Install Fishbowl

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Fishbowl Fundamentals

Fishbowl's design is based on a need for intense inventory-control software. We include features for outstanding business management, for example, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Manufacturing, Customers, Vendors, Picking, Shipping, etc., and flawless integration with QuickBooks accounting software.

Fishbowl has two parts, the Client and the Server.

As illustrated above, your database (the server part of Fishbowl Inventory) is separate from the client (the software you see and use at the workstation). It's similar to telephone service.

A telephone, (the client in the above example) is what you see and use, but the heavy work of switching calls, making connections, and tracking charges is performed by a telecommunications company (the 'server'). This division of functions within Fishbowl Inventory provides several huge advantages, such as having all of your data in one location (on the server) while allowing multiple clients (users) to connect with the server over the Internet or a Local Area Network.

Fishbowl Hardware Setup
Setting up your hardware is an important part of getting Fishbowl Inventory functioning efficiently. Depending on the number of users and the complexity of your system, Fishbowl client and server software may reside on one or multiple computers. These three scenarios illustrate different ways Fishbowl may be configured to best serve your needs.

Obtain a Copy of Fishbowl

You may obtain a copy of the latest version of Fishbowl Inventory from the following sources:

Download Online
You may download and install the FULL latest version of Fishbowl Inventory and try it FREE for 14 days from our website:  Fishbowl Inventory. Once purchased, you may type in your permanent registration cd key and your trial version of Fishbowl will convert to an unlimited use installation.

Request the Shipment of a CD-ROM
You may obtain an archive/replacement copy of the latest version of Fishbowl Inventory on CD-ROM by contacting us directly either via email ( or or by calling 1-800-774-7085. Shipping charges may apply.

Installation Tips

Fishbowl Inventory officially supports the following operating systems

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP Pro
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Vista: Pro, Business and Ultimate
  • Windows 7: Pro and Ultimate

Tips by Platform

  • Windows 2000

  • Windows XP

No additional steps need to be taken here. Run the installer and follow the step-by-step instructions.

  • Windows Server 2003 and 2008

When installing on a Windows Server there are a few things that will make things easier:

  1. Exchange does not do well with anything else running at the same time. It is recommended that you run your Fishbowl/Quickbooks server on a different box than your exchange server.
  2. Internet explorer options are set to High by default. Quickbooks embeds internet explorer and uses many of it's functions for viewing and for third party application connections (such as Fishbowl). Quickbooks Support recommends you set your settings to:
    • Internet zone: Medium
    • Local intranet zone: Medium-low
    • Note: These are not options on a standard install of a server, so you will need to compare the options set at those levels on Internet Explorer on a Windows XP, Vista, or 7 computer.
  3. See 64 bit operating system notes below

  • Windows Vista and Windows 7

The new permissions of Windows Vista, 2008, and 7 all can cause issues in Fishbowl. If you are having issues with permissions you may want to try granting all permissions to all users on your Fishbowl and Quickbooks program folders.

  • 64 bit Operating Systems

Java supports 64 bit operating systems, however there may be some things you may need to know to make sure the version you use is compatible with Fishbowl and other programs.

We do not officially support running Fishbowl on a 64 bit version of the JRE. This is usually not a problem as Fishbowl ships with it's own 32 bit JRE, which will not conflict with any installed version you currently have.

Running Fishbowl as a Service
We support running Fishbowl and can be installed through the regular installer using the advanced configuration. We do not support integrating with Quickbooks while running Fishbowl as a service. This is a limitation with Quickbooks and we have done extensive testing and have found there is no reliable way to integrate with Quickbooks if Fishbowl is being run as a service.
The following articles explain some of these limitations:

We have tried running Fishbowl and Quickbooks as scheduled Tasks, this however is not the preferred method as the results vary and the Fishbowl can be difficult to restart, debug, etc. We strongly recommend running the server on a user account.

One possible way to do this is to login to the account on reboot using the Sysinternals Tool autologin.
If necessary, there is detailed documentation on how you *may* be able to get fishbowl working as a service or scheduled task and still connect with quickbooks:

Installing Fishbowl Inventory

Note: Please also see Fishbowl Hardware Setup and Fishbowl System Hardware Requirements to complete the Hardware options for the Fishbowl Server and Client

Before installing Fishbowl, please turn off all firewalls and anti-viruses on your computer. They may be turned on again immediately following the install. If you are performing an upgrade of Fishbowl, the Server and Clients will need to be turned off during the install. If they are not turned off, a warning message will be displayed informing you the Server is running and must be shut down for further progress.

