bookmark_borderOpenOffice vs LibreOffice

Long time no post! Life has been…intense.

Anyway, I was doing something with OpenOffice, wanted to see if an extension would help, but the extension page wouldn’t load. And other information pages were showing years old stuff. Then I remembered someone on Facebook had said something about it being bought out or something. So I went investigating. And about cried. Apache OpenOffice was officially discontinued in 2011.

OpenOffice has gone by a lot of names and transitions. It’s a good example of open source, licensing, proprietary, forking, and business politics. Kinda like a geek soap opera. Well, here, check out this image.

At any rate, OpenOffice is, essentially, dead. Which is sad, because it had a HUGE amount of users. Huge. And was beginning to make MS Office sweat.

Which brings me to a replacement for those of us who hate MS Office (the bulk, the embedding, the cost, the crap, the seemingly constant file extension changes, and more!) and those of us who are uncomfortable using OpenOffice with no security updates forthcoming. Enter LibreOffice (LO). LO has its own history (see the link to the image above) and could be (and should be) considered a better version of OpenOffice. LO is maintained by The Document Foundation (TDF) and is flourishing. Most of its programmers (and others) are from when Oracle donated OO to Apache Software. They didn’t like the direction it was going and left, got the source code (it’s all about the licensing when it comes to alleged open source), and made their own playground. Basically. Which means if you switch from OO to LO, there’s not going to be much of a learning curve since they are essentially the same. There’s subtle differences.

I’ve been using LO for a while now (few weeks I guess) and am liking it. First off, I like the landing page. Because of it, I was able to remove a line of shortcuts from my desktop. I kept a shortcut for each manuscript I was actively working on so I could choose whichever one I felt like working on that day. But I can now open LO and see a pictorial representation of my recent documents. I can clear the list or just remove individual ones by clicking an X.

Second, I didn’t like the standard icon set that appeared on LibreOffice. The standard OpenOffice icons are cleaner. I had to dig around and find the themes (something I never used in OO). I am a creature of habit and didn’t like pausing so long to figure out where the italic icon was. Ya know? (in image below, my OO toolbar, the default LO, and the one I chose)

I never used the QuickStarter for OpenOffice because I’ve never had enough PC memory to handle it. LibreOffice takes a little longer to load a document but not so much I worry it has hung itself. I turned the QuickStarter on for both and checked the memory use. LibreOffice uses a lot more memory, even without the QuickStarter running. BUT, I also have more of it installed, as you can tell by the fourth image below.

Both programs open with similar sized documents (odt format).

Both programs with just the QuickStarter going.

Both programs with similar sized documents and the QuickStarter going.

Options under the QuickStarter of both

There aren’t as many extensions for LibreOffice. But the good thing is it doesn’t need them. For example, in OpenOffice I had to put in a footer with the word count field, go to Tools>Word Count, or use an extension. LibreOffice has this standard AND shows the character count. And I heart it muchly. It’s the little things that make or break a relationship. I’m still exploring the extensions and will do another post about them later.

Things are hard to find on the LibreOffice website. Like, when I first starting using it, I tried to use the Help. It wasn’t there and it sent me online, telling me I needed to download it. But it didn’t tell me where it was. And I couldn’t find it. I finally got frustrated with that and just started digging (it is kinda hidden in the box where you download it and is called “offline help”). It is a hard to navigate site. The Document Foundation (LO’s handler) does not offer support. You have to either pay for it or go to the extremely simplistic “forum”.

I had an issue in the beginning that I had to go to the forum for help. I couldn’t use custom dictionaries. But I came up with the answer myself.

There’s two things about LO that has me very happy. When you save a file, it saves a backup. I could never get OpenOffice to do it. Yes, that’s double the data but I can clean that folder out every once in a while, getting rid of saves I don’t need. The other thing it does is save to or open from a remote server. Meaning FTP/SSH, WebDAV, Windows Share, Google Drive, and/or a CMIS server. I love that. I can do a quick upload to my ftp site and access it from my phone or laptop. Now, if only it could save to other cloud services, too.

