Click below and extract it to your local PC.

Download Stand Alone Point of Sales

Inside the folder , Double-click on Start.bat

For Mac or Linux: Go to your terminal box to execute ./




CLICK ON POS synchronization



ENJOY! Say goodbye to expensive and commercial closed software

To see what is happening in our underground bunker. TOP SECRET ** MQ SERVER **




DEDICATION - This page was done on the freezing morning (outside) with me comfortably inside a beautiful cottage home of the Zajac family, deep in Bavaria country. My deepest gratitude to Tom, Rita, Dom and Carol for their very generous sharing, moments of conversations, Bavaria wonders and lavish hospitality, of which I find it hard to repay in kind. May this page remains a statement of goodwill and friendship with the Landshut community of Bavaria.

Redhuan D. Oon

19th October, 2011.

Below is a series of essays written exclusively for New Business Magazine, AUSTRIA (Translated into German by Dietmar and Bora Berlinger).

Redhuan is the founding leader of a top project called ADempiere. He travels the world over evangelising and assisting community members on the challenges of adopting free ERP solutions.

Freedom of Choice

by Redhuan D. Oon

Essays on Open Source ERP

1. Free as in Free Beer (German Translation)

According to Richard Stallman, the founder of Free Software Movement, Free Software is Free as in Freedom or Free speech but not free beer. He stresses on the principle that you are free to take software like you would with any piece of knowledge and change to improve it and then give it back for others to do the same. It is not a foreign idea as almost all real knowledge is exchanged and improved on this way since time immemorial. But software patents came along during the 80s where Richard Stallman was working in his university lab and some new patent stopped him in his tracks by classifying their code as proprietary and not open to modification. Stallman has to code his own printer driver which avoided also his need to pay the license cost. But it is not a question of money been evil and Stallman in fact encourages developers to charge for their software as long as they provide the code for the freedom to change it back without removing the copyright notice nor license scheme. This is a strange concept but not so if you consider an engineer or doctor or lecturer using free information all the time and they do not charge for the use of the information they also created but merely charge for their time and expertise.

There are companies that offers services around Free and Open Source software that do not hide the code but provide warranty, assurance, and support when using the code. This is very fine because unlike engineering knowledge, software application knowledge is a difficult art and the statistics show that 92% of ERP software implementations face failures to meet its planned objectives.

But this concept of opening up the code still remains a faithful question by proprietary companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP that if the code is open, it is in essence 'Free Beer'. This is due to the fact that they make a living out of selling the code. But this pose important issues. For example, if you are to buy a house, you get to stay in it, modify it and rent it out or just let your mother in law to stay in it for free. But you cannot do that with Microsoft Windows. After paying for it, the license agreement says that you are to use it only for yourself and on one computer and you are not allowed to let another person use it even though you are not making money out of it. And if you no longer use it, you basically have to destroy it to avoid others from breaking that agreement.

So from the fair use principle of it, this sounds very unfair. But wait. Software vendors argue that they put in alot of money to produce software and so they should apply this rule. Moreover they are not forcing anyone to pay them but at their own free will. This fact must be true or else SAP or Microsoft will not be very rich companies.

But today people demand the freedom of choice. They like to look at alternatives. which is getting to be the opposite model. Free and Open Source software is becoming more than a pain in the neck for proprietary software companies. They are thriving and viral in its growth with the sister concept of offering free service such as what Hotmail or Yahoo! did. Giving free beer away has made billions for category leaders in the Web. Free is the best marketing tool on the Internet because it is like free advertising, even better, you do not have to pay a single cent for people to download and use your stuff and thus effectively brand you sky high and possibly displace the giants. But brand leadership is a slim spot on the top of the mountain. There can only be one Linux, JBoss, Apache, or one Google or one Twitter. They already grabbed those spots.

So would you still want to give Free Beer away? The answer is "You have no choice". Either you give it away or someone else will and grab more top positions. Twitter is one stupid idea that defines its own blue ocean as if by mistake. Why would anyone type only 140 characters? But it worked. Twitter is now worth billions and they are not for sale. Not yet.

SAP now made their database free and open source. So did IBM with lots of investments in Linux and Eclipse. So will Oracle and Microsoft claimed also. In fact these companies will be the first ones to book a booth in an Open Source exhibition. It makes business sense if free beer makes money to them.

