[kwlug-disc] Recommendations for Help Desk/Knowledgebase software

Paul Nijjar paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca
Thu May 13 17:55:32 EDT 2010

On Thu, May 13, 2010 at 12:00:18PM -0400, Oksana Goertzen wrote:

> We are entertaining some ideas around getting rid of our existing
> Help Desk system and replacing it, hopefully with something open
> source.  We also have a Knowlegebase system we use in Lotus Notes.
> We'd like to consolidate those two things.  Does anyone have any
> recommendations?  We use ZENworks (ZCM) for desktop management,
> patching and inventory, etc.

I went through a similar process a while ago. We ended up using Request
Tracker, which is pretty easy to customize despite being written in
Perl. It also allowed us to have single-sign-on via Active Directory
(uh... I mean LDAP) which was important, and which none of the other
trouble ticket systems I looked at supported very well. 

However, I don't think I recommend Request Tracker -- it took a
lot of effort to get it to the point where it is usable, and we never
integrated the knowledgebase (RTFM) properly. On the other hand it has
lots of documentation and examples online. 

An alternative to RT that has a bit of traction is called OTRS. I
installed it but did not explore it far enough to see whether it would
support our needs better. This trouble ticket system does not come up
frequently in discussions online, but it seems pretty solid and people
who use it seem to like it. (Looking at http://otrs.org now, I am
wondering whether it would make sense to explore it again.) 

There are a number of nice trouble ticket systems that integrate wikis
with issue trackers, but they tend to be oriented towards software
development more than help desk issues. Currently trendy examples are
Trac and Redmine. I played with Trac but gave up when I could not get
centralized authentication working right. 

One question that is worth asking is "why switch?" What about your
current solution makes you unhappy? Knowing more about that could help
focus your search (and the answers you get on this thread). There are
a LOT of trouble ticket systems out there, so finding a small set of
feasible candidates is important.

- Paul


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