Linux

Top 10 Linux financial tools

Many people don't realize the wealth of applications available for Linux -- and that includes financial software. Jack Wallen introduces 10 Linux apps that will meet your financial needs, whether you just want a digital replacement for your checkbook or you're looking for a full-blown accounting package for your organization.

Many people don't realize the wealth of applications that are available for Linux. I am asked all the time about X and/or Y application on Windows and whether there's an equivalent on Linux. Most of the time the answer is yes.

The arena of finance is no exception. Plenty of outstanding financial applications are available for the Linux operating system. From personal finance to business finance, there is an application for nearly every need. Let's take a look at the top Linux financial applications.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Gnucash

I start off with this application simply because it's my financial application of choice. Gnucash is released under the GPL so it is fully open sourced and is available for Linux, BSD, Solaris, OS X, and Windows. Gnucash features double-entry accounting, stock/bond/mutual fund accounts, small-business accounting, customer/vendor/job invoicing, QIF/OFX/HBCI Import/Transaction matching, reports/graphs, scheduled transactions, and financial calculations. Gnucash is incredibly easy to use and handles multiple accounts. Importing QIF files is simple, and entering transactions is intuitive. Gnucash can export to TXF format for tax preparation programs.

#2: KMyMoney

This is a finance application often included in KDE. KMyMoney has a user-interface similar to Quicken. In fact, those familiar with Quicken will find themselves right at home with KMyMoney. The biggest difference between KMyMoney and Quicken is that KMyMoney can't communicate directly with financial institutions. You can import QIF and Gnucash data, but the only format that can be exported is QIF. KMyMoney is also licensed under the GPL.

#3: Moneydance

Moneydance is proprietary software that's available for Linux, OS X, and Windows. Moneydance is one of the more fully featured financial applications available for Linux and includes such features as online banking and bill payment, budget management, scheduled/recurring payments, portfolio tracking, report generation, Quicken and Money data importation, encryption, and international support. Moneydance does require Java. Fortunately, there are versions of Moneydance that come prepackaged with Java, so those who are a bit weary of the task of installing Java (especially on a Linux machine) don't have to worry. The interface is very intuitive. Moneydance costs $39.99 per license. There is no corporate or individual licensing.

#4: Appgen MyBooks

If you're looking for commercial or accounting level software, this might be just what you need. Written for Linux (Linspire, to be exact), OS X, and Windows, this software package is double-entry and fully audited and conforms to the standards of GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles.) MyBooks can be purchased as a single-user license, two-user license, and 10-user license. It can be set up as a single system or as a client/server network system. A free trial version of MyBooks is available. This package also handles inventory (including perpetual inventory), service-based businesses, charting, statements, batch entries, ODBC, and vouchers.

#5: Nolapro

Don't let the free price tag of Nolapro fool you. This is for serious business. Although not open source, this package is free to use in any size environment and handles everything from inventory, accounts receivable, general ledger, POS, vendors, customers, B2B, online shopping cart, and payroll. Nolapro does require a database installation, but other than that, installation is simple. Nolapro is designed to be a network installation so the server can be accessed by multiple clients via browser. The license is unlimited users, unlimited companies, and unlimited books. For personal finance, you might want to skip Nolapro -- its feature list will probably overwhelm you.

#6: Linux Business Accounting Systems BasicBooks

Linux Business Accounting Systems offers BasicBooks General Ledger for Linux. This application features complete financial reporting, support for all decimal-denominated currency, and unlimited transactions. BasicBooks uses the PostgreSQL database and is easy to use and learn. One of the nicest features of this package is that transaction databases can be loaded into spreadsheets for report creation. System requirements are low (Linux OS with GTK+ library and PostgreSQL; the program requires only 373K bytes). BasicBooks costs $20 per CPU and is available in binary package form (for RedHat, Fedora, SuSe, Ubuntu, Vector, and others), which includes the user reference manual.

