One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is about the lack of good accounting packages for small businesses. The de facto standard isn't always an option for very small companies and, as powerful as GnuCash is, it doesn't integrate with office suite tools.
Fortunately, there's a new tool on the block called Gnuaccounting (it's still in beta as of this writing). Gnuaccounting is a free, Java-based, open source, cross-platform (Windows, Linux) bilingual, bookkeeping package that integrates with LibreOffice and OpenOffice. It can be used as a portable solution, and it offers the following optional integration:
- Winston (online German tax declaration software)
- Hibiscus, Moneyplex, and Starmoney (home banking software)
With Gnuaccounting you can:
- Manage transactions
- Manage documents and accounts
- Manage outgoing and incoming receipts
- Create and manage incoming transactions
- Manage customers, products, invoices, and templates
- Import from your bank
- Reconcile accounts
- And much more
The initial installation of Gnuaccounting will set up sample customers, products, templates, and taxes. You will need to go in and change those entries, but it gives you an idea of what the data looks like, which is easier than starting from scratch.
Gnuaccounting can be installed on Windows or Linux; I will demonstrate the installation on Linux. There really isn't much in the way of actual installation if you already have the Java requirements out of the way.
Gnuaccounting already has a built-in database. Unless you know you will be building a significant database, you can shy away from integrating it with MySQL. That's a good thing because, in its beta state, it is a challenge to get connected to MySQL through the JDBC connector.
The system requirements are:
- Java Runtime Environment
- LibreOffice or OpenOffice
- Windows 7 32-Bit or a 32- or 64-bit Linux. Gnuaccounting will run on Windows Vista 32-Bit and Windows XP 32-Bit systems, but they are not officially supported.
- 1 GB of RAM
- 1.3 Ghz CPU
- A screen resolution of at least 1024x768 pixels
If you do not have the Java JRE installed, you can do so with the following steps:
- Open a terminal window.
- Issue the command sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jre.
- Type your sudo password and hit Enter.
- Accept any dependencies and (if prompted) hit y.
- Allow the installation to complete.
You're ready to download and start up Gnuaccounting, here's what you need to do:
- Download the tar file.
- Unpack the tar file.
- Open a terminal window.
- Change into the Downloads/gnuaccounting folder.
- Issue the command chmod a+x gnuaccounting.sh.
If you're using Ubuntu Unity, the menu bar will be found in the HUD.
Setting up GnuaccountingBefore using Gnuaccounting, you must take care of all the initial items in the to do list. Click the To Do button in the main window to reveal four items that require your attention (Figure B). Figure B
Quick links to take care of four crucial configurations.Click the Edit VAT link in the Action column of the To Do list window. When the new window opens, configure your Value Added Tax as necessary (Figure C). Figure C
The VAT may or may not apply to you, depending upon the country where your business is located.After you configure the VAT, go back to the To Do window and click the Edit Customers action, click New Contact in the top pane of the resulting window (Figure D), fill out the customer information, and click OK. Figure D
Create as many customers as necessary.
From this same window (Figure D), using the Role drop-down, you can create a Customer, Supplier, Customer And Supplier, Partner, Member.Close this window and go back to the To Do list window. Click the Edit Products action and, in the resulting window (Figure E), create new products in the same way you created new users. Figure E
You cannot categorize products, so descriptions and names will be crucial.
The last step is to go back to the To Do window and click Edit Templates. Here's where we first start seeing signs that this application is in beta. The version I downloaded (0.8.2) did not have a functioning template designer. It is possible to go into the ~/.gnuaccounting/0000/ folders and manually edit the templates (they'll be in .odt format), but that's probably a feature best left until the bugs can be shaken out. (Note: The developer is aware of this issue and is working on a fix that should appear in the nightly builds.)
From this point on, it's a matter of getting used to the interface and working with the transaction editors, import/export tools, and so on.
Although Gnuaccounting is too young to be considered for production use, anyone interested in getting in on a bookkeeping project from the ground up should give this application a look. Even in its infancy, Gnuaccounting offers plenty of tools that would fulfill the needs of many small shops. Give it a try, and make sure if you find a bug to report it to the developer.
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 jackwallen.com.