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What is the Best Way to Start a Paid GPL Project?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the will-food-for-code dept.

Linux Business 231

pooslinger writes "I know little to nothing about programming but would like to start, fund, and maintain a GPL linux POS application. I see there are a few available with the majority being closed source. I am currently starting a business and really despise the fact that I will have to spend $2-$5k on a proprietary solution. I would like to create an application where you could take a midrange PC, connect inexpensive touchscreens, barcode readers, thermal printers, credit card readers, etc; scan/input inventory; and begin selling. Something like a Debian POS distribution that boots into X and starts a POS terminal. Does something like this exist, am I just trying to reinvent the wheel?" How have other people approached starting a new GPL project, finding talent, and ensuring the code choices best benefit the community?

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Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (5, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871559)

First off, you really need to check SourceForge.net [sourceforge.net] or FreshMeat.net [freshmeat.net] first. There there are plenty of POS software projects listed at both. Find one that looks like what you're wanting to do and hasn't run out of steam, and give it a shot in the arm with some cash. Maybe spread your cash around two or three of them.

That said, the question of how you start and attract talent to an open source project... I'm not professor on the history of open source, but the most successful projects I've seen are ones where a coder or small group of coders put out an alpha of their project and it was playing with the alpha and seeing the possibilities in it that got people excited enough to come on board and start pushing things forward.

So, if you're not happy with any of the POS projects you can find on SourceForge or FreshMeat, and since you clami to know "little to nothing about programming," I'd suggest going over to eLance or RentACoder and spend a good chunk of your seed money on getting an offshore firm to build your alpha for you. While they're coding their hearts out for you (they'll want 2-3 months to work on your contract), take that time to get to know the open source community and how people launch their open source projects.

Then, when your offshore coders come back to you with a decent alpha, pick an open source license (BSD, GPL v2, GPL v3, etc.), and use the knowledge you've picked up in the prior few months to get the word out and spread the code around. If you did your homweork well and spread the word well, that seed you planted may well sprout.

But remember this, a strong open source project needs a strong leader who can handle the big picture outlook, keep all the volunteers in line and focused on the goal, and drive the project forward. You're going to have to approach some strong personalities one-on-one and try to recruit that project leader. Without a strong leader, failure is a definite possibility.

Just my $0.02.

- Greg

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871653)

Well that pretty much covers it. Move along nothing to see here!

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871681)

First off, you really need to check SourceForge.net or FreshMeat.net first. There there are plenty of POS software projects listed at both.

I read that as being plenty of "piece of shit" software projects listed at both. Fortunately, the statement still holds.

POS? (-1, Redundant)

Joaz Banbeck (1105839) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871731)

POS = Point Of Sale

Re:POS? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872509)

Hilarious meta. Good on you.

Simple (1, Redundant)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871687)

If you write it yourself, it is almost guaranteed to be a POS.

Hardy har har. ;)

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (4, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871717)

I'd recommend the above except for going to RentACoder/eLance for an Alpha. I can almost guarantee you that anybody who wants to contribute to a GPL project will absolutely hate having to figure out whatever spaghetti code that the bottom-dollar code shop spat out.

renta-coder too. (3, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872213)

My experience with an offshore project didn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Despite several e-mails where I even wrote pseudo code to explain the algorithm for audio gain scaling, they still didn't understand. I just wrote the code and e-mailed them the code.

The issue with spaghetti may also occur with RentACoder. Spaghetti code is not just an offshore option.

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871719)

"...the most successful projects I've seen are ones where a coder or small group of coders put out an alpha of their project and it was playing with the alpha and seeing the possibilities in it that got people excited enough to come on board and start pushing things forward."

True enough. But is anyone really going to get excited about something as mundane as a POS application?

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872127)

Any budding young programmer who spent 5 years working with Subway's nasty ass POS software might.

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872857)

One would think it is not mundane at all, an app that talks/listens to touchscreen monitors, barcode readers, and outputs to receipt printers, while popping out cash drawers or requests a signature on a credit card-with-stylus-screen thingie.

I don't believe CUPS is there yet when it comes to receipt printers. But then again I haven't looked at freshmeat to see their offerings.

Success = sound business model (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871749)

First off, you really need to check SourceForge.net or FreshMeat.net first. There there are plenty of POS software projects listed at both.

And how many of them are the foundations for a successful business?

The article poster is about to discover a harsh reality of the open source model: if you give your software away, profit-making businesses aren't going to pay for it unless there's something else in there to sweeten the deal and the software is just a means to that end. If you're expecting to make money just by developing and supplying open source POS software, you've got the wrong business model, and your chances of failure are approximately 100%.

Re:Success = sound business model (2, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871953)

Lucky for him, he wants to develop it to use it in his company, not to sell it and make a business out of it. This is something a LOT of larger small businesses could get behind, if promoted correctly.

That said, there isn't much difference between this and the browser-based kiosk solutions that are also available.

Re:Success = sound business model (3, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872041)

The OP isn't counting on selling the POS software as his business model. He's opening a business that needs POS software and doesn't want to drop $200o to $5000 on a proprietary solution. That was stated.

His interest is apparently in using $2000 to $5000 to pay other people to do a GPL-licensed POS software system so his money won't be locked up in some unresponsive closed-source POS software vendor's accounts. He's trying to be a good business and OSS citizen by competing on the core of his business and cooperating in the portions that are ancillary and supportive. The POS software one uses is rarely a competitive advantage in retail. Pricing, customer service, marketing, location, and potentially how you tie your POS and warehouse systems together are much more important than the POS software itself.

Of course, supporting the software might turn into a secondary revenue stream, or it might be the kernel of a start-up for someone else.

