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Call Center, Bug Tracking and Project Management Tools for Linux

Caution: very old web page with stale/obsolete links!

This is a snapshot of a 1990's era Linux/Free Software web page. Although many parts still hold true, it is also getting old and stale. This page has not been updated since 2001. It contains broken links! New links and new material will not be added to this page; it is an archival copy of how things were in the early days of Free Software.

The growth of Linux in the commercial world has been matched by the demand and growth of software that can be used to manage and coordinate projects, people and activities. When this list was started six years ago, there were a handful of meager bug-tracking systems. In the intervening time, the list of packages and products has exploded, as well as seeing some of the packages grow tremendously in features and functions. There is now a decent variety of bug tracking tools available, commercial and open source. The astute reader will notice that there still remain some gaping holes in enterprise-class systems (for example, something competitive to SAP R/3), in pre-sales, sales, and post-sales support systems, and in scheduling and optimization systems. We hope these gaps will close.

Note to Free Software Programmers: Please DO NOT create yet another project to implement some system! There are too many half-finished, half-functional systems already! Do some research, find a system that is appealing, and volunteer to carry it further! At first, this may seem less rewarding, because you won't be Mr. Super-Duper I-am-Head-of-the-Project Big-Shot Might-Be-Linus-Torvalds-Soul-Brother. But in the long run, you will find much more satisfaction from working on a project that everyone knows and respects, than being the sole author of and world-wide expert on some poopoo-kaka that no one has heard of. I speak from experience!

If you really want to be famous, then develop a core technology that allows one to easily create any one of these systems by merely modifying a configuration file. Most of these systems have broad similarities: they maintain lists of things that can be searched, categorized and updated. Only the labels on the columns are different. This is ideal for abstraction. Broadly speaking, workflow systems have this kind of configurability. But there are other ways to create the abstraction as well. Do it!

Terms & Definitions

Call tracking and bug tracking systems might at first sound like the same thing, but they're not. Some people even confuse bug tracking with project management. There is a whole spectrum of tracking systems that are custom tailored to suit different user needs and modes of interaction. Lets define some of the more commonly used terms:

Knowledge Base
The basic idea behind a knowledge base is to automate customer support by organizing product support information into an easy-to-find, easy-to-access format. The knowledge base can be used by customer support personnel to find answers to common customer complaints, or can be put out on the web, allowing the customer to do their own searching. Alternately these systems can be used to organizes product info for sales people, allowing faster/easier access to a wide range of product data for pre-sales support. At a bare minimum, a knowledge base might be an indexed set of FAQ's and mailing list archives indexed with a good search engine. At the high end, the system would have ways of removing old crufty information, and be integrated with call tracking or bug tracking systems.

Trouble Ticketing
Trouble-ticketing systems (aka incident-reporting or issue-tracking systems) usually confine themselves the the fairly simple domain of tracking independent work items, and possibly assigning them to one of several people. Tasks are treated independently of each other, and usually have a very limited set of states: "open", "in-progress", and "closed". Older systems tend to be email based, newer ones are web/Java based, sometimes integrating email. Fancier ticketing systems include a good management report system, so that managers can track how many open tickets there are, how long it took to close an average ticket, what percentage of tickets remain unresolved after a week, etc.

Help-Desk Management/Call Tracking
Most Help-Desk Management systems are similar to Trouble-Ticketing systems, except that they add a variety of customer tracking features. Minimally, these include an address-book which logs detailed customer relationship info, so that support staff can understand how past relationships with the customer went, can recognize high-priority/important customers quickly, and understand customer quirks for special treatment (i.e. to easily "know the customer"). Call tracking systems usually include search capabilities for locating related calls or trouble tickets, and/or referencing FAQ's based on the problem description (aka a "Knowledge Base"). These systems might also provide call tracking (time spent on the phone), time-tracking (hours spent solving the problem), and may include mechanisms to automatically bill the client for hours worked. Premium systems add some workflow and escalation capabilities, so that unresolved tickets can follow either the normal workflow procedure, or be escalated to higher levels for team-lead/management/special attention & resolution. See also this more humorous, Dilbertian Helpdesk.

CRM -- Customer Relationship Management
There are two very different types of systems that are both commonly called 'CRM' by the trade press and the industry. One type is a tool used by support/help-desk/direct-sales personnel (the 'front office'). The other type is used by marketing managers to mount marketing campaigns (the 'back office'). So:

Bug Tracking
Bug-Tracking Systems are similar to Trouble-ticketing systems in that they track independent tasks. However, bug tracking systems usually define a greater number of roles and responsibilities, (e.g. "programmer", "integrator/builder", "tester", "tiger-team manager"), and limit the powers of each role in advancing the task to its next state. Some bug-tracking systems are integrated with version-management or configuration-management suites.

Resource & Asset Management, Parts & Vendors
Resource management and asset management systems are typically used to track hardware inventory and repair histories. By 'hardware' or 'assets', we mean anything expensive enough to track: PC's, cars, trucks, machinery, aircraft, rental equipment, etc. Such systems might include a trouble-ticketing system, so that users can report equipment failure and request service. When tracking computer equipment, a network management subsystem might be included to deal with network connectivity problems, or an automated equipment discovery system might be included to report back the status and inventory of any given computer on a regular basis.

