I have been using Linux for my desktop operating system for years. Prior to that, I used a version of Windows and generally disliked the Microsoft operating systems. However, for accounting purposes, I used QuickBooks and that is the sole reason I had any computers that continued to run Windows as accounting packages for Linux were quite sparse.
In about 2004, I discovered Quasar Canada, a software development firm that had been working on an accounting package which would run on Linux using either a Postgresql or Firebird database. They had a version that was free and open source and once I had that installed and working, that was the last of my Windows operating system controlled computers.
Unfortunately, Quasar never really saw a lot of open source development and of course, the developers need to make money some how. So support for their old version has not been all that great. With newer versions of OpenSuSe (my preferred Linux distro), it became more and more difficult to get Quasar to run. Finally, earlier this year, I decided to look around to see what else I could find instead of having to spend the time trying to figure out dependencies and symlinking new libraries to old libraries, which can take forever.
I did some research at what was available for Linux, and unfortunately, things continue to be not so great as far as full featured accounting. While my own needs are not exactly that of requiring a LOT of features (it’s basically a service based business), I have clients in many Provinces of Canada as well as the United States and elsewhere. It was important that whatever I decided upon would be able to handle multiple tax rates and deal with them. Canada has about 3 or 4 different tax rates, and I’m obligated to know what they are and charge accordingly. Governments can be really stupid at times when it comes to taxes and commerce. They can make things so complicated and it wastes an awful lot of time in tracking and paperwork.
But I digress. After not finding anything that was really suitable, I decided to look at some of the online accounting/bookkeeping apps. Eventually, I settled on Wave Accounting. While it is not perfect, the fact that it is free (for now) is a bonus, where as some of the others have monthly fees. I hate monthly fees! It was actually some bad experiences with QuickBooks and their support fees that motivated me to find a Linux based accounting software package in the first place: I was paying a pretty hefty fee, yet it did not seem to cover any of the problems I would sometimes run into. So on top of the support fee, they’d want to charge me additional fees to fix their software when something went wrong.
Wave offers a nice invoicing interface along with other tools for tracking payables and receivables. Of course, this requires you to actually enter the information; there is no getting away from that.
If you don’t have a merchant account, you can take advantage still of credit card payments using Wave’s own merchant account system, but of course, you’re going to take a 3% or so discount on payments if you do that. In my case, I don’t need that, as I have my own merchant account and can take both Visa and Mastercard. But that is certainly a benefit to those small businesses that don’t have merchant accounts in that they can still say that they take credit card payments.
The one thing I don’t like about Wave is that there are times when I need to issue two invoices to a client, and they will make one payment on both of them. Instead of simply applying they payment to their total amount owing, I have to open each invoice and mark them as paid, but it then appears as if the customer made two separate payments when in fact, they only made one. Perhaps there is some way around this and I haven’t figured it out yet.
Another nice feature is that you can connect your Wave account with your bank accounts as well, and it will download transactions so you can verify and apply them. That’s a nice feature.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with Wave. But I’m not entirely sure about the idea of having my business accounting and information “out in the cloud” so to speak.
Anyhow.. a brief summary:
- Nice easy to use interface.
- Deals with multiple taxes quite well.
- Can connect to your business account
- Tracks “at a glance” your payables
- Tracks “at a glance” your receivables
- The ability for businesses to take credit card payments even if they do not have a merchant account
- Don’t like the idea of having my information located outside of my office
- Relies on internet connectivity. If you lose it for a time, you can’t do any of your bookkeeping chores (which is actually something I would do when from time to time, my internet connection would go down).
Overall, it’s not a bad system and I’ll likely continue to use it.