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Helping end-users, the open source way

Nov 12, 20032 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* Linux/open source-based help desk software

Enterprise help desks use many tricks to make their jobs easier, from simple tools such as e-mail lists, ring groups or push-to-talk phones, to more complex trouble-ticket management systems.

For IT groups struggling to handle the myriad projects and demands that pile up, a help desk management application could help. Many commercial software packages are available for this kind of function, but many open-source options are also out there for shops familiar with the powerful open source combo known as LAMP (Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL databases and PHP scripting language).

Over the next week, we’ll look at some of the packages out there. (Keep in mind, these are not reviews/test results.) In most cases, these packages were written by actual enterprise IT help desk people with programming skills. This can be good, since they directly address the needs of IT help desk pros; but in some cases, packages were written to accomplish specific tasks, or with the needs of an IT organization in mind.

PHP, known as PHP Hypertext Processor (originally called Personal Home Pages), the scripting language used to create dynamic Web pages, is a common tool in many open source software packages, including help desk software. No secret that this is the case with PHP Helpdesk.

PHP Helpdesk requires a MySQL database and a PHP development environment, as well as an Apache Web server. The software is server operating system independent. PHP Helpdesk can be used to create IS trouble tickets for various departments in an organization – e.g., human resources, sales, marketing, and so on – and track processing information on tickets, such as ticket entry to resolution time. Tickets are viewed and edited through a Web browser. IT staff can also generate reports on overall IS help desk performance with the software. According to the software’s creators, PHP Helpdesk is considered to be in “beta,” but the package has seen around 49,000 downloads since the project began in 2000.

Next week: MyHelpdesk