Parts tracking systems include not only a contact database for vendor support, but can also automatically generate a bill-of-materials, suggest alternate/replacement parts, and otherwise assist in the pricing of the parts needed to manufacture an item.

Workflow Management
Workflow Management systems are similar to Bug-Tracking systems in that they also define a variety of roles and authorities. However, they tend to be more strongly integrated with document management systems, allowing different roles to create, modify and deliver version-controlled documents. Some also provide job-costing or cost-estimation features. Others provide integration with accounting systems for order tracking and/or inventory management. At the extreme high end lie ERP systems, such as SAP/R3 (portions of which are now available on Linux).

Note if you have a workflow system, then you can 'trivially' implement a bug-tracking system, an asset management system, a contact manager/addressbook, an opinion poll, or a CRM system. True workflow systems make it very easy to define and create new types of workflows. Some systems, e.g a decent bug-tracker, can be created in literally one afternoon. The 'workflow' abstraction is a powerful abstraction, and I only wish that more people who are writing bug-trackers, rolodex's and web-polls understood this. We'd have a better world with better software ... Note that many commercial CRM systems are dumbed-down workflow systems.

Project Management
Project Management Systems distinguish themselves from all of the above in that they track inter-related tasks and usually provide a mechanism for scheduling and reserving resources, as well as automatic minimization of time-lines or costs by re-arranging schedules. Resource allocation is a well-known NP-complete problem, and there are many complex algorithms that have been discovered to try to efficiently solve this problem (hill-climbing, simulated annealing, monte-carlo methods, genetic algorithms, etc.). "Gantt chart" is a keyword here. These systems are usually used to manage construction and (large) engineering projects, where twiddling a schedule can save tens of thousands of dollars or more.

ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP systems have a way of promising "all of the above". Usually, (but not always), ERP systems are a collection of tools and libraries that, in principle, can be configured and modified to create any of the above systems. They often include a financial subsystem as well. This allows, for example, a customer's bug report or phone call can be turned into an invoice or purchase order, which is then routed (using workflow) to the loading dock, and so on. On the plus side, ERP systems are meant to be highly configurable so that they can be modified to fit any customers business practices. On the downside, they tend to be big and difficult to configure and modify, usually requiring high-priced consultants and months, if not years, of effort to deploy. It is often the case that ERP systems don't do as good a job, or are as easy to use, as single-use tools (such as the ones listed above). On the other hand, ERP systems offer a uniform, integrated meld of all of the above systems, which normally can't be made to play nice together.

Selecting a System That's Right for You

I have attempted to categorize systems according to their features in order to make it easier to to select the tool that is right for your needs. However, many of the systems listed here are being actively developed, and are acquiring new features monthly. Unfortunately, this web page is not updated monthly. Therefore, it pays to review systems in categories that are related to what you want: for example, many of the task-tracking systems are slowly acquiring simple project management features.

In addition to the basic features that you need, you may want to make a selection based on the software license, and the core technology. These are particularly important criteria if you are thinking about adding features to the system, or integrating it with other in-house systems you may have. It may also ease system administration headaches if you choose a core technology that you are already familiar with.

Basic license categories include Free Software (GPL License), Open Source (BSD license), and Commercial (proprietary license).

The web-based systems build on a core web application server technology. Some of the leading Free Software/Open Source application servers are:

Another selection criterion might be the use of an SQL backend for data storage. Although SQL typically requires a bit more in system administration effort, it is usually worth the effort: SQL is more crash-proof in that it less likely to scramble your data or leave you with a corrupt, unreadable datafile. Data stored in SQL databases is more easily portable to other systems, and can also be accessed by third-party report generators and query tools. There are many SQL Databases for Linux.

Note that there are a number of commercial Application Service Providers (ASP's) that provide web-based services of the kind reviewed on this page. Access to some of these systems may even be free. However, because these systems are not available for download or purchase (that is, they do not allow you to install and maintain your own server), I do not list any of these here. There are literally hundreds of these systems. Listing them here would broaden the scope of these pages beyond what I could manage. The main advantage to using an ASP is that you have zero overhead/administration costs: you don't need to set up any servers. The main disadvantage to using an ASP is that if the provider goes out of business, then you loose access to your data (potentially years worth of valuable client lists and the like; never mind not being able to use the system any longer). And ASP's have gone out of business ... A good directory for these services is the Web-based Project Management ASP Directory

Note to Free Software Programmers: Please DO NOT create yet another project to implement some system! There are too many half-finished, half-functional systems already! Do some research, find a system that is appealing, and volunteer to carry it further! At first, this may seem less rewarding, because you won't be Mr. Super-Duper I-am-Head-of-the-Project Big-Shot Might-Be-Linus-Torvalds-Soul-Brother. But in the long run, you will find much more satisfaction from working on a project that everyone knows and respects, than being the sole author of and world-wide expert on some poopoo-kaka that no one has heard of.