Re:Success = sound business model (4, Interesting)

kylben (1008989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872281)

Of course, supporting the software might turn into a secondary revenue stream, or it might be the kernel of a start-up for someone else.

Or, better yet, it could be something he could recruit other businesses into supporting with some cash, so that it increases the odds that he (and the others) will get a quality piece of software ("QPOS"), and that the coders will find a market for books (like "QPOS Unleashed in 24 Hours for Dummies: The Missing Bible in a Nutshell") and for support/customization contracts, thus possibly reducing their demands for cash.

Re:Success = sound business model (4, Insightful)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872469)

"The article poster is about to discover a harsh reality of the open source model: if you give your software away, profit-making businesses aren't going to pay for it unless there's something else in there to sweeten the deal and the software is just a means to that end."

I would not bet on this. If a piece of software is central to a business, they will want reliable support before commiting to that software. A smart business might just hold off until professional contracted support is available.

"If you're expecting to make money just by developing and supplying open source POS software, you've got the wrong business model..."

Right, unless you go into the bespoke and paid up front angle.

I also still feel that there is hugh untapped potential in Association funding.

National Retail Merchants Association? Local Chamber of Commerce? National Locksmiths Association? How much could they benefit their members if they charged $5 extra for membership and used that to fund Free Copyleft (GPL) programs that would benefit their members / industry?

There is money to be saved with this idea and the old saying of "a penny saved is a penny earned" still makes sense.

all the best,

drew

http://openphoto.net/gallery/index.html?user_id=178 [openphoto.net]
Underwater Fun

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (3, Informative)

gdek (202709) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871761)

Yep.

Not only that, but your chances of success go up markedly if your codebase is (a) functionally complete enough to be immediately useful to many users *very* early on, and (b) highly modular, so that where a feature *isn't* available, it's worth more to the potential developer to write a new module for your codebase, rather than to start a codebase of their own.

There's a great Harvard Business School [hbs.edu] paper on this topic. Game theory and all. A mathematical proof about why projects like Drupal expand dramatically, and why projects like OpenOffice rot. :)

--a different Greg

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871885)

or, you can give up now and not waste time building software that people don't care about.

All the successful Open Source projects that are HIGHLY successful have a niche that was filled but with proprietary software. Apache, Linux, CMS even OO.org, all of them replaced existing proprietary software with versions that were needed by a larger community.

Start by looking at proprietary markets that aren't being satisfied by expensive Proprietary software ... or punt.

$2000 to $5000 isn't expensive enough? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872323)

I'm not sure whether your comments mean you don't think proprietary POS software isn't out there or if you think the stated price range doesn't count as "expensive". Trust me, $2000 is expensive for a new startup that's self-funded. People do need POS software. You don't go into a store and see people using a notebook and a pencil to check out shoppers.

A retail store isn't exactly the place for running most online shopping cart packages from a kiosk, either. People want you to scan the items, give them a total, take their payment, and be done. They don't want to have to give you an email address, postal address, credit card or PayPal info, and select shipping options. One could shoehorn a ZenCart or something into the POS role, but it'd be better handled as a different package. It would preferably be one that can integrate and track prices and inventory in sync with an online store, though.

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872089)

Some good advice but I would suggest.
What accounting system are you going to use?
One of the benefits of a POS is integrating it with your accounting system.
Here is at least one to look at. http://www.phppointofsale.com/ [phppointofsale.com]
I am not a big fan of POS as a web based application but this one is pretty mature.
A simple POS system is an easy project. Adding things like credit card processing makes it a lot more complex.

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (1)

QMO (836285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872387)

First off...
"Do you think anyone's gonna want a roundhouse kick to the face while I'm wearing these bad boys?"

(Sorry, "first off" made it impossible to resist.)

Re:Success = Strong Leader + Initial Codebase (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872817)

Yup. The biggest problem is however getting working hardware drivers for the equipment like barcode readers, etc. They do not necessarily come as a generic device -- even though my UPS is driven using usbhid.ko (an UPS is a HID?), I suppose you'd still need some specs to interpret that data.

Linux Cananda has a Linux GPL (and commercial) POS (5, Informative)

waa (159514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871637)

Have you seen their products?

http://www.linuxcanada.com/pos.shtml [linuxcanada.com]

I am not affiliated, just been aware of them for 3-4 years now.

double entendre (0, Redundant)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872031)

Linux Cananda has a Linux GPL (and commercial) POS

Yes, well, everyone knows that Microsoft is the market leader in selling POS products.

Re:double entendre (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873377)

Yes, well, everyone knows that Microsoft is the market leader in selling POS products.


Yeah, and I think their lead in that area is insurmountable.

Re:Linux Cananda has a Linux GPL (and commercial) (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872141)

Their POS isn't GPL. Their accounting software, which their POS uses, is GPL, but the POS is commercial-only. Still, it's probably worth a look.

interesting software project that is just boring (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871639)

i am going to go out on a limb here and say a person should
be able to code this up in a week or two depending on the
guidelines given to him/her.

did you already design, draw out, and etc how this POS system
is supposed to work? if not, you should realize that is most
of the work. programming it is rather easy.

it seems to me, if your business cannot afford 2000 for a basic
kit you may want to rethink your business model. and that 2000
includes the hardware.. so come again on how much the software costs?

another slashdot article that is yawnnnnn

Re:interesting software project that is just borin (1)

Veamon (733329) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871673)

No kidding. What you really need to do is decide if spending a few weeks making a system and then fixing bugs is worth the $2000 you could spend for a ready-made solution.

Before the jokes start (4, Funny)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871645)

about just using Windows if you want a POS, it means Point of Sale.

Re:Before the jokes start (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871757)

The joke will be made because it is funny, not because they don't know what PoS actually means.

