by February 1, 2009 0 comments



Recent industry trends show that organizations, while cutting costs to
counter the slowdown are also keen on exploring open source ERP packages and
comparing them against their commercial counterparts. There are several open
source ERP solutions available and many of them cater to requirements of various
industry verticals. Indeed some ERP packages provide complete solution for a
specific business process. SQL-Ledger is one such ERP solution that addresses
complete accounting requirements for an organization.

It is is an open source accounts ERP available for free download. It uses
PostgreSQL database to store accounting information. As it’s written in Perl, it
has an HTML interface that makes it accessible on any operating system, thus
providing cross-platform usage. It covers all aspects of an organization’s
accounting needs, from point-of-sale entries to accounts receivables and
payables, and for stock tracking. It has multi-user capability and is well
suited for the needs of a small business organization.

SQL-Ledger has primarily been written for the Linux platform, but can also be
installed on Windows or Mac machines. You have a certain set of pre-requisites
to fulfill for Linux, after which you can execute ‘setup.pl’ script to complete
SQL-Ledger installation and also to update Apache web server’s config file. To
install it on Windows or Mac, some manual changes need to be done to the
SQL-Ledger code and to Apache’s configuration files. In this article we will
show how SQL-Ledger can be installed on a Windows XP-based machine.

Getting started
The downloaded SQL-Ledger is a zipped package of Perl files that constitute the
interface and business logic of the whole accounting system of the ERP solution,
but is devoid of any database or web server. For installing SQL-Ledger, we have
to configure and install the web-server and the database first. Also, for
processing Perl scripts and code, we need to have the Perl runtime installed.
And the database driver for PostgreSQL for Perl engine has to be configured
before we start using SQL-Ledger. With this month’s DVD we are providing the
SQL-Ledger package with all essentials needed for its working. In the DVD you
will find the following:

Direct Hit!

Applies To: IT managers
Price: Free
USP: A double entry accounting system
with complete accounting features
Primary Link:
www.sql-ledger.com
Keyword: Sql-Ledger
Keyword: Labs\Sql-Ledger

1. SQL-Ledger: sql-ledger-2.8.19.tar. gz. tar
2. Web Server: apache_2.2.11-win32-x86-no_ssl.msi
3. Perl installer: ActivePerl-5.10.xxx. msi
4. PostgreSQL: postgresql-8.3.4-1.zip
5. Perl DB Driver for PostgreSQL: DBD-Pg-2.10.0-Perl5.10.ppd

Installing Apache and Perl
SQL-Ledger needs an HTTP server, so first install the Apache 2.2 web-server
provided on this month’s DVD. During Apache 2.2 Server installation, when you’re
prompted at the Server Information dialog box, provide “localhost” both as the
Network Domain and Server Name. Provide an email ID as administrator’s address
and also check the option of using Port 80 as the service. When you complete the
installation, a new icon of Apache server on the System Tray gets installed. By
right-clicking on this icon and selecting Open Apache Monitor, we can
Start/Stop/Restart the Apache Web Server. To test that the server has been
installed and is running, type http:// localhost on your browser’s address bar.
If you get the message “It Works,” it indicates that the Apache web service is
running.

The second important requirement for SQL-Ledger ERP system is a Perl runtime
for all its scripts to get executed. ActivePerl from ActiveState is a
ready-to-use complete Perl distribution package and on the DVD we have provided
the latest bundle for Windows. Install it with default settings and it will
register the Perl path in the system’s environment variables. Once when the
installation has been completed, open the command prompt and type command ‘ppm’.
It will open a GUI interface of Perl Package Manager, where you can see the
installed packages. When you type ‘dbd’ in the package filter search box, you’ll
see a list of Database Drivers (DBD) for Oracle, ODBC and SQLite. However, the
DBD package for PostgreSQL is not there.

Features of SQL-Ledger
Chart of Accounts: It is a list of
allocation of money and each item in inventory is linked to income, expenses
and tax accounts. Updations are automatic when sale/purchase happens.
Mobility: Since it has an HTML based interface no client-end software
is needed. It can also be accessed even on the move through hand-held
devices like mobile-phones having internet access.
International support: Support for 30 languages and also several
accounting systems in many countries.
Contentious
Issues:
Support: It is paid, even the
documentation of the software is paid. So, customization becomes a pain as
you have source-code with you but not the documentation. However, a public
support forum is available at abacus.sql-ledger.com/ userforum.

Installation: It’s not an off-the-shelf package solution and has a
very lengthy prerequisites list.

Setting up DBD for PostgreSQL
The DBD-Pg and DBI provide the database interface mechanism between the
SQL-Ledger and PostgreSQL database. The ActivePerl has the DBI package already
installed, so we just need to install the PostgreSQL database driver for Perl’s
DBI module. Since, we are using Perl 5.10 for this demo, we’ll have to use the
DBD-Pg version 2.10 which is compliant with Perl’s latest version. Copy the
DBD-Pg-2.10.0-Perl5.10.ppd file from the DVD to a temporary directory on your
computer. The Perl Package Descriptor (PPD) file downloads the necessary Perl
drivers for PostgreSQL database. So, it’s important that you are connected to
the Internet while providing this file to the PPM command. PPM is the
ActivePerls’ package manager that is used to install, upgrade or for removing
packages. You have to install the DBD-Pg package manually using the PPM install
command. So, through the command prompt, go to the root of the temporary
directory where you copied this PPD file and enter the following command (for
convenience we have renamed the PPD file to just DBD-Pg.ppd):

ppm install DBD-Pg.ppd

This will download DBD-Pg-2.10 packages and install them in the site
directory of Perl’s installation directory. After the DBD-Pg has been installed,
again run the “ppm” or “ppm gui”command from the command prompt which will bring
Perl’s Package Manager window. Here scroll down to see the DBD-Pg package
installed and that also in the area ‘site’ and having version 2.10.

