Linux

The search for a Linux POS


I tend to go on and on about the pluses with Linux. Linux can do this. Linux can do that. For every Windows application there is an equal (or better) Linux equivalent. Blah blah blah. But recently I found myself stuck in a situation where there was NOT a quality Linux equivalent. The application? Point Of Sale.

I searched daily for nearly a week trying to find something to suit the needs of the salon where I work. And I found possibilities. Some of these possibilities were last updated four years ago (and no longer had their requirements met by more updated distributions). Some of these possibilities simply wouldn't work (no matter how long I spent trying to get them to do so). Some of these possibilities were simply too big for the job.

To be quite honest, I was shocked. It seems, within the Linux community, if there is a need, there is a software. If there is a niche, there is a software. But for some reason POS is overlooked. I understand how hard it is to design a POS system. There are so many variables and connecting databases to work in such a way to handle the flow of inventory isn't easy (out of desperation I tried to create one.) But come on! POS. It's common, every-day stuff that is used all over the world. Doing a search on freshmeat.net for "Point Of Sale" rendered 21 hits. 21 HITS!

Hello? Linux community? Are you there?

Finally I happened upon Nolapro. It's about as close to a usable Linux-based POS as I could find. It's not perfect, mind you. So far I haven't been able to get cost to work properly - but, for the love of Linus, it installs and works. That's saying something compared to the wealth of nothing I was met by when searching. I tried Tuxshop but, no matter how hard I tried, couldn't get it to connect to the database. I even contacted their support (they do actually sell the product) but to no good conclusion.

Of course there are, within those few possibilities, the two or three that I didn't bother installing because they depended upon postgresql and not mysql. I know, to some degree, mysql. I don't have time to learn the ins and outs of yet another database engine just to try to install something that probably won't work.

Do I sound jaded? I am a bit. This was one of those situations that I was SURE the open source community would come through. But they didn't. That's really what is causing my frustration. I have finally found an area of computing where the Linux community has fallen way, way behind. And that, my friends, makes me sad.

But don't worry, I'll get over it. Maybe Nolapro will work out for me. Or maybe not. Maybe there's an open source developer out there reading who would be interested in collaborating with a project. Granted I am not a developer. But I can write killer documentation and do some pretty nifty graphics.

Regardless - this is a wake up call to the open source community. There is a glaring hole in the Linux landscape that I see. Let's fix it!

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.

38 comments
dstante
dstante

www.Volantesystems.com

wwmemsme
wwmemsme

we develop linux slackware based POS in Romania since 2005, works very fine with fiscal devices (we developed also the drivers), Touchscreen Display, Zebra label printers, wifi terminals (Symbol Mc3000 series). I think the main advantage is that we deliver black boxes in front desk and you can provide security, reliability and small service isues.

izico
izico

hi, I'm now contracted to develop a POS system in Linux. The order is from Hongkong and India,low price is the key,both final product price and development cost. We use low cost ARM board in handheld side ,and all the existing open sourced POS system in Linux is for expensive PC archetecture only,it's hard to compete with the existing POS OS vendor such MS Embedded in this space. We are still in device driver and low level device API phase now. As the peripherials of POS hand-held side such as card reader are very different,it's a little hard to design a POS software stack to fit all POS hand-held. The POS server side is in fact much simpler than the hand-held side,we plan a portable solution to run on most server OS. Your info is valuable to me to know the current status of Linux POS,and some nice links. I'd like to chat with anybody who are interested in Linux POS system.

bob
bob

And yes, that's includes moneydance...

dokhebi
dokhebi

The goal is not to create a Linux POS, but to get one of the Big Players (Micros, InfoGenesis, etc) to switch to Linux. I work with Micros 8700 (runs on SCO OSR5) and 9700 (Windows Server 2003). I found that for all of the nifty bells and whistles of 9700, it's hampered because it only runs on Windows platforms so it's very hard to update scripts because Microsoft does not believe in SCP and related utilities, and it's a resource pig. Micros 8700 would work on a platform with a Pentium II processor and 256 Mb of RAM without breaking a sweat, but Micros 9700 requires either a dual Pentium Xeon or dual core processor and 2 GB of RAM.

