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Old 03-09-2013, 03:33 PM   #1
tronayne
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Library Management Software -- PMB Looks Like a Winner But...


For the past couple of weeks I've been evaluating (or, rather, trying to evaluate) library management software, particularly Koha and Evergreen, specifically for use on a Slackware platform.

Both Koha and Evergreen require a great deal of add-on required software to install and get going -- in Koha's case, quite a few Perl modules plus some other stuff and in Evergreen's case, oh, things like ejabber and other libraries that I'm a little leery of.

I am not being critical of either package; they appear to be solid and dependable as reported by a number of users around the world who are happy campers. Both packages recommend installation on Debian or Ubuntu platforms (and I probably should have built one or both in virtual machines but I chose to use my distribution of choice mainly because both of those distributions have required a great deal of upgrading -- constant upgrading in my experience with Ubuntu -- and I choose not to burden end-users with that sort of thing, or, for that matter, myself).

The main complaint with Koha is the extensive use of Perl and the amount of screwing around just getting the damned Perl stuff to build, test and install with more than a few outdated versions of the Perl modules rather than the current ones. With Evergreen, well, installing it on Slackware is a big whopping job and, I suspect, keeping everything up-to-date may require a lot time and effort. Additionally, I was cautioned by a few experienced folk about the complexity but figured I'd give it a shot and see for myself. Well, I did: been there, did that, don't want to do it again.

Whatever software is used is going to have to be maintained by, well, me -- there isn't enough funding available for commercial support and that's that. I don't mind doing it but I'd much rather need to do as little as possible; better that stuff works without constant fiddling (I mean, that's why you chose Slackware, right?).

So, I've turned to PMB, a LAMP application. For my money, LAMP is the way to go but PMB is pretty much only available in French (at least the current version, 4.0.4 is, I haven't looked at the prior 3.5.x versions as yet). We have virtually no French speakers around these parts (like one who lives 40 miles away), the folks that will be using whatever system, so there's that.

However: Google Translate to the rescue (hot dang, them boys and girls at Google do turn out some useful stuff). Pretty much walking through every file and translating them to close enough for me to read (my education was sadly lacking in non-English languages with the exception of Latin about 55 years ago of which I have forgotten all I never knew).

Onward and upward and we'll see what happens (it seems to work, I just can't read all the code or displays as yet, I'm working on it).
For Perl fans, my experience with it has been disappointing for at least a decade and half -- I've been a long-time user of Bugzilla and every single time a Bugzilla upgrade comes out it's a day-long (or longer) struggle to get the required Perl modules installed and working. I don't want a full-time job maintaining anything, let alone having to struggle with Perl every so often. I'm happy with PHP.
So, if anybody knows of a PMB -- current or one stable release back -- available in multiple languages (as Bugzilla and a number of other packages are) or just in English, I'd really appreciate knowing about it. I'll keep plugging away with Google Translate (hey, that might be useful to somebody else, eh?), but it might be a little easier if some kind soul has already done so.

Last edited by tronayne; 03-09-2013 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Fumble-finger.
 
Old 03-09-2013, 05:33 PM   #2
angryfirelord
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How about OpenBiblio? That doesn't look like it has too many odd dependencies (mainly PHP and mySQL, which are already included with Slackware).
 
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:52 PM   #3
tronayne
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Hm. Interesting. Took about 10 minutes to get it installed and running (nice to see something pop up running every so often without a lot of hassle). Doesn't seem to be a user manual in favor of HTML popup documentation; different, but usable. Doesn't seem to be an import from the web capability (from places like the LOC, Amazon, ISBN.com, British Library) but a scripted import appears to be feasible.

Thanks for the heads up.
 
Old 03-10-2013, 01:37 PM   #4
lstamm
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Hi tronayne,

Did you get anywhere with ICA-Atom? We are currently looking at it for archival purposes for the local museum/archives society but I haven't had time to do more than install it and put in some dummy data.

I successfully installed Evergreen on a Slackware system several years ago, when it was at version 1.4. It was difficult enough then that I immediately realized it wasn't practical for a production system, and upgrades did not go well. Since then I have used Debian for Evergreen testing, but one day I would like to get Evergreen installed and running on a FreeBSD system since there is some demand for running Evergreen on FreeBSD.

I haven't looked at OpenBiblio recently, but one problem it did have was lack of support for MARC import and export. That may or may not be a problem for you.

Good luck in your search!
 
Old 03-10-2013, 02:25 PM   #5
tronayne
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Hi, lstamm,

Yeah, ICA-AtoM just installed easily and looks quite workable for archive items such as manuscripts, but I don't quite see a use for books (we do have a number of bound manuscripts but they're one-off, the only copy extant). I inserted a couple of manuscripts I have laying about, went smoothly, easy enough to figure out. And, no fiddling to get it installed on Slackware 14.0 64-bit!

I have to admit that I haven't really gotten my arms around MARC as yet, getting there, but not quite. OpenBiblio appears to be able to import MARC (although it looks to be directly into MySQL but I don't have any problem doing that). Doesn't appear to support MARCXML, though (still looking). I need to experiment for a while to see what's what and how's how. Other than that, it looks usable and ought to be adaptable to our needs -- we're really not a public library as such (nobody's going to walk out the door with a Wycliffe Bible in hand) but, oh, folks can come, read, research or whatever (there is so much just fascinating and rare stuff sitting on the shelves).