Re:Before the jokes start (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871861)

Thanks!

POS for coops, but it is a good start (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871655)

GNU/Linux POS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871669)

Try a search on Google.

Search terms: linux POS

Visualforce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871683)

You don't need to worry about anthing with VisualForce - the new salesforce.com platform. It's time to think about application functionality vs trying to rewrite everything from scratch.

Oppertunity Cost and Security (4, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871699)

In terms of opportunity cost, you'll likely spend that same $2-5k making a custom solution. Also, realize that the modern POS has over a century of lessons learned about securing cash registers from theft (particularly employee theft). You'll want to find developers who have specifically worked on POS applications before, or you won't benefit from all that knowledge.

Re:Oppertunity Cost and Security (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871911)

In terms of opportunity cost, you'll likely spend that same $2-5k making a custom solution.

Probably more and that's not including the opportunity cost of not having the business up and running while he's developing the software.

Also, realize that the modern POS has over a century of lessons learned about securing cash registers from theft (particularly employee theft). You'll want to find developers who have specifically worked on POS applications before, or you won't benefit from all that knowledge.

I worked for NCR on their registers. There's auditing capabilities in the software that tracks the transactions, payments, items sold, etc.... The more money you spend, the more capabilities there are, obviously. It won't prevent theft, but it will help you find out and help tell the difference between theft, mistakes, and outright incompetence. Some stores bought add ons that would help analyze sales and get the most out of your inventory scheduling - like stocking enough of an item or less of something that doesn't sell well. The register software on the server side would actually help in maximizing the profitability of the store.
Other than those nit-picky things, your post is spot on.

Re:Oppertunity Cost and Security (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872301)

Speaking of employee theft, you may want to search for or consider making a bill acceptor and scanner and rerouting path.

When I visited Tokyo in 2004, there was a Wendy's restaurant that had cash registers with bill acceptors. I am not sure what the reason was, but I assume to deter or reduce employee theft of a bill here, a bill there. OTOH, it might have been an anti-counterfeiting scanner to immediately reject bogus bills, forward the phony serials, and maybe even activate the security camera to shoot a pic of the person/s before the triggered register.

If the bills are scanned, (and the serials recorded, not just scanned for security strips), then certain denominations could be routed to the clerk office, or into a container for later retrieval. Others could be shunted/diverted back to the register. Automatic draw balancing could be done, too.

If you're REALLY crazy, you could build a bill sorter-by-serials engine.

My $0.02

Re:Oppertunity Cost and Security (2, Interesting)

v01d (122215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872977)

In terms of opportunity cost, you'll likely spend that same $2-5k making a custom solution.

I would bet a whole lot more. In fact I got a whole lot more when I designed a POS for a retail chain :) It was a diskless Linux setup with a whole bunch of credit card processing and signature capture drivers. Quite fun to design. Worked my ass of for at least 6 months on that.

Re-inventing the wheel (4, Informative)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871723)

You probably are re-inventing the wheel.

There are a number of existing free software POS apps. I'd suggest going through the list with a fine tooth comb and making sure that none of them even comes close to meeting your needs before trying to start a new project.

http://freshmeat.net/search/?q=point+of+sale&section=projects&Go.x=0&Go.y=0 [freshmeat.net]

Re:Re-inventing the wheel (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872421)

And even if he doesn't, that's his best bet for getting anything up and running anyway. Spending $2-5k on a rent-a-hack whose only interest is getting paid and that'll jump ship to the first better-paid offering won't get you very far. You need someone who's already shown some interest in designing one and that'll put some value on makiing an open-source product. If you can't find someone that'll consider this project their baby, it's almost bound to fail.

Customisation (3, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871727)

At the risk of sounding too obvious, here's my advise: If you want to earn money with open source, charge for the customisation and maintenance of the software, not for the software itself. This way you can pick up whatever open source project you decide, since you're adapting it for your customer.

Don't (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871733)

""I know little to nothing about programming but would like to start, fund, and maintain a GPL linux POS application."

It will be a nightmare to maintain, and won't be fit for general consumption. It probably couldn't even be used as a framwork.

Programming take training, and POS invlves understanging issues you haven't even thought of.

What you could do is Fund one. It will cost more then a couple of grand.

There are several approaches to this:
Hire contractor, pay them for there work, open the code. This gets you something running, and once there post it and ask for contribute it.
You might be able to get several small business to pitch in to the POS fund.

You could get some students looking to write a thesis together to get you going.

You could get some professionals to do it on weekends in exchange for equipment they get to keep. Or perhaps your business produce something you can use to trade.
--I fall into the category.

In any case, define what you want as specifically as you can. Don't do it in a language that can't be cross compiled.

Organizing project would be a great help to. That is what slow or stops a lot of projects. No one to organize or follow-up.

Please don't write it yourself without some training. I have worked on many system buyilt be very smart people with no training, and they all sucked.

Use your energy to manage the project until it gets to a point where it is usable to you. That includes allowing or disallowing contributers who want to contribute any functionality you didn't originally have in mind. Let them fork it, but don't get caught in function chasing.

Re:Don't (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872419)

One correction:

Programming take training, and writing a POS invlves understanging issues you haven't even thought of.

Even if he funds one, like he's saying, he'll still be the driving force for it, and all the specs will come from him. There are aspects to programming everything that seem simple from the user/admin point of view, but are anything but simple from the programming point of view.

Pointy-haired management, check. (4, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871747)

I am currently starting a business and really despise the fact that I will have to spend $2-$5k on a proprietary solution. I would like to create an application where you could take a midrange PC, connect inexpensive touchscreens, barcode readers, thermal printers, credit card readers, etc; scan/input inventory; and begin selling.

