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Managing Money With Linux Apps 142

Posted by kdawson
from the accounting-for-it dept.
lisah writes, "As part of a series of special reports this week, Linux.com is reviewing several ways to manage your money using Linux apps. First up is a review of GnuCash 2.0, a personal and small business accounting package. Though it has a bit of a learning curve, the reviewer says the application is 'stable and robust' and an upgrade from previous versions is well worth it for the program's new features and improved online banking support." Linux.com and Slashdot are both part of OSTG.
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Managing Money With Linux Apps

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  • GnuCash 2.0 (Score:5, Informative)

    by TypoNAM (695420) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:55AM (#16764173)
    It has been working out great from the start for me and I find it far more easier to use than commercial software packages like Quicken, Microsoft Money, and QuickBooks. No annoying or lame navigation, straight to the point which what I like about it best, not to mention the free part which helps too.

    I have been using GnuCash 2.0 since it came out quite a few months ago and enjoying it since for all my personal finance book keeping needs. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by afidel (530433)
      One of those things is not like the others, Quickbooks is a double entry accounting package meant for SMB's to run their books on, not for personal finance (unless your finances are so complex as to rival a midsized company).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Serpent Mage (95312)
        GnuCash has double entry ledger accounting. It is just defaulting to single entry since only accountants and businesses typically need double entry.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I guess i'm using an old version of GnuCash, because it defaults to double entry on mine. Maybe it's different between distros. Maybe they changed it for version 2. If it is different for version 2, then why the change? I thought it was nice the old way.
        • Misunderstanding. (Score:4, Informative)

          by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @11:19AM (#16768097) Journal
          Gnucash does NOT default to single entry. That would require a major redesign of the entire package, as well as being a monumentally stupid step to take. It would basically eliminate Gnucash from being taken the least bit seriously in the accounting world.

          Double Entry basically means that when an amount is entered in one account, a corresponding amount is entered in another account. In the manual, paper based accounting days, it literally meant that the bookkeeper make two entries in the ledger - one in the source account, and one in the destination account. As you can imagine, this would be a major source of errors. In all computer based double entry accounting systems the bookkeeper will only enter the number once, and will choose the source and destination accounts. The computer would take care of making the actual entries in both accounts - eliminating one source of errors.

          So, do not be confused. Gnucash is doing double entry accounting: always has been, always will be.

          Perhaps you're thinking of a single line leger (where all the transaction information is on one line) vs. a multi line leger (where the transaction information is spread across multiple lines). That is merely a style choice.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by kris_lang (466170)
          Any tips or pointers to beginners about double entry ledgers?
          I'm starting a small business and am trying to figure these things out.

          How about for proposing a budget for a grant application, perhaps?

          SBIR?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg (145172)
      I learned everything I need to know about managing my money in kindergarten:

      I go down to the vault and dive into it.

      KFG
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vga_init (589198)
      I hear you.

      For me personally, Gnucash is a killer app. Now, I realize I'm using the term loosely because it's not really going to kill other platforms, but for me it did. =) I do like to tinker with operating systems, and sometimes for one reason or another I run Windows on my machine. Having had experience with Gnucash, I was hoping that, like most popular Linux apps, there would be a Windows port I could use. Was there? No. I would die without this program, though, so I switched (not a problem since
      • by say (191220)
        A lot is currently being done on a Windows port through cygwin. Reports are that it compiles and runs now. Don't expect it to be nearly stable for a year, though.
        • by 5of0 (935391)
          This makes me very glad that I have switched primarily to Ubuntu + Beryl (eye candy - very nice) + QEMU (running WinXP). Yay!
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Haeleth (414428)
        Now that Gnucash is written in GTK2, however, I expect a Windows port?

        There are some free-as-in-RMS alternatives that run fine in Windows.