Yes, this means you can get Free Beer. You can download expensive software such as for implementing ERP in your company to automate your boring redundant backroom processes and even do it at a very sophisticated level. Softwares that are free for download and use right away are Compiere (ERP/CRM), Pentaho (Business Inteligence Reporting tools), Palo (BI on Excel), Talend (Data integration), Asterisk (VOIP telephony) and the list goes on and on. These are successful vendors offering services around the softwares they made free. In fact they stand to make more money as the community of users and itch scratching developers send back bug reports and even patches to improve the softwares further.

This is the 21st century and this is how all software one day will be written. They will not only give freedom but they also give away free beer. But hang on. Don't rush your mouse to click on the 'download' button just yet. There are big issues with free software particularly for business applications such as ERP. Follow this story in the next issue.

2. Freedom has a Price

There is a distinctive concept in IT adoption called TCO or Total Cost of Ownership. It means that your cost in adopting a software is not just the license fee or lack of it (if you use Freeware) but the costs associated with it. Such as the hiring or outsourcing costs to those who knows how to use the software and implement the solution for you. Yes information may be free and wants to be free to be branded but its people are not. You can learn Chemistry on your own but if you want to go to a teacher she is most likely paid through your college fees or your parents' tax money. In fact freedom in USA means alot of security checks, surveilance, high taxes, critical healthcare issues and lots of bad debts. Freedom has an expensive price tag.

There are also hidden costs such as costs of long term support. What will you do if the guy who implemented your ERP migrate to Africa? Or what if the code he changed is only understood by him? Where are the standards or compliance of best practice to follow? In accounting we have standards and all accountants know them and apply them. So is it with Engineering, Medicine or Law. But not so with software or it is still unclear. Standards are mostly controlled by big vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. Open Source has standards but they are not as famous or matured as those dinosaurs.

The most expensive hidden cost is risk or assurance. Would you live with the fact that your software is free but no one knows how to use it besides your close friends? Or would you rather surrender your fate to a global company that has been around for 30 years and is the top ERP seller in the world? In fact many boasted that no one gets fired for choosing SAP. But if you choose a free software that is still obscure and equally complex, and it goes down, who can you blame? Whose neck will you choke? Yet more and more users are looking at alternatives. Why?

As stated in an earlier essay, some are choosing it due to the freedom to change. With proprietary software, you cannot possibly change the code. Yes, they do have advanced configurators to let users change formats easily but there will always be something that does not really fit your organisational process. But for many users, they may not mind living with some gaps in rules and not see that as a business stopper.

Some choose it due to trying to beat down the high cost of ownership. Or hope to do so. In fact if you try to use Linux for desktops you may end up with a higher TCO. This factor is only more meaningful if you displace more expensive softwares such as from SAP. But implementing ERP is not the same as setting up a desktop. To setup a dekstop software may take you only one hour. To setup an ERP may take you ages. To blame a bad desktop setup you can just blame the software. But to blame a powerful ERP system that crashed, you have to blame the people who defined and implement it. And people are expensive. Good people are even more expensive. Try to cut down the best people for the job and you end up with bad ERP. It is not SAP or ADempiere ERP that is bad. It is always the people and how much real experience or real passion left that they possess to make a good job out of it.

So ERP implementation is more about subject matter expertise and attitudes rather than software gizmos. In our next essay we shall look at how to recognise basic ERP risks and how to avoid them.

3. Watch out. An ERP coming.

There are actually people who would jump out of the window or feel like doing so when they hear such a word. ERP seems an evil word. It means double work (for the starting phases), alot of late night scrutiny of test data, endless discussions with ERP consultants on what you mean by this or that. It can be rigid and unfriendly and a lot of change in user behaviour. Many are known to resist it and often human psychology is more important than ERP knowledge to resolve such instances.

The number one risk in thinking about ERP is surreal expectations. Some expect the software to do wonders and pluck figures out of the sky. Some feel that there is such a checkbox in choosing what features they like for an ERP as "All of the above". Some even believe that there is another checkbox after it that says, "All at once". Well, the bad news is that you can have it all but not at once. Or you can have it at once but not all. There is no big bang theory in ERP. It will involve alot of study, review, reflection, praying and even a no-go decision to delay to another time. To avoid undue heartaches, it is best to go very slow or low-key at first. Pick out one branch that has the lowest risk or user pressure. Make a proof of concept work at this branch or department first. Ensure the final reports are true and useful and are what top management wanted. Yes, salesmanship is not needed here. Do not overpromise or believe in promises from any ERP implementor. They are most likely to under deliver.

