Keep Track of Your Money

Machtelt takes a look at four open-source accounting programs: Emma, GnuCash, jGnash and QHacc.

The next application I tried was jGnash, a Java archive. jGnash requires JDK1.3 or higher, but luckily my test machine already was equipped with a working Java installation because my husband needed it for one of his projects. And the application comes with sources, so I thought, "Why not?" The program came with the simple explanation:

To execute: java -jar jgnash_0.2.jar

To extract source: jar xvf jgnash_0.2.jar

Not that difficult, is it? So I entered the execute command and a whole bunch of error messages about fonts not being found scrolled over the screen. I thought, "There goes my luck", but then finally got an image after a while. After the initial shock of running my first Java application, I was pleasantly surprised at the speed and response time. Of course it doesn't integrate as nicely with my desktop environment as a GNOME-based program, but on the other hand, jGnash is cross-platform (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. jGnash Screenshot

jGnash also supports hierarchical accounts, credit and debit accounts, sets up a Bank Account, and an Expense and Income Account by default. Transfers can be entered in a simple, clear way, and they can be split. They also can be imported from a QIF file. However, one of my problems, as a European, is that only Australian, Canadian and US dollars are available as currencies for my account.

There's a straightforward register (see Figure 6), and that's about it for the tour of jGnash. It runs fine, but I won't be using it.

Figure 6. jGnash Register

Q Home Accountant

QHacc comes in a tarball with adequate documentation. Installation uses the well-known configure-make-make install method; I only had to set the QTDIR environment variable to my Qt installation, which resides in /usr/lib/qt-2.3.1, and the installation went fine.

To run the program, you either need to set the QHACC_HOME variable (e.g., to your home directory) or enter it as an argument on the command line (qhacc -f ~).

My first impression was one of sympathy because of the plain look and feel of this program. Also, the fact that the QHacc developers were obviously thinking ahead when they implemented the possibility for input of old transactions was encouraging, what with me knowing nothing other than text files until now.

QHacc supports single- and double-entry bookkeeping, and it gives detailed account information. It is independent of the user's local currency, which is, as far as I'm concerned, a good thing (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. QHacc Screenshot

The user interface is very simple, but well-designed where the graphics and reports are concerned. I am delighted with the way the graphics are presented; I've included a screenshot, not because I want you to see how hard I've worked entering two transactions, but because it's done so charmingly (see Figure 8). You can change the account, the dates and the image representing the data in real time, and it's in soothing pastel colors, in case your debits should depress you too much. QHacc makes pie charts, line charts or charts with bars in the same pretty colors.

Figure 8. QHacc's Charming Graphics

The reports are also very structured, clean and elegant, and they use the same real-time adaption scheme as the graphs. The author claims everything can be done without using the mouse, and although I too am more of a console creature than an X fan, I haven't tried it out. I've never been an MS Windows user either, so I probably wouldn't know the shortcuts anyway.


Figure 9 gives an overview of the comparison between the four selected programs. The more pluses, the better the score of the program in each particular area.

Figure 9. A Comparison of Emma, GnuCash, jGnash and QHacc



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Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

May I also note good old CBB (Check Book Balancer) which doesn't require either GNOME or KDE - it's a simple Tcl/Tk interface. All the basics but few frills. Not being an accountant and just needing to keep my checkbook straight that's enough :-)

It does import QIF if you need it.
Sometimes KISS is best!

Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for a nice review. I haven't tried any of these programs, yet, but am interested. Have you condired the KDE-oriented KMyMoney2, which is also open source. The home page is at:

Re: Keep Track of Your Money

davidsales's picture

For a more authoritative list of Linux financial resources I recommend


Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

Try theKompany's Kapital ( - I'm using it for quite a while now and it looks very good, pretty stable, fast, and oh - it's now available to Sharp Zaurus..

And yes, it's a commercial one - but it costs about $30.. worth every cent..

Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

From the article -

"Now I wasn't going to test this many applications, so I selected from those using my standard criteria for applications: that it run on my Linux box, be rather straightforward to install (because I'm no guru), be open source (dependencies also) and be under active development." (my emphasis)

Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

I take it you've never heard of Moneydance? I've used it under OS/2, Windows, and now Linux.

It's a nice Java program, now available from Appgen.


Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

MoneyDance was a great program in its day, but no further development has been done on it. I believe the author left Appgen two or three years back.

MoneyDance is in fact Orphanware. I registered my copy long agao and was very satisfied with it. However, when Sean left, development stopped.

At one point we petition Appgen to give the rights back to Sean, with zero results. Appgen now sells a dead program which is not updated or maintained.

I assume people know by now,

Anonymous's picture

I assume people know by now, but MoneyDance is back up and in the original developer's hands. check it out:

Re: Keep Track of Your Money

Anonymous's picture

I take it you've not realised the article was about Open Source apps. Also, for those not on the moneydance mailing list, its pretty much now a dead horse, still sold, but they no longer have any developers, and support is fairly non-existant.

Quite alot of members on the moneydance list are talking about developing their own open source package, and also the jGnash develop has just spoken up on the list...

Moneydance is not open source

Anonymous's picture

I take it you've never heard of Moneydance?

The author only considered open-source packages.