#7: Quasar Accounting

This particular package is part of a full-fledged POS package that can be run as stand-alone accounting software. Quasar is not open source (although a purchased commercial license provides full access to the source code) and is available for Linux and Windows. Features include international support, outstanding GUI, simple data entry, error correction, backup/restore, online help, multi-company support, data import, mailing labels, user-level security, chart of accounts, statement printing, journal entries, customer quotes, sales orders, invoicing, multiple taxes, discounting, price management, accounts receivable, and cash reconciliation. You can download an evaluation version. A free single-computer edition is also available.

#8: SQL-Ledger

This is one of the oldest Linux accounting/ERP systems. SQL-Ledger is a double-entry accounting system that has an amazing list of features, such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, voucher system, general ledger, inventory control, billing, time cards, POS, check printing, purchase/sales orders, taxes, multi-user/company, audit control, SQL server backend, templates, customers, vendors, chart of accounts, and financial statements. SQL-Ledger is often considered the "best of" for Linux accounting. Obviously, this is another package that's far more than a financial tool. Someone looking for single-user financial software might want to look elsewhere. But if you need a small to midsize financial solution, you should look here first.

#9: Rapid Graphing Software for Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities

If you don't have or follow stocks/stock portfolios, you won't know what Rapid is for. Features include candlesticks, OBV, moving averages, Macd, Stochastics, RSI, Wilder DMI, Fibonacci, and Slope. Rapid will import text data and includes multiple journals that allow you to record your trades, graph trading performance and calculate totals for tax purposes. The Linux version of Rapid can print and share charts over the Net. Rapid is free to use and simple to install.

#10: Crossover Office

Those of you who can't live without Quicken or Money can always use Crossover Office and install either of those applications. You will have to pay for both pieces of software, but if you need Quicken's (or Money's) features, you're in luck.

Linux can handle nearly every financial need you can think of. Whether you're a single user wanting a simple digital replacement for your checkbook or a company looking for a full-blown accounting package, Linux has you covered.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

16 comments
OfficeMonkey
OfficeMonkey

Growing Building/Construction companies often need to move from SME bookkeeping to Accrual accounting software specific for their industry. They need project risk accounts management that can properly manage things like subcontractor administration and project variations.


The only Linux based system in Australia is Muli/Ngipi and is also available on Windows/Mac OS.

Muli is also very involved with the open source community.


www.muli.com.au

PatTeam
PatTeam

There is a new product called the Perfect Accounting Tool that works very well with Linux. The program is browser based and geared toward small business owners who do their accounting themselves. It is proprietary, but the monthly price is less than your cell phone bill. The basic account includes 3 users with concurrent connections. It is a full-featured program with accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, inventory, job cost and much more. The website includes a full demo, so you can give it a try before purchasing. Please visit http://www.perfectaccountingtool.com/ for details.

insink71
insink71

Nice list of software. I was just wondering if you knew, off the top of your head, the best (or at least a good) linux accounting package that does job cost. Thanks for your time.

profittomorrow
profittomorrow

This has been a great help especially to most individuals who are seeking for financial freedom. For most entrepreneurs like I am I have been experiencing life with no financial worries and this has always been a goal that I would want to share to most individuals. Time and financial management is crucial and with these tools, they sure can be a big help in further expanding my business.

rjbrady
rjbrady

Very nice article -- based on the quality of Open Source software entering the mainstream computing world things keep getting better and the best is yet to come.

aseigo
aseigo

Another app to check out is Kraft (http://kraft.sourceforge.net/index.php?body=&lang=en), which is a small business management app. It's a bit more than just financials, but includes many of the details needed to keep the invoices flowing. We're using it to help run our non-profit organization with great success.