LibreOffice backup

Remote File capabilities

If you are using OpenOffice, consider switching to LibreOffice. If you are using MS Office, consider switching to LibreOffice.

StarOffice Wikipedia article
OpenOffice Wikipedia article
LibreOffice Wikipedia article
The Document Foundation Wikipedia article
Ask.LibreOffice (the help forum)

bookmark_borderJesus Saves

There’s an old joke about the devil and Jesus seeing who could write the best program within a certain time frame. During it, the power goes out. When it comes back on, they get back to work and, of course, Jesus wins. Reason why? Jesus saves (his work).

If you need that ‘splained, well, I dunno.

Anyway, normally I am a big believer in using “autosave” when I write. I use which has this feature. Yesterday, I was writing like mad. Had about, oh, four new pages done. And for some dumbass reason, my laptop rebooted.

Insert silent cursing, silent staring, silent rage. Silent because it was at night and Precious was asleep. Had it been the daytime hours, well, it would have been loud and it would have scared the dogs.

OpenOffice has a lot of different options in regards to saving your work. One of them is “always create a backup copy” and the other is “save autorecovery information every” and there’s a drop down menu with time choices. The backup option is not an automatic save option. What it does, basically, is when you tell it to save, it first puts the old copy somewhere then saves the new copy. So if when you last saved and was on page 42 and this save is on 52, the 42 page version is saved somewhere and the 52 page does the usual save thing. AutoRecovery, meanwhile, sets aside copies of the current document at the time interval you specified. If, for some dumbass reason your computer reboots, when you next open, it will give you a menu to auto recover that document (and any others you had open at that time).

This has saved by cute butt cheeks many times. My Dell had a series of fits where it would randomly lock up and I’d have to unplug it and take out the battery. Back then, I had the timer set to 5 minutes. I was also writing a lot back then and in 5 minutes, that could be several hundred words lost. But the autorecovery is annoying because when it is doing that, the program momentarily pauses. You can’t enter text. It royally messes up any writing flow you had going. So once the Dell got over its fit, I moved it to 10 minutes. Then when my writing started to be so sporadic, I changed it to 20.

I suppose it is a good thing that I just moved it back to 10.

And speaking of saving, I also realized I’d not done any backups in a long time. I used to be quite religious about it, even making backup copies of my WIP folder in several places. That is on my agenda for today. That and take over the world.

Oh, and I can’t believe I never announced this! On October 28, 2009, 3 was downloaded for the 100,000,000th time (that’s one hundred million) since it was released just over a year ago. 3.1 has come out with a new version. This one has an interesting new feature. They call it the “User Experience/ User Feedback Program” and is the major component of their “UX Project” which, in turn, is part of “Renaissance“.

“Create a User Interface so that becomes the users’ choice not only out of need, but also out of desire”

The Feedback Program is a cool concept. In a nutshell, you give them permission to collect data on how you use OO.o and they use that data to make OO.o better. The data collected is not what you type, but the commands you use and how you use them (as in via macro, toolbar, keyboard shortcut, etc). I would assume that any time a command is activated, the data is collected. You can keep track of what they are collecting by going to Tools>Options>Improvement Program. You can click “show data” and get an actual report. I haven’t typed anything since I agreed to it but I did go check the Options thing. The report already has tracked that I did that. I can also save that data into a file for myself.

This effort is yet another reason why I love this program and the people behind it. It follows the old saying of “we can’t fix what we don’t know is broken”. They are making an effort to find out what works and what does not and, hopefully, will use that information to actually do something. For example, I hope they see how many people have to: Tools>Options>Language Settings>Writing Aids just to change the active personalized dictionary. A major PITA for writers with different manuscripts going at the same time. This would be much easier if it were part of Tools in a sub-menu.

I’ll get back to y’all later on how it works (the process on my side).

