Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Open Source: Free IT HelpDesk Ticketing System with Linux Mint + osTicket [Part 1]

The following article is aiming and focus on to provide a technical documentation in how to setup a help desk ticketing system. Many of my own experiences will be included in this article however I will try to give as much general information and references to backup my research.

Before we get the project started, we will have to go through some boring stuff first. We would probably need to define the basic requirements of a help desk ticketing system.
  • A ticketing system provide basic ticketing/logging functions
  • Friendly user/admin interface
  • System management console
  • Easy to install, easy to use and maintain.
  • Secured
  • Preferably free 
More details: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-things-to-consider-when-choosing-a-help-desk-system/
In order to meet the basic requirements of my specification to setup the system, I have focused on the three main things that requires the special needs to look at. The computer, the software and the users (Administrators/end-users). The following questions are provided in the bullet points should be carried out or investigated for the best development practice.

  • What are the available equipment to use i.e. Laptop, USB drive
  • What are the available operating system out there on the market?
  • What are the system specification requirements to install on the computer? (Limited equipment, does the computer meet the requirements)
  • Which operating system is the best for the administrator to use out-of-the-box? (Experience/learning curves)
  • What are the available help desk ticketing system software on the market?
  • How will the help desk ticketing system work with the operating system? (Compatibility issue or universal, other third party software that required to support it)
  • How user-friendly it is for administrator to perform basic tasks on the system?
Those series of research once done, you should have a better picture of how to set up a help desk ticketing system and the information needed to get you start building one.

Identifying Information and Research

What are the available equipment to use?

A netbook was given to me to do the project and I was hoping for a more powerful laptop. However this does not stopping me, every situations could be different and you could being using anything from a very worst old computer that still has Intel Pentium 3 processor or a brand new Intel i7.

Summary Spec
  • Intel Atom N270 Processor 1.6GHz
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 8GB Hard Drive
  • 8.9-Inch Screen, Intel GMA 950
  • WiFi + 100Mbps Ethernet
The laptop is definilty not the fastest but it certainly have some power to run a full Windows 7 operating system!

Software and Users

Operating System

For the operating system, I have chosen to use Linux Mint over other Linux distribution. I know are other Linux distribution out there may be better than Linux Mint, however I am taking the consideration of the current Administration experience and project specification in terms of budget.

There are hundreds of Linx distributions comparison reviews on the interweb (link) and one of them compares the most popular Linux distros among the others, which is Linux Mint and Ubuntu (link). The article perfectly gives a indication of which distro is the best for tech-savvy beginner. To my self as I have little experience of using Linux OS and always wanted to get in the Linux World to feel the freedom!

Besides the benefit of user friendly interface for beginners, Linux distros are open source software that gives the opppurnity to software engineers to make any modification to the blueprint of the OS and free license to any users. Additionally free of charge to download the software and you can legally install the OS on any computers applies to the requirement of budget issue, Linux uses as little computer resources to run the OS compared to Windows, and finally Linux Mint distro is the definite choice of the OS for the job.

Help desk ticketing system

Just like any software out there on the market, there are dozens of software provides similar functionalities and features to users and in order to determine which one software is for the right job, we will be research on the internet to find out the available software and read reviews about each software to check whenever to see if they meet our requirements (Free and Linux Compatible).

5 open source help desk apps to watch
9 free open source ticket sytems

According to Siebert's blog, OTRS pointed that out is enough for a small to medium size business, the open source community provides great support compared to commercial software which has limited themselves to their own goals for their users.

Also TechRepublic have strongly pointed out:
The osTicket system is one of the most flexible, reliable, pain-free help ticket systems available.

So my point of view on choosing osTicket as help desk ticketing system is because the software is capable to provide the extra benefits to  accommodate administrators needs in the future, as it is classed as a insurance. Moreover, it meets the requirements of what we have planned for the project.

What is osTicket overview

osTicket is a widely-used and trusted open source support ticket system. It seamlessly routes inquiries created via email, web-forms and phone calls into a simple, easy-to-use, multi-user, web-based customer support platform.

So let's get the practical stuff started and read on Part 2

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