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Alfresco today!

Well it has been some time since I last posted. I have been busy finishing off some contracts and spending time getting a Alfresco server up for evaluation.

Alfresco (www.alfresco.com) is a open source document management system which rivals Sharepoint. It can run on many database servers, but mySQL is recommended to give you a fully OpenSource solution. The Alfresco server itself runs under Tomcat. The full specs are available at their website. Like many other opensource shops, they also provide a subscription service which provides many benefits – one being a proper install- see below.

I downloaded the 2.9B release of Alfresco Labs, which is their free version. Which comes with zero support, although you can get help from their wiki and forums. There is nobody at the end of a phone line to help you out. It came with a installer which I dually ran on my CentOS 5.1 server. It seemed to take care of most things, but left a lot of things for me to do.

The Alfresco setup starts a CIFS server, so right away I had a conflict there. I had to make a serious of changes to my SAMBA setup. Such as the lines below:
interfaces
socket address
bind interfaces only
I used similar information in the Alfresco/Tomcat setup files to bind its NetBIOS and SMB to a alias interface I created. It works!

Alfresco want you to use OpenOffice in a headless setup to perform document conversions and assist in indexing. Alfresco also can install this for you so I let it. When it was all done I tried to start up Alfresco using the c shell scipts supplied. No luck. This scripts have text place holders inside for the path where Alfresco is installed. These were not changed by the install, once I did that I did set Alfresco up, though I still have trouble with the paths of OpenOffice that I wants to run. All in all not a very fun experience.

I got it all up and finally browsed to the Alfresco Welcome screen. yay! Now to play with it. It is definitly something that we can use here. It can version documents, has workflows, team sites – pretty well nearly everything that Sharepoint can do. I say “nearly” because I don’t know how customisable it is and if the concept of add-in exists in Alfresco. But for free – this is great stuff. I’m currently using it with the Hibernate store which is slow. As I think I’m going to deploy this, I’ll need to fire up the mySQL server.

Only need to take care a few things. I need xvbf to start OpenOffice and Alfresco in the boot sequence. And send a wishlist to Alfresco. As I wish this server could run on its own account.

I’m now going to go and take a deep look into Sharepoint. Mainly because I think it is another revenue route. Though I have the server installed on my machine I’m not sure what more to do. time to go through some tutorials online and maybe buy a book or two to get me started. If anyone has any tips on which sites and books are best I’d by much appreciative. I need something to do whilst I’m on the bench/beach.

And if anyone has a project for me, please don’t hesitate.

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