FOSSBilling: A New, Free, and Open Source Billing Platform
The new FOSSBilling free and open source billing platform was discussed here at LES in December 2022. The 2022 discussion included very helpful background posts from FOSSBilling developers @jaapmarcus and @evrifaessa.
FOSSBilling has progressed a lot since the December 2022 LES discussion. Indeed, shared hosting providers already have been using FOSSBilling in production.
Recently, I signed up as a customer at two shared hosting providers who use FOSSBilling. This post details the results of my testing FOSSBilling from the perspective of a shared hosting customer. Also presented after the test results are, courtesy of @BelleNottelling, insights about the upcoming 0.6.0 FOSSBilling release along with tips for using FOSSBilling.
The FOSSBilling website has a great demo, which enables everyone to see both the administrator panel interface and the client area interface.
FOSSBilling vs. Blesta
When FreeVPS.org was started, the FreeVPS Team went with Blesta instead of FOSSBilling because the FreeVPS Team had experience with Blesta. However, unless, like FreeVPS, you have a generous donor of a Blesta license (Thanks @Cloudie!), using Blesta normally requires monthly payments or more expensive lifetime licenses. Also, Blesta is not 100% open source.
FOSSBilling Tested At HostByBelle And At YetiNode
Shared hosting providers already using FOSSBilling in production include HostByBelle and YetiNode. Belle is one of the FOSSBilling developers. She is @BelleNottelling here on LES. YetiNode is run by our very own indomitable Yeti, @AuroraZero.
My overall experience testing FOSSBilling as a customer was excellent at both HostByBelle and at YetiNode. I had no trouble launching a test html page on each provider's shared hosting service. Here are links to the two test pages: HostByBelle and YetiNode.
Both providers use HestiaCP to provision shared hosting. Billing with FOSSBilling and provisioning with HestiaCP were very similar at HostByBelle and at YetiNode. I tried FOSSBilling's Support Ticket interface at HostByBelle. @AuroraZero talked with me by PM here at LES.
Screenshots Of FOSSBilling At HostByBelle
The gorgeous dark theme shown in these screenshots comes from the reverse colors engineered by Chrome Browser's High Contrast Accessibility Extension. These screenshots are what I actually saw during sign-up at HostByBelle. If you also wish to see the normal, non-reversed color mode, please look at the above linked FOSSBilling demo.
- Hestia Control Panel
- Support Tickets
- Quick Ticket Reply
Additional FOSSBilling Discussion
FOSSBilling sent transactional emails every step of the way, including sign-up, payment, and support tickets. The email setups at HostByBelle and at YetiNode differ slightly. HostByBelle uses a transactional email provider, and YetiNode self-hosts its email MTA.
- Payment Providers
FOSSBilling at HostByBelle offered Paypal and payment from account credit. Payment wasn't involved with YetiNode, because I tested their free tier instead of their paid tier. Paypal payment worked fine at HostByBelle.
- Provisioning Shared Hosting and VPSes
Like most billing panels, FOSSBilling requires the use of another additional software package to provision hosting services. Sometimes, modules can be added to billing panels to send instructions to the additional provisioning software's API.
As shown at both HostByBelle and at YetiNode, FOSSBilling works well with HestiaCP for shared hosting. FOSSBilling's five (including Hestia) already-working provisioning integrations are listed in the FOSSBilling Documentation. Integration of Proxmox also has been discussed on the FOSSBilling Forum and, more recently (8/21/2023), on the FOSSBilling Discord.
- FOSSBilling Forum
If you have additional questions about FOSSBilling, you might want to check out the FOSSBilling Forum.
- App Installation
As noted above, both HostByBelle and YetiNode use Hestia Control Panel for shared hosting installs. Here is HestiaCP's One Click App Installation Panel as seen at YetiNode.com. As expected, the HestiaCP app installation is similar at HostByBelle.
- Let's Encrypt Certificates
SSL certificates from Let's Encrypt were provisioned with one click at both HostByBelle and YetiNode.
Both FOSSBilling's client theme and its multiple administrative user permissions hopefully will be updated in the next 0.6.0 release or soon thereafter. Belle posted screenshots of the updated client theme on FOSSBilling's Discord.
Hints From Belle
Belle said to me, about FOSSBilling, "If someone is going to use it, they should be technical and ideally be able to handle some PHP development."
Speaking of updates and changes, Belle advises FOSSBilling users to review the FOSSBilling changelog before updating. Changes occasionally affect people with customized installations, but people "using FOSSBilling as-is out of the box shouldn't really have such issues."
Last, but not least, Belle also advises reading the FOSSBilling FAQ.
FOSSBilling quickly and efficiently handled sign up, ordering, invoicing, and passing me to HestiaCP for provisioning. Support tickets and transactional emails from HostByBelle all worked as expected. FOSSBilling successfully kept track of payment and support transactions and also showed the history of each in clear interfaces. With HestiaCP, I quickly installed my above linked html test pages at HostByBelle and at YetiNode. Security certificates, like everything else, were easy.
Belle was super friendly and helpful via the HostByBelle FOSSBilling Support Tickets. @AuroraZero was, as always, wonderful, both via LES PMs and via email. Both HostByBelle and YetiNode are recommended for shared hosting.
FOSSBilling worked excellently from the perspective of a tester of shared hosting. The new era of a working, free, and open source billing platform has begun!
I hope everyone gets the servers they want!