Another pain is price or costs of risks. There is a saying that "If it is cheap and it is fast, it is not good; If it is good and it is cheap, it is not fast; If it is good and it is fast, it is not cheap". So if someone right away agrees with you that you can have what you want according to when you want it, be careful. Is she out for a desperate sale? Check her calling card designation (if it is stated "Sales" somewhere) and ask her technical person some simple questions. Actually i would fail that vendor representative if she answers "yes" all the time. One good question will be to ask for references. But Open Source vendors have very few references because they are not 30 years old software implementors like SAP. Then can they help setup a pilot at your office? It may cost a small fee for their few man hours time but it is worth it to try. Insist on a good faith clause that you can walk away from any commitment and that they do not embed any hidden locks in the open code. Even though it is open source, you most likely won't spend time reading the 3 million lines of code that is open source ERP as ADempiere. Even if you can read it, you are most likely not able to stand the look of it. Code is very cryptic and elusive to trace even for advanced programmers.

Lack of documentation is another tell-tale sign of pending failure. Actually it is not enough to document a project needs or user guide. You need to have a reader-friendly document. Are there simpler documents? First of all, do the team members write anything? Yes, they may be whizz kids at software, but if they write horribly like a doctor, kick them out.

Even if a vendor is rock solid with plenty of references, they may not be that free or will become over-stretched to cater to your individual needs. In today's Internet world, a community forum can be a best criteria to choose an ERP software. Even SAP has mailing list that you are free to join to listen in on all the chatter behind the code or implementation issues. This can give you some feel as well as assurance that if all else fails, you can always google from those forums large content base as someone out there is bound to have your same problem and might give you an answer or clue to be closer to an answer.

Yes, everything has risks, even more so with software giants. I was working for a Data General vendor in Malaysia during my first job in IT and they are now extinct. So has many other giants such as Sun. In ERP there are good names that have fallen or bought over. Such as Baan ERP, JD Edwards and Great Plains. Among Open Source ERP, Compiere is bought over from its original owner and mover by a company that does not seem to know what to do next with such free beer. Openbravo which is another commercial open source vendor which forked the idea and design from Compiere has also started introducing commercial fees for some of its code. Wait a minute. I thought they should still have free beer? Well, things get murky. Follow the next essay explaining the difference between community based open source and commercialised open source.

4. The Dollar Sign

Business tendencies always creep into anything that is making a killing. Remember during the dotcom era, when free Internet content is making waves through its first great browser which was Netscape and the search engine Yahoo! Public funding poured in and made those new inventors become billionaires within a short time. Then came the dotcom crash. Quickly after that crash came another new buzz word - Open Source. Compiere was originally a closed ERP software made open in 1999 by its owner in USA. In 4 years, without any staff other than the two original partners, Compiere became a house-hold name that even i get to hear about it. But in 2006 a venture capital fund bought over the controlling equity of the owning company and started changing the rules of the game. Users were been forced to pay for some levels of usage of the software. The community revolted and under my guidance the ADempiere project was born, taking the free code and rebranding it as another project. This is entirely legal and is protected by the GNU Public Licence stated in the code. However the tendency to try to make money out of code turns to looking not at pure services but crippling the freedom of the code sharing as code from outside hardly makes its way back to the source or some portion of code are only usable if you pay a subscription fee.

But for ADempiere there is no such clause nor condition over its source. It not only integrates large amounts of foreign code (which are compatible with the GPL terms), its community began to grow in spite of not having any corporate headquarters or centralised leadership.

Thus this is an example where Compiere is now known as commercial open source and ADempiere is known as community open source. There is preference by users to choose one over the other. For example La Poste in France chooses Compiere as they need a corporate office neck to choke and ADempiere does not have an offficial representative anywhere, even though it has supporters from all over including France.

Corporate representation looks very spick and span and there is often a pretty receptionist at some office somewhere with the software logo printed and registered as a trade mark. Not so for ADempiere. It remains a very virtually organised and disparate but well spread out empire with lots of noise, but fierce following from the ground.

For one reason there are those who are afraid of information hiding that is characteristic of commercial interests, or they are worried about closing up as happened with some of such projects where after a long term use of the software they are slapped with notices to pay up or remain not compatible in future versions.

So to exercise your freedom to choose, you have to look at your preference. If you want the ability to sue or bring to court someone that you might blame behind a failed ERP job, then you are more able to do so with a commercial open source vendor. Actually even licensed closed software already stated in their license agreement which you signed when you buy their software that they are not liable for any loses incurred in your business when using their software. Even if it is caused by their software it won't be easy bringing bits and bytes of digital information to court.

