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Linux Office Suites: Part I - Freewares

written by: Charles M Bowen•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 10/1/2008

A look at various office suites available for Linux. Part I includes brief review of various freeware office suites and their strengths and weakness, while Part II will review some available commercial office suites.

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    KOffice

    KOffice is a free and open source office suite for KDE. KOffice consists of several office necessities. Word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool are just the beginning.

    The KOffice word processor, KWord, is based on frames, which makes it suitable for simple desktop publishing.Open Document format means KOffice documents are compatible with most other office suites. KWord features many presets and custom page sizes. It also sports features found on MS Word like header and footers, multiple columns on a page, tables, embedding of text frames and images, auto correction and spell checking etc.

    KSpread is a scriptable spread sheet program, its main features include templates, multiple tables/sheets per document,and header and footer abilities. With almost 400 built in formulas, and cell customization, KSpread can do anything you ask of it.

    KPresenter lets you insert text and graphics, group objects , and even create animation effects, to create professional looking slide presentations.

    Kexi is a database management application which can be used to create databases, inserting and processing data. Like MS Access it allows you to create forms to provide a custom interface to your data.

    KOffice also includes applications for flowcharting, vector drawing, image editing,and a project management.

    Lotus Symphony Beta

    Originally available only for Windows, this free office suite from IBM can now be run on Ubuntu. Lotus Symphony consists of a word processor, presentation application, and a spreadsheet.

    The word processor includes inline spell checking, support for many text formats (including Microsoft Office), pre-defined styles, and the ability to export documents to PDF format.

    The presentation tool includes templates for easy and fast presentation creation. It includes support for charts, tables, graphics, animation for graphics and slide transition effects. Multiple presentation formats are supported, and Lotus Presentation lets you export to PDF or HTML.

    The Spreadsheet application included in the Lotus Symphony suite, also includes built-in templates. It also includes common spreadsheet functionalities like, pivot tables, formatting of text, cells and spreadsheets, mathematical functions etc. Like the other two applications in the Suite, it can also export documents to PDF.

    GNOME Office

    GNOME Office is an office suite for Gnome environment. GNOME Office combines popular office applications into one easy application. AbiWord, Evince for document viewing, Evolution Email, Gnumeric for spreadsheet needs, and GNOME-DB provides database tools. Other tools like GNU Cash, a financial Application, gLabels for designing labels, and Glom, a database designer are also included.

    The Debian version of GNOME Office also includes GIMP, DIA for diagram editing, and Inkscape for vector drawing.

    Evolution is an open source email client and groupware solution included in the GNOME office suite. It can connect to Microsoft Exchange servers, and includes features, like junk mail control, filters, integrated security etc.

    Gnumeric boosts of having more worksheet functions than MS Excel. It can import/export data in various formats, including Microsoft Excel format.

    GNOME-DB aims to provide "free unified data access architecture to the GNOME project for all Unix platforms"

    The problem with GNOME office is the integration among the various components is loose and hence some even argue against calling it an Office suite.

    OpenOffice

    OpenOffice is a very popular office suite for Linux, and it's equally popular as an alternative to MS Office for Windows. The OpenOffice suite consists of a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, database, drawing program, and a scientific formula editor.

    OpenOffice Writer is the main strength of OpenOffice. Although not as comprehensive as MS Word, Writer has all the common features and some features which are not present in MS office, lsuch as 'export to PDF'.

    Calc, the spreadsheet application, is a powerful tool for mathematical calculations, but its weaker when it comes to representation of data.

    Impress is a full featured presentation program, and it includes the ability to export presentations to Adobe Flash formats. Its interface allows you to access many of its commonly used functions with a single click.

    Don't expect Draw to be anything like Photoshop, or even GIMP. It’s not even close. But, hey how many office suites include an image editing application?

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