        I started out running GnuCash on Linux, but now that I spend most of my time in Windows I've switched to jGnash [sourceforge.net], a Java-based package that's based on the same principles. It's not as robust or feature-complete as GnuCash, but it does what I need, and it's far less of a pain than fiddling with X11.
      • by xeoron (639412)
        You might be able to get GNUCash working on MS Windows via Cygwin. Has anyone tried this?
      • I had a version of GnuCash running on windows like 4 years ago, but last year I went to go find a Win port and was unsuccessful, now making me doubt I ever had one in the first place. I'd definitely love to have a windows port if anyone knows of one!

        Jonah HEX
    • If you need a double-entry general ledger, I can see GNUCash being a good thing, but for most people's personal finances, the fact that it won't integrate and pull data down from their bank or credit card company automatically is a deal-breaker.

      If I didn't have the online hookup that Quicken does, where I just hit "download" and it pulls in all the transactional data from all of my credit cards and my checking account, letting me approve it and reconcile it against the account totals, I wouldn't even bother
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ubuwalker31 (1009137)
        Bank of America allows you to download .qif files for the past 9 months....
      • by Noksagt (69097) * on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @11:01AM (#16767719) Homepage
        But in the U.S., I think only Quicken and MS Money will do it.
        You've heard wrong. Gnucash and QBankManager support OFX direct connect throgh AqBanking (I'd imagine that MoneyDance and KMyMoney probably support it too by now too, but don't use them). The only trick, as another poster pointed out, was finding the URL for your banking institution. MS Money and Intuit Quicken have large databases of such things (and even have agreements with banks to not disclose the URL to any other third parties or get kickbacks from some banks for referrals). This connection information has been extracted from the commercial software and/or "discovered" for many institutions & you can find it on the web. So direct connect will work, but the setup may take a bit of work.
        • Interesting.

          I wonder whether the URL could be sniffed in some way, by monitoring what Quicken does. I assume that the connection itself is encrypted, but I'm not sure if that includes encrypting the URL as the file is requested or not...

          I was under the impression that the Quicken protocol was proprietary from end to end, and that it was something more complicated than an HTTP download of a QIF file.

          The only reason I use Quicken is because it lets me avoid my bank's absolutely horrific website, so anything t
          • Re:Very interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

            by Noksagt (69097) * on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @05:33PM (#16775609) Homepage
            I wonder whether the URL could be sniffed in some way, by monitoring what Quicken does. I assume that the connection itself is encrypted, but I'm not sure if that includes encrypting the URL as the file is requested or not...
            I'd imagine you'd be able to sniff some of these URLs. If not, I'd be a bit concerned--it could mean that Intuit has a machine acting as an intermediary & could therefore have access to my data. But getting this out of money is easy [jongsma.org].
            I was under the impression that the Quicken protocol was proprietary from end to end, and that it was something more complicated than an HTTP download of a QIF file.
            OFX [wikipedia.org], which is currently used, is actually documented and agreed on by MS, Intuit, and CheckFree.
            Do the GNUCash people maintain their own database of bank's OFX URLs?
            Not formally, so far as I know. Some have been announced to the list & their are user sites that have this information. I don't know whether there would be an issue disclosing these (depending on how they were discovered). Jeremy's site is the best way to get them that I know of.
      • It may not be integrated, however that does not mean that GNUCash is incapable of that function. I download my account data via Firefox, and import it into GNUCash all the time. Works like a charm
  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by chowdy (992689) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @02:58AM (#16764189)
    A way to manage all the money i saved by using open source software
    • Strange, how this article comes just after an article about microsoft giving novell 348M dollars..
      Coincidence?
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:03AM (#16764217)

    Managing Money With Linux Apps

    That should read "Managing money with a free open source application", since Gnucash runs on Linux, and numerous Unixes- including MacOS X (albeit in a very-poorly-integrated fashion.)

    One thing that always bugged me about Gnucash- you have to pull OFX (or whatever) files by hand. Quicken could automatically fetch the latest data from my bank with a button click...