Time Tracking, Diary and Billing/Invoicing Systems

The following systems are provide basic to-do list management features, and provide additional function for keeping track of daily activities (Diary), the amount of time spent on a project (Time Tracking), or for generating bills for services rendered (Billing/Invoicing). Note that if you are a diarist, you might be interested in a blogging/weblogging system (which I do not list on this page).

GnoTime, the Gnome Time Tracker
GnoTime (mirror) is a time-tracking and billing system designed for use by individuals/consultants. This Gnome/GTK+ application supports hierarchical projects, a journal of time spent on a task, and an invoicing/billing subsystem. Disclaimer: I'm lead developer on this. Drawback: single-user only.

Time Sheets for Networks (TSN)
Time Sheets for Networks (TSN) is a simple web-based time and task-tracking system. Individuals can log in with a password and enter date/time/task/charge information. Managers can add and delete tasks, clients, charges, and can create reports. Inactivity timeout logs out users after an hour. Source is GPL'ed, uses MySQL back end.

journyx Time
Journyx Time is a web-based time and task-tracking system. Users log in with a password and enter date/time/task/charge information. Managers/admins can add and delete tasks, clients, charges and run reports. Uses PostgresSQL as a back-end. A five-user license is available for free download and use; additional licenses are available in the ballpark of $100 per seat.

Free Software/Open Source Bug Tracking/Trouble Ticketing Systems

Because there are so many bug-tracking and ticketing systems, I've split the list into two: Open Source (immediately below) and Commercial (next section). I have attempted to sort these roughly in terms of complexity/features/usability/reliability scale, based on my own incompletely-informed, poorly-researched and faulty opinion. Note, however, that (New Listings!) always appear at the top, even if they aren't as good as some of the tools listed below them.

Note some important gray areas between the open source and commercial packages: some of the open source packages are commercially supported and widely used; whereas some of the commercial packages have small customer bases and are barely supported. Note that some of the commercial packages, e.g. Keystone, makes broad use of open source technologies for its implementation, and is *almost* open source (whatever that means). Some of the commercial packages make source code available at a very modest price.

Bugin (New Listing!)
Bugin is a ticket-tracking/helpdesk system ...

WebCall (New Listing!)
WebCall is a web-based trouble ticketing system. It distinguishes itself from many other systems by including reports and graphs, such as a bar chart of tickets opened by month, or a pie chart of calls by customer. Can export to spreadsheets (excel format). The technology is Perl5 cgi-bin's backed onto the MySQL database. GPL'ed.

TouxDoux is a project to create a task manager. It currently seems to be somewhere between the alpha and beta stage, and is possibly usable as a personal task manager. The GUI is GTK/Gnome-based; the data store is SQL (Postgres or MySQL). Its not clear if any multi-user/groupware features are planned.

Roundup is a project to create an issue tracker in Python. In the alpha/beta stage. The primary strengths of this project is its acute attention to user interface and usability issues.

ProManager is a task-tracking tool. Uses a PHP front-end, various SQL backends. Translated to 16 languages. Public-domain license. Currently very basic in the set of features that it offers, although it does a few things other basic packages don't: Support for authenticated users (users must login), hierarchical tasks (tasks can have sub-tasks), e-mail/SMS notification, ability to assign tasks for first free user on a queue. Screenshots

RT is an web-based trouble-ticketing system. Tickets can be opened by email, web or command line. Written in perl, MySQL backend. Similar to Req and RUST in that email is fundamental part of the system. GPL'ed. Seems to handle basic functions rather well, and since this system has been around for quite a while, the rough spots are probably worn smooth. Nice new search feature. Screenshots. Includes several mailing lists, and list archives. Development of version 2.0 in active development.

ReqNG is a email-based trouble-ticketing system. Written in perl, flat-file(?) backend. Traces its lineage back to the original Req (see below). GPL'ed. Seems to do a good job handling all the basics, and since this system has been around for a while, it should be comfortable to use. There are many adjunct developments that include a WWWReq, a web-based interface (screenshots), TkReq, a tcl/tk client front-end (screenshot), and xreq, a Motif front-end.

Bugzilla is a bug-tracking spinoff from the Mozilla group. Web based, implemented in perl with MySQL as a back end, its solid in appearance and is used by a number of high-traffic web sites. This is a major system; read more about its features here. Download source here.

The GNATS/PRMS Gnu Bug Tracking System has been the cornerstone of Free Software bug tracking systems. The core is command-line, e-mail based, allowing additional tools and GUI wrappers to be created for it. These include wwwgnats, a web interface, and TkGnats, a Tk interface.

Do not confuse with the GNU GNAT tool, the GNU Ada95 Translator.

Double Choco Latte
Double Choco Latte is a basic web-based trouble-ticketing system. Implemented in PHP, with PostgresSQL or MySQL backends. GPL'ed. Sourceforge project. Screenshots. Provides basic job estimation and time-tracking, and a statistics page that totals hours worked. Requires Javascript-enabled browsers.

