OTRS Help Desk

User Interface
Email Interface
New Features of OTRS 5
Scalability & Performance
Working with External Systems
Installation & Administration
New Features of OTRS 4
Scalability & Performance
Working With External Systems
Installation & Administration
New Features of OTRS 3.3
Working With External Systems
Installation & Administration
Hardware and Software Requirements
Perl support
Web server support
Database support
Web browser support
Professional Services for OTRS


This chapter describes the features of OTRS Help Desk (OTRS). You will find information about the hardware and software requirements for OTRS. Additionally, in this chapter you will learn how to get commercial support for OTRS, should you require it, and how to contact the community.


OTRS Help Desk (OTRS) is a web application that is installed on a web server and can be used with a web browser.

OTRS is separated into several components. The main component is the OTRS framework which contains all central functions for the application and the ticket system. It is possible to install additional applications such as OTRS::ITSM modules, integrations with Network Monitoring solutions, a knowledge base (FAQ), et cetera.


OTRS has many features. The following list gives an overview of the main features included in the OTRS framework.

User Interface

  • OTRS comes with separate, modern web interfaces for agents and customers.

  • It can be used on any modern web browser, including mobile platforms and is retina ready.

  • The web interface can be customized with own themes and skins.

  • Powerful and customizable agent dashboard with personal ticket overviews and graphical statistics support.

  • An extensible reporting engine provides various statistics and report scheduling options.

  • With the ProcessManagement it is possible to define own ticket-based screens and processes (ticket workflows).

  • OTRS has a built-in rights management that can be extended with fine-grained access control lists (ACLs).

  • Support for more than 30 languages and different time zones.

Email Interface

  • Support for MIME emails with attachments.

  • Automatic conversion of HTML into plain text messages (increased security for sensitive content and enables faster searching).

  • Incoming mail can be filtered and pre-processed with complex rules, e.g. for spam messages or Queue distribution.

  • Support for PGP and S/MIME standards for key/certificate management and email processing.

  • Automatic responses, configurable for every queue.

  • Email notifications for agents about new tickets, follow-ups or unlocked tickets.

  • It is possible to define an own Ticket identifier to recognize follow-ups, e.g. Call#, Ticket# or Request#. There are different ticket number generators (date-based, random etc.) and you can integrate your own as well. Follow-ups can also be recognized by In-Reference-To headers or external ticket numbers.


  • OTRS uses Tickets to gather all external an internal communication that belongs together. These tickets are organized in Queues.

  • There are many different ways of looking at the tickets in a system (based on Queues, Status, Escalation etc.) in different level of detail (small/medium/preview).

  • The Ticket history records all changes to a ticket.

  • Tickets can be changed in many ways, such as replying, forwarding, bouncing, moving to another Queue, updating attributes (state, priority etc.), locking and accounting working time. It is possible to modify many tickets at once (bulk action).

  • Pending time and escalation time / SLA management allow time-based scheduling and restrictions on tickets.

  • Tickets can be linked to other tickets or other objects such as FAQ entries.

  • Automatic and timed actions on tickets are possible with the "GenericAgent".

  • OTRS comes with a powerful search engine that allows complex and fulltext searches on tickets.


  • OTRS runs on many operating systems (Linux, Solaris, AIX, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS 10.x) and supports several database systems for the central OTRS back-end (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, MSSQL).

  • The core system can be extended by installing OTRS packages. There are many free packages (such as FAQ, OTRS::ITSM and others) as well as FeatureAddon packages that are available for service contract customers of the OTRS group.

  • Integration of external back-ends for the customer data, e.g. via AD, eDirectory or OpenLDAP. Customers can authenticate via database, LDAP, HTTPAuth or Radius.

  • With the GenericInterface it is easy to connect OTRS to other web services. Simple web services can be integrated without programming, complex scenarios with custom extensions. The OTRS Ticket connector allows the creation, updating and searching of tickets, via web services from a third party application.

Now let us look at the changes in recent versions of OTRS.

New Features of OTRS 5

  • OTRS is now optimized for use on different types and sizes of mobile devices.

  • Single-select and multi-select input fields have been modernized and provide advanced searching and filtering capabilities (thanks to Dusan Vuckovic at Mühlbauer).

  • Images can now be added/uploaded to the WYSIWYG editor using Copy&Paste and Drag&Drop from anywhere outside the application (in all browsers, without additional Add-On).

  • Improved ticket notification system. It is now possible to configure own ticket notifications with own trigger conditions and recipients. With OTRS Business Solution™, notifications can also be delivered via SMS and/or Notification Web View. The latter is a special screen in OTRS that holds all notifications of the agent; with this OTRS can be used entirely without an email client.

  • Statistics received a new graphical user interface which is much better accessible and helps to create great statistics quickly and easily.

  • Additionally, statistics support the new time periods “quarter” and “half-year”

  • It is now possible to group action menu items in the ticket zoom screen. Less often used items can be grouped in a submenu, improving screen usage and clarity.

  • Ticket overviews can now display customer company data, thanks to Renée Bäcker.

