Regular readers of this blog will note I posted about the ham fisted decision of the Ubuntu world to force in the “O” versions of Linux Libertine fonts instead of the “G” versions which come bundled by default with LibreOffice. Some of my fellow authors and people I “know” on-line asked me to kick the tires on OpenOffice. I had a Ubuntu 18.04 Mate minimal VM set up so I decided to kick the tires.
- Install Ubuntu 18.04 in a virtual machine checking the minimal installation box. If you don’t yet have Oracle Virtualbox installed directly from Oracle read this post.
- From inside of your VM installation open a browser and visit the Apache OpenOffice site to download the latest.
- Open a terminal window and issue the following:
sudo apt-get install default-jdk sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
Technically you don’t need the mscorefonts but they do help browsing a bit.
Use the GUI file browser tools of your distro to navigate to Downloads and extract the file you downloaded.
It will create the en-US (or whatever your language is) directory in your Downloads directory. Go back to your terminal window.
Navigate to the DEBS directory under your country and language. Notice there is also a desktop-integration sub-directory.
sudo dpkg -i *.debcd desktop-integrationsudo dpkg -i *.deb
I always reboot but in theory you should be able to run OpenOffice from the graphical menu now.
I must admit OpenOffice seemed faster. It loaded my 598 page test document complete with images very snappy. A quick tire kicking did spot some obvious differences as the code bases for each product is now diverging significantly.
When you select text and right click you see a “Clear Direct Formatting” option. This is handy for when a font or something else got changed within a paragraph. I’ve had to use it quite a bit given the “Linux Libertine O” catastrophe Ubuntu forced on me.
I wasn’t brave enough to click “Default Formatting” to see if this is just a naming difference.
Notice how clean the page split looks with LibreOffice. Just the little corner markers to point out the boundaries.
OpenOffice draws boxes around everything. While they are not offensive, I really worry about that blank one underneath the footnote on page 14.
The “image” itself looks much cleaner than in OpenOffice. You will note the gap between the image and top of its frame/box? That can’t be fixed in the current LibreOffice.
In fairness, I didn’t try to fix the gap while in OO. In truth it may not be fair to point out the icky image handling. LibreOffice was running native on KDE Neon with direct access to the NVIDIA driver. OO was running in a Virtualbox VM with a fake video driver glad handing stuff out. It may be just as good as it gets.
LibreOffice on Ubuntu installs Linux Libertine G font family.
OpenOffice installed into a minimal Ubuntu installation does not. This alone may make it worth switching.
General observation. OO should have been dramatically slower. Much of it uses Java which is a P-Compiled then interpreted via JIT language. The JVM has a long, horrible history when it comes to memory management, especially when images are involved. Great strides must have been made since LibreOffice forked away. I tried writing books with OpenOffice before the fork and it was physically impossible. After a few hundred pages with running page headers and a few images, things just ceased to be even remotely tolerable. I was pleasantly surprised.
For those who want to run Linux, but don’t want to mess with a minimal installation, you can always run OpenSUSE. The don’t force Linux Libertine O fonts on you either.