March 07, 2002, 12:00 AM — 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
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.