    Also, are there any LiveCDs that contain up-to-date versions of Gnucash and associated libraries? On an intel mac, it's almost easier to run a virtual machine just for Gnucash, than spend hours upon hours of compiling with Fink...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      From the Wiki

      At present, OFXDirectConnect can be used to download transaction data from credit card and bank accounts. Investment transactions should still be imported from downloaded OFX files (I use ofx.py) via GnuCash's File>Import>Import OFX/QFX... menu option.

      Sounds like GnuCash 2 has solved most of the problem.
    • by wuzzeb (216420) <[wuzzeb] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:53AM (#16764477)
      I have used gnucash for over a year now, and as soon as I upgraded to 2.0 I set up automatic banking. It works great, I can download transactions and check balances for my credit cards (discover, citi bank, capital one), and my bank (charles schwab bank). I force gnucash to ask me for a password, but otherwise it is a button click.

      The only issue is none of the banks really advertise the URL you need to use and type into gnucash. For example, discover card uses https://ofx.discovercard.com/ [discovercard.com], but good luck finding that on their site anywhere.

      And citi bank you need to use
      https://secureofx2.bankhost.com/citi/cgi-forte/ofx _rt?servicename=ofx_rt&pagename=ofx%22 [bankhost.com]

      I found those by searching on google.

      But in any case, gnucash is a great program, in most cases better than the commercial alternatives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fez (468752) *
      One thing that always bugged me about Gnucash- you have to pull OFX (or whatever) files by hand. Quicken could automatically fetch the latest data from my bank with a button click...

      This will likely be a non-issue in the future, because even Quicken won't be able to do it. There was a story a couple days ago that banks are dropping the automated connections because of increased security regulations.

      • by Yggdrasil42 (662251) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:04AM (#16766705) Homepage

        This must me an American thing, because the Dutch banks have never supported automatic downloading into 3rd party apps (as far as i know). Most banks support exporting of account data in Quicken or CSV format, but that's not always very useful, and it's still a manual process. I usually just type data in manually, which is also a good way to force me to check the input.

        When using MS Money it always annoyed me (just a little) to see that feature and not be able to use it, but I understand the security aspect of that decision. Allowing an app to pull data of this level of sensitivity with just a password from a bank's website is just not secure enough. In my opinion, that kind of data should be protected by at least Two-factor Authentication [wikipedia.org]. My bank demands the combination of a pincode (something you know), a bankcard (something you have) and a hardware token (also something you have), which is considered strong authentication.

        • by Fez (468752) *
          My current bank (a small credit union) doesn't support the automatic integration and I'm OK with that. Like you, I was never comfortable with my bank information being that easily accessible. Unfortunately, even with the manually exported data from their web site, it can still be a chore to reconcile. Most months I either put it off or just do it the old fashioned way, checking the paper statements against the written ledger.

          I would feel a lot more comfortable with two-factor authentication but even then I'
  • Useful information (Score:2, Informative)

    by Umbral Blot (737704)
    According to the tags teabagging is a trap. That's good to know. (Ok, /. time to put away the tags, we now know for certain that your readers are sophmoric. What did you expect?)
  • How about a FOSS program that'd help me manage calories?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      NUT diet software
      http://www.lafn.org/~av832/ [lafn.org]

      ShrinkingMan
      http://debain.org/software/shrinkingman/ [debain.org]

      Diet Monger Ass Kicker
      http://freshmeat.net/projects/dmak/ [freshmeat.net]

      Pydance
      http://icculus.org/pyddr/ [icculus.org]
      (dance dance revolution for Linux with dance pad support)

      No you have no excuse to be a fat Linux looser. Soon you will be a regular Linux looser like everybody else, except of course you'd have very fast feet. :-)
    • >How about a FOSS program that'd help me manage calories?
      Here's a clue:
      Eat less
      Excercise more
      Unless you have a medical condition such as dodgy thyroid, that's all you need to know. Anything else is people fleecing you as an easy target with fad diets and silly food substitutes.
      And the important bit is *eat less* not *eat boring food*. You can have burgers, fries and a shake, just don't do it more than once every couple of weeks or so. Just eat what you normally eat but go for 'European' portions not
      • I'm always amazed at the size of soft drinks in theaters in the US. Even in Canada (I'd put us between USA and western europe for portions sizes) our drinks are normal sizes, not 48oz monstrocities they have...

