Open source ERP tool – PostBooks

With the global financial crisis severely suffocating businesses in all industries, ways and means of reducing costs are now high on the corporate agenda – be they large corporations or SMEs. One of the costs associated with running a business is software licensing. And when it comes to computerization, there’s no better solution than an enterprise resource planning system, which has traditionally been a high-priced software investment that was mostly unaffordable for small businesses. With open source, this trend will change as a number of free ERPs are available that allow companies to automate and centrally manage their distributed accounting, purchasing, and inventory activities through a single integrated interface. In addition to a free version, these ERPs usually have a paid support package to support both those with purchasing power and those who only need the system to get started with internal know-how. One such ERP is PostBooks, which comes in the form of PostBooks.

This guide will walk you through the installation process on an Ubuntu 7.04 (and later) system and provide a brief introduction to the system. Note that unlike other software systems that are ready to use after download, ERPs require a bit more configuration because these systems are not self-contained. They use a database application to store all user data and reports etc. while the front end provides an interface to enter business transactions. Often ERPs are web-based, which means they require a web server to host the entire application. Because of this, multiple files may need to be downloaded – one for the main program, and there may be database scripts to create the required tables, etc. However, over time, these installation steps will be simplified.

Install PostBooks on Windows:

Windows installation is a fairly simple process as the installer comes with a database installation along with sample data. Simply download and install the single executable and run with username and password admin.

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Installing PostBooks in Ubuntu:

The Uubntu installation requires a database and a bit of manual configuration. Here’s how:

Step 0 – Install PostgreSQL

This is an additional database for PostBooks ERP. Install it with the following command:
sudo apt-get install postgresql-8.1 postgresql-contrib-8.1

Step 1 – Download Postbooks

PostBooks offers several types of downloads that suit different needs. For example, full installers, separate clients and databases, documents, videos, and even a virtual machine version, that is, a ready-to-run image of a fully pre-installed system in Virtual Box and VMWare formats. This guide will walk you through a common and easy-to-test installation where everything is on one system. Advanced users can install the database separately on another computer to allow multiple clients access over the network.

Download the following 3 setup files using the wget command:

The tar.bz2 file for Linux
quick start file
init.sql file

Note that the wget command will be downloaded into the existing folder.

Step 2 – Unzip the compressed file

Use the following command, which will unzip the downloaded archive and create a folder with the same name as the file.

tar xvfj PostBooks-2.2.0Beta3-Linux6.tar.bz2

Step 3 – Configure PostgreSQL and set it up for PostBooks

Open the /etc/postgresql/8.1/main/pg_hba.conf file in the text editor and read the last section titled # TYPE DATABASE USER CIDR-ADDRESS METHOD. Here, comment out all 3 uncommented lines by prepending them with a hash sign and replace them with the underlined lines as shown below:

Existing section of file:

# TYPE DATABASE USER CIDR ADDRESS METHOD
# “local” is for Unix domain socket connections only
local all all ident sameuser
# Local IPv4 Connections:
host all all 127.0.0.1/32 md5
# Local IPv6 Connections:
Host all all ::1/128 md5

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Updated section of the file (updates are underlined)

# TYPE DATABASE USER CIDR ADDRESS METHOD
# “local” is for Unix domain socket connections only
#local all all ident same user
local all all trust
# Local IPv4 Connections:
#host all all 127.0.0.1/32 md5
host all all 127.0.0.1/32 trust
# Local IPv6 Connections:
#host all all ::1/128 md5
Host all all ::1/128 trust

And then restart the server with:
Restart sudo /etc/init.d/postgresql-8.1

Now create a PostBooks database
sudo your postgres
psql -U postgres -finit.sql template1
createdb -U mfgadmin mfg
pg_restore -U mfgadmin -d mfg postbooks_quickstart.backup -v

Note that these commands must be run from the same folder where the downloaded files are located.

Step 4: Launch PostBooks

From the folder where PostBooks is unzipped, use the following command to launch PostBooks:

./PostBooks

Username and password are: mfgadmin

Overview of post books

Like any ERP system, PostBook is suitable for all important processes of a small to medium-sized production company. It can also serve other businesses, for example in the service sector or in retail, since only a subset of modules is required and the rest automatically becomes redundant. The main interface has menus at the top that describe each functional business area they cater to. This includes Products, Inventory, Purchasing, Manufacturing, CRM, Sales and Accounting. Start with the system menu to configure the basic structure of the organization. The “Basic Information” submenu allows the user to define calendars, currencies, exchange rates and departments, etc. The second important area to configure is the Configure Modules submenu, where all the details for handling previously listed modules can be set. For example, when handling inventory, a check can be set up to refuse to receive an order if the quantity differs from the order, or to display a warning if the difference is within a user-defined range. Similarly, there are a number of configuration items that can define business rules – such as: B. Allowing sales discounts or not. The general ledger can be defined in detail via the configuration of the accounting module by setting the format of the general ledger hierarchy showing main segment, profit center, sub-accounts and their character lengths, along with the definition of mandatory accounts such as retained earnings, exchange rate differences and difference accounts.

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Once the modules are configured for basic properties and parameters, the next task is to define maser information for each relevant module using its own menu. This includes module specific information. For example, units of measurement, product category and product class in products form the master information. For accounts, this includes bank accounts, cost and expense categories, etc. Under each module there are submenus for reports and analysis, making this ERP quite comprehensive in nature.

There are other free ERPs for Ubuntu – and most of them run on Mac and Windows as well. With extensive documentation, user guides, and free online demos, small businesses can invest some time researching the options available to save on the cost of purchasing a custom ERP.

Options that can be explored include MyERP5, OpenBravo, Compiere, etc.

OpenSource ERPs have come a long way from concept to reality used by many companies around the world – with and without paid support. It is ironic that open source solutions have not been fully explored. But if this is done, it shows promise, starting right at the operating system level and moving down to the level of specialized applications like ERPs.

Note: All commands must be used as root user.

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