Yet many argued that commercial representation is important as in all businesses you have to deal with some facade, or front and not some invisible face or millions of lines of code with no face at all.

My advice will be to take case to case in your choice analysis. In the next article i will focus more on how to choose the right Open Source team and how to negotiate a viable contract with them.

5. The Chosen One for your ERP

Firstly there is no holy grail of software that can do everything for you ideally. Yes there are softwares that do wonders and also failed wonderfully. First question you should ask or the consultant from the software should ask is 'what business are you in?'. Your requirements have to be defined and defined on paper. Your personnel has to sign off which part they are responsible for. This makes life easier not only for the software experts but also yourself. You are not expected to know everything like wikipedia. Another point to remember, is that software people do not lose more than a customer if your ERP fails. You as the customer lose your business if the ERP fails. So you have more to lose than the software implementors. So if the software vendor cannot defined your business until an idiot can understand your business, don't panic. Throw them out and get another consultant in.

Your business is either complex or has a lot of boring redundant work processes. Otherwise there is no need to automate it. But that does not mean you have to write every detail down before you can consider having a go at an ERP software. You can even implement an ERP system on day one. But in a smaller, straightforward and well defined part. Order-taking process for example. Instead of filling out in excel spreadsheets you can key into a basic ERP that stores it all in and present you back with reports on what you have ordered and all its attendant dimensions such as total value and list of clients involved. Do not expect such a wonderful start to be performing entirely on day one. You may have to wait for your own staff to get used to it, making or suggesting corrections to the interface and reporting formats before moving to the next step such as inventory movement or vendor purchasing. Financials integration may just be the conversion of orders to invoices. Such incremental smaller steps to ERP adoption can be more realistic and acceptable to your staff and also customers that may be affected by any hiccup from the system.

Remember also that with Free software, you do have a better chance of stopping a disaster before it takes place and better exercise that go, no-go option. Any software expert that does not provide you that option is not giving you the freedom that comes with your choice of going open source. Proprietary software suffers from the vendor-locking constraint. Free software is supposed to be not so. However be also aware that an open source provider can also lock you in. In fact, such a tactic of giving a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing is becoming more of a business practice among mushrooming open source projects.

How do you avoid been locked in by an open source provider? Do some homework. Is their project truly open source? Is it well known out there? Can you download and examine the sourcecode? (Get another expert to examine it for you if you cannot read code). Is it well-documented? Are the user forums well populated? Are questions well answered? Does the project practice 'open core' or dual licensing? This means they have the tendency to charge you money for using the software when you are deep into it. That is moving away from the time and effort services charging model to the proprietary model. This is not good and i call it an unethical trap of innocent users. If you profess to be free, then stay free and stick to your original business model of charging only for your time and effort or preparation in helping the paying client.

The other common factors that apply to good partnership also applies here. Is the consultant understanding and attentive to your needs and concerns? Or is he just out to make a quick buck? Is he willing to give and take? Also bear in mind that they do need to make a living and if you keep taking from them too much without paying them for their time, you will lose such a provider as they can always certainly get other deals from many other users out there crying for their attention and are willing to pay more than you think they can.

Next we look at what makes a successful implementation last longer. This is an issue of sustenance and maintenance that affects not just free software but also proprietary ones.

6. Sustaining a Successful ERP

There is one thing that all business owners fear most and that is whether their business will still be around tomorrow. In that aspect they should also worry whether the system that helps steer their successful business will still be running well in years to come. ERPs do have a life-cycle. They are usually overhauled or upgraded very 5 to 10 years. The average is 8 years. Think back about 8 years ago. There was no broadband facility nor mobile computing. Think forward 8 years from now, do you think technology will still be the same as today? Times changed and so will the ERPs of today. They will have to live with the times or they become too bulky and cumbersome to maintain. Present vendors may not even know how to maintain a system say 20 years ago. ERPs like automobiles do have a life-span and often it is shorter than engines. An ERP system is a software that is unlike any engineering feat. Your 16 year old son can and will love to take apart your car, but no one can easily look into an ERP system's software and diagnose how it is running. Software is an art form. It is quite invisible, mainly characters and words, totally in digital or electronic form and there is no tool or wrench that can open it up for you. Only an expert eye can do that. And those experts do not use tools either but mere fingertips to tap on keyboards - a cottage industry level of working not unlike damsels stitching garments with needles and thread in the pre-industrial age.