It seems that MARC files are available for bulk loading (which I think might be a whole heckuva lot of data and I have to get a better understand of just what's there before I start filling the data base with irrelevant stuff. Got a lot of reading to do, methinks.

I would really like to be able to install either Koha or Evergreen on a Slackware system but, so far, it's been more work than I deem necessary -- which leads me to believe that maintenance and updates will be just as much work and to heck with that nonsense. I could bite the bullet and get Debian or Ubuntu and do it in a virtual machine (if that's actually any easier, which I question) and let it run for a month or two to see what happens. I've got a 32-bit box that isn't doing anything but take up space and I might just build it into a Debian or Ubuntu system (I can always wipe the drives and go back to my comfort zone). Just need a day or so to do it.

Whatever I do needs to adapt a little to include information like price paid for a work, from whom acquired, when, where, notes and comments, condition information, things along those lines. I've no problem adding or altering tables in MySQL and writing PHP to use it but, then, I don't really want to customize to the point of being unmaintainable (which can happen real quick).

It's always sumpin.

Last edited by tronayne; 03-10-2013 at 02:28 PM.
 
Old 03-11-2013, 01:00 AM   #6
lstamm
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Quote:
Whatever I do needs to adapt a little to include information like price paid for a work, from whom acquired, when, where, notes and comments, condition information, things along those lines. I've no problem adding or altering tables in MySQL and writing PHP to use it but, then, I don't really want to customize to the point of being unmaintainable (which can happen real quick).
Evergreen has all this built in through its Aquisition module.

Evergreen is really designed for consortiums and libraries with multiple branches, but there are some single site institutions using it.

Natural Resources Canada is using Evergreen for part of their collection. You can peruse their catalogue to see how it functions for non-biblio items.

You can download a virtual image of a 2 year old debian server at http://open-ils.org/~denials/Evergre...nk_Squeeze.ova if you want to play around with a working system. I would recommend this route if you want to experiment with Evergreen any further, rather than beating your head against the difficulties of installing it on Slackware.

And if you decide to install Evergreen on bare metal, Debian is probably the least painful way to go. Ubuntu Server is better than Ubuntu Desktop, but it still makes me want to scream sometimes.

Quote:
I have to admit that I haven't really gotten my arms around MARC as yet, getting there, but not quite.
The MARC format goes back to the earliest days of digital data, and was a remarkably compact way to store variable textual info in a ridgidly prescribed format. There are other formats like Dublin Core being used somewhat today, but MARC is still the standard way to import and export biblio data. I highly recommend the US Library of Congress pages on MARC as a way to get started on understanding MARC
 
Old 03-11-2013, 10:59 AM   #7
tronayne
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Oh, already been at LOC reading the introduction and tutorial stuff -- it reads a lot like huge data set specifications (like, oh, Geographic Names Information System, GNIS, that has latitude, longitude, place names and other stuff for the entire planet, kinda big).

So far, MARC makes sense, just have to get all the stuff packed into my head so I'll know what's what.

I am thinking bare metal Debian (have a spare drive, pull the one in the box and plug in the other then build it, couple of minutes to swap 'em). I'd like to do it that way so I have a real good handle on the time and effort required -- I might actually have to explain it to somebody else one day.

Thanks for your interest.
 
Old 03-11-2013, 11:45 AM   #8
Richard Cranium
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tronayne View Post
I could bite the bullet and get Debian or Ubuntu and do it in a virtual machine (if that's actually any easier, which I question) and let it run for a month or two to see what happens.
It's easier than you might think; I've been running a windows XP VM on my main workstation so that I can use my work's remote access tools.

I'm using aqemu, qemu, qemu-kvm and vde2 from slackbuilds. I've also run a couple of RedHat VMs in at virtual subnet using those tools, but that's more than what you need to do.

This is under Slackware 14.0 64bit.

Last edited by Richard Cranium; 03-11-2013 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Left off slackware version.
 
Old 03-11-2013, 12:42 PM   #9
tronayne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
It's easier than you might think; I've been running a windows XP VM on my main workstation so that I can use my work's remote access tools.

I'm using aqemu, qemu, qemu-kvm and vde2 from slackbuilds. I've also run a couple of RedHat VMs in at virtual subnet using those tools, but that's more than what you need to do.

This is under Slackware 14.0 64bit.
I'm thinking either bare metal (in a server that's just laying around doing nothing) or Debian in VirtualBox -- downside or either is downloading Debian from somewhere or other (I've got HughesNet and they start throttling when you go over a daily limit; that can be done during the night, though). The other thing is which Debian -- seems to be a lot of 'em to pick from and there seems to be 3 or 4 ISO files (which means three or four nights, or what the heck, buy the thing and wait a few days). And there's still the basic question: just which Debian is going to be the "right" Debian for doing this.
 
Old 03-12-2013, 12:31 PM   #10
lstamm
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I use debian testing for this sort of thing, but I think our province-wide production server cluster use an upgraded version of debian stable. Evergreen requires a newer version of Postgresql and xulrunner, although I can't remember exactly which are the current versions needed.

You can download the net install iso of debian, and just go from there to download and install the bare minumum needed for a server using apt-get. Otherwise the first two install cd isos will get you started (or maybe just the first cd?). It's been a while since I installed a bare bones debian server.
 
Old 03-12-2013, 12:49 PM   #11
tronayne
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So many Debians, too much choice, I'll order the flash drive stable and be done with it, thanks.
 
  


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