  • The ticket process TransitionAction “TicketCreate” can now create tickets without articles.

Scalability & Performance
  • The new OTRS Daemon handles all asynchronous and periodic tasks and replaces all previous OTRS cron jobs. In a clustered environment the load is automatically distributed over the nodes.

  • It is now possible to specify multiple readonly mirror (slave) databases for expensive computations such as statistics or fulltext searches to distribute the load among these database servers.

  • A new two-factor authentication layer allows added login security.

    • If entering a fixed username and password doesn’t satisfy your requirements, you can now additionally use the open standard for time based one-time passwords (RfC 6238, also known as Google Authenticator).

    • After having enabled the two-factor authentication, agents and customers can add a shared secret to their preferences and immediately start logging in using one-time passwords created by a compatible method of their choice (e.g. the Android Google Authenticator app).

Working with External Systems
  • A new XSLT based GenericInterface mapping module allows for arbitrarily complex user-defined data mapping.

Installation & Administration
  • The new OTRS console makes working on the commandline easy and fun. All commands have a consistent interface, useful documentation and provide helpful colored output.

  • Administrators can now specify a minimum log level to reduce logging volume, thanks to Renée Bäcker.

  • Overview screens in the admin area now show invalid entities in gray, making it easy to focus on active elements.

New Features of OTRS 4

  • A new cleaner flat design has been implemented.

  • Agents can now reply directly to a ticket note. The original notes body is quoted in the new note.

  • Agents can now make use of templates in all screens with internal notes.

  • Ticket action screens (such as note, owner etc.) now allow to do actions without always creating an article (configurable).

  • New ticket overview based on "my services" that an agent can subscribe to. Notification options for new tickets and follow-ups can now be based on "my queues", "my services" or combinations of both.

  • OTRS can now display tickets with thousands of articles.

  • Customer online list in Dashboard now links directly to CustomerInformationCenter page for the customer.

  • Agents can now persistently reorder their main menu with drag&drop.

  • Agents and customers can now search tickets by attachment name.

  • New Dashboard Widget for running process tickets.

  • New search options for the last change time of the ticket.

  • Added new screen for outgoing emails on a ticket that are not replies.

Scalability & Performance
  • OTRS 4 can handle more concurrent users/requests on the same hardware, and response times for single requests are shorter as well, especially for pages with lots of data.

Working With External Systems
  • The GenericInterface now also supports HTTP REST as network transport protocol.

Installation & Administration
  • Postmaster filters are no longer limited to 4 match/set fields. They can now have a configurable amount of fields (default 12, up to 99).

  • A new configuration option Ticket::MergeDynamicFields makes it possible to specify which dynamic fields should also be merged when a ticket is merged to another ticket.

  • Added new options to check dynamic fields of type text on patterns relating to error messages (translated), if they do not match.

  • Added new options to restrict dynamic fields of type date/datetime on future or past dates.

  • OTRS can be configured to automatically unlock a ticket if articles are added and the owner is out of office.

  • Linked tickets of a specific type (e.g. merged or removed) can now be hidden via SysConfig option.

  • ACL handling has been improved, made more consistent and easier to debug.

    • Added new ACL option PossibleAdd to add items to a possible list without resetting (like Possible does).

    • Added new ACL value modifiers [Not], [NotRegExp], [Notregexp], for all ACLs parts.

  • Process handling has been improved, made more consistent and easier to debug.

    • A new GUID-based entity naming scheme for the OTRS Process configuration makes it possible to safely transfer processes from one system to another without duplicating the entities.

    • Added new Transition Action to create a new ticket.

    • Added possibility to define variable Transition Action attributes based on current process ticket values.

  • The possibility to schedule System Maintenance periods is available from the System Administration panel in the Admin interface.

    • A notification about an incoming System Maintenance period will be shown with some (configurable) time in advance.

    • If a System Maintenance is active, a notification about it will be shown on the Agent and Customer interface, and only admin users can log on to the system.

    • An overview screen informs admins about active sessions, which can be ended all on one click or one by one.

  • Added possibility to disable sysconfig import via configuration.

  • Added Apache MD5 as a new password hashing backend, thanks to Norihiro Tanaka.

  • Added the possibility to restrict customer self registration by email address whitelist or blacklist, thanks to Renée Bäcker.

  • Added new dashboard module that shows the output of an external command, thanks to ib.pl.

  • New powerful template engine based on Template::Toolkit.

  • A central object manager makes creating and using global objects much easier (thanks to Moritz Lenz @ noris network).

  • The OPM package format was extended to signal that a package has been merged into another package, allowing the package manager to correctly handle this situation on package installation or update.

  • Caching was centralized in one global cache object which also performs in-memory caching for all data.

  • Added cache benchmark script, thanks to ib.pl.

New Features of OTRS 3.3

  • Dashboard ticket lists and regular ticket overviews can now be filtered by eligible ticket columns, and the shown columns are configurable.

  • Ticket medium and preview overviews are now sortable.