You say you don't want to spend as little as $2,000 on your POS terminal? You can't buy a business-ready PC and the touchscreen for that price! Have you even priced those components? Try Froogle: $500 and up [google.com] for an LCD, which you want unless you're operating in a cleanroom. As for the PC, sure you can get a consumer-quality box with wirez sticking out for $500. Is it designed for mission-critical 24/7 uptime? Or is it likely as not to fail under load. Do you have all the possible software installed on it to prevent hacking of your customer information? I don't think you can get those two components alone, in the application you're using them for, with less than $2k.

Don't think you can cheap out and get everything you need at Wal-Mart and Craigslist -- you're running a business, not a hobby. You want to spend your time making money, not tweaking equipment. You don't want to spend $5,000, but what's the cost of making your customers stand in line while you try to figure out why your hacked-together hardware and software doesn't Just Work? Whether you're running a dollar store or selling overpriced speaker cables, you can't afford the downtime.

Spend the money on a system that works out of the box. If you're too cheap to do it right, then please comb your hair into a stylish point and congratulate yourself: welcome to Management!

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871895)

I have seen almost no POS systems running Vista.
What scares the daylights out of me is that I see a good number of them running 98 and even 95!

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871989)

Why does that scare you? For a simple Point Of Sale suite (where a product is scanned, invoice created, cash register controlled, warehouse stock updated, etc) every versions of Windows are fine.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872335)

Mainly because running any mission critical application on an unsupported OS scares me. What if you need to upgrade the hardware? Also you better not have it hooked up to the Internet ever! It would be best practice to not have your POS systems hooked to the Internet but that doesn't mean that people follow best practices.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871999)

What scares the daylights out of me is that I see a good number of them running 98 and even 95!

As funny as it seems, it makes perfect sense. This is cash money we're talking about. If a system works, there is NO REASON AT ALL to "upgrade" it. Why do you think IBM is still selling big iron mainframes? Because mission-critical systems run on it, and have been running on it since almost back to ENIAC, and there's no way to tell the customers "Oh, please don't buy widgets from us for a couple of months while we install a whole new system to replace the one that's worked perfectly fine for the last few decades."

If there's a business case, like a POS that also tracks your inventory, you upgrade. If your old system is an unusable piece of junk, you upgrade. If it does everything you need, and is in good working order, then you don't upgrade -- unless you're fiscally insane.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872385)

You are right up to a point. I would worry about a forced upgrade. What if that box dies. You may have a Windows 98 disk floating around that you could install on a new machine but then you may not have driver support. Will the software run on an XP machine?
Just with the security upgrades alone I would have recommended upgrading to at least Windows 2k a long time ago for any mission critical system.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872999)

There are point of sale systems in use that are still using DOS. From a driver standpoint, these machines aren't very advanced. Until a lot of retail USB peripherals started showing up, the only big requirement was having enough serial ports for the desired peripherals: light bar, receipt printer, cash register latch, check reader, server connection, etc.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872019)

I see plenty of POS systems running Vista, just no Point of Sale systems running it.

honestly all the good stuff nowdays is running Embedded Xp or other embedded system and does not have a PC in it wasting money but a smaller SBC doing what it needs for the Point of sale job all in a nice stand monitor with card swipe on the side and sitting on the cash drawer.

although the article's author did not look hard at any of the systems out there. if you want the bottom feeder in cost Quickbooks has a turnkey system, just ad cheapo pc and thier box of stuff to it and you have a POS for under $2000.00 per register.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872755)

I hardly think taking a quick, cheap shot at Vista qualifies a post as Troll. Heck it was a good one and I thought the same thing when I read TFS.

If that was all that was said, sure Troll, or maybe Offtopic would be appropriate. But the rest of the above post was pretty Informative/Insightful.

OK, rant over, mod me Offtopic now please.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872911)

Lumpy has a bunch of stalkers here on slashdot that get all giddy when they can mod him down. I personally think they target lots of the more vocal and typically modded +5 posters that do not follow popular groupthink.

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872191)

"Spend the money on a system that works out of the box. If you're too cheap to do it right, then please comb your hair into a stylish point and congratulate yourself: welcome to Management!" This is the most brilliant way to display management I have ever read! I have offered to do documentation for my IT group through a Joomla solution, plain HTML, and a few other things, my boss is so dense, he is scared that if I leave (tells you have secure my job is eh?) then no one will know how to maintain or use my homebrewed system! OH MY *%&#^, it is HTML! Can you browse a page? can you look between the paragraph tags?

Spend the money to do it right, I don't and won't shop or do business with two bit operations (bytes come in four bits :-)

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872797)

(bytes come in four bits :-)
I thought 4 was a nybble...

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873269)

it would be easier if you were thinking of a number between 00000001 and 11111111

Re:Pointy-haired management, check. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872463)

I think you are reading it wrong. I think he means that he doesn't want to spend that much on a proprietary solution. If it were open source, he'd be glad to spend it. Unless he's a complete idiot, he knows it'll cost more than that to write one from scratch. He's just willing to put more into a solution that helps others than he's willing to put into a solution that lines some fat-cat's pockets.

Personally, for what it does, and how reliable is has to be, $5k isn't bad for a full POS system. Actually finding a reliable one may be a different matter.

What happened to Google? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871765)

There are plenty of POS available, if not, they're not that hard to program yourself in your favorite programming or scripting language. Check out http://l-ane.net/ [l-ane.net] which I've seen in use or check sourceforge

Re:What happened to Google? (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872099)

The only hard part about POS is providing the customers of the product a way to customize the application for their business. And do it in such a way that a normal person can figure it out. There are a lot of customers out there who want something off the shelf where they don't have to specify customization to a contract to have them configure/code the system and support it.

