Computers are necessary tools to be productive members in today’s society. We need them to be able to do what we want them to, whenever and wherever. A part of being productive means using an office suite to write documents and create presentations. Under Linux, there are a number of great options available which allow you to be as productive as you possibly can.
Each office suite has its own advantages, so it’s important to determine what your needs are in an office suite under Linux.
As far as traditional office suites go, LibreOffice is the most popular choice. A cross-platform suite of office utilities, LibreOffice aims to address the needs of all its users and is therefore often seen as the open source alternative to Microsoft Office. It includes alternatives to the most popular components of any office suite – Writer for document creation, Impress for presentations, and Calc for spreadsheets. The suite also includes decent compatibility with Microsoft Office’s proprietary formats, including the new .docx and .pptx extensions.
From there, LibreOffice and Microsoft Office start to go different ways. For example, LibreOffice doesn’t include any alternatives to Publisher, Outlook, or OneNote. However, there are other software applications available under Linux which aren’t related to the LibreOffice suite but take care of the job.
While LibreOffice can be installed on any Linux desktop, some people who are running the KDE desktop environment may want to have an office suite which integrates better into their desktop. For those people, there’s the Calligra office suite. It takes a slightly different approach to LibreOffice and Microsoft Office when it comes to the layout, but you can still work effectively with this suite.
While it may be a joy to use, it doesn’t save in every format that you may want to use, so this is a slight downside to using it. Besides that, it’s mostly a preference of taste as to whether you prefer LibreOffice, this, or the following solutions.
If you want to have something which you can use online from anywhere, you should look into Google Docs. Although it doesn’t include as many suite components as LibreOffice, this online office suite provides good functionality for documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Google Docs is also fantastic to use for collaboration, so people can work on a document and see those changes in real-time.
The suite is feature-complete for basic to moderate functionality, so it’s more than enough to write papers for school or other simple documents. Again, don’t expect a level of editing as found in Microsoft’s Publisher.
You save files in a number of popular formats, or simply use, print, or present your work directly from Google Docs. The office suite is available to anyone with a Google account, and not just a Google email address.
Microsoft Office Web Apps
Last but not least, if you need the best compatibility possible with Microsoft Office documents, you can go straight to the source and use Microsoft Office. Of course, you can use WINE to have Office run on Linux, but if you’re looking for a more native solution, you can use Microsoft Office’s Web Apps which you have access to from a Live account. Like Google Docs, you can easily collaborate with other people on the same document and see changes being made in real-time.
The Web Apps are quite a bit more limited in functionality than the fully-fledged products, however, but at least you’ll be guaranteed to have complete compatibility with whatever documents you’re working with. Otherwise, you can always try your luck with WINE.
With these four office suites, you should be fairly well prepared to start an epic journey of productivity under Linux. There have also been a few rumors going around lately that Microsoft may be looking at porting Office to Linux, now that the operating system has shown some commercial viability through the advances made by Steam. However, no matter what you actually use, it should serve you well in personal, educational, and professional environments.
What office suite are you currently using under Linux? Why do you like it? What would you like to see added or improved to make it better? What do you think about the Microsoft rumors? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: KDE
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