Using SQL-Ledger for Your Business

If you're keeping a proprietary OS around just to run the accounting software, you're missing a chance to step up to the flexible, better-supported alternative.
Using SQL-Ledger in Your Business

I'm not an accountant, and I barely get by with my accounting duties as it is. As with most powerful accounting software, you should know something about it before using it. But if it's an accounting question, I probably don't have the answer.

Fortunately, except for the few times I may have to wade into general ledger, the system takes care of itself. I've found the customer list to be quite friendly. It serves as both a customer list and a way to keep e-mail addresses straight. I e-mail monthly bills, and this program has made that particularly easy. In fact, after posting, you can call up a bill and e-mail it with a single click. The program handles it all for you, including sending a cover letter.

Purchase orders are as easy to do, and they also can be e-mailed directly from the interface. When orders come in it's a few more clicks to enter inventory and create the payable. A quick trip to Cash→Payments and we're done.

If you have several businesses, you can run as many ledgers as you want using different database names. You also have to use different user names, one for each, but I've found the easy way to do this is to make the user name a combined user/company name. You may think of something more convenient.

Now that the latest SL includes POS, you can connect a bar-code reader and use that to enter items on the screen. SL was designed deliberately with the UPDATE button first, so scanning a bar code fills in a product number then updates that to fill in the rest of the line.

Coming Attractions?

SL is now fairly feature-rich these days, especially compared to several years ago, but the author maintains an ambitious to-do list. By the time you read this, in fact, SL even may contain payroll. Most of the tables and links are in place; it appears to be a matter of coding and testing. I fully expect a payroll system to rival any available, based on what's come before in SL.

The SL to-do list includes such items as:

  • Budgets: comparisons to actual ones and also to enforce budget (expense) constraints.

  • Manufacturing: finished goods and goods-in-process inventory; material and human resources planning.

  • Lot allocation: repackaging bulk goods into smaller portions; memorized transactions and custom reports.

  • Batch form generation: invoices, orders and other forms for batch printing.

  • Financial reports: more comparison options, such as month-to-month.

Those interested can take a look at SL's What's Ahead page.


SL offers a range of support for the software. From the SL home page you can find several users lists in a variety of languages. Currently six user lists exist. The author lurks on the English list. He occasionally posts to clear up misunderstandings.

Paid support also is available at extremely reasonable rates. A wide variety of support options are available, and most come with a copy of the SQL-Ledger users manual. If you want to use this software without support, that's fine. But as with all GPL software, if you break it, you get to keep both pieces. Paid support is your assurance it doesn't break. A support option is available to import old data from accounting packages that can export tab-delimited text files.


Although changing accounting packages always is an ordeal, SL is one package worth investigating. The price can't be beat, and this software competes against and beats many proprietary offerings. And if you don't see it but need it, you always can request a feature.

David A. Bandel ( is a Linux/UNIX/Network (both wired and wireless) consultant in Panama who dabbles in almost all aspects of telecommunications. He's authored or coauthored three Linux books, runs two HF radio Sailmail stations and does volunteer work for the Linux Professional Institute. When not working, he can be found relaxing on his farm near the Costa Rican border.



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Timely review of SQL-Ledger

Max's picture

I've always known about SQL-Ledger and I'm hoping that it's still doing well. I really feel that business owners need to wake up a bit and ditch the QB addiction -- just as a lot of people are waking up to Linux (especially Mandriva 2010, Linux Mint 8, PCLinuxOS 2009, SimplyMEPIS, and Ubuntu).

And why doesn't Intuit have the foresight to make a QB client for Linux? Surely they can see the writing on the wall and knowing that Windows is a pain in the a#s for many users.


- Max (aka Max "The IT pro")


Sreejith's picture

If we can send cheque's through SQL-Ledger directly will be great and also uploading a file option to upload checks and all necessary statement would be great.

Don't Think About Using SQL-Ledger - Just Do It !

Brian Clark's picture

After using Quickbooks for a year I was really annoyed to find it stops working when the year is up and you are expected to buy the 'latest' version.

Even if you don't need the latest features you have to buy it in order to get to you last years data! Needless to say I exported the lot and transferred it software that isn't run by a money hungry company wanting to keep its shareholders happy - no I switched to SQL-Ledger and haven't looked back.

Installation was straight forward, but I must say I was new to Ubuntu Linux so its probably a complete doddle for anyone who knows what they're doing!

Everything is there you need from a standard accounting base. It does force you to work with the accounts without any of the pretty screens I was used to in Quickbooks but considering how much I'm saving (plus I'm learning how accounting actually works), its well worth it.

Backing up your data is a necessity for any accounting system and SL has a brilliant feature for emailing a copy of the file to yourself. Considering my 2 years of data occupies about 100kb zipped its never a problem regarding size. This way even if your complete system dies, there will be a copy on your mail server (when "Leave on server" is enabled in your mail client).

Adjusting the templates for your own use is fairly easy. The HTML ones are fine and the PDF ones just need a bit of thought before you plough in... Backing these up is also very handy as I've been known to install a new version and forget that templates are not part of the routine backup plan.

