Fernando Herrera pointed me to Hipergate after my request for CRM suggestions and Gonzalo Odiard pointed out that it is possible to run Compiere on the Firebird database.
Thanks to both.
I tested the online demo of Hipergate and liked it, but trying to install it on my own machine for testing I came close to hate it.
SugarCRM took me under and hour to install and have running, while I have still not managed to get Hipergate going. The first problem was the Java dependencies. After some fidling and googling I found jpackage which seems to be a rather nice effort to package Java software for people. I think I would have given up even sooner without it. That said I got once again reminded why Java is not considered free software when trying to install it. First of all I had to go to javasoft.com to grab latest update to java 1.4.2. Then I needed the ‘jta’ package. I could not figure out at first why I was unable to apt-get it, but I eventually figured out that jpackage is only packaging a SRPM for it and that I had to build the RPM myself using that SRPM and the jta zip file which I once again had to download from Sun. At this point I was already cursing. And before anyone gets their shorts in a twist, I am not saying Sun are immoral for not freeing Java, I am just pointing out that their not doing so contributes to making Java systems a pain in the ass to install/use. Which in turn is a competitive disadvantage for Java using systems.
Ok, so finally I got tomcat installed and the postgres database up and runnning. Figured it be easy going from that to get the system running, but not so. Seems the tomcat dependencies where not complete as I got error messages about missing javamail and jaf packages. After a lot of find commands I was able to find out where to install the files and it seems I got it running in the end. Now we just need to get it working on the server