows - Start > Run > type in “firefox.exe -ProfileManager” > OK
  • Linux & Apple - With the Firefox directory (Shell) type “./firefox -ProfileManager” > Enter

That’s hard bit done, now simply click on Create Profile and the Create Profile Wizard will start. Follow the wizard and your new profile will be created and a fresh feeling Firefox will start.

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Next time you run Firefox (Without -ProfileManager switch!) profile manager will start automatically allowing you to select your preferred profile. Simply un-tick Don’t ask at Startup and select Default profile to revert back to previous state.

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That’s it!

Find out more about Firefox Profiles at the Mozilla website.

Author: Support @ 9:00 am
Category: Uncategorized




All Russian schools to run Linux by 2009

October 17, 2007

Tux the Linux Mascot

Russia has taken steps to combat software piracy in its schools by choosing to go completely open source and use the Linux operating system over Microsoft Windows.

Since Russia entered the World Trade Organisation, laws on this subject are much stricter, meaning it can no longer turn a blind eye to software piracy. So faced with a massive licensing bill to become legal, they have chosen to go completely open source.

I’m sure other countries will be eager to see how this pans out for the Russian education authority.

More at the BBC…

One possible decision was to buy licenses for all the software being used - but so much software was being used, it proved too expensive… so the decision was taken to use free software, although not immediately, but over three years.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7034828.stm

Author: Support @ 8:00 am
Category: Open Source, Windows




What is a Wiki and why are they so great?

July 19, 2007

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Finally, last week I was managed to score off ”Implement a company Wiki for internal documentation” off my to-do list! Within a day of using it, I’m now wondering why we didn’t start this business wiki last year!

Wiki Wookie

So what is a Wiki, and why are they so great? It could be a name for a character out of Star War, but actually its a really simple and effective way to organised information between a groups of people. Lee LeFever gives an excellent guide to what are wiki’s and how they work, fantastic video!

Wiki Resources

I must give a shout to Andy of Recent Changes, a fellow Edinburgh Coffee morning for a bunch of these resources.

  • Another video to backup concepts explain in the above video from ZDNet, a bit more businesslike
  • Still wondering how a Wiki could be used in your business, see Atlassian News for 8 Ways to use a wiki
  • Wiki Etiquette, the dos and don’ts
  • The worlds biggest Wiki, Wikipedia runs on Wikimedia
  • Remember most Wiki’s are open source, but which one of the hundred should you go with? Here’s a comprehensive list of features from WikiMatrix
  • Add-on for Firefox that allows quicker editing of Wiki’s
  • An offline Wiki Editor, for when your not connected




Use The Source - Websites and Graphics

March 31, 2006

Designing a website for a business, club, school or yourself? You should check out the following websites to assist you in development.

We recently overhauled our company site using a number of these open source resources.

Website Templates

Open Source Web Design is a collection of web designs submitted by the community that anyone can download and use for free.
Open Web Design is another site that allows you to download quality web templates.

Images

SXC has an open source policy for high resolution images that people upload to the site. Almost all the images can be used in business without any copyright issues.

Graphics & Clipart - Open Clip Art Library provides high quality graphics and clip art to be used by anyone. Most of these graphics make use of vector based file formats and hence can be scaled to any size without loss in quality.

Author: Support @ 8:22 pm
Category: Uncategorized