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[vox-tech] Re: [vox] Linux Word Processors?
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[vox-tech] Re: [vox] Linux Word Processors?

Moved to vox-tech.

Quoting Robert G. Scofield (rscofield@afes.com):

> Unlike most Linux users, I think there is a real problem getting a good 
> wordprocessor.  Unfortunately the ones for Windows are better.  I am 
> wondering what people think of Open Office and KWord.

If it'll help, I include a (too-brief) rundown on all available word
processors for Linux as part of my Word Perfect for Linux FAQ,
http://linuxmafia.com/wpfaq/ .  Please see especially section 8.5 ("What
alternatives to WP exist on Linux?").  

> How is Open Office different from Star Office (which I can't stand)?

First of all, with Star Office / OpenOffice.org, as well as with all the
others, you have to be careful about what versions you're talking about:
There are a lot of comparisons floating around that address the merits
of long-vanished versions, which tend to mislead people.  Also,
unfortunately, some _packages_ have fewer problems than others.  (It's
like with the Galeon Web browser:  I might say my Galeon v. 1.2.5 is
great, while you say your distribution's Galeon v. 1.2.5 is terrible and
unstable, and we might both be right.)

Back to your question about Star Office vs. OpenOffice.org:
OpenOffice.org is (approximately) the Star Office 6.0 code stripped of
third-party proprietary components Sun didn't own copyright to, plus
some enhancements developed by the surrounding open-source coder
community.  And Star Office also throws in some materials Sun can't
really afford to give out to the public for free, such as use of Apple
Computer's patents on byte-hinting techniques for (some) TrueType fonts
at small point sizes:

The third-party components include the bundled ADABAS D SQL database and
the WordPerfect filters (again, Sun didn't own the rights), among other

_Both_ Star Office 6.0 and OpenOffice.org 1.0.x have the advantage over
Star Office 5.2 of eliminating the obnoxious "desktop" window that
everything had to reside in, on-screen.  I believe SO 6.0 also
eliminates Motif in favour of GTK+.  (OO.o definitely does.)

Both of them are pretty mammoth in the RAM they require to start (73
MB), but that's partly because the binary that loads can handle any of
the supported documents:  I'm told that the perception of a distinct
"Star Calc", "Star Writer", etc., as well as of distinct data formats
for each document types is something of an illusion:  There's a single
(very complex) XML-based format for all supported data, and a single
executable that assumes various roles.

A big plus for SO / OO.o is Microsoft document compatibility.  They're
really good at it (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).  Abiword does well for
Word;  Gnumeric does well for Excel; KPresenter does well for PowerPoint
-- but SO / OO.o is one-stop MS compatibility that's pretty reliable
(though not 100% perfect).  It's important to note that Microsoft itself
isn't 100% able to parse Microsoft data formats, and sometimes SO / OO.o
will not only be able to read documents MS apps can't, but cleans them
up in the process of reading and resaving them so that MS apps _can_
suddenly read the result.

> Is anyone using KWord?  Does anyone like KWord?  What are the problems
> with KWord?

What I hear is that KWord has been undergoing pretty rapid development,
same as AbiWord.  So, you'll need to be particularly careful about the
version and package problems noted above, in weighing anything you hear.

KWord differs from most of the others in being frame/template-based,
sort of like FrameMaker or the much-liked DeScribe word processor.
Arguably, this results in more-reliable and better-structured documents,
especially long ones.

KWord 1.1.1 is fairly current (being the KDE 2.2 version, not the KDE
3.0 one), and is the version I have some experience with -- but not
much.  Most of my editing is in vim.  

I've personally found the AbiWord stable release (1.0.1) to be _really_
stable -- and fast, and generally likeable.  The main missing feature
is tables, which was deliberately deferred until after 1.0 (so they're 
doing the code for that, now).

As always, compound documents (OLE stuff) and password-protected
documents from Microsoft tend to be problematic anywhere but on the
Microsoft platform du jour.

Cheers,                            "To summarize the summary of the summary:
Rick Moen                           People are a problem."
rick@linuxmafia.com                                       -- Douglas Adams
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