Tip of the Trade: eGroupWare

by Carla Schroder

For an open source powerhouse Web-based messaging suite, look no further than eGroupWare. The groupware suite's feature set includes shared contacts, calendaring, e-mail, a tracker application, Gallery and InfoLog.

It's been some time since I reminded my wonderful readers that yes, there is a world beyond Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise. A world that is stable and not full of expensive, Byzantine licensing; a world without unhappy servers crumbling under their own weight; a world of universal Web browser-based clients, rather than proprietary ones.

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And in this world is eGroupWare, an open source groupware suite that includes shared contacts, calendaring, e-mail, a tracker application (for tracking bug reports, wish lists, or anything else you want), Gallery (the excellent Web-based photo album), InfoLog (ToDo, Notes and Phonecalls, CRM customer relationship management), a project manager, a time tracker, a Web authoring system, a knowledge base and a file manager. eGroupWare's modular structure lets users pick the desired bits and not bother with the rest.

eGroupWare runs on a PHP-enabled Web server and needs a database to store data. So you need a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) or WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack, which means you can run your eGroupWare server on Linux, Unix, BSD, Mac or Windows. Of course, there are variations on these stacks — PostgreSQL or Sqlite instead of MySQL, Perl or Python instead of PHP, Lighttpd instead of Apache. The easy way to get your *AMP stack is to download XAMMP, which has everything you need and runs on all major operating systems. This is a good way to go because building an *AMP stack from scratch can drive you buggy from conflicting dependencies and tracking down missing pieces.

The eGroupWare post-installation chores are important — don't skim through this part. Fire up a Web browser to http://localhost/egroupware/setup; log in and run the installation checker. This finds any missing pieces so you can install them. Then, you'll need to do some basic configurations and initialize the back-end database. When you're finally done with setup, go to http://localhost/egroupware/ to start adding user accounts, customize the interface, set up backups, and other tasks.

eGroupWare can be locked down pretty tightly, so the next stop should be the Install & Security HowTo. Visit the egroupware.org/wiki to find the Admin manual and lot of other useful documentation.

This article was originally published on Monday Sep 17th 2007
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