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Review: Small Business Accounting Software For Linux - page 4

Replacing Quicken/QuickBooks

  • January 3, 2005
  • By Carla Schroder
GnuCash has come a long way since its initial release. Installation used to be a horror of trying to find the right Java runtime and assembling a huge boatload of obscure dependencies. In these here modern time nice package managers like RPM and apt-get do the work for you. GnuCash runs on just about any Unix/Linux and Mac OS X.

GnuCash is licensed under the GPL, and free of cost. It is quite flexible--you may use it as a simple checkbook program, or to track complex finances. It supports both OFX (Open Financial Exchange) and HBCI (Home Banking Computer Information for German bank customers) for importing bank account data. It supports QIF for easy importing of Quicken files. Strangely, it does not support importing delimited text files such as CSV. GnuCash isn't really suitable for managing a complex retail business; use Quasar for that. Its strengths are generating balance sheets, cash flow reports, graphing, tax reports- in short, tracking where your money is coming from, and where it is going.

The learning curve for GnuCash can be a bit steep. The documentation and online help are pretty good, but still incomplete. One thing that drives me bats is not being able to do check printing in batches. I like to enter a batch of checks to be printed, then send the whole lot to the printer. GnuCash does not do this- you may only print one at a time. Another problem is it does not check for duplicate check numbers, or automatically increment the check numbers as you enter them.

Summary

The one task that none of these do is payroll. Quasar offers support contracts; with Moneydance and GnuCash you get good community support. All three run reliably and stably, and because they use open data formats your data will never be held hostage.
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