FOSS Linux CRM Roundup

Back at the 2003 OSCON, r0ml Lefkowitz gave a talk called "Six Missing Open Source Projects".The next year he gave a talk titled "More Missing Open Source Projects". At the top of his first list was CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, systems. Here's what I wrote about it in an August 2004 piece:

“Relationships are more important to most companies than code”, he said, which is why they spend more money on marketing than on programming. He said there is plenty of CRM — customer resource management — software out there for big companies, but none yet from the open-source world.

Well, that was then. I just revisited the subject, and here's what I find now:

  • ADempiere -- "completely open and free"
  • CentraView -- "Built on Apache Tomcat, JBoss, MySQL, Linux (Fedora, RedHat and others) & Windows"
  • CiviCRM -- "The Open Source Solution for the Civic Sector"
  • Compiere -- "Open Source ERP and CRM"
  • Concursive -- "easy to use, easy to deploy open source solution"
  • Covide - "Covide is an OpenSource project licensed under the GPL"
  • Cream -- "A free, open-source CRM for media organizations"
  • Hipergate -- "Open Source CRM and GroupWare"
  • Openbravo -- "a fully functional, integrated, web-based, open source ERP" (includes CRM)
  • opentaps -- "a complete open source platform"
  • openCRX -- "published with an OSI certified BSD-style license"
  • SugarCRM -- "commercial open source
  • OpenERP -- "Open Source enterprise management software" (includes CRM)
  • vtiger -- "honest open source"

Am I missing any? I did leave out a couple that either run only on Microsoft systems, or address Microsoft corporate environments.

And what is your experience with any of these? I'm kind of amazed to find so many, but then all I have to do is look at the number and variety of Linux distros to get some perspective.


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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SugarCRM is not Truly Open Source

Anonymous's picture

Please check your sources, Sugar is not truly Open Source and is proprietary software that one must pay for.


Break down the scripting please

Joe Sixes's picture

It would save a bit of time if you could break down the scripting in the list of projects, ie: java/tomcat based, php based, perl? based, etc., along with whether the projects work with two leading open databases, mysql & postgres.

There are preferences over scripting (mine is to avoid java as much as possible as well as not having to learn tomcat... and I'm aware of one project in the list which worked with oracle only for a long time but spent several years (at least) asking for money for a port to postgres, individuals and companies contributed (not much in aggregate maybe), and the port to postgres never happened. It was later ported to enterpriseDB instead.

Don't forget about Group-Office

Anonymous's picture

I have been using group-office CE from sourceforge and it has all the basic functionality that we need. It is more of a collaboration/crm. It has a very intuitive gui and performs faster than some of the others that we have tried. The cost for the pro version is more in the ball park for a small business like ours. We can have a full blown server without user limitations for about $800.00. The administration is a dream and the employees seem to like it as well. Check it out here

An easy way to try them out.

Bruce Fryer's picture

Most $5-$7/month hosting sites will give you 5+ mysql instances. This is a great way to try out these different packages. You may have to modify a little php to get them to work, but usually the documentation tells you exactly what to do. For some of the more popular packaging, some hosting sites like tmdhosting will install them for free. Can't beat it.


Anonymous's picture

Although not strictly CRM, allocPSA does have the CRM functions needed by a professional services organisation.

"allocPSA is the premier online Professional Services Automation solution. allocPSA provides you with the tools you need to manage a team of professional services staff, including the allocation of projects, tasks, faults along with client and billing traffic. allocPSA is open source, which means that businesses worldwide can now obtain allocPSA, complete with source code, free of charge."

missing CRM/ERP

W. Anderson's picture

One "Free/Open Source software" (FOSS) CRM/ERP missing that is stable,
built on QT development platform and Postgres database is "PostBooks"
from X-tuple, the respected, mature European manufacturing ERP vendor.

I find the product to be fairly easy to use, built on great foundation
- that also happens to be 'platform' agnostic and fairly flexible.

For one client, a small Auto dealership in NJ, I was able to efficiently integrate Postbooks with a QT/PostgresQL based Auto Dealer repair service application, that bespeaks the value of QT.

W. Anderson

Dolibarr is missing

Spott's picture


Dollibar is missing from the list:

It has problems with English (some things still in Frensh), but I like it.

helpful if you give language / platform / demo server etc

Donald Lobo's picture

for CiviCRM the info is:


Concursive (formerly Centric) does not meet the OSD

jeffg's picture

Please don't refer to Concursive's offering as open source. The Centric Public License under which the source code of Concursive ConcourseSuite (formerly Centric CRM) is distributed does not meet points 1 (Free Redistribution) or 3 (Derived Works) and is shaky on point 2 (Source Code) of the Open Source Definition. While the source code is available to anybody who registers for a free account, the license prohibits redistribution of the original source code or any derived works outside one's own organization.

I'm not saying that it's bad software or that it's developed by bad people -- I work for the company that maintains the 100% GPL OpenNMS package; we use ConcourseSuite internally and are reasonably happy with it on most days. We've developed a trouble-ticket integration between OpenNMS and Concursive's Help Desk module. When we've needed help to build the integration or to configure it for a trade show demo, the Concursive folks have lent a hand. Be that as it may, it's highly inaccurate and a disservice to the open source community to call this package "open source" -- it doesn't even qualify as what I like to call "open core" in the way that SugarCRM does.

Great which for a law firm?

rlday's picture

This is a great list. I plan on going through each (the live demos available for some are super useful) and determining which is most useful for a law firm. The key features I'm looking for is being able to tie multiple issues to one more many contacts and many issues to one contact, then being able to calendar for a contact or an issue. A phone log would be great, and notes to contacts and issues is key.