Banking

NolaPro: The Right Tool for the Job?


For many small to medium businesses Point Of Sale software is often out of reach cost wise. There are many solutions but most are either too complex to use or too costly to afford. Fortunately companies like NolaPro are creating original, affordable, open source tools to meet the needs of small to medium business POS.

I have successfully installed and used Nolapro in the company I work for. It's a simple, reliable, and affordable means to an often overwhelming end. My screenshot gallery details the installation and initial configuration of NolaPro so that your company can enjoy the benefits of a robust POS system.

The Job

I was tasked with finding a cost-cutting Point Of Sale solution for the hair salon for which I am employed (as both stylist and sole-IT admin.) Although the job seemed simple, I quickly found out just how hard it was to find an open source solution for this task.

The Tool

NolaPro

Fortunately my search lead me to NolaPro. This application is promised to solve all of my Point Of Sale needs. The feature set is as rich as other, more costly solutions (which often require the purchase of proprietary hardware.) NolaPro can be installed on either Linux or Windows (or can be hosted, for a fee, on the NolaPro servers.) I opted to install the system on Linux. The requirements are simple:

Hardware: Any intel-based PC running any modern Linux OS.

Software:

  • Apache Webserver
  • MySQL >= 4 Database
  • PHP >= 4
  • Zend Optimizer
  • lDialog (Linux standard)

Once the dependencies are met it's time to install.

The Right Tool for the Job?

This post and my related screenshot gallery only skim the surface of the power of Nolapro. But obviously this open source POS is a powerful solution that should easily fit the bill for your business. Small, Medium, or Large - Nolapro has proven to me to be the perfect solution for anyone wanting a powerful POS solution without breaking their business' bank. Give Nolapro a go - you won't regret it.

View my comprehensive screenshot gallery on NolaPro.

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.

39 comments
Alan0
Alan0

Hi Guys, Apologies if I am being dim, but I cannot seem to view the gallery of screenshots. I first tried using Fireox (fully up to date) under Ubuntu, then Chrome under WinXP Pro SP3, and even IE8 under WinXP Pro SP3, but none of them seem to allow me to view the full size screenshots. I have hovered, clicked, and right clicked, but no go. Any ideas?

Gonzalo@Sisap
Gonzalo@Sisap

I am helping a small business, with three different product lines or services, under the same hood. Like restaurant, gift shop, and some kind of services. Is it posible (with nolapro) to have the information under one company, but separated by ie cost centers, or division, and get consolidated reports or by type of business?

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

Yeah, it's probably best for home based or small office(tiny). When you think about it; releasing free software to small business owners is a great way to infiltrate the business world. Instead of targeting large businesses with demanding needs; a small business is easier to create features for after all. Thanks for responding.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I guess I was wrong. I had spoken in depth with the lead designer. I had assumed, based on some of our discussion, that the application was open source. I was wrong. Here is the section of the License that is applicable: 1. LICENSE GRANT. LICENSOR grants LICENSEE one (1) non-exclusive transferable license for personal or internal business purposes the executable code version of NOLAPRO. LICENSOR bears no responsibility for any inconvenience or downtime caused by any license transfer. This license does not require LICENSOR to pr ovide to LICENSEE any hard-copy documentation, technical support, telephone assistance or enhancements or updates to NOLAPRO. LICENSEE may redistribute any NOLAPRO software which is lawfully obtained from LICENSOR but the LICENSEE must remit the same fee, if any, to LICENSOR that was originally paid by LICENSEE. Furthermore, redistribution by LICENSEE may only be made to (1) parties in LICENSEE'S resident country, (2) parties in countries foreign to LICENSEE where English is the first language of choice, or (3) parties in countries foreign to LICENSEE where English is not the first language of choice only if such parti es are under the same corporate umbrella as LICENSEE. This software may be used on more than one computer for any single business but it may not be used col lectively with other businesses or along with other commercial software applications. It may not be distributed on the same media (CD, DVD, USB drive, etc.) with any other software or be used in conjunction with any other software without the written permission of LICENSOR. LICENSEE may make backup copies of th is software. LICENSEE may not resell any originals or copies of this software, neither in altered nor unaltered form.

mleach
mleach

With all the PCI compliance thats coming down I wonder how Opensource would fare? It might be considered "insecure" due to the source code being readily available? Think about WiFi hotspots that are springing up in Coffee shops and Grocery stores. If a kid with a laptop scanned the network an saw a Linix based register processing Payment Cards, ya think they would hesitate to find out if there were any vulnerabilities in any software package that was running on that register? It would be a bit of a stretch, but my point is that PCI is becoming a HUGE influence and its only a matter of time before they direct their attention to the lower levels of the retail infrastructure.

Tony K
Tony K

I've looked through the screenshots and visited the sites, but I don't see any info on this being a POS. It's an accounting product, but I don't see any POS interface. What kind of scanner hardware does it use, for example? How does it interface with a credit card machine? Also, it's not OpenSource. It's built using OpenSource technology, but it itself is not OpenSource.

