Ubuntu Linux, Day 25: Tracking Personal Finances

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I like that GnuCash has a variety of built-in reports, and support for connecting directly with online banking, but neither works very great. The reports are better than nothing, but nowhere near the level of polish or variety available in Quicken. The online banking is a nice concept in theory-if you can get it to work. I started walking through the process, but ran into issues and quit. Admittedly, I didn't spend much time troubleshooting to work it out, but I also shouldn't have to.

When I tried to shut down GnuCash by clicking on the 'X', nothing happened. It minimized just fine, but would not shut down. Normally I would use the Windows Task Manager to kill the stubborn software, but I am not sure what the Ubuntu Linux equivalent of Task Manager is, so I'll leaving it running for now.

KMyMoney is a much more polished and functional tool than GnuCash.

Next, I gave KMyMoney a shot. KMyMoney imported the data from the QIF file with much less hand-holding-like none. But, It did take a while. The progress bar kept sweeping up to 100 percent and starting over, but I had no way of knowing where it was in the overall process or when it would be done. After a minute or two, the Quicken data was imported and I was on the KMyMoney screen.

KMyMoney is much more aesthetically pleasing than GnuCash, and it did a significantly better job of importing the Quicken data. The left pane has icons for the various elements of the program: Institutions, Accounts, Payees, Reports, etc.. Clicking an option in the left pane changes what is displayed in the main console window. There, you can click to drill down and dig into the details of the info.

KMyMoney apparently uses the same AqBanking tool that GnuCash uses for online banking. The KMyMoney implementation was cleaner and easier to understand and work with, but I still ran into some problems finding my bank and getting it all set up. I will come back and work on that at some point, but for now it's just not that important to me.

The Verdict

I am sure there are more Linux-based personal finance options to choose from. These just happen to be what came up in the Ubuntu Software Center when I typed 'finance'. Between these two applications, KMyMoney was my preference by far. It had a more polished look and feel, and seemed to just work better.

That said, I prefer Quicken itself, and if I wanted to invest more time and effort troubleshooting why it won't work in Wine, that could be an option. Or, I could use Quicken's cousin-Mint.com-and just manage my personal finances from the Web.

Read the last "30 Days" Series: 30 Days with Google Docs

Day 24: More Secure By Default

Day 26: Connecting Peripherals

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