        I love the large size McD fries. Myself and two friends called a single large fries "lunch" once and weren't hungry afterwards. And that's coming from a big dude!

        Personally I agree with your post, except that for many, healthier foods (e.g. couscous, salad, fat-free turkey, etc) *are* boring becaus
        • All fair points but my main thrust (ooerr) was that a diet doesn't have to = healthy foods only. Just eat 'normal' food, just less of it. If 'normal' for you is McD Monday, Pizza Hut Tuesday, KFC Wednesday etc. then yes, you'll need to tidy that up but if you're eating standard meat & 2 veg type stuff then you'll be fine eating that, just smaller portions.
          • Yeah! Just have the pizza guy cut your pizza into six slices instead of eight, and voila, you're eating two fewer slices of pizza per meal.
          • The problem is you have to start a diet on a crash. I think it's important to quickly lose that first 10lbs then start optimizing the diet to flavour/calories. It's also good for the self-esteem and keeps motivation high.

            I think one of the things people forget is that when you are dieting you are basically on a controlled starvation. You *should* feel hungry because, well, you're STARVING. The point is to make your body take energy from fat stores (this requires a metabolism which requires exercise). D
        • by drsquare (530038)
          If your lunch is more than 500 calories, chances are it's not healthy for you.


          500 calories is too much for lunch if you weight 100 pounds, or you're in a coma. If you use 3000 calories a day, you'd need to eat six meals a day just to maintain yourself.

          In my opinion, breakfast should be 500 calories, lunch a thousand calories, and dinner a thousand calories, with snacks etc taking up the remaining 500.
          • If you want to LOSE weight you have to eat LESS than your BMR.

            My BMR for instance is ~2600-2700 or so [estimated of course]. Meaning that if I only eat ~1800 calories a day I'm burning 800 or so a day. If I tack on an hour of biking that's close to 900-950. Basically I'd be losing close to 1lbs per 3.5 days or so.

            The problem with the OPs point of "you can have junk just once in a while" is that it TOTALLY THROWS OFF your diet. A bag of chips for instance (a large one) has more than 1000 calories in it.
            • >chips for instance (a large one) has more than 1000 calories in it
              That's my whole point! Don't buy a bag of 1000 calorie chips! I've got a bag of crisps here and it has 120 calories on the label. I've just gone and grabbed what I would consider a party sized pack i.e. that plus a few dips ought to keep 6-8 people munching happily. It has 750cals. One bag with 1000 cals is frankly obscene.
      • Here's a clue: Eat less Excercise more Unless you have a medical condition such as dodgy thyroid, that's all you need to know. Anything else is people fleecing you as an easy target with fad diets and silly food substitutes.
        Counting calories isn't a fad. The only way to lose weight is to eat less calories than you burn, and how do you know you're burning more than you eat if you don't know either number?
        • If you need to count them to know your eating too much then frankly there's no hope for you. Counting each and every calorie is obsessive and won't do you any good - it just turns the whole food/eating thing in to a 3 times a day issue. You've been brainwashed in to thinking you need to think 'oh, that was 250 calories, my next meal can be 500'. You just don't need to work at it that hard. Each and every meal just needs to be a sensible size. Don't snack (much) and walk a bit more.
        • by hswerdfe (569925)
          how do you know you're burning more than you eat if you don't know either number?

          historical data.
          Plot your average weight gain over several years.
          From this you can calculate how many extra calories you are taking in per week.

          Note I have not counted Calories in or Burned off. just the difference between the two.
      • by drsquare (530038)

        Here's a clue:
        Eat less
        Excercise more

        Well that's the point of that software, to work out if you're eating less.

