Information Technology

Linux Mint 13 KDE and LibreOffice 4.0

Those of you who write for a living or simply have people send you nasty DOCX and DOC files you need to edit should be a wee bit excited. LibreOffice 4.0 is here!

I spent some time on Sunday downloading and installing it based upon instructions I found at this site. I can concur with the author of that site that the desktop integration package needs quite a bit of work. On KDE it appears they are trying to use icky nasty Unity. The icons are passable, but some of the menus can be difficult to read. I’m certain there will be a patch soon. As I recall it took about two weeks for most distros to tweak the desktop integration and release either PPA or direct update. Hopefully the repositories supporting Linux Mint 13 KDE will get a shiny new update soon. Until then I will deal with some difficult menus.

Why will I deal with it? Speed, smooth fonts, and better DOCX processing. The very first time you load Writer it is slow. This is normal as it has a lot of files to initialize. After I rebooted I could open a working novel or book file in roughly 3 seconds on my Acer Aspire One netbook. That’s pretty swift for a full length novel or geek book.

It didn’t cheat either. Many word processors on the market will cheat when it comes to “open speed”. They will open the file and read less than five pages of text before displaying. They will then thread off a background task which will continue parsing the rest of the file. These cheats are easy to spot for a geek:

  1. typing may be slow as hell during the first few minutes
  2. if you update a page format which runs throughout the book your computer seems to almost lock up.
  3. You will notice that the total page count magically appears minutes after you start editing.

I did not find any of these cheats, or at least the page count was correct at time of open which means they really did process the entire document. I even tried a few DOCX files which used to look incredibly ugly and they seem much better now.

This brings me to another related topic.

Leach mode vs. Citizen mode.

For many years most of us have been using and not donating to our distros. It was justifiable back in the day. These things had a looooong way to go. That’s not the truth anymore. Yes, I was frustrated enough by the token few clients who send me DOCX stuff that I considered actually purchasing a commercial word processor for Linux. (Notice that I did not say I considered installing Windows.) The one I was looking at was TextMaker from SoftMaker.

I didn’t go so far as to actually get a demo or purchase it. Over my 20+ years in IT I’ve bought a lot of software from vendors which do not exist anymore. Back in the evil Windows days it was nothing to drop $400 on a word processor. I see that professional versions of the packages are still in that price range. It was also nothing to drop a few hundred on a programming editor, especially if you want a multi-platform one. I see those prices have increased significantly.

Where I’m going with this is that it is time for all of us to start being citizens instead of leaches. Yes, we were all “beta testers” for years, but these things have matured. It’s now time to start contributing to the products we use every day. Perhaps this is just my week for doing donations after NPR did a fund drive. Today I donated to Linux Mint and LibreOffice. (I tried to donate to QT Project, but there was no donation link.) It was only $100 each, but if all of us jobs gave even $10 to each of the products we use daily, we would see some massive improvements.