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Online collaboration with Feng Office

by Richard Smedley

Project management and task scheduling made easy, from small teams to massive organisations. Join Richard Smedley as he demonstrates the power of Feng Office in this excellent step-by-step guide…

This article originally appeared in issue 90 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Online collaboration with Feng Office Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more., Microsoft Office, Feng Office – which is the odd one out? Yes, it’s Feng Office, but not because most people have never heard of it, and not because it lacks the extreme feature set of the other two. Feng Office is not about sitting at your desk writing office documents, it’s about collaborative working.

Feng still allows you to create text documents online, but that’s just a small part of running projects, taking notes, tracking tasks, passing milestones, keeping contact with your organisation and perusing reports of how the projects are progressing.

Feng Office, formerly known as OpenGoo, is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License, the FOSS licence especially created for cloud software – this means that modifications must be made available for all web users of the service, guaranteeing sharing of improvements and new modules. You can sign up to a hosted account and be running the trial version in minutes, but we’ll show you how to install on your own server, from download to up-and-running.

01 On your marks. Get set. Go!
Download from, or the sourceforge page. Upload to the web directory of your server – eg /var/www/ – you can combine both operations by shelling into your server and typing ‘wget’. Unzip the 7.5MB package and you’re ready to go.

02 Well documented
The Feng Office website contains both user and admin manuals, as well as some developer information. It’s useful, but by no means complete. However, installation is so simple that you only need the first few lines of the readme.txt in the directory that you unzipped, or to read the instructions on the following screens…

Online collaboration with Feng Office

03 Problems?
Go here with your web browser and you’ll see the friendly install screen at Step 1, just a Welcome, so click Step 2. Now you may be brought up short – if you didn’t transfer and unzip the file as the web server user, you won’t have permissions to write the files.

04  Get permission
Don’t panic. From your shell, go back to the directory containing the unzipped fengoffice directory, and run ‘chown -R www-data:root fengoffice/’ – replacing www-data with whatever ownership your web files should have (ls -l on /var/www should give you a clue).

05 Green light
Now retry on Step 2 and you should get the green light. Step 3 is configuring the database, which the installer can do for you, but as our MySQL database is used by several web apps for the site, we prefer to do it manually. You may prefer phpmyadmin, or a control panel…

06 First the SQL
…But the mysql command line is straightforward enough: the create DATABASE and GRANT ALL… commands shown here, plus FLUSH PRIVILEGES; and the database is ready to go, so on to Step 3.

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    • Ginko

      Very powerful tool, we’ve been using it for a year as a tool for managing software development projects.

    • Pingback: Linux User & Developer issue 90 is out now! | Linux User()

    • Chad

      Very cool tool! I can’t believe I never heard of this. It is very Similar to a Google docs only with workflow and other tools built in and all set for your own personal cloud. Very cool!

    • Hi,

      Maybe give Apollo a try as well:
      Apollo is both project and contact management. It has a shared calendar, timers, cases and deals, all in a _very_ fast AJAX application that looks native.

      OK, just my 2c — if you guys want to try it, let us know!

      Thank you and keep up the good work :D


    • I have been using Feng Office for about 18 months now. It has a number of astounding features that I have not seen elsewhere.

      First is their concept of “Dimensions” – Workspaces and Tags – into which objects are categorised. Selecting a Workspace shows only those objects associated with it: emails, notes, documents, tasks, weblinks, contacts and so on, whick means that you can find related objects really quickly.

      Email handling is really slick too. For example, emails can be categorised into a specific workspace, at which time the attachments are automatically categorised and moved to the document store and, if you choose, a task is created from he email.

      A number of areas, like the office document suite, could do with improvement. Feng Office has recently emerged from a major upgrade that, among other things, improves the plugin framework. This will hopefully attract third-party plugin writers to fill the functionality gaps and ingnite inventiveness. Their online resources are a little outdated after the ‘major upgrade’ mentioned above, but there appears to be an effort to remedy the situation.

      Feng Office is available as a paid-for hosted and supported service with a number of premium plugins included. There is also a free, self-hosted “Community”.

    • Sorry, some typos there. The last line should read:

      There is also a free, self-hosted “Community” version.