        And the important bit is *eat less* not *eat boring food*. You can have burgers, fries and a shake, just don't do it more than once every couple of weeks or so.

        Why only that often? A burger is only a few hundred calories, and if you burn 3000 calories a day, you could eat a burger every day and lose weight.

    • Gnucash allows you to set up your own currencies. So simply set up a currency called Calorie, and away you go...
  • This article will be very helpful to Novell!
    • by aurb (674003)
      But of course! They need some kind of software to manage all the money they're getting from Microsoft!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a longtime user of Gnucash, I'm really enjoying the UI update in version 2.0. I love how it uses tabs instead of windows for different accounts, and it looks much better.

    I am frustrated by one problem though -- I can't seem to switch from one tab to another without using the mouse. I have been all through the documentation and the website looking for a list of keyboard shortcuts that includes one for switching tabs, but no dice. Has any one found a way to do this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dreamlax (981973)
      Have you tried Ctrl+Tab? I don't use GnuCash but Ctrl+Tab is very common for tab-switching in any application. Ctrl+Shift+Tab goes the other way usually, too.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Usually, GTK Aaplications use crtl-pgup and ctrl-pgdn to switch between tabs. Some widgets use this shortcut for something else, though. In Gnucash's case the treeview uses it to scroll without changing the currently selected entry. For that reason, there is a general shortcut that should always work: ctrl-alt-pgup and ctrl-alt-pgdn.
  • Sweet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by anaesthetica (596507) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:16AM (#16764293) Homepage Journal
    I can't wait to open source my wallet. I hereby release my finances, including stocks and bonds, under the GPL to the Slashdot community.
    • How do I contribute to this project. I've just built a $100 note and would like SVN privlidges to check it in.
  • Looks like the /. crew decided to remove "itsatrap". Hopefully they got rid of fud/notfud too. And it would be nice to get rid of itsnotatrap. But unless an intelligent way to weed out bad tags is implemented (for example, appearing in too many stories in one day) then these problem will simply happen again with different tags. (May I suggest: fixtags, followed by linux, just to be odd). And I know this is offtopic, but where else can we voice our opinions on these issues?
  • Gnomoney? (Score:4, Funny)

    by dotpavan (829804) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @03:28AM (#16764345) Homepage
    is it called gNOmoney for gnome? just curious :)

    /poor grad student couldnt think of anything else

  • GNUcash is undoubtedly a fine application, and one I wish more people would consider using. Though it does most everything quite well, very few banks and accountants support it fully. Some (many) of us are stuck using Quickbooks because it has become so standard. To its credit, Quickbooks works well for most of us, but it would be nice to have a viable free (or even more reasonably-priced) alternative.
    • by skiflyer (716312)
      Not to mention the the last two or three years worth of QuickBooks packages won't even attempt to run under Wine... for that matter they won't even run under anything older than Windows 2000.

      When I first started managing my accounts I started with GNUCash, and I really like it... when I got an accountant, I switched to Quickbooks, and I think it's ok... but I'd be in GNUCash if I had my druthers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by einhverfr (238914)
      Join the LedgerSMB project [ledgersmb.org]. We started out as an SQL-Ledger fork but are growing by leaps and bounds. 1.2 is scheduled for beta release next Tuesday and includes quite a number of changes. We already have far better Windows support than SQL-Ledger and have corrected a great number of serious security issues. And we have a number of features that allow for one to create vertically tailored solutions from the project without compomising upgradability.

