Archive for March 12th, 2010

I've been using Quicken for years, since Quicken 97 on Window then Quicken 5 on the Mac and then Quicken 2001 when I got my iMac. The problems is that Intuit doesn't upgrade Quicken, it replaces it each year with a version that has more frilly bells and whistles and less real utility (especially on the Mac; just look at the "Using a prior version of Quicken Mac?"). And the datafile is often different from the old file, so stuff gets lost with each "upgrade".

So I've kept my current Mac (a blue & white G3, the "Mickey Mouse" one) just to be able to run Quicken 2001 under Classic. I can't upgrade to an Intel Mac, since Classic won't work. And I want to balance my checkbook while talking to my wife, not only downstairs in my basement office. So I wanted something I could run on my dual-boot (XP and Ubuntu) laptop.

I've been looking at alternatives to Quicken for 5+ years, but with 20 years of data I was too scared. Until now. I've been using gnuCash for just a week now, but it seems to everything I need it to, including importing all my data, even from multiple investment accounts, from Quicken's exported QIF file. I haven't done any complicated investment things, so I don't know how well that side of it works.

Strong points

  • It Just Works. Does what I expect it to do, in the way I expect it to. Of course, I'm a geek who understands double-entry bookkeeping, so that may not be surprising.
  • I can control-S and save the file; I always felt out of control with Quicken since you couldn't force it to save.
  • Open source. I will probably never have the time to tinker, but it's nice knowing that I could

Weak points

  • Keyboard shortcuts. I miss being able to assign my own keystrokes; I hate going back to the trackpad to do anything. But see Open Source above; I can probably fix that.
  • I'm going to have to learn Scheme to create custom reports. Not sure if that's a bug or a feature.

The biggest advantage is the feeling of freedom of not being tied to Intuit anymore. I'll see how it works out, but I'm not going back.