Financial software for Linux

GnuCash

GnuCash (www.gnucash.org) is a personal finance manager that is distributed under the GNU Public Licence. The program has a simple graphical interface and can be used for monitoring bank accounts, income, expenses and even shares. GnuCash comes in rpm format and is easy to install (see the CD for installation instructions). However, a point to note is that the latest versions have been optimised for use with the GNOME desktop environment; to avoid any conflicts, make sure you have the latest GNOME libraries installed.

Managing finances is easy and you can create separate accounts for your bank accounts, credit cards, stocks and funds. The accounts can be arranged as top-level accounts or sub-accounts: e.g., your bank accounts may consist of both cash savings and a credit card. These two accounts can be listed under a parent account for "bank", a system that is referred to as account charting. Transferring money between accounts is simple with the Transfer feature, however, the currencies must be the same.

Keeping track of your accounts is made easier with the find tool. Features such as date, balance and share price can be searched through a given account. Also, the Account Balance Tracker will show all your past account transactions. To make sure your books balance, GnuCash's Double Entry feature ensures every transaction must result in the same amount of debit and credit.

Compatibility with other financial software has not been entirely overlooked. Quicken for Windows files can be imported to GnuCash, but GnuCash files cannot be exported.

The Reports option will allow you to get hard copies of your finances. Reports can display Profit and Loss statements, Stock Portfolios, Balance Sheet information and Transaction Records. One handy feature is the ability to export the reports as HTML documents.

GnuCash has support for Australian dollars along with most of the world's currencies. Overall, GnuCash is well worth a look if you are interested in a personal finance manger for Linux.

Moneydance

Another useful financial application for Linux is Moneydance (www.moneydance.net). The program claims to be the first of its type completely written in Java, meaning it can run on all machines which have a Java virtual machine. Moneydance has been tested on a variety of operating systems, from Linux and other Unix variants to Windows and Mac.

Upon starting Moneydance you are given the option of working in a particular currency from a list of 12. Moneydance has a default interface title "My Finances" that includes your account balances, a calendar, reminder notices and exchange rates. Exchange rates are not updated dynamically.

Account management is via individual balances for different types of income and expenses. For example, phone and electricity bills can be handled separately to mortgage repayments. Likewise, you can keep salary income distinct from capital gains and dividends.

All transactions are fully searchable and, like GnuCash, reports can be generated in HTML format, and cheque printing capabilities are available. Moneydance will export as well as import Quicken Interchange Format files.

Another powerful component is the 2D and 3D report graphing, and graphs can be exported as GIF files. Multiple language support is a strong feature. Some features in development for Moneydance are online banking and online portfolio updates.

Both GnuCash and Moneydance represent exciting developments in personal finance management for Linux, and both are provided on the PC World CD.

Moneydance is distributed as shareware, which is free for personal use. If you would like to register your copy, see the licence included with the software on the cover CD.

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Rodney Gedda

PC World
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