      We are committed to helping LedgerSMB take on Quickbook
  • Written in Java, this onlinebanking-app is just the best to handle your transactions, check balances etc.:

    http://www.willuhn.de/projects/hibiscus/ [willuhn.de]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:13AM (#16764561)
    I had kept a win98 virtual environment amount for years all due to one program -- Quicken. I grew to hate Intuit with a passion and finally left them for moneydance. It's a great program without any of the annoying issues that have plagued Intuit products lately. It runs on Mac, Win, and Linux. It handles multiple currencies (one of my main requirements), supposedly does online banking and cheque printing (we don't do either of those where I live), does the usual stocks, etc. Nice clean interface. One of the main things I like (that Quicken used to do back in the DOS days when it was an okay program) is show you a nice overview on your main page -- balance on every account, plus NET WORTH. That's the best motivation in the world to have fiscal good health -- having your net worth hit you every single time you open the program. It's all customizable of course.

    Give it a whirl, it's worth the modest price. Platform independance for the win.
    • by Noksagt (69097) *
      I don't understand the appeal of MoneyDance any more.

      Gnucash runs well and Mac and Linux and can be subverted to run under windows. It also handles multiple currencies (including treating stocks/bonds/funds and other commodities as a different currency & allowing user-defined currencies), does online banking, and check printing. The front page can show you the balance on every main account and any sub-accounts you choose to expand. It can also list all of these in you "native" currency. The main wi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yort (555166)
        The appeal of MoneyDance is: it works, and it is relatively simple.

        There are many people, at least in my sphere of influence, who only really need a computer for websurfing and email. Those two things can easily be done with Linux, and as long as I set up the plugins for them so that Flash and RealPlayer and all that work, they don't even really realize that they're not running what everyone else is.

        However, for many people this falls apart when you get to money managing. Most people know about Quicken, and
        • by Noksagt (69097) *

          So if you're a hard-core Linux/Open-Source geek, then sure, Moneydance doesn't hold a lot of sway over GnuCash. But if you're a more casual user who just wants to know how much money they've got to spend on Guitar Hero II, then Moneydance rocks.

          But Quicken and MS Money are often available free after rebate & are the de facto standards. While I'd imagine that the datafile format and the "mandatory upgrade cycle" of Monedance MIGHT be better (it'd be hard to be worse!), since Quicken & Money are so c

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Yort (555166)
            This is true if you are on Windows. If you are not on Windows, or are someone (like me) for whom your OS is not always consistent, then Quicken/Money are not really options (if you can figure out how to run Quicken/Money on Linux/Mac, then you can figure out GnuCash). Moneydance is more for Mac users as well as casual Linux users - for example, there are some people for whom I am able to either replace or put together a small, cheap Linux machine that they can surf the web and read email from, and that's al
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by swillden (191260) *

            Why use Moneydance over free as in beer Money or Quicken?

            1. Money doesn't run on anything but Windows
            2. Quicken doesn't run well on anything but Windows (the Mac version is woefully lacking in features)
            3. I use OS X and Linux.

            In addition, Moneydance is a great little company as well as a nice app. Support is excellent and the developers are friendly and helpful. At this point, Gnucash may be a reasonable alternative, but when I moved away from Quicken three years ago, Gnucash wasn't really an option. At

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cbciv (719774)
      One of the main things I like (that Quicken used to do back in the DOS days when it was an okay program) is show you a nice overview on your main page -- balance on every account, plus NET WORTH.
      FYI, it still does this, at least as of version 2005 (Deluxe).
  • I've never used Quicken or any other money-managing software; what advantage is there over a basic Excel or Calc spreadsheet?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xrikcus (207545)
      Someone else has already setup the spreadsheet and shortcuts for you :)

      Really it's just a spreadsheet dedicated to a particular task that it does well. You're paying someone a little to do that setup for you.
      • What most of the MS Money and Quickens do is hide double entry accounting. For general tracking of *an* account, a spreadsheet is functional.

        I like the OFX integration of Quicken/Money/GNUcash. Well except for the recent MBNA purchase by Bank of America.

        Rant: So I can no longer download transactions for my MBNA Visa bugged card because I don't have any other accounts with BoA? And, the transition isn't going so well either. I can manually download transactions, but historical only (sayeth the CSR).

