Open Ballot: Time to dump OpenOffice.org?

TuxRadar

We all enjoy moaning about how slow OpenOffice.org is, but is it time we voted with our package managers and ditched OOo in favour of lighter office apps, such as AbiWord and KOffice?

As always, we're looking for a yes or no, backed up with your thoughts/prejudice/fear. What keeps you using OOo? Should distros come with lighter alternatives as standard? Please also provide a name other than "Anonymous Penguin", because we're sick of reading that out. Let us know what you think!

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Your comments

Community

I think it comes down to the community for me, if I am doing something slightly off the beaten track, its nice to know there are plenty of people to ask for help. The other office apps are a bit of an unknown quantity in that respect, even if I have liked the ones I have tried.

Maybe

Now that Sun has been bought buy Oracle, the future of OO.o doesn't look very bright. That is one of the reasons we should start switching to another free, open source Office Suite.

And yes, OpenOffice is slow, highly complex and (somewhat) poorly documented. I have just recently tried to playing with extension development in OO.o, but most of the documents are outdated, the API seem buggy and slow.

But I think we still have to stick with it for a while, most other office suite isn't ready yet (though I think Koffice is pretty good).

Ditching Openoffice.org?

I'd say no, for two reasons mainly.
1) It really isn't that slow, but then perhaps I'm not using it with complex files.

2) It is better at importing MS Office files than KOffice which also seems to have problems formatting OO files.

I am bored Of OO3

I am used to use OO
But Now
I am really bored Of OO3, Its too slow to run. Should it lighter then current.

Also hate KOffice is not an attractive interface.

Yes with a but...

I moved away from using OOo several months ago and started using Abiword and Gnumeric instead, and for what I do I haven't noticed much of a difference other than I spend less time waiting around. I'm a home user so my word processing requirements are nothing more than the odd letter, and my gnumeric work doesn't stretch much further than writing a budget spreadsheet to see if I can afford a new guitar... :-p. I guess for more complex stuff OOo might still be the answer.

That said, I do keep a copy of OOo installed just in case I need to do something the others don't cover, like importing MS Office docs, and no tool is ever perfect for 100% of tasks. Why choose when you can have both?

Interoperability

The main question is how well the office-suite functions in a work environment. How well it supports macros and other such advanced aspects of office use. The foremost example being how well they read the Microsoft Office format, of course.

I would not mind switching to another FOSS-solution, if there was a better alternative. Right now I believe OO.o to be the best choice, despite the fact that it is a bit slow and hard to maintain due to the (partly unnecessary) complex codebase.

So my vote is; No, I will keep using OO.o until there is something better, as with all software.

Not Yet

As a gnome lover, I tend to prefer software which doesn't have a "K" of KDE. And my experience with Abiword was a poor one compared to OOo the last time I checked. I don't mind a switch, though.

Versus this and that

There is also Go-oo to take into consideration - it has some backing independent of Sun.
Personally, I dumped OOo a long time ago, but I rarely use anything but the Writer application - and I think that is a relevant thing; I keep Koffice around to use Krita and had OOo to user Writer. That is not very efficient (and it clutters up my menus) - whereas I have enjoyed using Abiword a lot. That application is really a power package compared to the size.
With the right templates, that application could easily do the work in most the departments of the city administration where I work. If they made an improved template management system, I would say Abiword is ready for business.
Maybe I am prejudiced, because I am a member of the Abiword translation team; but then again, I am there because it is good!
It is too bad that there is no presentation package in the same weight class as Abiword and Gnumeric. That would be nice - then the package was complete.

Still the best option

No, it is the most complete "office suite" available. As for Oracle buying Sun and causing problems I think they are more likely to push development forward just to annoy Microsoft.

As noted on the LXF forums the most popular Linux distros, Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE & SUSE, actually use go-oo.org which is backed by Novell. So OpenOffice.org is already forked with a "better" version used by most Linux users.

Regards from
Downunder!

I think people just like complaining about it.

Admittedly I don't use a word processor very much but is it really that slow? I think every version gets a bit quicker and every year our hardware is faster so performance wise we are in a much better position than a few years ago.
Having said that I have heard that the code base is a mess and it's very difficult to improve the performance and it really needs to be re-written in a more modular fashion. But I'm not a programmer so I don't know whether it's true.
Anyway it seems to run fast enough on my netbook let alone my main pc.

OOo is good for my puposes, but how about google docs?

I am OK with OOo performance. Mainly because I use it rarely. When I use then I can live with it's performance. Although I should mention that I am still in OOo 2.4 on Ubuntu 8.10.

Regarding alternatives I am surprised that no one mentioned the online versions of different office applications like google docs. I would rather use that if I would leave the OOo world.

