Linux Finance Programs Review

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We continually hear “I would only use Linux except I need to ...”. One of those missing pieces has been to run Quicken. Find out what programs are available for Linux that offer an alternative to Quicken.
gAcc

The final program I looked at was gAcc version 0.7.1. gAcc requires the GTK+ toolkit, version 1.2.2 or later, to be installed. I found it relatively easy to compile the sources and install this program, but I did have to copy a few files manually before it would run.

gAcc's layout is similar to that of GnuCash, with a main account list (see Figure 6) and separate ledger windows, but you can work with only one account at a time. gAcc is from Europe and offers better support for European dates and currency than the other programs I tested. You can set these options from the “Preferences” dialogs.

Figure 6. gAcc

Entering and editing transactions is not as user friendly in gAcc as it is in the other programs. There is no keyboard shortcut for adding new entries and no auto-complete feature for the payee. Categories, actions and accounts are available from a drop-down list so you do not have to remember them. One quirk with the transaction entry is you have to delete the “$” in the amount text box or $0 shows in the ledger, no matter what you enter.

gAcc handles only checking and savings accounts. You can create categories to keep track of your transactions. At this time, it does not offer any reports or graphs, but these features are listed in the TODO file to be added in later versions. There is also no ability to import QIF files.

I originally tried version 0.7 and ran into a few problems with the source tarfiles and the preferences dialog. I sent a note to the authors and received a prompt reply from them. Shortly after that, version 0.7.1 was released and the problems were fixed. This was a very pleasant experience and a tribute to the authors.

Conclusion

I found cbb a very simple program to install and use, but it is limited to simple finances. Moneydance is the most Quicken-like in appearance and it also did the best job of reading my QIF files, but it ran slowly on my system. QHacc offers the ability to work with checking and savings accounts without much overhead. GnuCash is the most difficult to install, but supports the greatest variety of accounts. gAcc handles European dates and currency symbols natively, but can also be set up for American symbols.

There is certainly no lack of financial programs available for Linux at this time. If you have simple finances and do not mind entering data by hand, one of these packages should work for you. If your financial needs are complex or you want to move away from an existing Quicken system, you have a more difficult choice. At this time, there is no exact Linux replacement for Quicken, but I am sure this is only temporary as these programs continue to mature and improve.

Resources

email: rkrause@netperson.net

Ralph Krause (rkrause@netperson.net) lives in southeastern Michigan and divides his time among computers, reading and taking care of four dogs. He has been using Linux for over a year.

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