Web-based Accounting on a Linux Desktop?

The lack of financial applications comprises a major complaint about using Linux on the desktop. SQL-Ledger (http://www.sql-ledger.org), a Web-based multi-user double-entry accounting system, can help address some of those concerns.

Supporting invoices, packing lists, balance sheets, sales orders, and purchase orders, SQL-Ledger provides accounts receivable, accounts payable, and general ledger reports. All of the forms and reports are generated to HTML for display in a Web browser and you can customize the templates to create any of these forms or reports.

The speed and the completeness of the package, which provides a lot of support for businesses that sell physical products, is very impressive.

A manufactured part can be made up of assemblies and services, and each assembly can be made up of other parts. When you sell a part made up of the other parts and assemblies, SQL-Ledger automatically updates your inventory and counts all of the proper items against the inventory.

SQL-Ledger comes with an impressive set of features, but it also shows what you can do with a scripting language such as Perl, which was used to program the entire package. The entire interface runs from a Web browser, using HTML forms, meaning that users at remote sites could log in and update data, depending on your security set up, of course. The development team is also working on a Perl/Tk user interface that would provide a native graphical user interface.

The requirements to run SQL-Ledger seem a bit steep, as you need a database on the back end. You can get a number of free databases for Linux, though, including PostgreSQL, one of the databases SQL-Ledger supports. Furthermore, if you are using an accounting system, you need somewhere to store the data, and a database is a better choice than most.

The installation instructions are still quick, though, with just a small number of steps. But SQL-Ledger requires you to install PostgreSQL, Perl 5, the Apache Web server, the Perl DBI module for generic database access, the DBD-Pg module for PostgreSQL access, and the SQL-Ledger package itself.

SQL-Ledger appears in 17 different languages and is quite extensive.

The list of features at http://www.sql-ledger.org/features.html is nice for an accounting system. A demo runs at http://abacus.sql-ledger.org/sql-ledger/login.pl.

This demo can give you a good overview of what is available in the package.

About the author(s):

Eric Foster-Johnson has written 14 books on Linux, Unix, programming and open source tools. Eric can be reached at erc@pconline.com or athttp://www.pconline.com/~erc.

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