Teacup is a web-based trouble-ticketing system. Implemented in Perl, with a PostgresSQL back-end. GPL'ed. Includes basic support for work estimation, time-tracking, and billing of work to an account. Two live demo pages: the customer (originator) interface and the responder database (requires username test password test). (This system is still in development: e.g. There seems to be no way for a customer who opened a ticket to add additional material to the ticket, or otherwise edit the ticket, or cancel it. Another missing feature: problem descriptions are not properly logged: a malicious or incompetent technician could erase or mis-modify the original problem description.)

JitterBug is a simple web based bug tracking system developed by the Samba Team to handle the huge volume of mail they get at the samba-bugs mail alias. They have been using the system since October 1997 with very good results. JitterBug is written in C and runs as a CGI program under your web server. Uses a flat-file backend. Messages enter the system via email or a web interface. It is available under the GPL.


wreq is trouble-ticketing system. Features web and email interfaces. wreq is designed to be distributed, using a hierarchy of master and departmental servers -- useful not only for load-balancing, but, probably more importantly, to let different political/administrative groups control their own servers. It not only tracks work requests, but provides facilities for publishing FAQ's and HOWTO's across the server hierarchy. Implemented in perl, using gdbm as the database back-end.

OpenTicket is a simple, basic open-sourced trouble-ticketing system. SQL backend, based on Zope web application server technology. This is a basic but functional system: allows users to create tickets with various priorities and assign them to a team. Includes a simple ticket search interface. Problem types and status is fully configurable. No security mechanism. Has some nascent ability to track time spent on a bug report.

PHP HelpDesk
PHP Helpdesk is a project to create a PHP-based bug-tracking system. Hooks up to a MySQL backend. Currently supports only the basic functions (ticket creation, viewing and search). Administration and configuration (such as addition/deletion of new users, projects, categories) is also through web-based dialogs. See home page for screenshots. Sourceforge project.

BTT - Bluetail Ticket Tracker
Bluetail Ticket Tracker is a basic trouble-ticketing system. Written in Erlang, and thus runs on Windows as well as Linux. GPL'ed.

Tracker is a Zope-based WikiWiki-style bug tracking system. Seems to support the basic bug-tracking features.

Debian Bug Tracking System
The Debian Bug Tracking System is an e-mail based system with a web-based report generator. It is in active use by the the Debian project.


The web interface will sorely disappoint web users used to web-based bug tracking tools. The web display does not use HTML tables for layout, and thus the pages look very raw. E-mail headers on the bug submissions are not trimmed, and thus most of the web page is filled with with cryptic-looking, dense, and not very important email headers. There is no way to manipulate reports from the web interface. Most customization, as to projects, sub-projects and states has to be done by hand by editing configuration files. There is no support for user authentication, nor for user-based permissions. There are a few scattered utilities on the net to create graphs and reports.

PHPSAT PHP System Administrator's Tool. Its an issue tracker.

HelpDesk is a web-based trouble-ticketing system. Written in perl (Apache/modperl), with MySQL as the back end. GPL'ed. Currently, supports only the most basic function. Screenshot.

Open Track
The OpenTrack defect and enhancement tracking system was originally distributed by OSF, and is maintained as an open-source project by AccuRev. Defects/change requests are stored in a flat-file system. Has both TCL and Web interfaces. Ported to NT. Does not appear to nurture any sort of user community. Source is available but oddly packaged. It comes under the OSF Free License.

Job Control System (JCS)
Job Control System (JCS) is a GPL'ed trouble-ticket package. Done up with Bourne-shell CGI scripts working from a flat-file database. Support can be purchased from Bynari International

Scarab is a project to re-implement bug-tracking 'done right'. After years of talk, it is finally shipping a version 1.0. Apache/BSD license, implemented as Java servlets.

The frontdesk mail sorting / trouble ticketing system.

The LSM entry reads: "Frontdesk is a set of scripts that put incoming mail into threaded queues which can be accessed via the web. Very useful for customer support and bug tracking."

WHUPS is a new project to create a merged bug-tracking & version control system. GPL'ed. No code yet .. pre-alpha. Volunteers needed.

Commercial Bug Tracking/Trouble Ticketing Systems

I have attempted to sort these roughly in terms of complexity/features/usability/reliability scale, based on my own incompletely-informed, poorly-researched and faulty opinion. Note, however, that (New Listings!) are always listed at the top, even if they are not as good as some of the listing below them.

TestTrack Pro (New Listing!)
TestTrack Pro from Seapine distinguishing feature is its integration with most common source repository tools. The server runs on Linux, Windows, Mac, other Unix; there is a web client and a native windows client. Please check thier feature list for additional info.

ExtraView (New Listing!)
Extraview from Sesame. Web-based, with some workflow-like features. Here are some features that are not typically found on free/open-source packages:

Rubicon Tracker
Rubicon Tracker is a trouble-ticketing system. Web-based. Written in C++, back-ends to SQL. Free for open-source projects, but other non-commercial or commercial use requires a paid-up license. Screenshots.