JoeRJr
JoeRJr

At first glance, a very attractive idea... For an OpemSource product that can be run on a local PC, for local use it sure demands a lot of products and supporting software that must be installed and running, presumably in the background, on the local PC. Just as presumably, however, one would logically be running NolaPro as a dedicated application on likewise dedicated-to-POS machine(s), likely linked to your own in-house or local server, or peer-to-peer LAN. As for hosting on someone else's server, not on your life. Secure server ? What a joke. The privacy and data safety issues alone can easily destroy the entire process and your POS world. With one privacy or data-loss slip-up on-line, your employer has a golden reason to fire you, period, especially to insure their saving face, if not a potentially devastating financial loss.

Boris.Nalbach
Boris.Nalbach

seems to be a really nice tool! I can see it??s free, what I haven??t seen yet: how is it Open Source?

roymac
roymac

Does the system support credit card processing? Is it proprietary? Have used a number of "free" pos systems that have their own CC processor. The free software just menas that the used will pay with each CC used.

buddyfarr
buddyfarr

as far as POS systems go I will have to give this one a try. I have been looking into a free POS system for my father's business. What I have found so far that looks great is POSper. It can be found here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/posper/ It has a better way to track employee sales than setting them up as a customer. you can setup a separate login for the employee with lower level security so they can do sales only and not look into the books. then you can track by employee sales. Also it is all Java so you just copy the files to a directory, open the config and make some custom setup changes and run the exe. no setting up of apache or anything else which can seem daunting to customers who want a do it your self system to save even more money. From what I have seen so far it does support Credit Card processing and touch screens.

cats
cats

I'm still stuck on your role as both hair stylist and IT admin...how diverse is that?

youdnever
youdnever

Open Source has long been a great success for hackers to gain access to banks . They leave the users- ie small biz people alone (Of course) and have a nice look at the banking system via Point Of Sale !. Australia's main 4 banks lose ( I am told ) some where between 2-5 $ million each month to clever ? people - NOW , If NolaPro can do better ?

hkphooey
hkphooey

You say that NolaPro is the right tool for the job, yet you don't tell us what the job is! What requirements did you have? What did the system need to do? What restrictions were there on what you could use? All you tell us is that you needed a "a cost-cutting Point Of Sale solution" For the record I've set a client up with Nola Pro as an accounting system, and they're very happy with it, but that's as an accounting solution rather than a POS system. In fact I didn't even realise it could be used as a POS system, which is why I read the article.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Particularly if you run into glaring problems (not that I expect them). Some of my customers may soon need to upgrade or replace DOS-based systems, primarily because the 386 and 486 boxes are pretty much no longer supportable. If I can reduce or eliminate software licensing costs as part of the hardware replacement, they can get a better system than they had for much less than they expect.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

but, considering the article is 5 years old, the links in the gallery are probably incorrect, and would need to be updated.

hkphooey
hkphooey

PCI compliance is only an issue if you are storing Credit Card details (along with personal info), as I understand it. I don't see that Nola Pro actually does that -- payments are done through a third party, and it is that third party which has to be compliant with PCI. A separate issue is that if you decide to put your accounting system on the same network as your free wifi, or any publically accessible network, without any authentication, then you're asking for trouble.

rapture
rapture

Why do you people think that oss is somehow inherently less secure? Blowfish and Twofish encryption algorithms are freely available, but that doesn't make them insecure. And for every script kiddie that can hack into a standard linux build, I can give you ten that can hack a windows (i.e. proprietary) os build.

Popoyd
Popoyd

Noguska from the start was trying to make Nola an open source ERP. and it is, smallish and limited, it should work for small companies. And, as PART of the functionalities of a (tiny) ERP it does support POS, automating accounting, inventory control, etc. like a good integrated system. Then came the change to NolaPro and no more open source. It is php but compiled/obscured so it no longer qualifies as an open source.

jlwallen
jlwallen

it does have a POS. there's a cash register button near the top. you click that and it opens up a register. as for it not being open source...i just sent an email to the lead developer to find out.

oz penguin
oz penguin

this system is neither POS (requires cash register functions) nor open source. VERY MISLEADING !!!

jackkern78
jackkern78

I've used this system for a couple months now, and it does use standard, non-proprietary cc processors, mainly Authorize.net and PSIgate. I know what you mean, I've seen some "free" systems out there that get a kickback from transactions, this isn't one of them, its free and clear. From what I read they are supposedly looking to implement PayPal Pro sometime as well.

