Koha on Debian: a vanilla experience

A few days back I downloaded Debian 8 (Jessies) with XFCE desktop. My aim was to install and experience the performance of Koha on Debian Jessie. I used to install Koha on Lubuntu / Xubuntu (LXDE and XFCE desktop on Ubuntu). Both Linux flavours considered as lightweight desktops;  it means they do not consume much computer resources (RAM, Processor) while working. Unity desktop is the default desktop of Ubuntu. Unity considered as resource hungry due to its graphics and visual effects (gimmicks!!). Lubuntu and Xubuntu available with toppings (user-friendly modifications and beautifications) on LXDE and XFCE desktop. In certain extend, Lubuntu and Xubuntu can offer friendly experience to new Linux users. Lubuntu/Xubuntu toppings eat little more computer resources than vanilla XFCE and LXDE.

Koha developer community recommends Debian Linux. Because they build Koha-Debian combo in their mind. Debian available with bare LXDE and XFCE desktop. Debian package repository offers the full bunch of packages required for Koha installation.

In the first phase, I downloaded Debian 8 (codename 'Jessie'!!) LXDE CD image. The ISO file size is only 646 MB. I burned the Debian iso file in a USB pen drive (save a CD!). And plug in the pen drive to my Acer Netbook and restarted it. On the way, I changed the boot option to the USB flash drive. The first screen of the Debian installation appeared in charm. The user can either choose either text mode or GUI installation step. Netbook PC configuration is very low and I selected text mode installation steps. Text mode installation is faster than GUI, but you can't play with the mouse! If you are going to install Debian on a Laptop/Desktop with good configuration, choose GUI installation.

On the way, select language, keyboard etc. I jumped Partition hurdle successfully (be careful). Debian installation will ask to put a password for root user. Again need to create a normal user account with ID and password. The root user has the full power in  Debian. Ubuntu disabled root user and has another mechanism called 'sudo' to do administrative tasks. If Internet connection available, the installation process will ask to connect with Debian repository and download new packages to install. It takes too much to finish the installation; humbly deny the request to connect to the repository. After the installation, the system has to restart and we can enter into the slim and clean Debian XFCE desktop. You can experience the speed of Debian while booting.

Update of Linux is necessary after the installation. We need to add some extra Debian sources list to the installation. This website will help you for the purpose, https://debgen.simplylinux.ch/.

Ubuntu users addicted to 'sudo su' tool. The user has to install the sudo package in Debian and make available it. Debian user will get the administrative power with the command 'su'. Ubuntu user can easily win Debian Linux after the installation of 'sudo'.

Koha installation process in Debian is more or less same as in Ubuntu. You can follow the installation manual in Koha Wiki. Koha has some advantages with Debian. Plack now works well only with Debian. Plack is a speed booster.

In my experience, Debian is fast compared with Ubuntu and more suitable for Koha. Slim desktops of XFCE and LXDE with Debian can give the good performance. 

(I express my thanks to Mark Tompsett, he inspire me to try Koha on Debian)

Missing libgd-perl

If you see following message while execute Koha installation command,

sudo apt-get install koha-common

"The following packages have unmet dependencies:koha-common : Depends: libgd-perl but it is not going to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages."

Don't worry, it means user has to install libgd-perl package.
Solution is that install the missing package using the following command,

sudo apt-get install libgd-perl

Import MARC records into Koha using graphical interface

Prepare MARC file. 
Check item information (tag number 952); branch code, accession number, item type etc. If number of MARC records goes beyond 1000, split into small batches (1000 records per batch). Otherwise, it will take a long time to import records and chance for time out and can't know the progress. Command line method is good for importing bulk records.

A sample MAR record

Customize email notices

Koha has the option to send email notices to users in various occasions like over due, Check-in, check-out, renewal etc. Sample notices are available with Koha. Library staff can customize the subject line and content of the emails.

First of all a mail server need to install and add email credentials. Check the tutorial on How to configure Gmail with Postfix.

Here is a customized notice from my library.

Customize email notices
Sample messages can be find at Tools > Notices&Slips
Let see how can we customize a notice send from Koha when a user check out book. 

Click on Edit button against the CHECKOUT notice.

Koha 16.05.05 Live DVD released

Koha 16.05.05 Live DVD now available for download.
Following are features of Koha Live DVD:

    Configured for ready to use
    Zebra server enabled
    Customized MARC fields in cataloging
    Automated database backup
    Build on Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS
    Sample reports
    Easy installation
    Detailed Read Me file.

Download links,


User would like to install Koha manually, please visit,

Data migration from SOUL 1 to Koha

Data migration from SOUL version 1 to Koha involves following steps,

1. Export data from SOUL
2. Import data into WINISIS and Export in iso format
3. Converting the data into MARC 21 using MarcEdit software
4. Import records in Koha.

Export data from SOUL in CCF format.
Change the extension of the file to .iso by right click on file and Rename.

Create web pages in Koha (Koha as a CMS)

Users can publish pages on Koha OPAC  and OPAC can act as a tiny library web site. I have tried this feature on Koha 3.22.10 version. Very detailed documentation available at Koha Wiki. Here is Koha OPAC with few pages; http://mgucat.mgu.ac.in
A page in OPAC to describe library collection.