not a fan

Story: Diving into OpenOffice and LinuxTotal Replies: 19
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Aug 31, 2006
11:38 PM EDT
I'm not a real fan of the OO project, if you need the full office suite it and koffice are about the only choices, and koffice has never quite made the cut. I just opened a copy of Word 2000 I have here and the interface is far less cluttered than the OO equivalent. Word also loads in about a quarter of the time, in spite of the fact that it's on a much older and slower machine. It's especially offensive cause I always thought that MS was the bloated pig... In this case, apparently not. Frankly I find all the OO apps cluttered, confusing, and, just plain slow. With lots of glitzy icons and awkward functionality, this isn't a winner for the Linux desktop.

In desperation, I recently tried the latest offering from the Gnome office suite, Abiword, Gnumeric and Dia (a diagram editor). Surprisingly, they are all very cleanly designed, fast, and quite usable. I've been using them for a bit now, and, I think enough of them so that I've removed OO from the machine.

If you use more than a word processor and a spread sheet, I guess you'd still be stuck with OO, but if you're like most people, try Abiword, and Gnumeric. I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

Sep 01, 2006
2:51 AM EDT
jimf -

I agree that OO is more cluttered, less responsive, and just plain bigger than it should be. Downside of java, I presume.

But...don't give OO all the blame. Some of the problem may be your system settings.

The former chief editor (Mr. Tom) may have spent a lot of time bashing Microsoft and railing against the world, but he also had some really fine tips to offer, one of which makes both KDE and OO come up many times faster on my box (which has 1 G of memory).

You must remember that Linux is a chameleon OS -- fully capable of supporting large corporate servers and single user desktops. Thing is, the default distribution settings tend to favor servers. The big hitter I got from Tom is a 2.6 kernel value called swappiness (/proc/sys/vm/swappiness). It plays some role (I won't pretend to know what) in the kernel's aggressiveness in swapping/paging. I set the number down from 60 to 10, and now I no longer have to wait on KDE to load. OO comes up in less than 2 seconds. Still a lot slower than MS Office, but no longer annoying.


Sep 01, 2006
7:58 AM EDT
> But...don't give OO all the blame. Some of the problem may be your system settings.

Don't presume dino ;-).

I was aware of swappiness way before Tom mentioned it, and it's been tweaked. Yes, the latest OO is 'faster' than it used to be, but then by comparison with the older version, anything would be.

Along with everyone else, I've been waiting... and waiting, for OO to develop into something other than an also ran. What we've ended up with is a pig on steroids, dressed up like a cheap tart. I for one am tired of making excuses for her, and, ready to move on to something a little more functional.

Sep 01, 2006
8:14 AM EDT
jimf -

I am not a spreadsheet heavy, but everything I hear says that gnumeric is one fine spreadsheet...better than calc.

I am a big word processor user, and I REALLY REALLY want to like Abiword. It's clean, fast, and pops right up when you call it. I also REALLY REALLY want to like koffice. Koffice, IMHO, is sneaking up on the others a nibble at a time. They are leveraging QT, and QT keeps getting better.

The thing about OO is that it does pretty much anything I throw at it.

It's absolutely a pig. It doesn't help that MS Office is a lot better than people here like to admit. Excel remains a really nice piece of work -- though how it survives in Redmond is beyond me. Word hasn't been made completely terrible, though I lament what was a clean and incredibly capable word processor in it's DOS days. I still remember using Word 3.0 for DOS to do 100+ page documents on my old 8 mhz XT clone. Sigh.

But...OO does the stuff I need and, once up, does pretty well. I don't find myself constantly annoyed using it. That counts for something...though I wish I could give it a better endorsement than that.

Sep 01, 2006
8:15 AM EDT
Quoting:What we've ended up with is a pig on steroids, dressed up like a cheap tart.

You make that sound like a bad thing. Some people have elaborate fantasies built around such ideas.

Not me, of course. I just hear things.

Sep 01, 2006
8:18 AM EDT
>dressed up like a cheap tart.

Cherry tart!! mmmmmm. Even pop tart. I'm easy.

Sep 01, 2006
8:30 AM EDT
> I also REALLY REALLY want to like koffice.

I agree, but it also keeps disapointing me. The latest Abiword doesn't.

As I said, 'if you need the complete suite suite' you may have no choice. I get around that with what's basically the goffice suite, and knoda for my database stuff.

> Some people have elaborate fantasies built around such ideas.

Maybe those are the people who design the interface...

Sep 01, 2006
8:36 AM EDT
> I'm easy.

We already knew that Dino. :) (No, you wife hasn't been talking).

Sep 01, 2006
8:51 AM EDT
If you have complex needs such as writing a book, or need different style templates, or do a lot of stuff that requires mail-merge-type features and label printing, OO blows the doors off MS Office. Once you figure out how to bend it to your will, it make editing and maintaining large complex documents easy.

I hate Java-based apps, that's where the pig part comes in. From the end-user perspective they're a poor compromise to fit multiple platforms. But it looks like we're stuck with it, so hopefully it will improve in some mythical future.

Sep 01, 2006
9:32 AM EDT
> I also REALLY REALLY want to like koffice. <

I like Koffice but I guess I am a little too used to OOo.