The Keystone system from StoneKeep Consulting is the new, improved follow-on to their earlier web-based PTS system. Keystone allows users to create tasks or trouble-tickets via a web interface. Tasks may be assigned to owners, modified to show priority, project, status. Tasks may be organized in a hierarchical manner, to aid in the tracking of sub-components. Users can customize display and reporting preferences. Includes support for contact points. Keystone is a purely web-based system, implemented as a set of PHP3 scripts and using mSQL, MySQL or PostgresSQL as the backend database engine. Available in source form; free for ten or fewer users, larger sites require a license.

Do not confuse this PTS with another, by the same name, listed below.

DTS Defect Tracking System
The DTS Defect Tracking System is a commercial web-based trouble-ticketing system. A set of perl cgi-bins, it interfaces to a large variety of SQL databases, and runs on most Unix's. Includes an e-mail gateway and management statistics & reports. For a modest price, you get the perl source code.

CMVC Configuration Management and Version Control
The popular and sophisticated CMVC system from IBM has been ported to Linux. The Linux port is not available to the general public, but is an "Internal Use Only" item that can be downloaded by IBM employees from internal IBM web servers. If you work at IBM, and didn't know this, start by looking at, although I believe the actual s/w is in Raleigh. If you don't work for IBM, feel free to hassle your favorite sales rep about GA dates. Don't let them give you lip about Linux; its been ported, and it works. I repeat, this is not a generally available product.

Synchronize on Linux
The Synchronize from Crosswind Technologies package provides the ability to schedule appointments, meetings distribute agendas and memos, assign and track tasks, and send out reminders. Users can access individual and group calendars, use pop-up notes, and access automatically updated to-do lists. Commercial product.

Knowledge Base Systems

Knowledge base systems can be, at a minimum, glorified, automated FAQ's. Fancier versions include an integrated search index that lists the FAQ contents first, mailing list archive hits and/or bug database contents last.

TWiki is a web-based collaborative discussion & document creation manager. Users can freely edit or create new web pages using a simple markup language. Linking and embedding is automated, thus simplifying the editing. Includes search facilities. A check-box/radio-button/pull-down menu interface can be created using the 'categories' concept. The history of changes/updates to a page can be easily browsed. Update of pages can be authorized based on groups: unlike other Wiki's, this makes this an ideal system for corporate intranet deployment as it allows a measure of security and control. Implemented as a set of perl cgi-bin's. Flat-file back-end (using RCS for version control). GPL'ed.

KnowledgeKit is a Zope extension. Since Zope is a generic discussion/application server, with both search and database functions built in (including an SQL back-end), I assume that KnowledgeKit benefits from these. Includes support for FAQ moderation & support data (e.g. embedded images). Note that Zope sites tend to be visually elegant, I assume this property carries over to KnowledgeKit as well. Open source, BSD license.

Faq-O-Matic is a web-based system for maintaining a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions list). Includes a permission system to control who is allowed to submit updates. Implemented as a set of Perl CGI-bin scripts; GPL'ed.

FAQ-U is a searchable web-based FAQ editing system. Multiple maintainers can be given permissions. Searchable index is automatically created. Open Source license.

FAQ Manager
FAQ Manager is a basic web-based FAQ editing system implemented as a set of Perl CGI-bins.

FAQ Wizard
FAQ Wizard is a searchable web-based FAQ editing system implemented as a set of Python CGI-bins.

QAML site unreachable ...

Jyve is a Java-based (turbine) package ...

Resource and Asset Management Systems

Community Lend???
Be sure to list Kert Petersen's community lending system. This system provides a public-library like lending system, allowing independent users to list items that they can lend, and tracking the status/location of any given item.

IRM is a GPL'ed asset tracking system. Web-based, implemented in PHP, with MySQL back end, with work in progress for other SQL back ends. Source available by CVS, and this an active mailing list.

The following feature list was copied from the IRM web pages:

Help Desk, Call Tracking, Customer Support

Customer support calls frequently cost anywhere from $10 to $60 per call. This cost is fairly independent of the type of business: The cost of having a live travel agent make a travel reservation over the phone is about $25, the cost of a live operator take a phone-in mail-order catalog order is about $7 to $15, and the cost of a technical-support call for hardware or software support is $35 and up. The goal of help-desk/call-tracking systems is to push down these costs while at the same time making the help-center staff more knowledgeable, more responsive, and more aware of the customer's needs.

Xen provides a task-management/tracking system, a contact management system, a time-sheet/expense system, and a report system. Has web and email and command-line interfaces. Zope-based. Free Software, the Xen Open Source License (XOSL) is a modified version of the Mozilla Public License (MPL). This is still a young system, a bit lean on overall features, but appears to be functional. Unfortunately, the company that began and sponsored its development has gone out of business. The code is up on sourceforge, under the project name MidnightXen

RightNow Web eService Center
RightNow Web eService Center from RightNow Technologies features a knowledge base that grows automatically with every written response to a customer problem. The knowledge base is meant to be published directly on the web, so that customers have a much better chance of resolving their problem before calling the support desk. The knowledge base is integrated with a ticket system, so that new ticket info is fed back into the knowledge base. Integrated with a live chat system, thus cutting down on the number of actual phone calls. RightNow Web is a very sophisticated, high-end CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, with advanced reporting, tracking and management features.