Perl Package Manager interface
lists the DBD-Pg diver for PostgreSQL database which has been installed in
the default area: site

Configuring SQL-Ledger’s database
PostgreSQL database is the core of the SQL-Ledger accounting ERP solution where
all accounting information is saved. So, a database needs to be in place before
we can get to the business of installing and using SQL-Ledger. We have provided
the latest version, 8.3, of the PostgreSQL database server in the DVD. Extract
the msi installer to a temporary directory and start the installation by
executing the msi installer file. Follow the instructions in the PostgreSQL
Installation Wizard dialog box and when it prompts for Installation options, do
not select default settings, instead click on PostgreSQL in the menu tree and
select ‘Entire Feature will be installed on local hard drive.’ And then click on
the Next button. In the Server Configuration dialog box, we need to provide a
User Account Name and its password. To create a user, right-click on My Computer
and select Manage. The Computer Management window opens up. Here, expand the
node of Local Users and Groups, and select Users. Now through Action > New User,
create a new user having User Name as “postgres” and Password as “postgres”.
Also in the New User dialog box, uncheck the option for “User must change
password at next logon”.

Now provide the same user name and password in the Server Configuration
dialog box of the PostgreSQL installation Wizard and click on Next. In the
Initialize Database screen, set the Port number as 5432 and pass the Superuser
Name and password as “postgres” and then complete the installation. Now log on
to the database as postgres user; for this goto Start > Run and type the
following as the Run command:

runas /user:postgres cmd.exe

The screen that pops up prompts for a password. Enter the password that was
set for the User Name “postgres” while creating the user from Computer
management window. Once you enter the password and click enter, a new command
prompt window comes. Here, change the directory to the bin directory of base
installation of PostgreSQL server (in our case with all default settings as
during installation). The directory happens to be “C:\Program Files\PosrgreSQL\8.3\bin”.
At the command prompt, after changing to PostgreSQL’s bin directory, type the
following command to create a new user for the SQL-Ledger database.

createuser -d -a sql-ledger

The final configuration step for PostgreSQL database is to set the client
authentication for local TCP/IP connection, which can be set through pg_hba.conf
file found in the data directory of PostgreSQL base installation. Open the file
using Notepad and at the bottom, where settings for IPv4 local connections are
given, change the Method to trust from md5 and save the file. The settings
should look as follows after the change:

host all all 127.0.0.1/32 trust

Create a new user postgres
through the Computer Management Window by clicking on Action > New User.

Installing SQL-Ledger 2.8.19
Now with all pre-requisites in place we can start installing the SQL-Ledger
accounting system. In the DVD we have provided the latest version, 2.8.19, of
SQL-Ledger ERP system. Extract the contents of the zipped file
sql-ledger-2.8.19.tar.gz to the Apache Web Servers directory, which in our case
is “C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2”. Navigate to this
directory and you’ll find a directory named “sql-ledger”, which contains all
Perl files of the ERP system. As we know that this SQL-Ledger was configured for
Linux platform, we will have to do some changes to Perl files. Open the admin.pl
file using Notepad from the SQL-Ledger folder of Apache Server’s directory and
provide the base installation folder of Perl in Windows format instead of Linux,
ie change the first line of the file from

#!/usr/bin/perl

to

#!c:\perl\bin\perl

Once the file admin.pl has been changed with Perl’s Windows directory
location, the configuration file of Apache server needs to be updated to support
Perl extensions and also to give an alias to the directory location of the
SQL-Ledger. Therefore, append the following directive code at the bottom of the
Apache’s configuration file httpd.conf:

Alias /sql-ledger "C:/Program Files/Apache Software
Foundation/Apache2.2/sql-ledger/"
<Directory "C:/Program Files/Apache Software Foundation/Apache2.2/sql-ledger/">
AllowOverride All
AddHandler cgi-script .pl
Options +ExecCGI
Order Allow,Deny
Allow from All
</Directory>
<Directory "C:/Program Files/Apache Software Foundation/Apache2.2/sql-ledger/users/">
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from All
</Directory>

When you click on Create Dataset
button, a Windows Runtime error occurs because of a missing dll file in the
database driver.
Once the error has been
rectified, SQL-Ledger’s dataset for a company profile can be created. It
provides several accounting formats to choose from.

Final touches
Once the installation and configuration of SQL-Ledger has been done, type the
URL address http://localhost/sql-ledger/admin.pl in the browser and SQL-Ledger’s
login screen appears. Click on Log in button in the SQL-Ledger Accounting
Administration screen to set a new password or add a new user. And to configure
the database, click on ‘Pg Database Administration’ button. On the next screen,
provide Host as localhost and the port as 5432, and then click “Create Dataset”
button. Surprisingly, here we encountered a Microsoft Visual C++ runtime error
message. We tried the installation on a new Windows XP machine, but to no avail.
This hampered the creation of the dataset for the database.

However, this is not the end of the road and the box we tell you how to
remove this error. Once the error has been removed, you can create the dataset
which is associated with a company. For each dataset template, you can create
users and assign them accounting or accessing rights to company’s accounts and
reports.

Thus, you can start using the SQL-Ledger accounting system for your business.

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