There is a manual available which is worth getting but not essential from day one. It gives very in depth details on how the system works and how to modify it for your needs. I'd try the system out first then buy the manual when you are ready. Either way its worth it!

Updates are regular and bug fixes - when there are any - appear quite promptly.

Being web based makes deployment much easier when you have lots of machines and printing isn't a problem. Just remember to turn off header and footer information in the browser so it doesn't stick a horrible "Page 1 of 1" and URL on everything!

Sending emails of invoices is quite useful but not all customers are geared up for e-commerce yet. Its sometimes easier to post an invoice as they can cope with a paper copy! For those that have the inclination however, it does mean you get paid a little quicker...

Any way thats my two penny worth (or two cents for our kind friends in the US!)

Brian Clark

Re: Using SQL-Ledger for Your Business

Anonymous's picture

I have been using this great program under mandrake linux for a multisite consulting business, because it works. The constant improvements and ability to modify it, should convert any quickbooks power user. The latest round of improvements leave out really only CRM and Payroll functions to round out a near mature product.

Re: Using SQL-Ledger for Your Business

Anonymous's picture

We use it for a small multnational company, and the login being available via the internet (and adequate security of course!!) makes it a breeze to use. A truly excellent function system - and with the blessing that it is flexible enough to be altered in those "little ways" by someone with a modest amount of knowledge to make it a truly useful system for small businesses.

Re: Using SQL-Ledger for Your Business

Anonymous's picture

How many concurrent users can SL support?

SQL-Ledger stores it's data i

A SQL-Ledger User's picture

SQL-Ledger stores it's data in a database and runs through a webserver app of your choice (apache is common)
The easiest database to use is PostgresQL, but Oracle and others have been supported in the past.
MySql is not currently supported since Mysql lacks features that SQL-Ledger requires.

That said.... the number of concurrent users is really dependent on the speed of your webserver and database server, not on a limitation of the SQL-Ledger software.
Many people run it on older hardware and have a lot of users accessing it with no speed problems.

There is a lot of good info available from users on the SQL-ledger mailing list.

You can access it via

Re: Using SQL-Ledger for Your Business

Anonymous's picture

Thanks David for such an informative article.

SQL-Ledger country specifics

hakem's picture

I am browsing software to find an open source accounting solution for our small company. My question is wether sql-ledger supports accountancy rules specific to Belgium?

Hello Hakem. It depends on

Anonymous's picture

Hello Hakem.

It depends on what you mean specifically.
Go to and join the mailing list.
That way you can ask any Belgian users how they are implementing it.

I am looking for something ju

Anonymous's picture

I am looking for something just like this to help run my business but at the moment I use Quick Books Pro 2003 for all my fincancials. Is it possible to integrate the two?

Using SQL-LEDGER for your business

Anonymous's picture

I am considering the question of "integrating": QuickBooks and SQL-Ledger but only because my CPA uses QuickBooks, and I have 5 years records in MySQL If the question were one of "porting" data between QB and SQL, if INTUIT are still using an XML format for their ledger dumps
it might not be hard to do. But I don't know yet whether Intuit still
use QBXML and how different their parser is from the standard ones.
But I do not really understand why one would wish to integrate the two systems. If it's a question only of retraining personnel used to QB to use SQL-L, then perhaps it makes sense to have the two sysems
intercommunicate. As long as Intuit still uses XML to describe the
semantics of the numbers and phrases in a dump of the ledger, it
seems to me perhaps that one would need to only to write an XML
schema of their dump, and another for the way you want your chart of accounts to be in SQL-L, and then use XMLT to translate from one to the other.
But I haven't actually tried anything, so readers should take what I say with a grain (if not at least a tespoon) of salt).

John Gabriel

PS I'm at present busy putting 5 years of data in SQL into QuickBooks (If it turns out that I can) so that I can give all of our accounting to somebody who is trained to do it. So, I'm unlikely
to answer any E-mail until I have found my way through that problem.
It also seems possible by judicious use of XML to make a simple
minded SQL General Ledger, or other accounting procedure have the
"look and feel" of QuickBooks. Many years ago I helped convert
a G/L A/P A/R written in BASIC for a WANG? microprocessor running
what I think was an INTEL 8008 to CP/M BASIC for an 8080, and until
DBASE appeared on the scene It was quite fairly popular among the brave folks who did their accounting on an ALTAIR instead of an IBM 7090 or 360/20

Thanks for the answer John. I

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the answer John. I currently use the payroll service amongst other things and I am not 100% ready to cut the cord and leave QB. Let us know how your latest project went.

Thanks again for taking the time. It is appreciated.

A few of my clients using SQL

Anonymous's picture

A few of my clients using SQL-Ledger have out source pay roll. I can't remember the name of the company they are using but it's costing them less to have a third party do pay roll, plus they get direct deposit. I hate QB, it has cost most of my client $1000's over the years to maintain everything and since it runs on Windows it's cost money to keep updating the OS. The only reason they run is because their CPA wants it.

My $0.02

In Canada the payroll company

Anonymous's picture

In Canada the payroll company is called Ceridian.