uzERP Blog

Lightweight SME business desktop using LXDE

Posted by Martyn Shiner on July 18, 2012

As anybody who follows uzERP and Severn Delta will know, I’ve used Linux everywhere (work, home, netbook, laptop) for many years and am a big fan. I’ve been wondering what to do about updating my work machine for a while as I have been running a pretty old distribution, and many installs/uninstalls of tools were taking their toll on the system. With the advent of Gnome3 and Unity, both of which I dislike, I also had some choices to make about desktop environment. Having used XFCE and Gnome (version 2) for many years I also wanted to give LXDE a whirl to see if it was faster and could provide a lightweight business focused desktop for a typical SME ‘power user’ (like me!!).

I need a lean and fast system and have a minimal set of requirements in terms of ‘apps’ because most of what I do at work is web based. I also hate unnecessary clutter, being a ‘retentive-tidy-freak-accountant’* – I therefore decided to start from scratch using Ubuntu 12.04 and LXDE as a base rather than installing a ‘regular’ distribution.

The initial install was done from the Ubuntu Alternate CD – by pressing F4 you get get a minimal install of a command line environment on which you can build. Once this base install completed and I got a command prompt I proceeded as follows:

sudo apt-get install xorg lxde-core lxappearance lxde-icon-theme cups
sudo apt-get install synaptic gdebi gdm chromium-browser leafpad epdfview xarchiver gnome-system-tools

This installs a very basic LXDE desktop environment as follows

  • X server to run the desktop
  • lxde-core, lxappearance and icons
  • cups printing system
  • package manager
  • package installer
  • GDM graphical desktop manager
  • web browser
  • leafpad text editor
  • pdf viewer
  • lightweight archive manager
  • system tools (add users, printers etc)

Having got my basic install I just need need a selection of programs and a bit of manual configuration. So….

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
sudo apt-get install pgadmin3
sudo apt-get install firefox
sudo apt-get install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk libreoffice-sdbc-postgresql

This installs

  • Microsoft true type fonts – a necessary evil :-D
  • PostgreSQL database admin tool
  • Firefox web browser
  • LibreOffice with gtk extensions and native postgresql driver

The above list is not exhaustive, obviously. I’ll play with the system installing things as I go (things like Dia for drawing diagrams, perhaps). But…. I now have all I need for my day to day work at Severn Delta – no clutter, no games, no music players, photo viewers or unneccesary eye-candy. Its blazingly fast and, so far, I’m very happy with what I’ve ended up with.

*Description is trademarked by @positivechurn

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Is it really that long?

Posted by Martyn Shiner on June 26, 2012

Those of you who have some knowledge of our history will know that uzERP was born as the EGS project started by Jake Stride (he’s on twitter @Jake) when he ran Senokian Solutions in Coventry.

I was clearing out some old emails this morning and noticed a folder called EGS – the first email in that folder was dated 11th April 2006. Scrolling down I saw an email with the title “We are using it!!!” sent by me to Jake – intrigued I opened the email and the text is below


Thought you guys would like to know - we are using it!!!! - EGS 1.0
that is. I now have six users, one VERY active, two sort of active
and three... well you know how it is taking horses to water. Sarah
is really starting to add contacts, tasks and projects. I think 
we'll need to meet up in a few weeks.

You'll notice I'm posting to the forum so your stats will 
improve <g>.

Good to see the 1.1 release and the quick responses.



This email was dated 10th May 2006.

We had installed EGS at Severn Delta Limited for CRM and project management but needed a replacement for our ERP system. Over a beer back in the summer of ’06 I wistfully floated the idea to Jake that we could collaborate on some accounting/stock modules and build them into EGS. Jake went along with it and the idea for what is now uzERP was born.

So uzERP has been nearly six years in the making.

Gosh… is it really that long?

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WordPress Custom Post Types

Posted by Martyn Shiner on December 29, 2011

So I (Ben) was asked to write an article for a series called the 12 Devs of Xmas, given the popularity of WordPress I decided to write a little something about custom post types.

Hope you’ve all had a great Christmas!

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uzERP Reporting

Posted by Martyn Shiner on December 1, 2011

uzERP has a very flexible built in report writer. Any table or view from the underlying database can be made available to the reports module and from there you can produce reports with multiple break levels, subtotals, selection criteria, filters and more. You can output to pdf/xml/csv or send via email if required.

Earlier this afternoon Karen, the Ops Manager at SDL, was asking if she could have a report showing future deliveries due against purchase orders with year/week and supplier selections sorted by due date.

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Management information the Severn Delta way… part 2

Posted by Martyn Shiner on

A couple of months ago I blogged about how I could turn around management information really quickly using FOSS tools and uzERP in particular. Well… today is Dec 1st at 14:00 and I’ve already given my business partner (Clive Birnie – @positivechurn) a P&L for November – it was done by midday and the numbers are solid.

Any of you Management Accountants want to do early closing on the cheap – get in touch (mshiner at uzerp dot com or @uzerp on twitter).

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Customer use case always trips you up

Posted by Martyn Shiner on November 24, 2011

When developing uzERP we’ve tried to make the system as flexible as possible for the many ‘use cases’ that our customers may have. However, sometimes something trips you up that you were not expecting.

Before I explain, a little background is required.

Severn Delta, the original sponsor of uzERP, is a contract manufacturer for certain ‘major’ retailers in the UK. As such there are a limited number of products and those products  are specific to the customer and have a single price. Talon Engineering, the second biggest user, is the opposite – they  have many, many products in their catalogue and a combination of trade/retail and special discounts to arrive at the selling price. uzERP caters for both at order entry time.

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Siege! Benchmarking your web applications

Posted by Martyn Shiner on November 23, 2011

On his development blog Ben discusses Siege! and how to benchmark your web applications.

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Disaster Recovery, Trial by Fire

Posted by Martyn Shiner on November 11, 2011

It’s well known that a backup isn’t really a backup until you have to restored it and is workable again. We regularly do this at uzERP, moving backups of various instances of our app around and rebuilding them to ensure that they’re workable after a restore. We also try to make our application light on dependancies so if needs be uzERP can be installed on a very basic server.

Yesterday we had our first trial by fire (literally) when our sponsor company Severn Delta were prevented from entering their offices because of a serious fire in another building on the same industrial estate. This incident obviously causes a major issue to a busy company especially considering deliveries and collections are scheduled throughout the day.

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Management Information the Severn Delta way

Posted by Martyn Shiner on October 5, 2011

As some of you know, I’m the FD of Severn Delta, uzERP’s sponsoring company. I thought I’d share a little about how uzERP and FOSS helps me do what my business needs me to do – in a hurry!

So, today is the 5th October – 3 working days into the new month. Those that follow me on G+ may have clocked my post on Monday 3rd about me “Doin’ accounts stuff today”. Well by close of play today I had completed:

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New uzERP Blog

Posted by Martyn Shiner on August 25, 2011

Hi folks! Just a quick placeholder whilst we ready our first blog post.

In the meantime, if you’d like to take uzERP for a test drive feel free to try out our demo, if you’d like a more private trial using some of your own data simply drop us a line, we’ll be happy to help you with that.

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