Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PC-BSD Day 24: Time to pay the bills

It’s that time of the month again. My employer is so kind to send the monthly reward for my hard work and I am so kind to send most of it to the ones that want a part of that money. It’s that brief albeit virtual moment that you actually feel you own something. This brief moment needs to be captured into some decent software, which is why I took a look at the various programs available for handling your finances.

KMyMoney

PC-BSD uses the KDE desktop as a default, so it makes sense to have a look at the K program for personal bookkeeping: KMyMoney. And -to be honest from the start- I would also use it on any other desktop. After launching it you select “Setup a new KMyMoney data file” and follow the steps in the wizard. First you enter your personal information and then you select the default currency. The next step allows you to select a template for the accounts. There are 8 different templates, one default and seven localized.

The taskbar on the left gives access to your accounts, the institutions you do business with, the categories to keep track of where the money went. As with many K programs the right mouse button is your friend to add and edit items in the various screens. You can import Quicken files and GNUCash files.

GNUCash

GNUCash Finance Management is the behemoth of financial desktop software. Installing it on a fresh PC-BSD box brings you a ton of dependencies like Firefox and GOffice. When I saw the enormous list of second and third digit dependency error messages flashing by I was worried GNUCash wouldn’t even run, but it did anyway. GNUCash doesn’t have a wizard but a druid. The difference? Beats me, it does the same job as the wizard. It might make a difference in an RPG, but not while setting up a new set of accounts.

The druid helps to select a currency and then you have to choose one of the template sets. You have a template for business accounts, a simple checkbook or common accounts for the most of us. The next step is where you have to come clean with yourself. How much money is in each account.

GNUCash is a very powerful program that strictly adheres to bookkeeping guidelines. Personally, I found it a bit too powerful and complex for my taste and use. However, it does hold it’s own against it’s proprietary brethren like Quicken or Microsoft Money.

Eqonomize

If you need a somewhat smaller program, just to keep tracks of the money, Eqonomize might be of use. The interface is similar to KmyMoney, but the accounts are somewhat simpler with fewer categories. Adding or removing accounts and categories is easy enough. There is one drawback to Eqonomize: it is setup to use dollar accounts only.

Homebank

Homebank is like a blank slate which you can edit to your own liking. There is no standard template of accounts. It’s up to the user to add the accounts, the payees and the categories. The program has been well maintained, but it is funny to see that in the preferences you can still select the Euro options and the original exchange rate.

Grisbi

The last program I wanted to look at was Grisbi. It’s one of the better financial programs for endusers under Linux. Grisbi also has a complete set of accounts in Dutch, which makes it somewhat more attractive for me. The interface needs some work as often the titles of the columns are invisible.

On PC-BSD it was the only program in this category that didn’t end up in the menu. It is a Gnome based program, but so is GNUCash and that program is in the menu (along with it’s icon). The program runs fine when launching from the command line and editing KMenu to have a Grisbi entry shouldn’t be a problem.

Conclusions

This is only a brief look at the various programs in the finance category that are available for PC-BSD users, but it does show that there are no problems with handling your finances via this desktop. Whether the programs cooperate with your online banking depends heavily on the bank and the protocols it uses. For local financial management there is no reason to hold of moving to PC-BSD.

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2 thoughts on “PC-BSD Day 24: Time to pay the bills

  1. It would be nice to know how you got these programs. I tried KPorts but my system locked up. When I try and update ports directory of course I get errors. It would be nice if they had some thing simple that would allow easy downloads of programs they do not have PBI’s for. Some thing that they have loaded already.

  2. Hi John. In this case I used the packages. I use the Konsole with super user rights and then it is simply a matter of # pkg_add -r kmymoney (or gnucash, eqonomize, homebank, grisbi).
    As fas as the ports are concerned the method that was recommended the most was to use the commandline as welll. You cd to the proper directory under /usr/ports and then do # make install (followed by # make clean after the install has finished). I have used KPorts as a frontend to install new software of just as a easy list to find the proper directory. Desktopbsd-tools is another graphical front-end, but not without quirks on PC-BSD.

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