I am with you, that OOo has a GUI that if left that way is very cluttered.


If you take the time to remove from the menus what you do not use, it can be made to look very clean. At least that how I did it. I moved a menu to the side bar as well, which helped.

It did take me a bit to get it the way I want it because after using it you start to find out what you use and what you do not. As far as the speed goes, I would not know, MSoffice always loaded slow for me when I ran M$ but under SuSE it opens in about 10 to 15 seconds.


Sep 01, 2006
10:13 AM EDT
> Downside of java, I presume.

Isn't it funny? The reasoning seems to be "OpenOffice is dog-slow and bloated" => "OpenOffice is Java". Well, it is not. It's C++. All except hsqldb in OOBase, and I think it's the fastest part of this pig :)

Sep 01, 2006
10:29 AM EDT
> If you take the time to remove from the menus what you do not use, it can be made to look very clean.

Lol Scott, that sound like what I used to have to do with windows...

jezuch, From a user perspective, it really doesn't matter what makes it slow, it just is.

Sep 01, 2006
11:19 AM EDT
jimf: sure; I just wanted to clear this up. Besides, there's this thing about false assumptions and such :) [or maybe I'm just tired of these "C++ is faster than Java!" flamewars...]

Sep 01, 2006
11:47 AM EDT
It most certainly does depend on Java if you want full functionality. You lose a lot if you don't have a big fat annoying JRE on your system.

Of course it was slow before 2.0, which introduced the Java junk, so Java isn't totally to blame.

Sep 01, 2006
1:14 PM EDT
I just checked dependencies of oo.o packages on my Debian box. No Java in sight (I don't use Base). So either Debian cripples OpenOffice or there's really no Java requirement. I'm pretty sure it's not Java to blame. It's just a pretty bad piece of software (you can do this in any language).

Sep 01, 2006
1:44 PM EDT
From Bruce Byfield on Newsforge:

However, in version 2.0, the dependence on Java has grown. In addition to the Java-dependent features in earlier versions, 2.0 requires a JRE for: Base, the new Access-like database application The media player, which adds movie and sound clips to documents Mail merges to e-mail, which also require Java Mail All document wizards in Writer Although some could argue that basic office functionality continues to be unaffected, anyone claiming that most users do not need Java in 2.0 may be stretching the point. For anyone trying to run the beta without Java, the claim becomes even more strained. Even when version 2.0 is not linked to a JRE, tools that require one are still available on the menu and the only way to know which they are is to try them

Sep 01, 2006
1:47 PM EDT
> Base, the new Access-like database application

Which is anything but access like...

Sep 01, 2006
1:52 PM EDT
>Lol Scott, that sound like what I used to have to do with windows...<

You laughin' at me? Do I look funny to you? ;-)

It is the same thing I had to do to it when I ran M$ too, oh well.

Still jim, you have to give the Open Office team some credit for knowing it boots slow and at least trying to do something about it. And as far as a counterpart to M$office it is the only one that qualifies and it doesn't break documents just by opening them like M$ office either, which I think is on purpose.


Sep 01, 2006
2:33 PM EDT
> You laughin' at me?

No, that would have read Lol@Scott...

And, you are saying they deserve credit for being 'better than MS'... well yeah, I'll give them that...

Sep 01, 2006
5:42 PM EDT
Well, I'll jump into the fray here with a comment of my own. O.k., really I'm borrowing the comment from Luigi. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't borrow from a legitimate source. ;-)

Anyway, I published "Penguin in the Pew" through, using It was my first complex writing project, and that document navigator quickly became my best friend. OOWriter's styles feature is awesome. I didn't have to use some 3rd-party app to create PDF from a Word doc - just click to export and upload. It was a very positive experience.

On the other hand, I have just wasted the better part of a week trying to translate my Calc sheet into 2 Base tables amid numerous crashes. I also create a problem of my own by leaving some empty rows in the Calc sheet, which led to anomalies in the resulting DB. It's been a real learning experience. I finally managed to create each table in its own DB, then copy Table1 to the other DB. Incidentally, it didn't seem to matter whether I was using my 1.2GHz laptop with 256MB RAM running Ubuntu Dapper, or the 3GHz box at work with 504MB of RAM running WinXP.

The good news is that I have successfully created - for the first time - a relationship between two tables in a graphical DB app. Never did get it right in MS Access way back when I was attempting to learn that. For me, creating a join in MySQL was much easier to understand - guess my brain just works that way. Anyway, this was kind of a mountaintop experience for me. :-)

On the bright side, a Sun employee mentioned something about me sending all my crash reports, and pointed out (with a link) that at least one had been addressed already. ;-) Hopefully, I have helped make the app that much more stable. I never thought of it as unstable, but have certainly experienced plenty of problems attempting to copy stuff in Calc, or open a new table in Base.

Frankly, none of this recent frustration is enough to convince me to migrate to anything else. I'm not likely to use this method to create databases often, so outside of that, I'm o.k. with the app. I don't really care if my office suite takes 30 seconds to load, either. I'm just not gonna accomplish very much in that time anyway.

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