Automate your Help Desk with HelpCORE

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There are quite a few packaged products for help desk management in both commercial and Open Source worlds. Request Tracker (RT) is one such Open Source product, whose details can be accessed at 103010201.asp. Most Open Source help desk management systems are difficult to configure, in spite of being very feature rich and customizable. I still remember the time we reviewed RT. It was nightmarish configuring it for the first time. But HelpCORE on the other hand, is another Open Source application, which is pretty easy to install and configure. The complete configuration (first time as well as regular) is completely graphical.

Direct Hit!
Applies to: IT Managers
USP: Graphical configuration and easy installation
Google keywords: HelpCORE + Help Desk
On PCQ Enterprise CD: \\Helpdesk\\HelpCORE-1.3.1.tar.gz

HelpCORE is a trouble-ticketing system. Using this package, a company can efficiently manage queries submitted to it by clients, partners or employees. So, whenever someone logs in to the system, he or she is listed with all the incident threads which they are supposed to visit and read. The concerned support staff then takes the ownership of the request and drafts a reply to the user. Even some normal users who have the right to post, can draft a solution into the system. You also have the option to either add the thread into the FAQ or knowledge base or not adding it at all. This can be done by selecting a single check box at the bottom of the incident page, which is recorded by HelpCORE and forwarded to the user.  The software  tracks requests, bugs and queries in applications such as system administration, customer support, software development, etc. 

It is based on PHP, which makes it virtually platform independent. All you are required to do is configure and run it on a machine with a Web server, PHP support and a database,  that could be PostgreSQL or MySQL. It also comes with an installer for Windows which can install and configure HelpCORE directly over the Internet. This is also supposed to download all the required components such as Apache, PHP and both the databases and configure them simultaneously. While running the installer we found that it has hardcoded links for downloading some of the components. Some of them don't resolve to a live host. As a result it crashes in the middle of the installation.

To configure the database for the first time you need to provide the type and authentication of the database

So we decided to try it out with Linux. We installed PCQLinux 2006 (full install) and downloaded, unzipped and copied the source tarball to /var/www/html folder. To our surprise it started without any other configuration issues. The first screen it shows is the configuration page. Here, all we need to configure is the admin e-mail address and database settings. For this you first have to click on the database tab and then fill the appropriate fields. For instance, in the first field you have to fill the name of the database which you want to use with HelpCORE. For example, postgresql or mysql (mind the case).

After filling all relevant details like database host name, username and password, all you have to do is click on the Save button. In the next screen a window will ask you to either accept the settings or start HelpCORE or to just save the details and come back to the configuration page. Here, just save the details and go back to the database tab. At the bottom of the page click on the 'English' hyperlink and it will create the HelpCORE database automatically for you. Now, go to the e-mail tab and fill up all the relevant details. Believe it or not, your Help Desk management system is up and running. To use it, visit the link http://server-name/HelpCORE and login as Administrator. The default password for Administrator is 'helpcore' .

Anindya Roy

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