Many POS offer a simplistic timecard for very small businesses. Generally it needs to be sophisticated enough for a bar/restaurant to use. Like different tip systems. Think about how are tips divided among employees, do waitresses get 80% and the cooks get 20% of the tip, or some other complicated scheme meant to make things "fair". (obviously crazy schemes are not legal in all areas, but I've seen some pretty strange setups)

POS also needs to be able to open a tab, which is a common thing to do at a bar. So the ability to track dozens of open transactions in a way that is easy for employees to manage is vital.

A simple POS where you just scan in bar codes, close the transaction, and start a fresh one are the simplest kind of POS, but only useful for retail. (and even then pretty limited). It's rather nice to be able to hit a button when a customer has to run back for a bottle of milk, and just ring up the next customer in line while you're waiting. Although employees need to be skilled enough to know that the need to pack the first customer's groceries first to avoid mixing them up.

What about the training? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872369)

And you brought up another aspect that goes beyond the simple nuts and bolts of POS operations. Who is responsible for creating the training programs for this POS software? COTS POS solutions typically have already spent the $ on developing training programs, or at the very least manuals for how to use the system.

Lots of things could come up that would rapidly blow your budget.

Re:What about the training? (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873215)

So true. Training can be as simple as bundling a 30-90 minute DVD in (perhaps with chapters that are targeted to specific industry sectors), or be a sophisticated as an actual face-to-face "platinum-level" training seminar.

Some POS systems still just ship a 3 ringer binder that an new employee is supposed to figure out. But I believe that is no longer sufficient, especially considering that many POS operators have a poor grasp of the written language. (no offense, just that a lot of drop-outs become bar tenders it seems)

be prepared to spend a lot more than 5K (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871783)

The first thing you need to realize is that most "open-source" coders are total prima donnas. They think they're worth tens of thousands of dollars, so you've already spent well above 5K right there. And once you've hired one, you have the problem of getting them to actually work instead of reading slashdot and admiring themselves in the mirror.

Are you sure you're prepared to take on this rather substantial investment?

Oh, by the way, if you're looking to other open-source people to help with the money end of it, don't hold your breath. Because while they command grossly inflated salaries, they are terrible managers of their money. They spend entire paychecks on stuff like jet-skis and strippers (in the vain hope that she will sleep with him, which she never will).

Piece Of Shit (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871825)

"I know little to nothing about programming but would like to start, fund, and maintain a GPL linux POS application."

How many people out there just cannot wait to try out this code once it's finished? ;)

Sorry dude, but that's about the most self-contradictory statement I've ever read. "I don't know anything about creating cash registers, but I want to build a cash register without any knowledge about how one works."

That sets off one of the primary precursor flags for "How to recognize a failed project".

You get today's creative context stripping award. (3, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872491)

He said he wants to pay someone to do the programming because he knows about point-of-sale systems and not about programming. He's what some software teams call the "domain knowledge contact", or what a freelance programmer would call a "client". Outside of "scratch my itch" projects, a lead programmer is rarely the domain expert on a project, and the domain expert on the project is rarely a programmer. That's what interface specifications and client use scenarios are for.

If you're having issues with the concept, pick up a book or a short net article on Extreme Programming. While reading it, note how much time the authors spend explaining how to communicate what's desired by the customer to the programmers and what's feasible in the budget and time constraints from the programmers to the client. XP is not the only methodology out there that addresses this, but it addresses it clearly, voluminously, and in recent, easily located resources.

POS? (2, Funny)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871841)

it's easy to start a piece of shit GPL project - take a look at http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/ [gnu.org] or http://www.sendmail.org/ [sendmail.org] !

Re:POS? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871951)

Damn these vi fanboys, getting cockier every passing day!

Re:POS? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872909)

Even a knucklehead knows that a POS has two operating modes: cash register open, and cash register closed. Vi is a perfect fit for this:

i - insert more scanned items
dd - remove an incorrectly scanned item
:%!discount cardnum
:w - print receipt
:q - transaction finished

Edit mode is very simple, you just add in scanned items. You don't want your clerks to be scanning items while they make change or accept payment... that would be ridiculous! Contrast to emacs POS:

alt - process selected item as a discout card
meta-shift-c - hold down while customer scans credit card
control-meta-s - save current items to payment buffer
control-meta-x - print receipt
control-meta-q - transaction finished
meta-o - open register door (in case it didn't open automatically due to an exception)

... with emacs POS you have to switch around to different buffers, press convoluted combinations of keys, etc. Not even to mention what happens when parts of the bill disappear because the garbage collector determined they were no longer needed to calculate the total. Or what if you get robbed, when you have a gun to your head do you really want your POS to be hassling you that the customer didn't select a payment option instead of just blasting out ":wq!" ??

As you can see vi is a much better choice for POS.

Support? (5, Insightful)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871877)

If you want to get an open source POS package, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is support. When the package breaks, are you going to be able to contact the coders for help? (Sure, it should be written to never break, but let's be realistic.) You may know enough to fix it, but what about your employees? They won't necessarily be able to get you on the phone when they need to. I used to work for a company that produced a mediocre POS package, and the amount of support calls we used to receive was insane. Everything from hardware, software, training questions, networking....we had it all. Point is, make sure that you have someone waiting on the phone for you when stuff happens.

Re:Support? (4, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872311)

If I had mod points, I'd mod parent up.

My first IT job was managing the POS system for my dad's restaurant. Given this was 1989 and everything would crash and burn if the dot matrix printer jammed during the nightly reporting run.

Still, with all the niggling little problems, that whole thing would have bricked within a month without a support contract.

My favorite little quirk of it was that when you logged into the system for the day (it was also the time clock), at the end of the process, you pushed the "print" button instead of the "enter" button. That was because at the end, it was supposed to print your daily ID code.

