I love Fedora Linux, although version 15 is to Linux as Tomy is to IBM. If you listen to the Linux Action Show from Jupiter Broadcasting , you’ll probably be aware that Bryan Lunduke is not the biggest fan of Fedora. I disagree; Fedora offers everything that a powerful OS should. Fuck Ubuntu and Debian.
Since I am an aspiring writer, word processing apps are HUGELY important to me. Corporations also need an effective, easy-to-use, and powerful suite of apps to process documentation and communication, which is why Microsoft is very fond of its Office product, both on the PC and on Windows Mobile/Phone 7; corporations love Office and therefore run Windows in their company. I like Word, but it does have a real fiddly element to it, especially when trying to do layouts. Apple has its own app called Pages – slick, but nowhere near as powerful as Word. It is more suited for people who want to create pretty documents that will be shown on an iPad or printed out. Happily, MS Office is also available for Mac OS, so Mac users can do more than drop a picture into a document if they want.
Now Linux has always touted OpenOffice as its MS Office-alike, and in some cases it is. However, it has absolutely no flair. In short, it is off-putting simply because it looks unfinished and bare. A brief browse of the ‘net seems to point to Oracle stagnating OpenOffice, and not really pushing or developing it. Considering also the wave of problems people are having with Java 7 too – another Oracle product now – it seems that Oracle can’t be bothered to nurture their open-source toys. Want an example? Where the fuck is OpenOffice for Android? See? Oracle cares not for the open-source community. To be fair, even if they released an ad-driven OpenOffice, with the option of paying £3.99 for the “non-nag” version (same price as Pages on the iWhatever), they’d probably get a fair few bucks from it.
Someone mentioned LibreOffice to me many months ago and I didn’t really pay any attention; a fork of OpenOffice? Not surprising; Linux = forks = restaurant. However, for one reason or another, I rolled Office back to 2007 last week, then started to think about OpenOffice (with a slight grimace of my face to be truthful), but then I remembered LibreOffice. Why not?
My first impression is how much it draws upon Office 2000/2003’s look and feel. The menus are similar, the menu bars are similar – at a casual glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. For those who are not pleased with Windows Vista/7’s incessant demand to use “ribbons” instead of menus, you will breath a sigh of relief. It feels less-clunky than OpenOffice too. It is almost completely compatible with Office documents, and although it saves documents as OpenOffice’s ODF format, it will allow you to default to Word 2003/2010 if you want. All the usual functionality you’d have in Word 2xxx is present, although my biggest gripe is that the word count isn’t displayed at the bottom of the doc. Hey-ho – it is only two clicks away though, so not a match-stopper.
Finally, you can save into PDF format without having to use a PDF “print” program. For free. You get a completely up-to-date office package that can support Microsoft Office and ODF files equally.
For my Fedora needs, Libre’s the way forward. For my Windows machines, it’s probably going to be a few weeks of usage before I can say goodbye to Office with confidence. In any case, OpenOffice as a release is now redundant. LibreOffice rules.