        MBNA has
      • by rbochan (827946)
        ...You're paying someone a little to do that setup for you.

        A little [intuit.com]??
        $300+ per doesn't seem like 'a little', especially for a small business.

        • by Xrikcus (207545)
          Quickbooks has a different focus from Quicken or Money though, and a much higher pricetag too as a result. Not totally sure what extra it does, but someone must feel it's only a little to spend. In reality of course it is if you're buying that for a company of even one employee, people don't buy Quickbooks for personal use on a regular basis.
    • Re:OO Calc or Excel (Score:4, Informative)

      by Noksagt (69097) * on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:32AM (#16767215) Homepage
      Money-management software differs from spreadsheets in many respects:
      • No row/column limits (meant to be a database that has been customized for finance)
      • Automatic management of currency and commodities (GnuCash even lets you download conversions as a cronjob)
      • All accounts are already "linked" (updating one updates others)
      • Auto or manual import of standard financial data
      • Customized reporting/graphing
      • More intelligent auto-completion of transactions
      • Check printing
      • Wizards/Druids for budgeting, mortgages, etc.
      While you can get some of this in spreadsheets (with varying amounts of work), some of these are so impractical as to be infeasible in spreadsheets.
  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:36AM (#16764657)
    would be Grisbi:
    It's easy to learn, use & configure.
    More info there:
    http://www.grisbi.org/index.en.html [grisbi.org] (en)
    http://www.grisbi.org/index.es.html [grisbi.org] (es)
    http://www.grisbi.org/index.fr.html [grisbi.org] (fr)

    And already included in Debian/Ubuntu repos.
  • I'll been using GnuCash for a year and a half and so far I have been really satisfied with the GUI. Although I'm using it for my own personal accounting I'd really like to use MySQL as a backend storage and be able to access and manipulate my accounting data from various GnuCash installations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bobintetley (643462)

      I'd really like to use MySQL as a backend storage...

      Bit of a plug, but I have a project called Fruity Banking [sf.net]. It's python/cgi and has a web interface that looks and works like GNUcash. It can use sqlite, postgresql or mysql for the backend and it's endlessly scriptable (samples are included for scripting direct debits, etc.). I wrote it for the same reasons as you stated; because I wanted to access my accounts from anywhere and have the backend scriptable and generally muckable about with.

      On the downsi

    • by cortana (588495)
      You really don't want to trust MySQL with such a task! ;)

      Seriously though, there used to be a PostgreSQL backend, but it has falled into disuse. Perhaps some day it will be revived.
      • The backend worked in the 1.8 series. If it is vital to have, you can probably still run an older version (though you won't have gtk+-2). The developers are currently working on a SQL backend, but it might take awhile.
  • MoneyDance is better (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigRedFed (635728)
    Pure java application. Stable. Runs on Linux, Windows, OSX, UNIX, etc. http://www.moneydance.com./ [www.moneydance.com] Built to replace Quicken. Integrates with your bank, payment service like paytrust and credit cards. Not as refined as Quicken and a couple of things I like better about quicken, but it's only $30.00. And if you continuously upgrade to the beta versions, you don't have to pay an upgrade fee from what I've seen. If you run Lin/Freespire it's available in CNR.
  • ... run on Windows? I've been using JMoney, which has much of the functionality which I need but, and I know this is shocking for an open source app, some usability and interface issues. Guess I should just remember to buy MS Money with my next Dell...
    • by Xrikcus (207545)
      You could have a look at personal accounts (www.accountz.com) which is more streamlined than MS Money, and the new version (which I haven't used, admittedly) is cross platform (linux, windows, OS X). They do sell to the US, but I don't know what support if any there is for online banking (though, like me, you may not feel that's a useful feature). The reviews at amazon.co.uk for the previous version might be of interest.
    • Yes, but does it...... run on Windows?
      Yes it does. [gnucash.org] There aren't official packages yet, though.
  • Syncing with Palm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The MESMERIC (766636)
    Would be nice if it was possible to sync the Palm's Expense directly into GnuCash (or similar).
    Better still, would be nice if it was possible to sync instead some better app like Mobile Money.
  • by whoop (194)
    I've been looking for a web type app for this for a while now. Are there any decent ones people use? I use different computers, OSes, etc and can't be tied to one desktop. Any ideas here?
  • Spreadsheet (Score:4, Informative)

