If your small business lacks organization but you cannot afford an expensive CRM and resource planning tool, one solution worth a look is Dolibarr. You can install the open source ERP/CRM solution on a LAMP or a WAMP server.

Dolibarr comes with these features:

  • Products and services catalog
  • Stock management
  • Bank accounts management
  • Customers, Suppliers, and Prospects directory
  • Contacts directory
  • Commercial actions management
  • Orders management with PDF generator
  • Commercial proposals management with PDF generator
  • Contracts management
  • Invoices management with PDF generator
  • Payments management
  • Standing orders management
  • Shipping management
  • Support for NPR VAT (for French DOM-TOM)
  • Foundations members management
  • Bookmarks management
  • Emailing
  • Agenda
  • Point of Sale
  • Donations management
  • Reporting
  • Data export tools
  • LDAP connectivity

You can also purchase modules to help expand Dolibarr. Take a look around the official Doliastore for the current crop of available modules.

Installing Dolibarr

I will demonstrate the Dolibarr installation on a Ubuntu 12.10 LAMP server. The installation on a Windows-based WAMP server would be similar.

The installation on a Ubuntu (or Debian-based) or Fedora-based machine is as simple as either adding Dolibarr to your repository or downloading the respective installer and running. Here are the steps for installing on the Debian-based machines.

Via repository:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command sudo add-apt-repository ppa:eldy/dolibarr-dev.
  3. Type your sudo password and hit Enter.
  4. Hit Enter again when prompted.
  5. Issue the command sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install dolibarr.

Via downloaded file:

  1. Download the required Dolibarr installation file.
  2. Open a terminal window.
  3. Change to the directory housing the downloaded file.
  4. Issue the command sudo dpkg -i dolibarr_XXX_all.deb (XXX is the release number).
  5. If you receive a dependency error, issue the command sudo apt-get install -f dolibarr_XXX_all.deb (XXX is the release number).

After the installation completes, your default browser should open in the Dolibarr web-based install page (there are just a few more simple steps); if not, you can open your browser to http://ADDRESS_TO_SERVER/dolibarr and the installer will begin.

The first screen of the installer checks that all of the requirements have been met, and then you need to click Start for a first-time installation (Figure A).
Figure A

If you’re upgrading, the appropriate upgrade will be listed on this page. (Click the image to enlarge.)

The next screen (Figure B) requires some configuration. At the bottom of the screen, you need to enter the user who has access to the MySQL database (in my case, it was root) as well as that user’s password. There are two sections for this — you can use the root user for both. If you use root for the first section, make sure to uncheck that box so the installer doesn’t try to create the root user.
Figure B

The defaults in the top portion of this page should work fine. (Click the image to enlarge.)

You can always allow the Dolibarr installer to create a database user. If you do this, you still need to supply the database administrator credentials.

The preceding two screens simply require you to hit Next (as they check stages of the install). The next  window that requires input is the admin user creation screen (Figure C). Enter the admin username/password and then click the Next button.
Figure C

The admin user creation screen. (Click the image to enlarge.)

In the final screen, click the link that will take you to the Dolibarr Setup tab. You will need to authenticate the admin user. Once that succeeds, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the Modify button. You can now begin to customize your installation. All of the fields with an asterisk are required (Figure D).
Figure D

After you customize your installation, click the Save button. (Click the image to enlarge.)

More to come

You now have a working Dolibarr installation. In future posts, I’ll cover how to use Dolibarr, including going through the entire section under Setup and managing the Users & Groups (left navigation in Figure D). Until then, look around the tool and start using the available features.