neither
neither

I've gotten LibrePOS to work on Linux and Windows. The developer now works for Open Bravo and is integrating it into their ERP system. It can either use it's own standalone database or connect with Postgresql.

herman.vierendeels
herman.vierendeels

i will certainly try http://www.nolapro.com/index-5.html In Belgium , for instance , oxfam-shops could be persuaded to leave behind the propietary windows-based shopplus POS solution. It would be more in accordance with their basic philosphy of openness.

rikard.j
rikard.j

There are POS software. But not too much of it is OpenSource. Torex makes Linux based POS machines. and so does a few others.

jlwallen
jlwallen

so after working with nolapro this weekend, and getting help from their support, it's a winner. if you try it i think you will understand why i say that. it's actually quite robust, easy to use, and, best of all, open source!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm thinking more in terms of the POS hardware registers rather than a general purpose computer with a cash drawr. Then there are the systems like Squirle that are purely POS front ends. oh well, I think I'm way off topic so I'll sit back and watch for a bit.

Jaqui
Jaqui

wouldn't PHPCoin be better suited? http://phpcoin.com/ [ invoicing application ] or some other ecommerce application? [ since web based is an acceptable solution as evidenced by your NolaPro link ] I know there are a lot of those available from the open source community. :) The real issue with a POS would be to support the UPC scanners that would make using them in a retail operation feasible. You have a bar code scanner running under linux? I'll have to go looking to see if I can get one that will, just to see how feasible such a project would be. edit to fix tagging typo

dolphindivers
dolphindivers

I am interested on your POS program, would it work in Brazil? Chris

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When the program that provides the needed functions only runs on one platform, that's the os platform you have to choose. Quicken and that class of accounting program are still a specialty item like CAD software and videogaming.

j.b.shirk
j.b.shirk

has potential. check it out...

jlwallen
jlwallen

i looked at that a long time ago. tried and tried to find a download-able demo and couldn't.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

However, neither of these is free, nor are they targeted for small/medium businesses. Yes, they can be scaled down, but these applications are primarily intended for use by large national or regional retailers such as Sears or Wal-Mart. These systems rely on a central server acting as POS controller and separate PCs acting as POS terminals.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Alot of POS apps and ATM's run on OS/2 Warp.

Jaqui
Jaqui

are both actually focussed on proprietary hardware and the hospitality [ restaurant / bar ] areas though. the "server" aspect of the software is windows based. [ I have a lot of Restaurant experience you know :) ] The benefit if the general purpose PC model is the ability to put improved software into service, and the flexibility of the non-specific layout. The register / cash drawer model is actually an expensive route. and yup, I know a lot of retail outlets with dos based pos software. edited for a missing a

jnhager
jnhager

I would maybe try this one as well even though it is not linux based. But it will run on any crappy pc. I was going to use it for a small business until they decided not to open up. Do not let the looks deceive you it really is a great POS for small business. http://pages.prodigy.net/daleharris/pos.htm

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Almost any POS input device (UPC scanner, weigher, card reader) can be configured to communicate through the keyboard interface or as a serial device. Protocols vary, but RS-232, RS-485, and USB are all in use. The easiest way is (as you discovered) through the keyboard interface. Edit: punctuation.

jlwallen
jlwallen

problem with that application is no inventory tracking. that is really the crucial part of what i am looking for.