Linkages: (free productivity suite)
User Feedback Program main page
UX Project (User Experience Project)
Project Renaissance

bookmark_borderMore on OpenOffice

Finally got around to installing the new 3.0. With us going out of town (had fun with the kids and got to take Mom and Jim to lunch) and other stuff going on, I decided to wait until we got back.

Installing was the same as always. OpenOffice likes Java although I’m never really sure just how it uses it. I think it uses the Java “platform” but not Java itself. Not sure on that one. Anyway, got it installed and opened it. Got the usual “user information” screen. I decided to register this time. Usually I don’t since I’m a long time user and should already be marked on the books but with this being the new one and all that stuff, I decided to register again. OpenOffice is not exactly a Sun product. More like Sun is a big sponsor, I think. Anyway, registering this time meant registering with Sun. Not too happy about that but we’ll see what bacn shows up in my mailbox.

After registering (and realizing my user stuff wasn’t valid) I got down to checking out the new version. This is what I got when I opened the program (vs opening a direct component such as Writer).

(larger version of the opening image)

Plenty of choices on what to do next as well as access to add-ons and the like. The icons on the bottom right are: “Get more templates…”; “Add new features…”; “Register…”; and “Get more information….”.

I selected “Open a document” and opened “Exodus and Genesis” (my possible NaNo project). The document opened in the same window so I had to resize it. It looks as if the add-ons I’d installed in the previous version transferred over and the color scheme (migraine specific) is still intact. Even the customization of the toolbars is there, although moved around. There’s some new ones in place (like hyperlinking) that I’ll get rid of. My custom dictionaries/spelling lists are still there.

I clicked the little X to close the document and was shown the window again (vs a blank). I chose “Spreadsheet” this time. Looks the same. So, basically, at first glance, the only obvious difference is the opening window.

I’m going to ask some writer friends who use Word to send me a commented document to see if my OpenOffice and their Word can communicate now. I hope they can! Any volunteers?

bookmark_borderOpenOffice 3.0

Way. Freakin’. Cool. 3 is out. And so many people tried to download it that the main site crashed. Ain’t that cool? I mean, I’m sorry the site crashed, but it’s cool so many people are using it. I love OpenOffice. I use it for spreadsheets and documents, mostly. I’ve also used it to view and create PowerPoint files and database files. As a writer, I need a dependable, flexible, user-friendly data processing program. OpenOffice is all that and, better yet, it is FREE.

email from Louis Suarez-Potts, head of OO.o:


We must apologize. 3.0 is proving immensely, staggeringly popular. And our site is down as a result. While we fix things, we urge you to be patient and try again later on tonight, tomorrow, this week. It will still be there.

Oh, by popular, we mean it: figure hundreds of thousands of users, mostly Windows users, but also Mac OS X and Linux and Solaris users, all trying to download it all at once…..

Cheers, and thanks for your patience,

What other folks are saying:

Google News list of articles

What OpenOffice site crash means

This is good news and bad news. The good news is we have more proof of the popularity of Open Office, which continues to seize market share from Microsoft Office and reduce the monopoly rents that company earns. The bad news is it will take some time, and some money, for the open source group to scale-up. I know they can speak for themselves, but it’s time that companies which benefit from OpenOffice step up to the plate. If you’re an enterprise standardizing on OpenOffice, or a company that competes fiercely with Microsoft, you have a stake in this. It’s time for you to step up and support OpenOffice. Now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the software.

OK, now OpenOffice is definitely good enough is not a clone of Office 2007 (good call, Sun). It’s a full-featured suite that gives us everything we need from MS Office and the world of productivity software while keeping the bottom line quite a bit more reasonable (you don’t get any more reasonable than free). Yes, has been good enough for a long time; the latest release should leave little doubt for any users who had been on the fence.

PS I just tried to do the upgrade from OpenOffice itself and it can’t make a connection. I am currently downloading the huge 142.37M file. While the new modem is working great, Charter’s download speeds are not what they say they are. The download has yet to top 42Kb/sec.