Double-entry accounting system with a command-line reporting interface
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Ledger: Command-Line Accounting

Ledger is a powerful, double-entry accounting system that is accessed from the UNIX command-line. This may put off some users, since there is no flashy UI, but for those who want unparalleled reporting access to their data there are few alternatives.

Ledger uses text files for input. It reads the files and generates reports; there is no other database or stored state. To use Ledger, you create a file of your account names and transactions, run from the command line with some options to specify input and requested reports, and get output. The output is generally plain text, though you could generate a graph or html instead. Ledger is simple in concept, surprisingly rich in ability, and easy to use.

For the Impatient

I know, you just want to build and play. If you have all the dependencies installed, then simply do this:

$ git clone git://
$ cd ledger && ./acprep update  # Update to the latest, configure, make

Now try your first ledger command:

$ ./ledger -f test/input/sample.dat reg

For help on keeping your journal have a look at the documentation and the wiki (Also see the “Resources” section at the end of this file). An Emacs mode for Ledger files can be found in the [ledger/ledger-mode repository] and a vim plugin is located in the ledger/vim-ledger repository.

To the Rest

If you're reading this file, you have in your hands the Bleeding Edge. This may very well not be what you want, since it's not guaranteed to be in a functionally complete state. It's under active development, and may change in any way at any time. What you may prefer is the CURRENT stable release, or the BETA branch.

Branch Command
RELEASE git checkout -b stable v3.1
CURRENT git checkout -b master origin/master
BETA git checkout -b 3.1.1 release/3.1.1
ALPHA git checkout -b next origin/next

There are also several topic branches which contain experimental features, though none of these are guaranteed to compile. Best to chat with me on IRC or via the mailing list before going too much further with those.


If you wish to proceed in this venture, you'll need a few dependencies. The easiest way to get them for your platform is to run this handy Python script:

$ ./acprep dependencies

If that doesn't completely work, here are the dependencies for building the current master branch:

Dependency Version (or greater)
Boost 1.49
GMP 4.2.2
MPFR 2.4.0
utfcpp 2.3.4
gettext 0.17 optional
libedit 20090111-3.0 optional
Python 2.4 optional
doxygen optional, for make docs
graphviz 2.20.3 optional, for make docs
texinfo 4.13 optional, for make docs
lcov 1.6 optional, for make report, used with /./acprep gcov
sloccount 2.26 optional, for make sloc

And for building the outdated release/2.6.3 branch:

Dependency Version
GMP 4.2.2
pcre 7.7
libofx 0.8.3 optional
expat 2.0.1 optional
libxml2 2.7.2 optional

Mac OS X

You can use Homebrew or MacPorts to install Ledger easily on OS X.

1. Homebrew

You can see the parameters you can pass while installing with brew by the command brew options ledger. To install ledger, simply type the following command:

$ brew install ledger

If you to want to startup python, use the following command:

$ ledger python

2. MacPorts

If you build stuff using MacPorts on OS X, as I do, here is what you would run:

$ sudo port install -f cmake python26 \
     libiconv +universal zlib +universal gmp +universal \
     mpfr +universal ncurses +universal ncursesw +universal \
     gettext +universal libedit +universal boost-jam \
     boost +st+python26+icu texlive doxygen graphviz \
     texinfo lcov sloccount


If you're going to build on Ubuntu, sudo apt-get install ... the following packages (current as of Ubuntu 14.04):

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential cmake doxygen \
     libboost-system-dev libboost-dev python-dev gettext git \
     libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev \
     libboost-iostreams-dev libboost-python-dev libboost-regex-dev \
     libboost-test-dev libedit-dev libgmp3-dev libmpfr-dev texinfo

Or, for Ubuntu 12.04:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential cmake zlib1g-dev libbz2-dev \
     python-dev gettext libgmp3-dev libmpfr-dev libboost-dev \
     libboost-regex-dev libboost-date-time-dev \
     libboost-filesystem-dev libboost-python-dev texinfo lcov \
     sloccount libboost-iostreams-dev libboost-test-dev


Debian squeeze (6.0): the version of boost in squeeze is too old for ledger and unfortunately no backport is available at the moment.

Debian 7 (wheezy), Debian 8 (jessie), Debian 9 (stretch), Debian testing and Debian unstable (sid) contain all components needed to build ledger. You can install all required build dependencies using the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential cmake autopoint texinfo python-dev \
     zlib1g-dev libbz2-dev libgmp3-dev gettext libmpfr-dev \
     libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev \
     libboost-graph-dev libboost-iostreams-dev \
     libboost-python-dev libboost-regex-dev libboost-test-dev


The next step is preparing your environment for building. While you can use cmake . and make, I've prepared a script that does a lot more of the footwork for you:

$ ./acprep update
# or, if you want to use the Boost libraries with suffix -mt, install in
# $HOME/local and build with 2 processes in parallel
$ ./acprep update --boost-suffix=-mt --prefix=$HOME/local -j2

Please read the contents of CMakeFiles/CMakeOutput.log and CMakeFiles/CMakeError.log if the configure step fails. Also, see the help subcommand to acprep, which explains some of its many options. It's pretty much the only command I run for configuring, building and testing Ledger.

You can run make check to confirm the result, and make install to install.


Now that you're up and running, here are a few resources to keep in mind:

If you have ideas you'd like to share, the best way is either to e-mail me a patch (I prefer attachments over pasted text), or to get an account on GitHub. Once you do, fork the Ledger project, hack as much as you like, then send me a pull request via GitHub.