Interaction Manager
The Interaction Manager from Q-Link Technologies is an online support system integrating call-back, chat, self-help, co-browse capabilities. Implemented with Java Servlets, supported on most Unix/Linux and Windows platforms, uses Oracle, Sybase and Informix databases (among others) for back end. Company also sells a portfolio of portal management, email management, knowledge-base management and workflow management tools.

The GLOBEtrack system from GLOBEtrotter Software is a bug and call-tracking system. It features e-mail integration, text and graphic reports, and ability to create arbitrary fields. They are currently offering a trial version for free download.

UniPress Software, Inc. has released a Linux version of its FootPrints (TM) helpdesk automation software. This Java/WWW-based package records and tracks problems, solutions, bugs, change requests, and any related information, and makes the information available to anyone with access to the Internet or Intranet.

FootPrints is fully customizable, extending the product's functionality beyond a helpdesk system to a custom tracking system. Fields may be created and named to fit the specific needs of a specific project. With support for character, integer, float, choice, date, mail, website and ftp field types, users are able to easily alter and then automatically integrate new fields into the FootPrints desktop.

As of May 1997, the FootPrints Starter Pack includes the server software and 3 licenses and is priced at $1995. Additional licenses are available at $495 each.

Online SupportCenter and HelpDesk Expert
Online SupportCenter and HelpDesk Expert from Applied Innovation Management is a customer support system. The company also offers a contact management system built on the same technology: the product descriptions for all three of these systems are almost identical. Fairly expensive, in the range of $1,500 to $2,500 per seat.

ConSol* CM
The ConSol*CM from ConSol* is a Helpdesk application. Can download free demo version.

CRM Marketing Campaign Managers

CRM Marketing campaign managers manage lists of users/customers/subscribers, and their interests, and also manage lists of advertising, bulk-mail, and press-release marketing campaigns targeted at these individuals.

Open Source CRM
Open Source CRM is a project to create an open-source CRM-Marketing package. Currently, it consists solely of KeyFactor, a complete & fully functional targeted email campaign manager. It allows the marketing/sales department to create email campaigns specifically targeted at individuals (its not a B2B tool, and doesn't handle corporate accounts). Through its reports feature, it can provide sales forecasts. It a set of PHP pages, coupled to a MySQL or PostgresSQL backend. It is covered under the Ricoh Source Code Public License, which is derived from the Netscape Public License.

Anteil CRM is an open-sourced system that seems to be focused on marketing campaign management.

M4 is a CRM-Marketing system. Seems to be a membership and marketing campaign system. It allows users to register themselves and their interests. The system can then slice & dice this database of users, and mount e-mail and other promotional and marketing campaigns.

Workflow Management

Workflow management is all about the flow of documents, such as 'work order requests', through a bureaucracy. The document gains signatures, approvals, notes, and might cause additional requests to get launched. A very, very specialized example of this is the 'bug tracker', where the document is called a 'bug report', and its status is tracked as it moves from the submitter to the programmer to the tester and back to the submitter. A generic way of creating a customized workflow using XML is discussed on the Workflow Management page.

WebDocWf (New Listing!)
WebbDocWf is a web-based document management and workflow system. Java/Enhydra-based. LGPL.

TUTOS (New Listing!)
TUTOS is a web-based system that implements a calendar, a bug/issue tracker, an addressbook, a group-activity manager and a time-tracker into one. Mixture of php and Java. GPL'ed.

OpenFlow is an open-source workflow and document management project. Has development backing and is slated for deployment in the Italian Public Administration. Zope-based. GPL'ed.

IT 4 School is a workflow/communications package oriented at school systems. Current emphasis is on integrating with existing school informations systems, including LDAP, Novell NDS and SASIxp.

wftk is a project to create an open-source workflow-management tool. Although its in early stages, it has been consistently chugging along for a while, and has the promise of becoming the open-source, GPL'ed package for workflow management. Modular, GUI-independent libraries should allow other projects to incorporate workflow. Linux and NT. The overview of workflow examples is a good intro to some of the issues surrounding this type of software. If you need something to do, go help this project.

Action Manager (New Listing!)
ActionManager is a set of tools for defining, implementing and steering a dataflow/workflow process on top of a set of CORBA components. GPL'ed. Beta.

WebDocWF (New Listing!)
WebDocWF is a Enhydra (Java-based application server) document handling framework.

WISE (Web-Integrated Software Environment) Version 1.0
The WISE package hails from NASA Software Research Labs. A fully-customizable workflow-management package. The WPL (WISE Programming Language) allows the sequence of stages that a task goes through to be configured in a completely flexible manner. In addition, roles with password-restricted role-privileges can be defined so that only certain individuals/groups can make changes, approve, advance, etc. any given task from stage to stage. The interface is entirely web-based, the project information is stored in an mSQL database. Includes ability to generate time-history graphs and summary bar charts. Since the interface is entirely web-based, tasks and reports can be accessed and managed from any operating system that supports a web browser.