Jaqui
Jaqui

-----Original Message----- From: Sent: Monday, January 21, 2008 11:00 AM To: info Subject: Contact Form Name: Jaqui Title: Company: n/a Address: City: Province/State: Country: Postal Code: Phone: Fax: Email: Message: In an article I was reading just this morning, the author commented on a lack of P.O.S. systems using linux as the operating system on the PC. [ reference: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/opensource/?p=160 ] I was just curious, is there a barcode scanner available that will function with a Linux computer? Jaqui Got your inquiry, we have bar code scanners that are not dependent on any specific operating system. As an example, we can interface a scanner in-between the keyboard and the data sent by the Bar code scanner is seen and treated as keyboard data, completely transparent to the application and or operating system. OCR Logo White AnimatedOCR Ltd. Vince Panacci OCR Ltd. Direct: (905) 475-5506 ext. 208 Toll Free: 1-800-853-7226 Fax: (905) 475-0566 www.ocr.ca Thanks. That really makes the idea of Linux based P.O.S. much more feasible. A lot of electronic devices do have very specific requirements for interfacing with a PC, which is silly in my opinion, hardware should work for every operating system to promote use by everyone. Jaqui So Jack, there is literally no excuse for there NOT to be a complete Point Of Sale tool for the Posix Compliant Operating systems. [ since if it's coded right a linux app will also run on any unix system. ]

River07
River07

I also have Volante installed at my resort property (running on Linux as well) and have found it to be a very reliable, simple and intuitive system. Great support staff as well. http://www.volantesystems.com

seanferd
seanferd

That is the only post that member has ever made here, it was a year ago, and the member doesn't have PM enabled. Perhaps izico is subscribed to alerts on this thread, if you are lucky. Then again, if this discussion is somewhat revived, or you make a new Question or Discussion post, some of the those experienced with these apps may have suggestions.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

SQL Ledger looks interesting, but POS support is minimal or non-existent. It would probably be a better fit in a jobber/supplier environment where sales are usually invoiced.

Jaqui
Jaqui

that neither are open source.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I remember them from when my dad was running the IT at a local resort though I never dug into the back end of them. I kind of figured they tapped into the as400 that ran the hotel software. It was fun watching him fix the squir e POS now and then when we where out to some random restaurant though. Later when working for a value added reseller, I rembeber us usually selling the customer a Windows box with some such POS software running over it but I was on the server and network setup more than the upper most user app level usually. That was the first time I realized that a barcode reader simply dumped keyboard com into the din port rather than some special protocol through any other port. If the latest comment title is correct, it seems someone's dug up some FOSS POS finally though.

Jaqui
Jaqui

had opportunity to work with them. nor reason to look at the device interface before. a pleasant surprise that they are os agnostic, since so many devices aren't

Jaqui
Jaqui

of PHPCoin has the quantity field, when it's released. I went looking at their support forums and saw one thread about adding fields to the products table. The relevant reply to it: [ edited to relevant content in reply ] cantex Posted: October 04, 2007 02:21 pm Administrator *** Group: Admin Posts: 1,533 Member No.: 1 Joined: August 25, 2006 The extra fields you want actually belong to a domain, not a product. A product could be accounting services, so the extra fields would be confusing during data entry. In v2 I have moved product attributes (such as color, size, number of email accounts, bandwidth, etc.) into a separate linked table. Now, those products or services that need multiple attributes can have them without messing up data entry for products/services that do not need them. A side benefit is that products that need a quantity during ordering/billing (such as labor hours) can have it, while products for which a quantity would be stupid (such as a domain name) would not display that attribute. silly me joined their forums just to ask when v2 would be available, and mentioned how this functionality would make it an easy 2 or 3 extra function modification to have phppcoin work for a retail operation with a physical inventory. no reply, yet, it takes a bit longer than 1 minute to get one usually ;)

Jaqui
Jaqui

that isn't as hard as a complete system, 1) add db table to put the inventory into or alter the existing product table by adding a field 2) script the adding items to have a quantity field 3) make the sales module update the inventory I even have the current version of phpcoin downloaded, I'll take a look at it and see what can be done.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If the device uses the keyboard wedge, it is pretty much os agnostic. You program the device for your POS system defaults (UPC decode, check digit, CR/LF, leading zeroes, etc.) and the POS app handles it from there. The other serial interfaces will naturally require OS-compatible drivers. Most POS equipment manufacturers provide RS-232 and USB drivers for your OS of choice.

Jaqui
Jaqui

they already have plans for a full inventory control module for version2 of phpcoin. :)

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