Talking tech since 2003

As you likely know, Tax Day in the United States has come and gone.  Depending on your record-keeping and accounting skills, filing your taxes was either a cinch, or a complete and total nightmare.  If the latter describes your tax-filing experience, you may consider keeping better accounting records this year to make your filing easier next year.  While programs such as Quicken and Microsoft Money are useful, they can be pricey as well.  One alternative to these pricey products in GnuCash, an open-source accounting program available for Windows, Mac OS X, and various Linux distributions.

One of the many great features of GnuCash is that it allows for users to import their existing Quicken accounting files (QIF format), meaning a Windows user switching to Linux can easily transition to a native accounting platform rather than using a virtual machine or an application such as WINE.

For new accounting users, GnuCash easily creates a new accounting file, complete with pre-configured common account categories.  This allows a user to create a new chart of accounts in a matter of minutes, and in my opinion helps get the user off on a good start, as it requires a minimal amount of configuration.

Other important features include the easy-to-use register, which functions in a similar fashion to the ledger of a checkbook.  This allows for a user to see a complete overview of their finances in one concise window.

Business owners will be impressed with GnuCash’s implementation of business tools such as customer and vendor management, as well as the ability to easily track employee and other business-specific expenses.  This is of great significance, because it means that GnuCash can replace expensive business management tools such as QuickBooks or Peachtree Accounting, which usually start at $100 or more for the “basic” version.

All in all, GnuCash has everything you’d expect from an accounting application; it employs a register, expense splitting, easy to use reports and financing projections, online banking (which is sometimes not included in the “basic” versions of accounting software), the ability to monitor stocks and securities, etc.  However, it does not come with system-intensive customized shells and themes, and is free, open source, and cross-platform.

I strongly recommend that anyone needing an accounting application look into GnuCash.  You may still choose to ultimately purchase a commercialized accounting application, but GnuCash has the potential to save you a good deal of money, and make tax-season a much less dreaded experience.

GnuCash is available for free from gnucash.org, or in your Linux software repositories


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