That was very non-intuitive. So, one day I get calld down to the restaurant floor from the admin offices upstairs. One of the terminals has locked up. One of the wait staff tried to log in, but the machine keeps giving them this error code that they've filled up the screen with. Half of the wait staff and even one of the cooks is at the terminal, trying to figure it out. To show me how the error message keeps coming up, they hit the "enter" button a few times.

I say "remember, when you're clocking in, you hit the 'print' button at the end, not 'enter'." I hit the "print" button, the screen clears, the waitperson's daily code is printed, and the terminal is back to normal.

Remember that POS is a mission critical, live-fire production system. If it crashes or starts hiccuping, you're looking at lost money, lost productivity, etc. You're looking at half your staff gathered around it, giving unhelpful suggestions and asking dumb questions until the person who knows how it works can fix it. Thats why, even with 20+ open source alternatives, closed source flourishes. No matter how good the open source project is reputed to be, if there's no local vendor who can provide timely on-site support, there will be a lot of businesses who want nothing to do with it.

- Greg

Re:Support? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872845)

Still, with all the niggling little problems,

Fuck you, you fucking racist twit. Any "point" you were trying to make is now lost, thanks to this unnecessary redneck 'jab'.

The Solution (1)

eknagy (1056622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871955)

Just don't tell anybody that it is GPL-ed until they ask the license details - and if they do, just tell them that they will receive a site license that enables them to use it commercially without paying additional fees for 99 years for X dollars - and the more you charge, the better your product will be :)

Creating a POS is easy! (2, Funny)

ScottyBlues (310677) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872033)

Creating a POS system is easy. I've worked on many. Most POS's can be created with no planning and require little to no programming skill whatsoever. Or did you mean a Point Of Sale system?

PCI-DSS / PA-DSS (4, Interesting)

MtlDty (711230) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872051)

You've jumped on the bandwagon at just the wrong time. The EFT industry (which I'm part of) is currently going through a bit of an upheaval to increase security of card number data. If you're seriously thinking about devloping a POS solution, then I would take a long hard look at the number of hoops you need to jump through to become compliant.
PCI-DSS covers system and network security. PA-DSS (still in draft format, and perhaps still better known as PABP) covers software application security. There are also things like EMVCo if you're thinking about chip and pin cards, and APACS standards (in the UK - not sure what the US equivalent is) for message formats to and between acquiring banks.

Considering you state you havent even learnt coding yet, you will most certainly be jumping in at the deep end with this task. I've got around 10 years experience in the field, and the pace of change is... breathtaking. Good luck - you'll need it! :)

Don't do it (1)

geeper (883542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872057)

Unless your business is software development (and I'm hoping it's not because you know nothing about programming), you should be concentrating on your business - not creating software. 2-5K is not that much to spend for a solid POS system. One major mistake in a developed solution could cost many times that in extra development, legal, etc. Also considering many projects like this fail you could be out the $$$ and have an incomplete POS system.

Live and let live (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872063)

"I am currently starting a business and really despise the fact that I will have to spend $2-$5k on a proprietary solution"

These guys crack me up - he wants to start a business where he would charge other people for something useful for them, yet he despites the fact that some other people also sell something useful to him. Hey you don't have to like the price, but to say "despise" is really a short-sighted way of thinking!

Buy something used and save $$$ - you'll need it. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872079)

Businesses come and go and I'm sure somebody in your type business has closed up for whatever reason and you can pick up their POS system cheap. And, if you don't need a business specific POS system (i.e. restaurant, bar) then there's probably even more available.

Just a thought.

Spend The Money (1)

OoSpaceoO (258972) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872103)

2k is not that much to spend for a business. It's a write-off and you will get a lot more support than rolling your own. There are linux based solutions out there, its just going to be a lot more work to set up.

Contact info? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872131)

How do we contact you ( ie : pooslinger ) off-forum?

This makes little sense... (1)

Gybrwe666 (1007849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872159)

You're starting a business. Unless that business is selling POS systems, why would you delay the start up of your business by waiting for a POS system to get coded? Even based on some of the Open Source ones currently available, you're likely to spend far more than $2k-5k on hardware, coding, modifications, and figuring out how to use the thing. Not only that, but what happens if it fails? Or if a bug costs you money somehow?

Seems to me that if you are starting a business, you should figure out the best model for that business, instead of diluting your time and effort (which, by all accounts, will likely occupy 200% of your time just starting your business) by reaching for something which doesn't exist.

Bill

Realistically... (4, Informative)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872179)

1) You can get a very nice shrink-wrapped POS system, including hardware, for a lot less than $5k.
2) You will not be able to develop even a very crappy POS system from scratch, sans hardware, for $5k--even at Bangalore rates.
3) While you develop a going-to-be-crap-for-a-long-time POS system, you need a reliable one to run your business.
4) Many software development projects die unceremonious yet expensive deaths.
5) This may be nothing but a colossal waste of time and money.

Because of all of the above, if you really are peeved to the point of diving into building something from scratch, you're going to need to know /something/ about programming, even if you eventually hire someone else to do it. Research the existing commercial offerings and open source offerings. Find one of each that you think works for you. BUY the one to run your business now, TRY the open source one in your own time, then learn enough about the language behind the open source one to modify it for your needs. After you've got enough chops to tweak around the open source project, then start thinking about branching or starting your own, with or without the aid of hired guns. Chances are, by the end of this, you'll find that:

1) The commercial product is sufficient
2) The cost-benefit exchange makes rolling your own FAR from cost-effective
3) You're not a software company
4) The time and money it would take to become one is enormous and way too risky
5) You have better things to do with your time and money anyway

So... (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872203)

instead of buying existing software... you are planning to hire someone to develop custom software that does the exact same thing. Also, you aren't a software company.