harry
harry

I've got a friend who is a hair stylist yet designed a pretty cool database and forms for a non-profit we both belong to. It's not the most efficient but I give him credit for doing it when all other solutions would have cost thousands and not do what we wanted to do.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I created the Linux portion of TechRepublic long ago (with a bit of help.) back then it was called LinuxRepublic. I have been using Linux for 10 years. I was the editor in chief of Linux content for Techrepublic from '99 to 02. I do web design and consulting on the side now. Since my stint with TR i went back into acting and then finally went to hair school after I married a lovely woman with three children. I still write freelance for TechRepublic (I write Lunch And Learns, How Do I..., and The Right Tool articles). That's the short version. ;-)

rapture
rapture

That doesn't even make sense. First, there's the many-eyes theory of open source. I.e., more eyes looking for bugs makes a more secure product. Then there is the fact that open source issues get fixed faster because of the openness of the code. Any one of many developers or members of the community can fix a big and submit the fix, rather than waiting on the development cycle of a closed-source company. But the biggest red flag to this statement is the implication that a huge company like a bank, with all of the resources at their command, can't figure out how to securely implement open source software - which they can modify all they want to to be as secure as they need it to be. It isn't like a closed source app that they can't really modify, or have to work around. If they want to use a different protocol or port, they can. If they want to close off certain unneeded functions, hey - knock yourself out. It's not like they wouldn't have the programming or monetary resources to close holes that cost them millions per month. I vote "urban legend".

jackkern78
jackkern78

This application is free, just not OSS. I inquired on this a couple weeks ago, and was told they would soon be releasing an API that help developers intergate with the software. Our firms' going wait for that and see how it works out.

jprigot
jprigot

Your claims run counter to what I've heard. Could you please point me to your source(s)? Thanks.

kevinm
kevinm

what exactly has banks losing money to ?clever People? got to do with Open source ? I Can show you banks with much larger losses that do not use open source ..

jlwallen
jlwallen

since i did this article i have found this application to be even better than i thought. i recently had a need to track employee sales. there's a tool called "Lead Tracking" that's more in line with accountant-speak. well, that's over my head (i'm the opposite of an accountant ;-) ). but i discovered if you create an employee as a customer you can track employee sales by going to Billing, then Reports, and then Summary of Invoices. that gives you a detailed listing of everything an employee has sold. that is important in the salon industry where employees get a percentage of the retail they sale.

HBA
HBA

Actually PCI is an issue for anyone taking credit cards. This includes anyone that processes, transmits or stores cardholdeer information. Even if all you do is use a manual (paper) imprinter or a web based interface. Merchant acquirers (the companies that issue merchant accounts for Visa, MC, etc.) have been mandated to come up with plans to ensure that even the smallest merchants comply with these rules. Of even more note as far as this thread goes is the PABP mandate (Payment Application Best Practices) recently released by Visa. Under this requirement, beginning Oct. 1, 2008, acquirers are prohibited from setting up new merchant accounts for anyone unless their software has been validated as PABP compliant by a VIsa approved assessor. A list of approved software can be found at the Visa site, www.visa.com/pabp. (Existing merchants have until 2010 to move to PABP compliant software.) As far as the NOLO software goes, the need for PABP is dependent on the architecture. If the Credit Card # is entered in NOLO and passed to the third party software, then both NOLO and the third party fall under PABP. If NOLO calls a module in the third party software and the CC# is entered there then only the third party software falls under PABP. Much more information is available at the official PCI Council website, www.pcisecuritystandards.org and the Visa PABP site www.visa.com/pabp.

tinus.brink
tinus.brink

I can't believe that this is still a security issue...? Security is not a matter of open source or not. But I have to say I would vote open source and Linux any day before I run my platforms on Windows, thank you.

Tony K
Tony K

I'm looking to purchase a small retail business, and I'll have to give this a try!

tinus.brink
tinus.brink

I support open source and we use it in large implementations for various companies. It's free and the products out the are great. As far as security goes. Linux open suse for instance you could set up your own security on server level. Encryption, SSL, Firewalls, certificates, secure networking to name a few. There is no reason that any one should loose important data. POS systems are too expensive and if any one out there has great affordable solutions. Why not.

tinus.brink
tinus.brink

I support open source and we use it in large implementations for various companies. It's free and the products out the are great. As far as security goes. Linux open suse for instance you could set up your own security on server level. Encryption, SSL, Firewalls, certificates, secure networking to name a few. There is no reason that any one should loose important data. POS systems are too expensive and if any one out there has great affordable solutions to take on the likes of Retalix Storeline etc. Why not.

dhohls
dhohls

Where, on the NolaPro website, does it state that the software is open source and what license it is released under?

Kingbackwards
Kingbackwards

Their product is licensed as freeware. Freeware = Use of the compiled code for free. Open Source = You have access to the source code to rebuild or modify if desired. Now granted a product can be open source but not freeware and vis versa. But are usually one in the same, but not in this case. And according to their license which is not the GNU GPL. It states the following: "RESTRICTIONS. Unless the LICENSEE entered into an agreement with LICENSOR superseding this Agreement, LICENSEE may not: 1. modify or create any derivative works for NOLAPRO or documentation, including translation or localization; 2. decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer, or otherwise attempt to derive the source code for NOLAPRO (except to the extent applicable laws specifically prohibit such restriction);"

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