1. Whether you are installing Fishbowl from our website or from a flash drive, open the application and select Run. The Fishbowl Inventory Installer will extract the information necessary to begin the Installer which will guide you through the rest of the setup process.

2. Step 1 of the setup install displays a Warning Notice regarding the compatibility of versions between Fishbowl and QuickBooks. Important: Fishbowl ONLY integrates with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise version 2009 or later. Please ensure to have a version of QuickBooks 2009 or newer if your company plans to integrate with QuickBooks. Click next to move to step 2.

3. Step 2 provides the License Agreement for Fishbowl Inventory and Fishbowl Mobile Warehouse. Carefully read through the License Agreement and choose i accept the agreement to continue forward with the installation.

Fishbowl Inventory offers three methods of installation with several optional features:

  • 14 Day Free Trial with Manufacturing: This option provides a free 14 day trial of Fishbowl Inventory with the manufacturing features. If this option is selected, choosing next will automatically start both the Server and Client installs of Fishbowl. By default the program will install to C:Program Files/Fishbowl.

  • 14 Day Free Trial without Manufacturing: This option provides a free 14 day trial of Fishbowl Inventory without the manufacturing features. If this option is selected, choosing next will automatically start both the Server and Client installs of Fishbowl. By default the program will install to C:Program Files/Fishbowl. If your company does not manufacture items, this is likely the better fit for you.

  • Current Fishbowl User
    • Client Only: This option will install only the Client version of Fishbowl, which is the option to select for every computer other than your server. These clients will connect to your server through a network or internet access. This option will install into default locations; however you may specify a different location if you wish.

    • Server and Client: This option installs both the Fishbowl Server and Fishbowl Client. It is recommended to install only on your Server computer, since work stations generally use just the Client Only install. This option will install into default locations; however you may specify a different location if you wish.

    • Configure Advanced Settings: This option offers an Advanced installation with a few additions: 1) you have the option to choose the details of how the Fishbowl services should be installed, 2) you may manually change the amount of RAM allocated to the Client and Server, and 3) you may select the Start Menu of where you would like to create Fishbowl Shortcuts.

    • Download and Install iReport: iReport is a Jasper Software program used to configure custom made reports. This software is available to users; however it is not supported by our Fishbowl Inventory Training or Support Team. By choosing this option iReport will be installed in addition to the Fishbowl software.

4. If you are downloading the trial version, Fishbowl will automatically install. However, if you choose the Client or Server installs you will be given additional options of how to proceed with the installation. The first step after choosing a Client or Server install will ask you where to install Fishbowl Inventory. The Default location is C:\Program Files\Fishbowl. If you would like to select somewhere different, simply click the Browse button and select a different location.  After verifying the location you would like to install to click Next.

5. The following step asks whether or not you would like Fishbowl (or SalesPoint) to automatically start when you login to Windows. We would suggest to have the Server automatically start as a convenience. Once your decision has been made, click Next. If you selected the Advanced installation, the following screen will provide the recommended allotted memory for Fishbowl on both the client and server. By default the Fishbowl Server will be assigned to 614 MB and the client will be assigned 256 MB. We do not recommend allotting more than 1/4 - 1/2 of your computer's total memory amount. Click Next.

6. If the Advanced Settings were chosen, you may now select the Start Menu folder in which you would like the setup to create the program's shortcuts. The Start Menu folder will default to the current Fishbowl version, but may be changed by selecting any desired folder. Or, if you would not like to have a Fishbowl folder in the Startup Menu, select the option to not create a Start Menu folder at the bottom of the wizard. *Note: at the bottom of this screen you may also see a box that says Create Icons for All Users. If you are installing on a computer that will require multiple users to have the ability to log into Fishbowl then you will want to make sure this box is selected so icons may be created for all users of the computer. Click Next.

7. You may now choose whether or not you would like to create Client, Server, or SalesPoint desktop icons. You may also create Client or Server Quick Launch icons that will be available in the bottom left corner of your toolbar. These options will be selected by default; however you may decide against any of them by deselecting the check box. Click Next.

