Use Linux to Track My Finances

One of the primary things that people do with their computers is keeping track of their personal finances. And primarily, balancing their checkbooks. Most former Windows users probably used Quicken and say to themselves "Where is quicken for Linux". Well, there are a few choices in the Linux world and one of them is called Moneydance.

In order to run Moneydance you will need to have Java installed on your computer. Please take a look at this, if you are running Mandrake and have trouble using the IBM JRE Mandrake libpthreads problem. Get the Linux Version and you are set. One of the nice things about Moneydance, is that if you are a 2 OS household, you can run it in many different platforms since it is written in Java. If you want to do this, make sure you download both the Moneydance and the Java Runtime for each OS. Once you have downloaded your Moneydance and Java JRE, it is a simple matter of installing and setting up the software. As always, you will need to be logged in as root to do this.

> su
Password: XXXXXX
# cd /usr/local
# tar -zxvf /path/to/files/moneydance.x.xx.tgz
# tar -zxvf /path/to/files/jre-x.x.xxx.tgz

The above steps will untar the 2 files into the /usr/local directory. This is the directory where you should install most additional programs. Once you have done that we need to make a couple of other changes before we are done. First of all the JRE will extract out into a directory called jre-x-x-xx depending on the version. This is OK, but we want to add a link to that so if we change the version later, we dont have to edit other the path every time. The second is to go in and edit Moneydance to tell it where it is and where the JRE is

# cd /usr/local
# ln -s jre-x-x-xx jre
# cd moneydance

Here is where it gets tricky. Now because it is hard but because it involves editing a file. In Linux there are a lot of choices to edit with. Some people like VI, some like Emacs, some like other things. For this article I am going to suggest pico. It is a simple editor and most people ought to have it installed. If you dont, or if you have an editor you like, use that to edit the file /usr/local/moneydance/moneydance and change the following lines.

# Change the line below so that it refers to the directory where
# you installed the moneydance.jar and license.jar files

# You are probably much better off just leaving the 'jre' part alone,
# and only modifying the path so that it points to the 'jre' program.

Remember that link we created, that is why we can use /usr/local/jre instead of the original path of /usr/local/jre-x-x-xxx. Now if we update the JRE, and re link /usr/local/jre to the new jre-x-x-xx directory, we won't have to re-edit Moneydance. One last thing you may want to do is put Moneydance on the path. To do this we are going to create another link in /usr/local/bin.

# ls -s /usr/local/moneydance/moneydance /usr/local/bin

Now we should be able to run Moneydance from the command prompt anywhere. but make sure you log out as root first.

# exit
> moneydance &

Now you are off and running. If you have Quicken, you can export your old data files and import them into Moneydance. One thing to watch for is that with Moneydance you have to remember to save your changes, unlike Quicken, which AutoSaved them for you. It's a new world but Moneydance can help you to get one step closer to a Microsoft free desktop.


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