Ask the Experts: Accounting Software for Linux
Question: This is my first venture into Linux. I have most of what I need lined up except for some simple banking software. My credit union will send data in CSV and I need something that will update electronically like that. Suggestions? -- Marilee J. Layman
James Ward, Adobe Systems I've been using mint.com for over a year now and it works great on Linux! I'm not sure if your credit union is supported, but if so this browser based solution might work as well for you as it has for me.
Tim Kissane responds: I have used Gnucash and Kmymoney in the past. Both have been satisfactory. There is another package called HomeBank that may be simpler for home use. You might also want to look at Quasar, Lazy8 Ledger, and TurboCASH. Some of these will import CSV files, but the format will have to be massaged. Others will need a script (in Perl or Python) to convert the CSV into QIF.
Jared Bernard, accountant responds: If you are looking for something basic to track expenses and balance your check book, I would suggest using Homebank. Homebank is fairly straight forward to use with a simple interface and intuitive layout. You are able to create a list of payees, record transactions an schedule recurring bills by using the archive tool. Homebank has fairly decent import features for CVS files for easy management. You can read more about Homebank and it's various features on it's website. Another option may be using a spreadsheet, if you are just looking to track expenses from one bank account or do some simple budgeting. Openoffice.org Calc has made some wonderful improvements to it's text-to-columns feature. You can easily copy and paste your CSV data into the Calc, select Data from the menu bar then text-to-column to begin the wizard. Otherwise, you can open your CSV file directly from Calc and the wizard with begin automatically.
Here are a few websites that offer various spreadsheet templates for tracking your finances:
Shawn Powers, Associate Editor of Linux Journal responds:
GnuCash is rather robust, and may actually be too complex for simple banking. Some others off the top of my head are Money Manager Ex and Buddi.
I'm not sure about importing CSV files, but I'd think that would be a pretty common request, so I'd suspect all or most of them would do it.
Nick Danger responds: While not free, I have been using Moneydance under various Linux distributions for several years now and highly recommend it. If you want to stay both free and open source, you can use KMyMoney under the KDE Window Manager or Grisbi under GTK+. Any of these should import your CSV files without a problem.
If you need the more complicated double-entry style of accounting, GnuCash is considered one of the premiere financial apps for Linux.
Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.
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One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
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