Section 4.5. I Want My Quicken


4.5. I Want My Quicken

As with Microsoft's Office, Intuit's Quicken is another reason regular users hesitate to convert to Linux. They suggest that Quicken isn't available for Linux, and they're right. As of this writing, Intuit has no plans to port Quicken (or its tax software) applications to Linux. Naturally, the same can be said for the main rival to Quicken, Microsoft Money.

In this annoyance, we'll explore some of the open source alternatives to Quicken. In addition, we'll install Quicken with the help of CrossOver Office. You can also install Quicken with Wine, using steps similar to those described for Microsoft Word in "I Need Those Microsoft Applications on Linux" in Chapter 8.

One problem with these open source alternatives is that they're not available for Microsoft Windows. Therefore, if you want to help your users transition to Linux, you may want to install Quicken (and even TurboTax or TaxCut) on an emulator such as CrossOver Office or a VM such as VMWare.

As I am not an accountant, I've avoided detailed evaluations of the open source personal finance programs. However, one of the leaders of the open source movement, Bruce Perens, has openly described his use of Quicken and TurboTax on his Microsoft Windows computer, once per year. So there is no dishonor in using a Microsoft Windows program, even as a Linux geek, if you are not satisfied with the current open source personal finance applications.

With personal finance applications, there are references to QIF and OFX formats. QIF is the original Quicken Interchange Format for downloading transactions from financial institutions, as well as exchanging data between personal finance applications. You can export files in QIF format from older (pre-2005) versions of Quicken and Microsoft Money. Newer versions of Quicken use the Open Financial Exchange (OFX) format, and the open source personal finance tools are doing the same.


4.5.1. KMyMoney

KMyMoney is a full-featured, double-entry accounting application, designed for the K Desktop Environment. As of this writing, KMyMoney states that it's "striving to be a full-featured replacement for your Windows-based finance software."

Stable development packages may be significantly more advanced than what may be available from your distribution repositories. As of this writing, you can download KMyMoney version 0.8 from its home page at http://kmymoney.sf.net; the version available from the Debian repositories is 0.64.

Incidentally, KMyMoney has created a number of distribution-specific packages for Fedora, SUSE, Xandros, and Ubuntu Linux (but not Debian). While Fedora and SUSE are popular distributions on the desktop, Debian is not. However, Xandros and Ubuntu are popular consumer-level alternative distributions based on Debian. If you install the source package for KMyMoney, you'll have to unpack the tarball and then follow the instructions as described in the INSTALL text file, which is unpacked in the same directory as the rest of the package.


KMyMoney allows you to manage investments, create reports, pull real-time stock quotes, and more. It also supports over 170 different currencies. It even supports the Value Added Tax (VAT) systems common in Europe. In addition, it can help you convert files from GNUCash and Quicken (OFX format).

GNUCash now supports OFX imports, but not directly from U.S. financial institutions, as they do not make the URLs for their download servers publicly available. KMyMoney requires a separate OFX plugin. Unfortunately, neither is nearly as convenient as the click-and-import capabilities associated with Quicken.


By default, on our selected distributions, KMyMoney is available only in the K menu's Office submenu.

4.5.2. GNUCash

The first time you run GNUCash, you'll be prompted either to import files in Quicken QIF format or to create a new set of accounts.

GNUCash supports Quicken-style transaction entry, allows you to schedule future transactions, helps configure loan payments, and supports customer/vendor tracking, invoices, and bill payments. It can help you manage your stock portfolios, reconcile your financial statements, create reports, categorize income and expenses, print checks, and more.

4.5.3. Personal Finance via CrossOver Office

You can install Quicken and even QuickBooks on Linux with the help of CrossOver Office. The procedure is similar to that described in "Microsoft Word Documents Don't Work on Linux," earlier in this chapter, for the installation of Microsoft Word on Linux. If you've installed CrossOver Office, you can see both personal finance applications listed in the CrossOver Office installation wizard. For more information, see the CrossOver Office compatibility list at http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/.

The latest versions of software, especially those updated on a yearly basis, may not be tested on CrossOver Office. While they may work fine, if they're not on the compatibility list, they won't be officially supported by CodeWeavers. However, if an earlier version of a popular application has been supported, they may be quite interested in your installation experiences. This annoyance is based on CrossOver Office Standard version 5.


Installing Quicken via CrossOver Office is fairly easy. Just take the following steps:

  1. Insert the Quicken CD/DVD (or record the location of the associated installation files, such as on a shared network directory).

  2. Start the CrossOver Office setup tool, available in the GUI from the K menu (GNOME Applications menu) CrossOver Install Windows Software.

  3. Select Quicken in the window and click Next.

  4. Verify installation files on the CD/DVD device (such as /media/cdrecorder) or another directory that you can specify.

  5. Follow the prompts for installation. If you have problems with installing from the CD, you may need to mount it from the command line.

  6. Once installation is complete, accept the prompts associated with a CrossOver reboot. Linux keeps running; the CrossOver simulation of a Microsoft system reboots.

  7. Open Quicken. In the GUI from the K menu (GNOME Applications menu), select Windows Applications Programs Quicken Quicken (year). Quicken opens in your Linux system, as shown in Figure 4-3.

Figure 4-3. Quicken in Linux


4.5.4. Tax Software

Tax software goes hand in hand with personal finance software. Those of us who manage our finances electronically have an easier time doing our taxes. Unfortunately, while it's fairly easy to install personal finance software such as Quicken on CrossOver Office (and even Wine), as of this writing, CodeWeavers does not support U.S. tax software.

Applications such as TurboTax and TaxCut are updated every year, and their releases are time-sensitive. It would be difficult for CodeWeavers to provide the level of support expected by users who are anxious about their taxes.

The installation of TaxCut 2004 worked well for me on CrossOver Office. However, since I had already done my taxes for that year, the copy of CrossOver Office that I used came after TaxCut 2004 was released. I do not know if TaxCut 2004 would have worked on the previous version of CrossOver Office on a timely basis.

If you try a later version of tax software such as TaxCut or TurboTax 2005, it may work. If not, you may be able to find the problem based on the associated logfile, Unsupported*.log, in the ~/.cxoffice/dotwine/dosdevices/c:/Windows/Temp directory. It's a huge file; when I installed TaxCut 2004, the log was over 300kb.

If you have to support Linux users who need personal tax software, there are several options:

  • Virtual machine software such as VMWare or Win4Lin

  • A dual-boot configuration with Microsoft Windows

  • Remote access to a Microsoft computer, with a service such as rdesktop or Windows Terminal Services

  • Web-based tax software (TurboTax for the Web is available at http://www.turbotax.com, and TaxCut for the Web is available at http://www.taxcut.com/tcforweb/)

If you or your users run a personal finance program such as Quicken on a Linux system, you can still export the datafiles to wherever you've installed your tax software, even a Microsoft Windows system.



Linux Annoyances for Geeks
Linux Annoyances for Geeks: Getting the Most Flexible System in the World Just the Way You Want It
ISBN: 0596008015
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 144
Authors: Michael Jang

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