Recently, the salon where I worked finally came into the 21st century and purchased a PC. Being the only tech-savvy employee, I was charged with setting up everything - including the client booking system, Web server, e-mail server, and POS (point-of-sale).
I have been investigating the POS issue for a while now and have come up with nothing. Yes, there are Linux solutions such as:
But most of these require either proprietary hardware, are outside of our budget, lack in standard POS features, or simply are a POS (piece of *%@#).
It really was a simple task: find a software that could handle inventory and sales. Nothing difficult. But there was simply nothing there. I was, quite honestly, shocked. I scrambled around and even attempted to twist and bend OpenOffice Calc into doing what I needed it to do. But nothing would work.
And, sadly enough, I am not a developer.
So I called out to the Linux community. "Who would be interested in developing a software system to meet the needs of a salon who wants to use open source software on the Linux platform?" I told said developers that I would be able to serve not only as a test bed but would also be able to write the documentation for the application.
Don't get me wrong: I understand there are probably very few Linux developers interested in creating tools for beauty salons. But there IS in fact a demand - or could be a demand if salons found out there was a free, open source solution to a need that generally costs anywhere from 600-3,000 USD to meet those demands. And those dollars generally find a solution that is buggy or hard to use.
I realize open source software, for the most part, is developed out of a need. But I think the model, as a whole, should be re-evaluated. I've attempted to try to entice people on sourceforge.net. I created a project proposal on sourceforge.net only to have it sit and receive no interest.
So what this tells me is that the open source development arena needs something and it needs it bad. What the open source developers need is a place where people like myself can request projects and interact with them even if it's on a non-development level.
The open source community is a strong one. It's made up of very passionate, talented people who simply tend to suffer from a lack of direction. A project think-tank type of portal could possibly be the thing that helps the open source development community get that last push over the edge that it needs.
As the movie says, "If you build it, they will come." And I for one think this is one instance where the saying certainly applies.
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.