One of most exciting things about open source ERP software are free downloads. No commercial solution will allow you to just go to their website,click on ‘Download’, go to a Wiki page that gives you step-by-step installation instructions, and then,within an hour or so,you have your own ERP system!
I started my installtion process by visiting Openbravo’s website, although I knew the actual downloads of the Openbravo software were hosted on Sourceforge servers.
The way I see it, if you consider yourself an open source ERP solution, your homepage should have a visible,top-level link called “Download”. Clicking it should take you straight to the download page. OpenBravo did just that – on their homepage,in the top right-hand side, a link to the download page,taking you straight to the Sourceforge download page. Nice!!
Before we go to the actual installation,a couple of words about the Openbravo website – looks professional,fairly clean layout,navigation is clear and information is intuitively laid out around the homepage. For an open source project, I am always happy to see news updates on the homepage,indicating the community is active.
Going back to the installation, we need two things – the installation files and an installation guide. Since we decided to install Openbravo on a Linux server,you must get the relevant installation guide. For a windows installation I might have managed without an installation guide (Next,Next,Next,Finished..).
Openbravo will be installed on an Ubuntu 6.06 operating system, which is pretty old. If you choose Ubuntu,go for the latest versions – currently 7.10. The reason I chose Ubuntu Server edition is that it’s completely free,has tons of documentation and user contributions around it, and it’s extremely easy to install software using the apt package management.
My “server” has an old AMD Sempron CPU with 512MB of RAM and a 40GB disk. I am going to run as many open source ERP systems as I can on that monster!!
To download the Openbravo installation, I went to the Sourceforge page and started downloading the ~250MB bin file I’ll use for the installation. Make sure you download the file that best fits your platform -Intel or AMD64. After playing a little with some of the mirrors, I found a German mirror that really rocks. It took about 10 minutes for the entire package to download.
During that time, I started looking for the installation guide for Linux. From the Openbravo homepage,I clicked on the Wiki link, and the beautiful Wiki page showed up. And just as I hoped, right there in the center of the page – “Openbravo ERP command line installation”. Reading through it,I could immedialty understand what components the installation requires other that the actual ERP software installation.
Since this is a Java-based software, you need a Java SDK (the guide recommends Sun’s java), Tomcat as an application server and PostgreSQL as a back-end database. I don’t have much experience with PostgreSQL,but I figured it couldn’t be that different from other DB engines I am experienced with,MySQL in particular. On a side note,it seems that quite a few open source ERP solutions chose PostgreSQL for a back-end database,but MySql has added some features that make it a reliable solutions for enterprise applications – database transaction support,replication,clustering,stored procedures and triggers, all of which were not part of earlier versions of MySql.
Another thing I really liked about the installation guide is that it has installation instructions for many different Linux flavours – Ubuntu and Debian,Gentoo, FreeBSD and Fedora.
Following the installation instruction was very easy, and if you go step by step the installation should just work without any issues.
I did have some issues with the installation because the guide is for Ubuntu 7.10,PostgreSQL 8.2,Java 1.5 and Tomcat 5.5, while I used Ubuntu 6.06,PostgreSQL 8.1,Java 1.6 and Tomcat 5.
I followed all steps and other than minor changes (for example, my PostgreSQL database was running on port 5433 instead of 5432 which Openbravo expected) everything worked like charm. It did take quite some time for the database to build,though – about 1.5 hours on my hardware. The CPU was really working hard, so I assume that with a modern Dual-Core,64bit CPU,OS,Java and database, installation will take much less time.
To summarize, installing Openbravo ERP was a breeze. It’s a great sign for the evolution of open-source ERP solutions – it used to be quite frustrating to install different open source components (database,java,application server, the actual application) and making it all work together, not to mention the days or even weeks it might take to install a commercial ERP software.