When using open source word processing software, a user can find many of the same features that he can find in commercial packages such as Office and WordPerfect. One thing that a user might have difficulty finding is a decent grammar checker that works with Koffice, Abiword or OpenOffice.
Abiword's Open Source Grammar Checker
Abiword was developed as part of an office suite for Gnome. It has many of the features that larger programs have and takes up less space. This light-weight word processor also saves the user hard drive space. The grammar checker that comes with Abiword underlines potential grammar errors in green. Users can download the grammar checker for this program from the repositories for their Linux distribution. Updates can also be found on the official web site for the program.
OpenOffice's Language Tool: Another Open Source Grammar Checker
OpenOffice started its life as StarOffice, a program developed by Sun Microsystems. StarOffice still exists, but the open source community expanded upon the features offered by Sun's original program. The word processor only comes with a built-in spell checker. The most popular open source office suite does not include a true grammar checker at this time.
The OpenOffice Wiki provides links to an extension called Language Tool. A user must have Sun’s Java run time libraries installed on his computer in order to install this extension. Clicking on the file after the user downloads it launches the Write application. If the Write application is already running when a user downloads the Language Tool grammar checking software, the user may need to restart the office suite to get the full benefits of the program.
The language tool does not make itself available for usage immediately. A user must go to the tools manual to select the extensions. When he runs the spell checker, he can choose to select to check spelling and grammar at the same time. He can run the language tool individually or use it as part of his spell checking routine.
After the Deadline: An Open Source Grammar Checker Tool for the Web
After the Deadline is a Firefox add-on that can check for simple grammar errors. It does not let the user know if he uses run-on sentences or if he used passive voice when he should have used the active voice. While using the passive voice over the active voice is not technically incorrect, it is something frowned upon by the classic book The Elements of Style. After the Deadline works as a way to double-check posts before submitting on the Internet. Google's toolbar allows a user to check spelling on a number of browsers. Even less popular browsers, like Epiphany, Opera and Safari can use the Google Toolbar. Not all of these browsers have Linux versions yet.
No grammar or spelling checker can spot every mistake a human makes. While the tools listed here can help the user here, proofreading by one or more sets of human eyes will always be necessary. They can help a user think about potential problem areas in his writing. Software choices for attention sometimes cause a person to think about whether an item underlined is the result of a mistake or a limitation of the open source grammar checking software.