Look, you aren't going to save money. It costs a lot more to develop software than it does to buy it. If there's an existing open source solution, that's great, but if not you don't sound particularly well poised to provide one.

Also, GPL software (especially GPLv3 software) has some restrictions on embedded devices you should familiarize yourself with first if you intend to sell these devices to third parties.

Know what you want. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872219)

Lots of good points (start with something working is the most important) but I haven't seen anybody mention this point: Know what you want.

Whenever I've used a contractor to write software it's worked great. I made sure I very carefully thought about a) what I wanted and b) how I would test that I really had what I wanted. I then wrote it down and made their pay conditional on getting it. I think though, that if I didn't know anything about coding, one of the stages would be to find someone who I trusted who did. How I would judge I'm not sure

Try POSper (1)

yoasif (969247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872293)

POSper [sourceforge.net]

scale (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872447)

Nice idea, but it may not make sense. As has been pointed out, you need skilled programmers, and you need good support. Your only sensible bet would be to hire a local shop to customize and support one of the existing GPLed POS solutions... but unless you're already a good-sized chain, that isn't likely to be much cheaper than buying proprietary, and may be more expensive.

Now, if a company already supporting an OS POS is in your area, that's a promising option; but the economics likely won't work out if you're basically the only paying user.

You're not reinventing the wheel (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872477)

You're simply finding out what everyone else has done - wheel invention is an expensive, demanding undertaking and requires a good bit of regulatory knowledge to accomplish smoothly. You could easily spend upwards of $100k to get a basic system working smoothly, with some simple testing. It probably won't interoperate well or be very extensible at that point. I'd throw in another $20k/yr for support and maintenance, as long as you don't plan on making any upgrades. Now, these are Bumfuck, Nowhere rates with guys working weekends and evenings, not 9-5 in the bay area.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but it needs to be said - this is a poor path to travel if you just want to create a POS system for a business. Now, for a couple million you could try that whole paradigm-shift thing and try to get a robust system out there, provided you really understand what the needs of the typical target system is. Remember, though, if you want to make it a business, you'll have to sell service of the product as your income base. That means setup, configuration, and technical support for a product which will compete in the $2k-5k marketplace. You'd have to be pretty damned efficient to even pretend to hit that mark, and it is probably not possible if your dollar figure was hardware inclusive.

Bite the bullet, get a load, and buy the commercial stuff. Your talents, and effort, will be better served tending the actual business.

Are you are planning to run your business with it? (0)

mikeabbott420 (744514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872593)

If so you will be better off investing your time and money on hookers and whatever drugs you prefer. At least you might have some fun.

It can be done... (1)

chad.koehler (859648) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872619)

I started a POS software application for a local restaurant. The restaurant in question decided at the last minute they didn't want to bother with upgrading (from their handwritten system). As has been stated, its important to find a motivated admin for the project, one who will get with you to understand the requirements and will keep all of the other people on the project working towards a solution. By posting this here, I'm sure you will be inundated with offers to help -- I would be willing to give a hand but my skills are almost exclusively windows (as far as the front end GUI goes). http://sourceforge.net/projects/irms/ [sourceforge.net] -- its all but dead now.

Thread for those interested in participating (2, Interesting)

darkfire5252 (760516) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872645)

This is a thread for anyone who might be interested in contributing to this project in any fashion. If we actually can put together a team of people willing to do this project for X dollars, finding people interested in this product shouldn't be terribly difficult.

Overall goal - Develop a system that can be deployed on as many existing POS machines (that are at least able to do general computations, i.e. not embedded POS only hardware) that uses a standard format for storing customer, transactional, etc, data. This would provide a strong foundation for sales-reporting, statistical, etc, use. A standard 'sales info' format would do a great deal of good when it comes to providing choices for POS solutions.

I'm a senior in computer science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. I have also thought that the current crop of POS software is shabby at best. Most of the POS systems already run on general purpose computers, so it would be ideal if it was possible to have a lightweight system to use this hardware. A complete system would be a distribution capable of running at a number of levels. Here's my idea of what the levels and their goals could be. Every level would be configured to be able to interoperate with other POS machines (both those from within the project and from outside, facilitated by a published communications protocol)

Very low resource POS terminal - This would be the mode intended for an ancient machine that still is able to run linux. It would be a console (text only) interface with the goal of a no-frills functional (but still easier on the eyes and easier to use than first generation POS consoles) POS machine that could be stand alone or networked.

Mid level graphical - A lower resource version of the next level, with some eye candy and other intensive features removed. Would most likely be the most commonly used.

Full performance graphical - Runs a graphical interface that takes advantage of all available resources. The overwhelming majority of PCs could support this.

Server station - May also act as a POS station. Coordinates the activities of any number (scalable to redundant multiple stations if there's need) of POS stations, coordinates the storing of POS data into databases, enforcing policy for POS stations, etc. A central point of control for monitoring real-time activity, controlling stations, etc.

Dumb frontend - A station that does not need to be directly connected to any hardware, but rather uses server-supplied resources. I.E. a dumb touchscreen could be a frontend, while the credit card reader and reciept printer connected to it are actually connected to the server, though this is transparent to the user.

Communications between devices can be secured via public key protocols: a key stored on the harddrive, or a smartcard stored inserted in a reader, possibly with the reader housed inside the PC case for tamper resisitance. Employee permissions could be controlled in any manner that PC security is handled: smart card, password (not recommended), biometric, etc.

Penny Wise ? (4, Funny)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872661)

I've got the same problem with movies. No way I'm spending $10 for 90 minutes of entertainment. So, if anyone knows some actors, film crew, etc. I am willing to pay salaries, as long as we can keep the entire budget under about 7 dollars.

