Linux Still Has No Barcode Inventory?

Posted by Tracer on May 12, 2006 3:21 AM EDT
lxer.com; By Supermike
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All these years with Linux and the stable LAMP platform and still no one has invented a barcode inventory web app for IT departments?

Don't get me wrong. I write LAPP software on Linux. In moonlight mode, I'm head down in a huge project for a FLOSS startup. But today my boss for my day job asked me to evaluate something simple. It's a common thing you see necessary in most IT departments. It just a web app that integrates with barcodes. I can put barcodes on all my hardware and software, stick all this stuff in the database via the web app, group and categorize it, and assign metadata (like names and addresses) to it. Everytime I check in or out something, I can hit the web app and use the barcode scanner to check it in or out. Every 6 months, I can do a theft/missing check and rescan everything, identifying what is missing. This is such a fundamental need for any IT department in the world. It doesn't have to be complex. (However, I'd recommend that it use CSS and not look like a web app built in 1990.)

Yet, in all these years of a stable LAMP/LAPP/J2EE platform, I cannot find a single application for this? Sure, freshmeat.net turns up stuff on inventory, but nothing has barcode support and some of the apps require I implement an entire frippin accounting system. Some of the apps still have a non-CSS, Web 1.0 1990-style interface.

When I called RedHat up, they said they didn't have anything and pointed me to third-parties on their site. IBM's mega-expensive Tivoli package came up as perhaps something that might have this, but the Tivoli marketing goo (marketecture) got in the way from me knowing squat about it. I couldn't find anything about barcoding with it. What do they expect me to do? Type in all these serial numbers every 6 months? Forget that! Plus, for when I want nothing but this tiny app, and not the rest of all of Tivoli's goo, why do I want to spend all this cash?

So then I called Novell up, and they have Zenworks Asset Management, but the thing still runs on Windows and MS SQL Server. Yeah, like I want to bring in yet another insecure, P-I-T-A Windows server to host this tiny app when all my Linux servers hum along just nicely and are at least highly scriptable for admin tasks. Nope, not going to happen. I was actually shocked to see Novell still pushing a Windows app with all their MS-bashing and anti-MS statistic research they've been drudging up. Seems kinda ironic. Ya think?

Yeah, I want to evangelize about Linux all day and night, but folks, we've got to do better out there to hit the low-hanging fruit here. My boss has some cash to unload for something near $1K, that's simple, easy-to-use, is a web app, reduces much of our keyboard time, and integrates with a barcode scanner somehow to reduce much of our typing. But there's nothing out there.

Now think about that. A lot of us Linux advocates, perhaps as much as 40%, work in IT departments. We're very smart. We automate stuff. We build stuff fast and cheap. Yet none of us have seen the fruit here, built this, and made some decent cash from it (FLOSS-style, of course)??

If I weren't so snowed with my current project, this would definitely be on my radar. So if you're ever wondering why your FLOSS-model startup isn't going anywhere, perhaps it's because you're not looking for the low-hanging fruit that's right in front of your eyes.


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You're WRONG. tk421 5 2,496 Jul 6, 2006 3:39 AM

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