A few small steps towards windependence

James Leone linuxcpa at netscape.net
Thu May 1 16:48:24 CST 2003


In the past few days, I have come to the conclusion that Linux has just 
crossed the threashold of viability for use in an accounting business in 
the US. I have enough working solutions that, I could use Linux without 
windows in any form and run a CPA business with it.  Not everything is 
perfect, but in my opinion, it can be done. I feel this has been made 
possible by the recent release of Cross Over Office 2.0.

About a week ago I posted a list of applications that I needed Linux 
replacements for Windows applications. Missing was an income tax 
preparation program, software that aides an accountant in performing 50% 
of his business. The PPC software has to do with the other 50% but is 
not as critical.

Anyway, here is my list again:

>1. CPA Software - a time and billing program [4]* #
>2. Depreciation solution [5] #
>3. Prosystem fx - Tax preparation [6]*
>4. MAS 90 - company accounting [7] #
>5. Win571L - property tax forms [8] #
>6. PPC - Audit programs. [1] #
>7. Accupay Payroll #
>8. Caseware 2001 [2] #
>9. Lacerte Income Tax Preparation [3] #
>[1] Previous limited sucess with WineX 2.1
>[2] Caseware 2000 is 98% functional in CX office 1.31
>[3] Lacerte will install and work on the return can be performed,
>however it cannot be printed and REP access cannot be obtained in CX
>office 1.31
>[4] Timesheet php was a candidate for replacement, but was not intuitive
>or comprehensive enough.
>[5] Will install, but has a date problem. Yes, we have spreadsheets in
>windows. People forget formulas. Mysql is a candidate, but I have to
>think it over more.
>[6] Dies after installation screen comes up
>[7] Installs but won't run
>[8] An on-line or Adobe solution seems so close, but so far away...

Here is an update:

#6. PPC - I always dreaded setting this up in Windows 2000 because it 
doesn't work correctly unless I were to give each user administration 
rights. But that's proprietary customer service for ya. ;-)

I had to come up with a really elaborate set of hacks to get the program 
to run as administrator without the user knowing that.  I used a VBS 
script and the runas command that requires a password be entered (I had 
to automate this) and all of a sudden the virus software that I had 
recently uninstalled and replaced with another brand somehow blocked  my 
script from running, so I discovered today.   :-(

So, I tried the program in Winex3, no luck. Then I tried Cross Over 
Office 2.0, and you know what, IT WORKED. :-)    (I had my Doc Brown 
moment.) Now its easier to install the program, and I don't have the 
awful choice between giving our small office staff administrator rights 
at each desk or performing an elaborate hack more often then I would 
like to.

# 9. Lacerte now prints. I am able to prepare income tax software in 
Linux with Wine. Reads files off of the network. The only problem is 
that the module that delivers a licensing key over the Internet does not 

#1 & 2 - If I put a ton of time into this, I might be able to make an 
equivalent with MySQL or Timesheet.php

# 4 & 5. Sage Software makes #4 and I thought that they were working 
with IBM to bring financial applications to Linux. #5 is not all that 

#3 could be replaced by #9, but that means we would have to do a major 
migration.  With the pace at which Wine  is able to  run more 
applications, I am not ready to switch yet.

#7 could be replaced by a java web start application called Priority 
Pay: http://www.prioritypay.com/. But then again, we would have to switch.

#8 Caseware 2000 is really good enough, but we would have to convert our 
clients back, but there is only partial backwards compatability, and the 
vendor does not support what I discovered while experimenting.

Anyway, as you can see, if we were a new business and did not have 
painful migration choices to consider, we would have everything we need 
to run our business free of Microsoft. I am looking forward to how 
things will be in a year's time. In the mean time, I hope to write the 
journal of accountancy about how Linux can be used by CPA's in their 

Now what else was I doing?

James Leone

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