walterbyrd
walterbyrd

All of the following is based my limited understanding, and my opinions. Please correct me if I am wrong about any of this. * Cost advantage: QuickBooks simple start is free: http://quickbooks.intuit.com/product/accounting-software/free-accounting-software.jhtml Or I can buy the full version of QuickBooks in only $128: http://www.qbpro2008.com/quickbooks-2008-coupons-for-amazon/ Seems to me that any cost advantage of using a foss alternative is negligible. * Ease of use: Somewhat debatable. But some people site this as a primary reason for Intuit's amazing success with QuickBooks - supposedly 87% of small businesses use QuickBooks. Although, I have to wonder how the number of foss users can be accurately counted? * Integration with online banking: my understanding is that only intuit or msft products can easily integrate with online banking. Not absolutely sure about that. * Payroll: very regional, and changes often == not well suited for foss. * Taxes: somewhat regional, and changes often == not well suited for foss. * Wide acceptance: I think most businesses are much more comfortable using products that are accepted standards. * Wealth of available add-ons: Intuit has a very active community of 3rd party developers. You can buy practically any kind of an add-on you can imagine. These add-ons cost money, but at least they are available. * Major company: I think a lot of businesses are not comfortable with a product unless there is a major company behind that product. I have to admit, even I am not comfortable with software products that are essentially one man operations. * Support: I can always hire somebody who knows quickbooks, or find a "ProAdvisor" consultant, or I can get support from the company, and there are hundreds - if not thousands - of developers who specialize in developing for quickbooks. I can not see where that is true for any project. * Training availability and costs. I can hire people who already know quickbooks. If I hire somebody to work on some foss alternative, then there will be a significant training expense. Of course, there is also the issue of training availability. * Documentation: If I had to pick one thing that kills the usefulness of more foss projects than anything else, this would win in a slam-dunk. Of course, this varies among projects, some foss projects have great documentation. But, I can always find plenty of books, or other documentation for popular proprietary financial apps. * Many accountants, maybe as many as 200,000, use QB and recommend it to their clients. Some accountants will charge much more for files that are not in QB format. * QB has much better 3rd party integration. For example, ecommerce packages like oscommerce, and magento, work with quickbooks, not foss alternatives. Msft accounting works with ebay. I can not find that sort of integration with foss software.

brian.mills
brian.mills

Gnucash was my first (and only) foray into financial software, and I've been quite pleased with it. The availability on both Linux and Windows was one of the major selling points for me (would it really be a selling point if it's free software?). At the time I was dual-booting Ubuntu and XP on my notebook, so all I had to do was put the files somewhere that each OS could read them and I'd be able to manage my finances no matter what system I was booted into. I still haven't figured out probably 90% of what it's capable of, but it's keeping my checking, savings, and credit card accounts balanced, so it's doing everything I need it to. Now I just need to figure out the reporting functions so I can track my (and my wife's) spending habits. It's also good to know that if my needs ever outgrow Gnucash, there are a few choices out there that could handle pretty much anything I'd ever throw at them.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

OpenLX and KalCulate seem to be getting some attention in the news. That would make KalCulate #11. It's proprietary but I don't mind paying for software provided the program is priced at it's true worth and doesn't have an alternative that does th same job.

xtuple
xtuple

Don't forget PostBooks, the free and open source edition of xTuple ERP, available for download at SourceForge (www.sf.net/projects/postbooks). It's a lot more than just financials ;-)

profittomorrow
profittomorrow

This has been a great help especially to most individuals who are seeking for financial freedom. For most entrepreneurs like I am I have been experiencing life with no financial worries and this has always been a goal that I would want to share to most individuals. Time and financial management is crucial and with these tools, they sure can be a big help in further expanding my business.

a.cs.guru
a.cs.guru

Well, I would love to leave my Quicken gathering dust. But -- you have to be careful when you say "can import Quicken data". Which, if any, of the above can use a quicken backup (or the actual data) file to import the data? As far as I could tell, the best they can do is import one account at a time. And, if like me, you have many (from past years, funds etc.) it can be VERY time consuming.

jamesTT
jamesTT

It depends on your line of business. Some applications are designed for management and some are more for stocks and online transactions. For example, I use number 9 a lot because I work as an online Forex broker.

aseigo
aseigo

Most of the issues you note are true of any category of software that F/OSS is a relatively new entrant into. As such, given the success of F/OSS in other categories, I don't think most of the issues are long term (or for some of the points, current term) issues. An interesting note with payroll and tax information though: from what I understand, it's not really that it changes often or is regional that is the killer (with just a couple accounting types in each region, the data could be kept up to date rather easily), it's the liability behind getting it wrong combined with the complexity of tax (and to a lesser degree payroll) law in many places.