Data Management

DIY: Let Feng Office be your open source guide to business management

Feng Office is a great business management tool for small businesses. The open source solution can track time and manage projects, documents, knowledge, and tasks.

Business management tools usually cost a pretty penny. One business management tool that won't break your budget is Feng Office, which is licensed under the open source license.

Although Feng Office does not offer all the bells and whistles as some of the costly proprietary options, it can still fulfill the needs of a small business that needs a software solution for tracking time and managing projects, documents, knowledge, and tasks.

Feng Office comes with these tools:

  • Daily overview
  • Email integration (email server must be set up separately)
  • Tasks
  • Notes
  • Time
  • Calendar
  • Reporting

Each tool is well integrated with one another. The linking of objects to and from these tools makes Feng Office an incredibly powerful and useful suite for small businesses.

Requirements

Hardware

  • CPU: Pentium 4 or better
  • 512MB RAM or higher
  • Operating system: Linux, Mac OS X, or Windows

Software

  • PHP 5.0+
  • MySQL 4.1+ with InnoDB
  • Apache HTTP Server 2.0+

InnoDB engine should be installed and enabled by default. If it is not, you should look at the /etc/mysql/my.cnf and enable (or add) the following directives:

default-storage-engine=innodb
default-table-type=innodb

If you have to make these changes, you should restart the MySQL service.

Installation instructions

Step 1: Download the latest Feng Office source file from SourceForge. After you download the file, move the file to the document root of your web server (/var/www/ for Apache2). Step 2: Unpack the zip file and make a change to a sub-folder permissions. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Change to the document root where the fengoffice_XXX.zip file is saved (XXX is the release number).
  3. Issue the command sudo unzip fengoffice_XXX.zip (XXX is the release number).
  4. Change into the newly created fengoffice directory and issue the command sudo chmod ugo+w config.
Step 3: Create the database. I prefer to use MySQL Workbench to easily create the database; if you use this tool, make sure you set the database up with the utf8 default collation. I named the database fengoffice. Step 4: Point your browser to http://IP_ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/fengoffice to begin the installation process. When you see the welcome screen, click Next. Step 5: System check. This step will check your system and make sure everything is ready. If you get the error you see in Figure A, you will need to revisit the permissions of the /var/www/fengoffice/config directory. Once you make the changes to fix any errors, click the Try Again button until you have all green. Figure A

Step 6: Enter the database information. The database you created earlier is configured in the screen shown in Figure B. Make sure to leave the Database Type, Table Prefix, and Database Engine set as the default. Figure B

After you fill out this information, scroll down to the Other Settings section (Figure C) to complete the configuration. All of these settings should be left as the default, unless you don't want a particular plugin to be installed. Click Next to continue. Figure C

Step 7: Finish the install. Once the database tables have been created, you should receive a Success! screen. Click Finish, and your browser will land on the last step of the process. Step 8: The final step is to enter the information for the admin user (Figure D). There is no activation required for the admin account -- just fill in the required information and click Submit. Figure D

After you click Submit, you will be redirected to your Feng Office login. Log in and the main page will appear (Figure E). It's time to start building your site. Figure E

Add modules

The full list of modules is not available by default. To add the remaining modules, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Settings icon in the top right corner (next to your user name).
  2. Click Administration from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the Tabs icon.
  4. From the list of possible panels, select what you want to add.
  5. Click Save Changes.

It's time to start setting up the various tools you plan to use. For example, to add an email account, go to the Mail tab and click Add Email Account. You can set up either POP or IMAP accounts (sorry, no connection to Exchange is available).

More to come

In my next post, I'll discuss the ins and outs of using this management system. Until then, you should get Feng Office set up for your business, and then poke around and become familiar with the layout.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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