Do you know that to every single developer Microsoft hires, 5 code reviewers are also hired by them? For Adobe, it is 20 code testers to each developer. That can give you some hint what code is about. It is not just lines. It is about code practice and maintainability. Take the analogy of a car model. If that car is modified by someone without any way to let another mechanic understand what is been modified, the maintenance costs shoots up. Or if it is maintained not with original parts but short-cuts. So is it the same manner with code. Manner of maintaining it is as important or more important to the code itself.

Now open source allows you to mitigate such a risk in few ways. Firstly, the code is always maintained by the global community at large. Someone somewhere will have your same problem and would either solve it and contribute back or have written about it so that you are warned. That means Google is your friend. Always search and do homework, or ask your IT staff to keep their ears to cyberspace for such news and tips.

Secondly, by insisting that any changes done to your code is given back to the project repository by the experts handling your system will ensure that they will not slip in slip-shod work. If they pass their code to the public, they stand to be reviewed and also condemned for passing bad code practice. i have seen this in action in the ADempiere project and this helps us to identify which branch of code or module is good or terrible.

They may be instances where you or the expert thinks that the code need not pass into public domain due to trade or practice secrets. Do not be fooled by that. I have looked at many such code and i do not find any trade secret to say for example the way you take orders from web clients on an Android or IPhone. What is so trade secret about capturing a process and pass it to sub vendors to allow machine to machine communication on the shop floor? Not only is that already open source but it gives you no advantage nor disadvantage in your market competition. Your business is always competed in terms of product taste, branding, territory and customer loyalty, not the code you have, the gadgets your sales people use or the faster way your customer response is stored. Competent business is always determined by great people and that lends to great image behind the business.

Take another example of designing a table for your office space. Lets say that table is open source and you found a way to make assembling tables faster. Now if you keep that secret to yourself, you face many more risks. One is that you have to spend alot to keep that a secret that you lose focus on your core business and your competition using free (but not having your secret) can focus better and thrive. And what business is your office space in? How can anyone learn anything from looking at your tables? Who sat around it or discuss what on it is not the table. Also what makes you think your employee won't leave you with the secret in their diskdrives?

Software is not your business. Leave that to the project team and community. You certainly do not own the code from Microsoft or SAP. What value is owning and hiding free code? It is already free and it is public domain. You, together with the world owns it. If you take that away, you are back to square one. Maintaining your own code is too expensive, much more than your original intention of cutting down costs of ownership. Spending unnecessarily on something other than your business is robing your business from your valuable extra investment, time and concern.

Also trade secrets are always in the form of data or content and not form or function of code. You do not give away passwords. No code in the world has your passwords. They even obscure the input when you type that in. Now that brings up another secret with software. How do you know that Microsoft or SAP is not syphoning out your password when you are connected to the Web while using your ERP from them? The only way to find out is when you have the code on open source. That way the world will find out quite soon what the code is doing. You should realise why Linux, an open source desktop system has no virus, and Microsoft, the proprietary equivalent has lots of viruses.

Here is another secret why something been open is more risk free. Take the Internet for example which originated from ARPANET, a project related to the Pentagon. Answer is, in case of extreme security risk, keeping the network open is the military only chance of survival. A completely collapsed nuclear fallout spells disaster not due to the radiation, but the inability to recover and communicate with any outside or domestic help. Thus TCP/IP or the protocol behind the Internet was born to route around any blocked host server to get to any other available server in order to pass the vital data. You may say, so can the enemy use the Internet and do the same. Not exactly relevant if you take all factors into consideration.

With open source, you have a level playing ground to counter risk and thus your software is of higher quality in both real terms and also practice. With closed software, only the provider knows your secret and not yourself. You are not only blind but very vulnerable as an ex ERP vendor employee can easily hack into your ERP without you having a clue or without you able to counter-measure it even if you are aware of it. Also, most real threats are from the inside. The military fear hackers from within and not without. Where do you think Wikileaks got those top secrets?

This ends my series of opinions and advice on the quite unknown world of Open Source applications particularly adopting an ERP system. The ideas and opinions expressed within are mine and not the official position of the New Business magazine or its agents. Thank you for been very attentive. I believe i have branded myself in the process. Wishing you a successful growth in your business.

Redhuan D. Oon

WIEN, Austria.

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