Yes

We're moving over to the cloud anyway so we should ditch bloated apps like those. I use Google Docs anyway...

Yes...

Word, OOo, and the paradigm of editing a document so that you immediately see the formatted look of the document is responsible for so much wasted time and poor writing it should be dumped by everybody. By going back to a simple plain text editor that forces people to concentrate on WHAT they are writing rather that what it looks like would be a huge boon to productivity.

In the mean time I am happy to use whatever to read to read those documents that the great unwashed send to me.

Don't throw the ooo baby out with the bathwater...

When I'm not on my Linux desktop I have my wife's Windows (was Vista but now runs XP) Sony Vaio laptop to use. I have just dumped MS Office 2000 from that computer in favour of ooo3 because ooo3 can do anything I would have needed MS Office to do. No other single OSS application comes close to this. I also note that when starting anything in Windows, application start up is exceedingly slow compared to Linux! Just try the comparison yourselves, so, is ooo on Linux really that slow?

If we decide ooo is too slow, maybe that is the main corrective objective for version 4? (Assuming Oracle continue their support for the application and, if they don't, perhaps someone else will pick up this mantle?)

Don't throw the ooo baby out with the bathwater...
...at least, not until there is a viable single application oss alternative.

Maybe

First, I think it's funny that when many people think of a "complete" office suite, they have MS Office as a baseline comparison in the back of their heads.

Now, I'll go with a maybe on the switch question, because I see OOo as filling an important niche: the transition from MS to Open Source. Projects like that always get a ton of crap for appeasing Redmond too much, but if they aren't there, many people won't bother to try and switch to open source at all.

That said, I don't think it's the best Open Office Suite around. At OOo's current level, I really feel the weight of the software as I use it, and in my view, that shouldn't really happen when you do basic stuff like word processing.

My hope would be that we see a shift towards other, more lightweight office suites, that incorporate the good stuff from OOo like its MS importing functions. At least with Open Document standards, you know the transition on the open source front will be much less painful than going from one proprietary to another.

I'd also like to add that I think OOo is in a bit of a unique bind compared to the other Open Office Suites, exactly because it tries to fill the bridge niche from MS to Open Source. That task essentially involves keeping up with Redmond's R&D team on a significantly smaller budget, requiring A LOT of free time and focus from developers in order to continually keep the software up to par. OOo has to carefully weigh the balance between bloat and keeping the suite as compatible (as fast as possible) with MS. That isn't easy, and few if any will be really happy with any realistic outcome.

no

its still useful

No! It's a valuable bridge from Windows to Linux

Having tried some of the other offerings, I'm unconvinced. And I have to what huge files or slow machines people are using to think OO is all that slow. I use it in 40-60 page documents on a few year old i6600 w/ 2GB, and other than the few times I do something totally global, which reformats every page, it isn't slowing me down.

Moving people from Windows, I find that they can quickly and easily do the move with minimal help, and it feels enough like word to keep new users happy. It must be easy to use, people who were non-computer users seem to like it.

I wish I could

Maybe it's time to dump OOo.The only problem is that it's the only alternative nowadays.

Light office suites could be a good alternative to some users but for many of us they are not. In my case, I need to include in my documents math formulas, graphs, tables, cross references, calculations from spreadsheets, automatic indexes... I have to produce presentations too. And I need a good compatibility with MS Office. No other suite lets me do all I need to do.

I know that OOo is slow and the interface is far from perfect. In fact, I hate pretty much OOo and I try to use it as less as possible. But, it's the only option for Linux users.

Maybe Google Docs is the future but now it's too simplistic for my needs, and for the needs of many users. Maybe it's good if you only write letters or documents with a low level of complexity. But if you need to produce rich documents, it's not an option. And, well, Firefox and Google Docs is not exactly a fast combination either.

I just dumped it after 2

I just dumped it after 2 years of use. I just tried office2007 and speed difference is impressive.

I think OOo need something similar to Mozilla -> Firefox. Strip all unnecessary feature and make it twice as fast.

OOo.oOO

I realy like OO, it fits good to my needs

Not that I use daily OO (I'm a root-vim user)
But when I need to create a spreadsheet or a presentation I will grab OO

It is the best of the worst

No, we need it. It is the best of the worst sort of situation. It can be slow at times, but that can be improved. They really need to take a whole development cycle and just work on speeding and tightening up the code. Then go back to new features.

Open Office needs to stay

Sun's product is StarOffice. StarOffice may die, but OpenOffice is a different "distro" and can't be killed by Sun. OpenOffice is based on the core of StarOffice, but the code is GPL'ed and can be used legally.

OpenOffice is not as slow as the critics make it out to be. It is compatible with MS Office and more other formats than MS Office can handle. In fact, Open Office can fix corrupt Word files that Word won't even open!