Re:Penny Wise ? (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873379)

I've got the same problem with movies. No way I'm spending $10 for 90 minutes of entertainment. So, if anyone knows some actors, film crew, etc. I am willing to pay salaries, as long as we can keep the entire budget under about 7 dollars.

Hey, it worked for Clerks!

Simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872777)

Step 1: Collect Open Source Programmers
Step 2: Uh... Hey what's step 2? I don't know, did you tell them about step 3? I'm getting to that!
Step 3: Profits!

Are you sure? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872815)

I know little to nothing about programming but would like to start, fund, and maintain a GPL linux POS application.


This is noble, I suppose, but ... consider that there are several F/OSS POS projects under the GPL already (and probably more under other F/OSS licenses): frustration that all you could find that met your immediate needs was commercial probably isn't a good motive for wanting to see better development on those, but why a new project? Unless you've got some stunning new approach in mind that isn't compatible with the existing project's orientations, starting another project probably doesn't help anything. You may be better off, if you want to help make this happen, researching the existing projects and finding one that you can help, providing testing, funding, or some other assistance.

And carefully consider how much time and money you can really afford to devote to this if you are also trying to launch another business of your own simultaneously, and whether you've really considered the relative priorities of the two projects. New small businesses are often precarious enough as it is, even without the owner devoting considerable time and resources to another side project.

Ready To Start (2, Informative)

kurtb149 (578487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872873)

I have developed a relatively successful, proprietary restaurant POS, based on an all open-source software stack. If someone had funds to support a very small team of developers for one year, I could create an entirely open-source version (complete rewrite, of course). The POS application suite is a large, complicated, and feature hungry piece of software and should not be thought of as anything less. Money is made with the software by running the main repository and configuration interface as an ASP service and charging a monthly fee to run the software there and in the stores. Something like 40 - 200 USD per month per store depending on what extras they want.

Been there (2, Interesting)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872899)

When I had just graduated college I implemented a portion of what you're describing -- a barcode system to track inventory for a small business. It reads and prints barcodes, has a database that interfaces with a barcode reader so you can scan to get information about inventory, prints reports, etc. This was a business that was so messed up that they were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year simply because they couldn't keep track of their inventory.

The cheapest proprietary solution they found for this was about $30,000. I think my time to implement the system and train the staff on it, at $15 an hour, was probably close to $1000.

Their next problem was their awful POS/accounting system. After talking extensively about either writing a new POS/accounting system, or hooking the inventory program into their current program in an automated way, we decided neither was worth it. Writing a POS that didn't suck would have taken months and extensive knowledge about accounting, tax law, and security. I also didn't want to be even remotely responsible for stolen credit card data, which would be a disaster.

Also, none of this is a fun or interesting problem, it's tedious in the extreme. You could probably pay someone like me to write a POS that is comprehensive, secure, and reliable, but I'd estimate the cost in the six-figures once all is said and done.

And that's why they cost $5000, because if you could write one (and support it!) in your spare time for cheaper than that, you'd only have to sell a few hundred copies at $1000 a pop to become quite wealthy. Someone would have done that already. It's not going to happen any time soon.

Consider consumer effects (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873041)

Your customers aren't stupid. They recognize a POS that's in widespread use, and they will recognize that you cheaped out.
It might be petty, but customers know cheap, unreliable, POS systems from experience, and this can definitely impact the
confidence game that is sales.

My advice is to buy the same HP RP5K system Starbucks uses, if for no other reason, the positive (or at least neutral) impact it will have on customer perception. If they've seen it, especially if they've seen it a *lot*, it won't get in the way of them being comfortable giving you money. If your customer's perceived experience isn't pretty much the number one thing on your list of priorities, it behooves you to put it there. I guess, if you're setting up the checkout system for a bail bond office or the DMV, maybe not so much.

Re:Consider consumer effects (1)

jag7720 (685739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873299)

You may look at that stuff but the average customer could care less about the POS in a store... they don't even know how to run a PC let alone know what POS even means.

Try Quasar (1)

jamacdon (445487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873199)

Quasar at http://www.linuxcanada.com/ [linuxcanada.com] does exactly what you want and I believe is or has been converted to GPL and is open source now.

A wonderful accounting package but also includes addons for POS and possibly some others.

Don't be an Idiot (4, Insightful)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873275)

Don't be an idiot. You're trying to start a business, yet you are creating a monstrosity of a barrier to entry for yourself. When you're in business, you do what you're good at (what makes you money) and you buy what you are not good at. You said yourself, that you have no idea how to run a software development project.

If you do "roll your own", you have no idea how long it will take to build this thing, what the quality will be, whether or not it will interface with your accounting software, what the response time will be for breakage, what it will ultimately cost, and probably about 100 other things that neither you nor I are thinking of right now. In the meantime, you are losing money.

On the other hand, you could buy a package and be up and running tomorrow.

Buy a QuickBooks POS for $800 and get on with your business plan. In five years you'll be able to start a charity open source project.

As someone who started two successful businesses, I can't believe you even asked this question.

Hire developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20873343)

"I know little to nothing about programming but would like to start, fund, and maintain a GPL linux POS application."

Don't. Hire some real programmers. It is not illegal to pay people to write GPL software. Expect to pay more then the $5k you mentioned if you want competent programmers and not some Muppets from Mumbai.

Linus is right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20873449)

I am with Linus on this one. For the life of me I can't understand what this sucking up to RMS is about. Linus himself does not think GPLv3 is a good thing. So why do people keep adopting it.
Without Linus FOSS is tossed. Not following Linus is dangerous for the survival of FOSS.
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  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>