The original distribution will not compile under Linux. A patched version can be found here: wise-1.0e.tar.gz. The lsm is here. This patched version includes a sample template appropriate for bug tracking, including roles for the defect originator, developers, builders, testers and managers.

WISE is no longer actively maintained. I acted as maintainer for several years, and am looking for someone willing to take over this work.

WISE has a very powerful, very elegant and interesting way of defining workflow, roles, and privileges, and is thus a potentially extremely powerful system. This ability puts it way beyond the capabilities of virtually any other bug tracking system or workflow manager out there. Unfortunately, this feature is implemented through an enhanced yacc (newyacc) that's buggy. WISE should be carefully studied, the workflow concepts carefully, surgically removed, and then re-written. TBD: remove need for newyacc, update build system, broaden SQL support, modernize cgi infrastructure. See below for more info.

Process Manager
The Process Manager from Q-Link Technologies is a workflow management system. Provides a number of different workflow models, and includes models where some of the work is done off-premesis, e.g. by suppliers, channel partners or customers.

Razor from Visible Systems Corp. provides a customizable process & workflow management system that's tied to an issue-tracking system. Includes support for signature chains, audit trails, email notification of certain events/process states. The bug-tracking subsystem is web-based. The bug tracking system also integrates with a separate module that provide change management & version control.

Project Management

I've tried to limit this category to tools that do not only traditional issue and status tracking, but also have some ability to solve the resource-scheduling problem. Support for Gantt charts and modules for cost accounting and budgeting are good signs that you have a complete project management tool. The three tools below are commercial, and have a wide assortment of features.

Intellisys Project Desktop (New Listing!)
The Intellisys Project Desktop is a commercial, Java-based project management client for Linux/BSD and other Unixes, MacOS 9 and 10, as well as Windows. The visual layout is reminiscent of MS Project: a heirarchical to-do-list next to a Gantt chart. Free download, although this is licensed software (shareware ??).

Intellisys Project Enterprise (New Listing!)
The Intellisys Project Enterprise uses the same graphical interface as thier Project Desktop (above), but adds multi-user, role-based access and communications. Commercial, Java-based.

AMS RealTime Project
AMS RealTime Project from Advanced Management Systems is a suite of tools, clients and servers for tracking projects, project schedules, and doing cost management, in real-time. This is an enterprise-class system, suitable for tracking and scheduling the largest projects. The tool suite consists of 'Projects', 'Costs', 'Resources', 'Solo' and 'Server'.

WebProject from Novient is a suite of Java applications for resource scheduling, collaboration, plan development, document management. It is billed as an enterprise-class system with a 3-tier client-server architecture. This tool is not open source, and given that it has enterprise features, it probably has enterprise pricing (e.g. $100,000 starting price).

Schedulers, Planners and GANTT Chart Tools

These are not full-fledged project management tools. Rather, these are pieces of software that focus on either solving the scheduling equations, and/or tools that draw Gantt charts.

MrProject is a project management system for Gnome. GPL'ed. This is an active project, with a good website (live CVS, lxr, mailing lists, etc.) and corporate sponsorship (CodeFactory). Although it is still at the 0.1 version number, it none-the-less is the most advanced and modern of the GPL'ed, open-source crowd.

KProject is a project management system for KDE. So far, only the Gantt chart graphing widget has been developed. It looks absolutely beautiful, if a bit over-busy and hard to understand. GPL'ed.

OpenSched is a project to create a project scheduler. One inputs tasks, resources (people, equipment, etc.); it solves the scheduling problem, assigning resources to tasks. On output, it produces a variety of reports, including a summary of tasks and task dependencies, GANTT charts, and work schedules. GPL'ed. Uses a hand-edited file for input, outputs LaTeX.

QtGantt is a project to develop a Gantt-chart drawing tool for Linux. As of this writing, version 0.0.4 == alpha level code. Screenshot.

Xplan is an older X11/Xview based project management system. One can create and edit project files containing task info (task name, description, dates, etc.). The tool graphically generates both PERT and Gantt charts on screen, and has an option to generate LaTeX source for Gantt charts and task sheets. For a while, this was dead code; its been revived and patched for modern Linux versions. The above web site points at a CVS tree, as well as a number of screen shots. Originally developed for SunOS, it requires the XView libraries and header files to compile.

PyGantt is a Gantt-chart drawing tool implemented in Python. It accepts XML input and output Gantt charts. GPL'ed.

General Purpose Project Scheduler - gscheduler
gscheduler is meant to be a gnome-based scheduler. Pre-alpha, nothing functional yet. (New Listing!) have a simple web-based gantt-chart creation tool. Implemented as a set of Perl CGI-bins. GPL'ed.

ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning

The following are ERP tools and infrastructures for Linux.

GNU Enterprise
GnuE is a young project hoping to create a GPL'ed ERP package. It has a variety of active developers, and several projects underway, but is still in extremely early stages. Current work focuses on a forms designer and a an object/application server. The forms designer allows user interfaces to be quickly defined & created for Windows, Macintosh, Motif, gtk, java/swing and ncurses. The object server defines a data abstraction layer, allowing data for come from a variety of sources (such as SQL databases).

