looking for good free or open-source Help Desk software.

And by Help Desk Software I don't mean development issue tracking (which is slightly different), I mean software that is optimised towards tracking support requests from the user base of a small-medium business. So something like ZenDesk, rather than something like JIRA.

Particularly interested in solutions that also integrate asset tracking.

I'm aware that there's a big list at http://www.opensourcehelpdesklist.com, but I'm hoping to hear from people who actually have evaluated some of these solutions.

(While I did find a few similar questions on StackOverflow, the answers tended towards issue tracking systems rather than helpdesk systems, which is why I'm asking this question again)

  • how are "issue tracking" different from "helpdesk" systems?
    – warren
    Dec 1, 2009 at 12:21
  • 3
    Issue Tracking tends to focus on software developemnt and have emphasis on source control integration (like integrating with subversion) and grouping issues into projects and versions. Helpdesk software has more customer-focused features, such as support for Service Level Agreements, nice friendly automatic email acknowledgments, integration with asset tracking databases, timing of how long calls are taking, workflow to help co-ordinate teams of support engineers, etc.
    – codeulike
    Dec 1, 2009 at 12:24
  • Guess I've mostly seen both used for both, then :)
    – warren
    Dec 1, 2009 at 12:44
  • There is quite a lot of overlap, and there might be some tools that cover both scenarios well ... I'm not sure.
    – codeulike
    Dec 1, 2009 at 15:22

9 Answers 9


I use OTRS (http://otrs.org) for my "support desk" functionality. It is a very powerful application and does a nice job. I will admit that it is a little daunting at first (initial configuration, etc.), but once you get going, you'll be quite impressed.

My customers can send an email to the support address and OTRS will, based on my rules, funnel tickets into the correct queues. It also will send them email updates as the ticket status changes. It also has a customer facing web interface that is easily skinned.

And if you are so inclined, they are moving the product to be ITIL compliant.

  • There are lots of interesting answers here, but I'll mark this as accepted because it got the most votes.
    – codeulike
    Dec 14, 2009 at 16:04

Best Practical: Request Tracker

RT is an enterprise-grade ticketing system which enables a group of people to intelligently and efficiently manage tasks, issues, and requests submitted by a community of users.

RT manages key tasks such as the identification, prioritization, assignment, resolution and notification required by enterprise-critical applications including project management, help desk, NOC ticketing, CRM and software development.

RT is used by Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and development organizations worldwide.

  • The screenshots of v3.8 look nice blog.bestpractical.com/2008/07/today-were-rele.html#screenshots
    – codeulike
    Dec 2, 2009 at 11:23
  • Looks good, works great, lots and lots of options for customizing it to your workflow but there is one but: if you install it from source, you'll find yourself installing a serious part of cpan (perl modules). It also needs an apache setup with mod_perl. So a dedicated (virtual) machine is a good idea. If you install it using a linux package manager, you won't have this problem but you'll get a somewhat older version of RT. Several thumbs up for RT from me. Oct 25, 2010 at 9:35

I'm surprised no one beat me to suggesting Spiceworks.

It does a bunch of other stuff as well as help desk, so you get more benefits if you use it for network monitoring and inventory management, for example.

  • I honestly haven't tried out spiceworks yet, how well does it work for places with 10-20 people using the monitoring/inventory/help desk system? The website made it appear to be an app that someone just downloads and runs on their desk.
    – sclarson
    Dec 1, 2009 at 21:57
  • We don't use it any more for our help desk now that we have a big corporate-wide app, but when we used it just for our division, we just installed it on an XP workstation we had kicking around. Dec 1, 2009 at 22:13
  • 1
    @sparks: You run the Spiceworks setup on a workstation or server and then it installs its own web server. The main interface for all users is via a web browser, so it can handle multiple users.
    – codeulike
    Dec 2, 2009 at 10:01

We use GLPI. It has complete issue tracking with geographical sites management, it can authenticate against a DC in a ldap environnement and can be tight with OCS inventory to automagicaly feed inventories and software installations count. There's also an email notification feature that makes a good work for the demanders to get up to date with their resquests. Works like a charm with our 600+ machines spawn across 36 geographical locations in a AD environnement. Both are OpenSource.


It's not open source but we couldn't be happier with Web Help Desk.

Help Desk Software by Web Help Desk

If you are a one-man-band, their Free Edition will cover most of your bases and some.

  • We use WHD and it's fairly affordable for what you actually get. But if absolutely free is necessary, this app is still a powerhouse.
    – lilott8
    Dec 1, 2009 at 20:38

Of that list I've used Liberum, and found that I was spending so much time customizing it to meet requirements that I may as well have written my own. That's not to say that the same experience would be repeated elsewhere, of course.

  • I had to chuckle at this on Liberium's features page: * runs on Microsoft IIS - no proprietary web servers I know what they were trying to say, but it still seems that statement is a bit of an oxymoron.
    – Corey S.
    Dec 1, 2009 at 12:56

Free for three workers: cerberusweb I see they are now marketing this as a CRM but when we used it as a support system it worked great. At the time there was not any inventory management but we only used it as a ticket management system. I see some suggestions on tracking assets with it here.

Supports work flows, customer email & web facing portal; I was pretty happy with it.

We eventually replaced it with a non-free package that did a pretty reasonable job within a windows network.


I have used this a few times and its always done what has been needed without silly useless features.


Customer Interface:

* Submit new tickets
* Attach files
* Obtain detailed information from customers with custom fields
* SPAM prevention
* Suggest related knowledgebase articles before final ticket submission
* View and rate staff replies
* E-mail notifications of staff replies
* Browse and search knowledgebase
* ... And more!


* Unlimited knowledgebase articles
* Unlimited categories and subcategories
* Quick and Easy search capabilities
* Post attachments to articles
* Count article views
* List newest and most popular articles
* Rate articles
* ... And more!

Administrator/Staff interface:

* Unlimited administrators and staff accounts
* Restricted access to some functionalities for certain staff
* Powerful ticket search ability
* Assign tickets to staff
* Manage knowledgebase categories and articles
* Manage staff accounts
* Canned responses (pre-written replies)
* Customize help desk settings
* Modify your profiles and signatures
* Autoclose tickets after X days
* Run reports
* E-mail notifications of new tickets and replies
* Customers can easily rate staff replies
* Easy translation into any language
* ... And more!

We use MantisBT. It is biased towards software bug tracking, but we have customised ours heavily using the supported methods within Mantis, and it is a very lightweight easy to use bug tracking system.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.