Track customer data the open source way

Many factors have spurred enterprises to make the jump to open source software, such as Linux, Apache and MySQL. Cost savings, freedom from proprietary vendor control and increased security and reliability are among the many things users list as benefits of free software. But for many users, the free software serves as a foundation for supporting a mix of commercial and open source applications.

For users looking to go further with open source, there are many packages under development by the open source community that could be used by a small or midsize enterprise run their businesses better. Over the next several newsletters, we'll look at some of these Linux-based and platform-neutral open source products.

First up is PHP Point of Sale. The package is a Java-based application that can be used to help track customer data, inventory, and sales and generates reports based on these data.

The software requires a Web server that supports PHP (Personal Home Pages) Version 4.1 or higher, as well as a MySQL database. (Such a system could run on Linux, Unix, FreeBSD or Windows.)

Through a system of Java-linked Web pages connected to the MySQL back-end, a business could use PHP Point of Sale almost by itself to run a business of any size, say its developers (although the software is geared more towards smaller shops).

Any workstation with Java and a Web browser can be used as a point of sale terminal, interacting with the backend database to record customer transactions. The system can also output character delimited files that can be brought into other application, accounting or database applications.

Next: a full accounting system based on Perl.

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