  • Added a calendar widget for the dashboard that can show tickets as events.

  • Added new dashboard widget that shows in a matrix form the number of tickets per state and per queue.

  • Agents can now mark important articles.

  • A new tree selection widget makes working with tree data (queues, services etc.) much faster and easier.

  • Added support to search relative dates ( e.g. more than 1 month ago ) in Date and Date/Time dynamic fields.

  • It is now possible to specify templates (previously "standard responses") also for creation of new tickets and for ticket forwarding.

  • The list of available processes can now be filtered by ACLs.

  • Added support to initiate processes from Customer Interface.

  • In many places text is not shortened any more by a fixed number of characters ("Queue1..."), but instead by available screen estate. This makes it possible to see more information at once.

  • OTRS is now Retina-ready. Images have been adapted to match the higher resolutions and most of the image icons have been replaced by font characters from the FontAwesome webfont.

  • Added new feature "management dashboard". This makes it possible to display statistic charts in the dashboard. Please note that IE8 does not support this feature.

Working With External Systems
  • OTRS can now use multiple customer company databases, thanks to Cyrille @ belnet-ict.

  • OTRS can now automatically store customer user data in ticket dynamic fields for permanent storage in the ticket. This can be useful for reporting.

  • OTRS is now able correctly assign incoming emails to existing tickets based on ticket numbers from external systems.

  • OTRS can now fetch email also over POP3/TLS connections.

Installation & Administration
  • Web Installer now can setup OTRS on PostgreSQL, Oracle and SQL Server databases in addition to MySQL.

  • OTRS now has full support for MySQL 5.6.

  • Generic agent jobs can now be executed for configured ticket events.

  • The new graphical ACL editor makes ACL editing easier.

  • Postmaster filters can now use negated filter conditions, thanks to Renée Bäcker.

  • Postmaster filters can now specify relative pending dates and Owner / Responsible for new tickets based on incoming email data.

  • Customer and Agent passwords now can be encrypted using the strong bcrypt algorithm, which is better than SHA.

  • Many icons now use an icon font which makes it much easier to create custom skins with different base colors. This also improves overall performance through smaller amount of (image) files to load.

Hardware and Software Requirements

OTRS can be installed on many different operating systems. OTRS can run on linux and on other unix derivates (e.g. OpenBSD or FreeBSD). OTRS does not have excessive hardware requirements. We recommend using a machine with at least a 3 GHz Xeon or comparable CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB hard drive.

To run OTRS, you'll also need to use a web server and a database server. Apart from that, you should install perl and/or install some additional perl modules on the OTRS machine. The web server and Perl must be installed on the same machine as OTRS. The database back-end may be installed locally or on another host.

For the web server, we recommend using the Apache HTTP Server, because its module mod_perl greatly improves the performance of OTRS. Apart from that, OTRS should run on any web server that can execute Perl scripts.

You can deploy OTRS on different databases. You can choose between MySQL, PostgreSQL or Oracle. If you use MySQL or PostgreSQL you have the advantage that the database and some system settings can be configured during the installation, through a web front-end.

For Perl, you will need some additional modules which can be installed either with the Perl shell and CPAN, or via the package manager of your operating system (rpm, yast, apt-get).

Software requirements

Perl support

  • Perl 5.10 or higher

Web server support

  • Apache2 + mod_perl2 or higher (recommended)

  • Webserver with CGI support (CGI is not recommended)

Database support

  • MySQL 5.0 or higher (MySQL 8+ is not supported)

  • MariaDB

  • PostgreSQL 9.0 or higher

  • Oracle 10g or higher

The section in the manual about installation of Perl modules describes in more detail how you can set up those which are needed for OTRS.

If you install a binary package of OTRS, which was built for your operating system (rpm), either the package contains all Perl modules needed or the package manager of your system should take care of the dependencies of the Perl modules needed.

Web browser support

To use OTRS, you'll be OK if you use a modern browser with JavaScript support enabled. Supported browsers are:

  • Google Chrome

  • Firefox version 10 and higher

  • Safari version 5 and higher

  • Internet Explorer version 10 and higher, Microsoft Edge

We recommend keeping your browser up-to-date. JavaScript and rendering performance in newer versions is always improved. Dramatic performance issues can be seen in larger systems when using older versions. We are happy to consult you on that matter.


OTRS has a large user community. Users and developers discuss OTRS and exchange information on related issues through the mailing-lists. You can use the mailing lists to discuss installation, configuration, usage, localization and development of OTRS. You can report software bugs in our bug tracking system.

The homepage of the OTRS community is: http://www.otrs.com/open-source/.

Professional Services for OTRS

Our OTRS Business Solution™ offers you best professional support from the OTRS team, reliable OTRS security and regular free updates as well as an exclusive set of additional Business Features that you can flexibly activate or deactivate according to different deployment scenarios.

The OTRS Group offers specific training programs in different countries. You can either participate in one of our public OTRS Administrator trainings which take place regularly, or benefit from an inhouse training that covers all the specific needs of your company.