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Open Source Accounting Options

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How much does accounting software cost your firm every year? How much does it cost your clients? How much does the cost increase if you add in software for spreadsheets, reporting, online banking and bill pay, and other common accounting related tasks? Is it worth it? What if there was another way?

A new wave of freely available open source business applications is already being adopted by a significant number of small and mid-sized businesses. Among the open source applications turning up on small business desktops are word processing and spreadsheet applications like OpenOffice and accounting applications like GnuCash and Grisbi.

OpenOffice is the open source alternative to Microsoft's Office and Corel's WordPerfect Office. Like these competitors, OpenOffice offers users a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager and drawing interface all in one package.

Beyond the spreadsheet level, Grisbi is the open source answer for basic accounting needs. Despite the "basic" label, Grisbi supports multiple currencies, users, and accounts as well as account reconciling, import/export of QIF files and reports.

GnuCash is probably the best known of open source accounting software. It is based on professional accounting principles and allows for double-entry accounting.

Whether open source applications like these are a better deal for small businesses than their name brand competitors remains to be seen. They are, however, a viable alternative for many businesses and individuals, that deserve to be considered when upgrading or purchasing accounting software.

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