8. The Install Wizard will now extract the files necessary and install Fishbowl Inventory to your computer. When this has completed, you will be asked to present a License Key (including dashes). If you are downloading a trial version of Fishbowl a temporary cd key will be issued to you. If you are not installing a trial version, you should have received your cd key with purchase or through e-mail from our support team. If you do not have this key you may select the Request Updated License Key option and enter your email address to request a cd key. You may also contact your sales rep or our support team at 1-800-774-7085 ext 3, or

Upon finishing the install, you will now be given the option to start Fishbowl Inventory. The Fishbowl Server always needs to be running before any Client will be able to connect. By clicking Finish, the Install Wizard will exit. If you selected for the Fishbowl Server and Client to start, they will do so at this time.

A welcome screen will be displayed the first time you connect your client to the server. This is informing you that you are on an example database. If you would like to create your own database please review how to Change your Default Database.

A product overview and tutorial will also be displayed when you connect your client. We recommend browsing through this wizard to become familiarized with the Fishbowl processes.

Linux users need to follow some additional steps in order to configure their installation. See the Additional install notes for Linux Users section below.

Congratulations! You are done with the basic install. If you have any further questions or concerns please contact our support team at 1-800-774-7085 ext 3 or e-mail

Installation Help for Linux Users

Note: Fishbowl can only be run on a GUI install of Linux

Installing Fishbowl Inventory 2010 can be done in a few steps after downloading the installation file.

In a terminal navigate to the directory you downloaded to and follow these steps:

  1. Untar the file. This can be done by executing "tar -xvf fi-2010.tar.gz"

  2. Run the installer by running ./ in the terminal with root permissions. For those using Ubuntu or derivitives or those with sudo run "sudo ./", for those who do not have sudo setup/installed, gain root access through the "su" command first, then launch the installer.

  3. Follow the installer steps.

Following these steps should install Fishbowl Inventory on your system. When installing Fishbowl to your system, a  fishbowl group will be created. If you would like someone besides the root user to be able to run Fishbowl Inventory Server, they must be added to this group.

Non Traditional Installs

There are a few other ways of installing Fishbowl with the installer. 

To install on multiple computers with the same settings, do one install regularly.  Go to the installation directory you chose (Defaults to c:\Program Files\Fishbowl in Windows, /opt/Fishbowl  in Linux) and rename the installSettings file to installSettings.varfile .  Take this file to the other computers and put the installSettings.varfile in the same directory as the Fishbowl installer.  This tells the Fishbowl installer to run with the values chosen in the installSettings.varfile.   When you run the program in regluar mode, you will still have the options presented to you, though they will be what you have chosen before instead of the defaults.  For a completely automated install, see the commandline options below for installing in unattended mode.

The installer can also be run in a console mode, not displaying a graphical interface, as well as an unattended mode where it uses either all of the defaults, or the settings in a specified variable file.

Installer Command Line Options


Executes the installer in the console mode.
Executes the installer in the unattended mode.
If the installer is executed in unattended installation mode and -console is passed as a second parameter, a console will be allocated on Windows that displays the output of the installer.
-dir [directory]
Only valid if -q is set. Sets a different installation directory for the unattended installation mode. The next parameter must be the desired installation directory.
-varfile [settingsfilepath]
Alternatively, you can specify a property file containing the variables you want to set.

Uninstall Fishbowl Inventory

The following steps will allow you to successfully uninstall Fishbowl Inventory:

  1. You may uninstall Fishbowl through the add/remove programs on your computer


     2.  You may uninstall Fishbowl on your computer by going to Start | All Programs | Fishbowl | Fishbowl Inventory Uninstaller

First, make sure neither your Fishbowl Server or Fishbowl Client are running. The uninstall will not work properly if they are. Once you have clicked Fishbowl Inventory Uninstaller, the Fishbowl inventory Uninstall Wizard will be displayed. Click Uninstall in the bottom right corner of the wizard. Choose Next.

Step 2 provides you with the opportunity to create Backup files of any necessary data before uninstalling. We recommend saving a backup file of your database, database images, and any custom reports.  Choose Next.

Fishbowl will now go through the process of uninstalling the program. When this is finished, simply choose Finish on the last wizard step to exit the Uninstaller Wizard.

  • Note: As a safety precaution, Fishbowl will automatically reserve a copy of your Server, Database, and Documentation folder in the directory it was installed to. If you would like to completely delete all of these folders, go to your install location (default is C:\program files\Fishbowl) and simply delete the Fishbowl folder.