POSSL is the open-sourcing of Panther (see Panther for Linux) of an established ERP package. The license, Jyacc Public License, appears to be BSD-like in nature. Although a large chunk of Panther has been opened up, its not clear which parts. Panther seems to consist of the following parts:

This project appears to be defunct; the domain is no longer registered. This used to be the following:

OpenSourceERP is a (vaporware) project run by marketing types. Although they have no code, and have managed to build a top-heavy organization, don't count them out. These folks are busy soliciting mind-share and money, and have some sort of chance for pulling together an open source ERP package. Just not yet.

Obsolete, Defunct, But Maybe Still Interesting

The following lists some of the older open-source systems. Most of these appear to be no longer actively maintained, which may or may not be a reflection of their quality. They just might be suitable for renewed interest.

RUST (Requests, Users, and Sys-admin To-do Tracking System)
The RUST E-mail based trouble-ticketing system. Supports multiple mailing lists. Designed for and deployed as part of a help-desk automation tool. Newer versions include an X11-based GUI, and a simple web interface.

No longer actively maintained, last round of development activity seems to have been mid 1997, the mailing list archives stop late 1997.

The SIS package accepts problem submissions via a web page. A summary table can be viewed as a web page. This is a good basic package, although the current version (Version 0.5) is missing some important features, such as summary table by problem type, by owner, by originator, etc.

Note: the last available version is Beta v0.5 - 16 November 1996 this system seems to be no longer updated or maintained.

The Req request system, e-mail based. A set of perl scripts, with tcl/tk and emacs interfaces. Pluses: multi-OS support. Minuses: Current version lacks ability to easily support multiple mailing lists.

Latest version that I can find is Version 1.2.7 from November 1994, at above URL. See listing above for ReqNG, the successor to this system.

PTS/Xpts (Problem Tracking System)
PTS/Xpts is an X11R5/6 & Athena widget based application. No longer in active development. (Last version appears to be v 1.1a2 from July 1995). No mailing lists or archives. Not to be confused with similarly names web-based PTS system above.

The NEARNET Ticket System. Based on the MMDF mail system, no sendmail support. Requires Informix database. Version problems?: Version 1.3b from May 1994, although above URL gives the same version, but much larger size, and a 1996 date.

The Queue-MH is a set of MH-based scripts for tracking problem reports using the MH mail system.

The MARS (Machine Automated Response System) seems to be an old, e-mail based trouble-ticketing system. Development appears to have stopped in October 1993; that is the date on the seemingly latest version.

Xopps is a Gantt chart/timeline graph creation & editing tool developed by NASA/JPL. Reported to build but is unstable under Linux. Contact Susan Murphy <> or Mike Tankenson <>.

Other Resources

Unrelated stuff

TLA Glossary

Application Service Provider. A company that provides a web-based service.
Customer Relationship Management. Software that tracks customers.
Customer Support Representative. The person who answers the 1-800 call.

Additional Notes about WISE

First, the bad news: WISE isn't really maintainable in its current form. It needs a total re-write.

Next, the (really) good news: WISE is the *only* package out there that has a fully configurable workflow schema. You can adopt it to *any* workflow environment you want: e.g. software devel, where it can be made to look like a standard bug tracker, to e.g. some bureaucratic, state-administered public works/procurement project, where form x has to be reviewed by approver y and signed by z only after a committee hearing..`. etc. (For example, look at the flow chart in Purchase of a Chair by a Pe(rs)on.

It does this by defining a configuration language. The language allows you to define steps/stages in the process, the flow chart from step to step. It also defines roles: viz what people are allowed to perform which actions at which steps. A process can move from one step to another only if your role allows you make that particular change. You can now imagine the power of this: it allows you to overlay a number of different processes on the same set of steps. It allows you to hide certain steps from certain people, or mark them as read-only, etc.

A side-effect of this is that the GUI itself is auto-generated from components based on the configuration language. Until you create a configuration, you don't know what stages, steps, menu entries will be. (Although you can guess that almost all processes share the ideas of 'start/open', 'do some work', 'approve/verify', 'finish/close', 'reopen/escalate')

Similarly, the database schemas are generated based on the configuration. Until you write the configuration, you don't know what each record of the database needs to store ...

Now more bad news: I found the language processor to be buggy as all get-out. The idea of using a language is bad also because it makes the build process very messy & difficult: after parsing the configuration, C code gets auto-generated, which must be compiled. SQL tables get auto-generated, which must be loaded and initialized. It makes minor process changes quite hard.

Now, the good news: most of the language constructs have matching C structs (which could be taken stock, or re-implemented as C++ objects.) These objects are things like 'role', 'permissions', 'process step', etc. The entire 'secret' of why this thing is so marvelously configurable is embedded in the design of these objects.


Last modified February 2002 -- Linas Vepstas

Copyright (c) 1996-2002 Linas Vepstas.

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