    by AVryhof (142320) <avryhof&gawab,com> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:43AM (#16765297) Homepage
    I use a spreadsheet sort of laid out like a check register with a few extra columns to reconcile with.

    I use it on Excel under Crossover, but I assume it can be done with KSpread, OO.o, Gnumeric, Google spreadsheet, or even VisiCalc... as long as it supports some simple formulas.

      |     A       |   B   |    C   |        D        |  E   |     F           |   G
    0 | Description | Debit | Credit | Running Balance | Bank | Outstanding     | Paid Out
    1 | Deposit     |       |   300  |       =(C1)     |      |                 |
    2 | GAS         |    30 |        | =(D1 - B2 + C2) |      | =if(E2="X",0,B2)| =if(E2="X",B2,0)

    So now you just paste your formulas down the columns .. then all you have to do is fill in your transactions.

    When they show up on your bank statement, or in your electronic banking, put an X in column E, and the Outstanding value moves to Column G.

    Who needs specialty accounting software when one of the oldest apps around can do it just fine?
    • I would like to budget, reconcile each month, many months, or yearly against the budget. I want to track spending, forecast spending. I would also like to track interest payments, automatically get yearly tax return values, and plan out my retirement.

      I guess someone COULD do that with an excel sheet, but it would be a crapload of work, and foolish considering other software packages exist that do it already.

      Intuit has an online version (I do not remember it as IE only). So that may be another option for th
  • FAQ on F/OSS Finace (Score:3, Informative)

    by Noksagt (69097) * on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:37AM (#16767291) Homepage
    The FW Finance faq: Free and Open Source Finance Applications [fatwallet.com] at fatwallet lists other F/OSS applications, as well as a lot of useful links. The favorite of the FAQ is GnuCash & there are links on how to run it in Windows and OS X.
  • Learning curve? (Score:3, Informative)

    by siwelwerd (869956) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:42AM (#16767423)
    How do they argue that Gnucash has a "bit of a learning curve"? I picked it up a couple months ago, and in maybe 15 minutes had figured it out. It truly is a wonderful app for personal finances.
    • by cr0sh (43134)
      I would suppose it might depend on whether you have had any past experience with using a double accounting/entry system, which is how most businesses operate. However, this form of account activity tracking is completely alien to most people, who have only been exposed to "check register accounting" (or whatever it is called). I would suspect that most of the "learning curve" comes from learning to use this new system, and how it works, compares, and differs from the standard system most people are familiar
  • I've Been using GnuCash for 2 years now, and I like it a lot
    I just (last weekend) upgraded to 2.0, but havn't had much of a chance to explore the new features.
    but it mostly seems the same.
    one complaint is the limit of reports type you can create.
  • Business features (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ggeens (53767) <ggeensNO@SPAMiggyland.com> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:57PM (#16769975) Homepage Journal

    I have used GNUCash for a long time to manage my personal finances. For this purpose, it is quite good. I love the 2.0 interface.

    I don't care about the lack of on line banking support (my bank doesn't offer this service anyway). For the rest, I only have a few issues:

    • Year closing. Creating a new empty file every year is annoying. (Should be fixed in the next release.)
    • Loan entry is rather difficult. (Considering that I need to redo this every year, this is an issue.)

    When it comes to small business use, GNUCash does not provide enough. It does allow you to manage invoices and clients, but a company needs some specific things for legal and fiscal reports.

  • I have been meaning to use something like this to manage my finances for a while, but have never gotten around to it. How much time do you need to devote to set up and then maintain the information?

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