February 8, 2002

Review: Quasar Linux accounting software is perfect for your small business

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
Linux Canada announced
the release of Quasar 1.1 accounting and point-of-sale software. The company is
offering the base package as a free download, and the install is smooth as the
cursor trail on a fancy optical trackball mouse.

An easy install is worth a lot to me. I get tired of the dependency backtrack
game sometimes. My /home directory keeps getting littered with obscure tarballs
like "giblib" and "imlib2" and well, it's just a pain. The Quasar RPM went in
with one click, and even installed a shortcut in the start menu under "Office."

The program had immediate
possibilities for my family, which
always seems to have at least one
small business operating and
sometimes several at a time. Quasar has
a serviceable GUI and intuitive menu
options. It is perfect for small
business owners because it doesn't
require the user to have a deep
understanding of ledger-based
accounting. Just enter your inventory
items, tweak the accounts, enter
everyone in your Rolodex and mark their
function (vendor, customer, salesperson,
employee).

When it's time to create a customer quote, pull up the screen, click in each
form box to activate drop-down menus that list all your accounts, inventory,
customers, and salespeople, depending on which part of the quote you're in.

Quasar also connects every transaction, so that, for example, after you create a
quote and save it, you can tell the program to make an invoice from it and
register it in the ledger.

Keeping track of payments is easy, too. Click on "purchases," then "vendor
invoices" and select a vendor. Click "refresh," and a list of all
outstanding invoices appears. Double click on a list item and that invoice
comes up for editing. From there, you can click on "payment" and then "Quick
Cheque" to pay just one or two invoices, or all outstanding items.

Printing out checks is completely automated and you can use standard check
paper, just like you'd use with QuickBooks. Reports appear with one click. Trial balance, profit & loss, and balance sheet
are default, but you can also print account listings, to-do lists, tax listings
and transactions, just to name a few. A couple of things I'd like
to see here would be the option to email reports, and the ability to enlarge or
select different fonts and customize the layout. The default font is almost too
small to read on screen.

invoice creation screen in Quasar

Other features of the base package
include:

* vendor claims
* mailing labels
* bank reconciliation
* multiple taxes
* backup and restore
* on-line help
* multiple companies

The base package of Quasar is a no-brainer, so easy to use that if you decided
to go into business for yourself tomorrow, never having done before, you'd be
able to make sense of this application in less than an hour, even if you're
coming straight from Windows.

Quasar is free for a single user, but if you want a license for "concurrent"
users on a network, Linux Canada charges USD $29 per user. The company also sells
some useful modules, the coolest being the point-of-sale plugin, with a
real-time interface, barcode scanning, and everything you'd want to be able to
do at a computerized cash register.

a few additional features of Quasar
Other modules include the Open Source Firebird database, which comes as a free
add-on, the Sybase commercial database, server and client software, inventory
control, shelf management, and multi-store connectors.

A full-blown setup configured for one user with the Firebird database costs less
than USD $400. For more users, multiply
accordingly -- there doesn't appear
to be a quantity discount. Many small
business owners will only need the free
base package to start with, and can add
modules as they grow. The inventory
control plugin is $49 and might be a
good one to start with depending on the
business.

The base package is also available for
Windows, and Linux Canada will customize your
accounting package, on Linux or Windows,
for $100 per hour.

Click Here!