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Preview: Kapital, Personal Finance for Linux

A new object of fiscal affection

February 19, 2001

One of the leading obstacles to Linux's wide adoption as a single-machine desktop operating system has been -- Quicken.

You don't have to spend much time among the newbie or distribution mailing lists before the outcry becomes evident: Where is Quicken?

Yes, there's GNUCash, and there's a Java-based personal finance manager, Moneydance, that works wherever Java does. Neither of these, though, has captured the hearts of those whose passage from Windows has been marred by lack of a slick, attractive personal finance manager.

With its announcement today of Kapital, theKompany.com hopes to give would-be Linux users a new object of fiscal affection. An early beta suggests that the effort might just succeed.

Even in its earliest form, the application offers a variety of account options, stock management, payment scheduling, and check printing. Shawn Gordon, president of theKompany.com, says that during the coming months users will determine what additional features are included.

"Most people don't use everything in Quicken, which suffers a little from feature bloat," he explained. "We're going to let users tell us what they want."

Kapital is a commercial product and will be closed-source, at least at first. It requires QT-2.2.3 or better, KDE 2.0 or better, VeePee (theKompany.com's visual Python) for charting, and Kugar for reporting. It supports a wide range of native currencies.

"We've been working on some of these things for a long time, with Kapital in mind," Gordon said. Though Kapital will run under Gnome and other window managers and desktops, it's been designed to be a KDE-native application, he said.

It will be available in both a downloadable version and boxed CD with printed documentation. An initial release is scheduled for about March 1, with a final commercial release before September 1.

The price after release will be $49.95 for the boxed version and $39.95 downloaded, Gordon said. "We are offering a considerable price break for presales -- $29.95 for the boxed set if ordered before full release, and $24.95 for the download version. Those prices include free updates through September 1." The presale, too, gives users a greater opportunity to determine what's in the finished product.

"It already has everything that most people do," he said. "Users will tell us what else it will do. We're making it available early so that we can cater to the wants and needs of users."

So just how great an alternative to Quicken is Kapital?

"We didn't rip off Quicken's interface, but the Quicken user will have no problem with Kapital," said Gordon. As part of the preview process, Kapital was given to a longtime Quicken user who had it figured out in less than 10 minutes. In addition, Kapital will read and write Quicken's .qif files, a boon to those who use those data in other applications, notably for income-tax preparation.

While theKompany.com has no immediate plans to get into areas such as tax preparation software, the hooks are there for those who would like to extend Kapital in that way.

"It's well designed and extensible," he said. "We've thought about doing tax software ourselves, but that gets tremendously complicated." More likely, says Gordon, is an accounting package along the lines of Quickbooks, Intuit's business-strength application.

Following today's formal announcement of Kapital, further information will be available from theKompany.com.

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