Maybe the next release should be confined to optimization, rather than features. Then those critics will have nothing left to cry about. there is no other comparable suite close to what OpenOffice can do, so I will continue to use it exclusively.

If not OpenOffice, then... who?

If not OpenOffice, then... who? I just don't think AbiWord, KOffice, etc., are robust alternatives to OOo. Lighter alternatives, yes they are... but not the rugged and substantial alternative that OOo is to Microsoft Office.

Yes, OOo is slow to open and that is a fair criticism. But so what?! If you're really that pressed for time, what may be in order is better time management, not a lighter office suite.

So, no... it is not time to dump OpenOffice.org. In fact, it may be time to give it further support before Oracle does something stupid.

Just my two cents, folks :)

Get other to open source their code?

I really loved ThinkFree Office, if they would opensource it, I think it would beat the pants off of OpenOffice.

IBM Lotus Symphony

What about IBM Lotus Symphony, no one mentioned it, does anybody tried it.

How fast and efficient is it? is it better than OOorg

Not by default

I think that OpenOffice should stay as the default choice for general purpose/newbie friendly distro's like Ubuntu or Fedora as a number of people still use and like it (my wife included). Personally I haven't used OOo for well over a year instead preferring Google Docs and Abiword, but if I got rid of OpenOffice.org then I'd be in for a severe beating.

Something like a meta-package to install a suite of lighter alternatives would be really useful though!

Bollocks, No

OpenOffice.org plays a larger role in the whole Free and open Source software picture, than just being one of the options. Yet, even in that sense, for someone looking for that exotic office suite feature, neither AbiWord, nor KOffice would suffice.

I'm not sure how Oracle will handle OOo, but atleast until now, OOo has been the only "real" office suite that wasn't influenced by a company. IBM had a say with Symphony, as does Novell with Go-OO.

In fact I guess more than the community, these guys (particularly IBM) would like to see OOo developed and supported by the community. Otherwise, expect these spin-offs to quietly die as well.

To use a cliche OOo is a flagship product of the FOSS "spirit", and you're supposed to wave it wide and high, not keep it tucked away in the closet for the annual parade.

--
Mayank Sharma
geekybodhi.net

No

If think of functionality OO is far better than alternatives. The development progress is also better.

I do agree that it is a bit slow with old pc's with RAM less than 1GB, but for those who enjoys the better hardware I do not see the reason (there is even the positive side, alternative office suit developers could concentrate on slower computers and hold their niche there).

Oracle-Sun deal caused a lot of discussion about the future of OO but IMHO oracle is not going to kill this project since it has been quiet successful (even though it is not their direct business).

People want functionality and power, not just speed

People coming from Windows (And people still on it) would like something comparable to what they already have (ie, MS Office). Programs that are too different make for greater problems, and slow the acceptance of open source problems.

I just moved a non profit group to OpenOffice, primarily on Windows for now, but maybe eventually some of the comps will go to Linux. OpenOffice is different, but not so different that they have too many problems. This is an extremely important role it fulfills.

As a note to everyone about clouds - this was huge 10 years ago too, when everyone was talking about thin clients. It went nowhere, due to service interruptions (remember when gmail went down for 4 hours?). What happens when your entire staff loses 4 hours not being able to write up an important proposal?

geekyBodhi: So what were Sun

geekyBodhi: So what were Sun Microsystems then, a co-operative? OpenOffice.org has ALWAYS been "influenced by a company" - it was born from StarOffice 5.x, remember?

No

It's always worked pretty well for me.

What would be awesome though is if you could preload a copy of OO.o (the only slowness I experience is the bootup time, which is akin to that of more traditionally slow tools such as gimp, etc.). Having said that, I rarely use OO.o (plain text FTW!), and there have been a few documents I've found OO.o can't open but Koffice can (not that I can remember them now).

NO! I have been using OOo

NO!
I have been using OOo for sometime (since ver 1.0). It has come a long way. If you need an office suite which will be able to use a large amount of the macro and home made vb code from MS then you'll find OOo is probably the only choice. It does take a few seconds to start up but once going it works well. I use mostly writer and calc and can interchange data with MS office.

No

Valuabel bridge between other platforms, capable system (although a little slow to start and bogs down on LARGE documents). It is still my suit of chioce.

I agree 100% with the need for a "speed" development cycle and to really tighten up the code/interface.

At the moment I use both

I use KWord 1.6 as my everyday wordprocessor for routine tasks but I use OO for:

multi-lingual documents
converting files, often those created in KWord, into doc format
converting old WordPerfect files (as the KWord filter no longer works)

Though KWord has some nifty features for multi-lingual documents, I find OO has better support for the languages I mainly use. However, OO does not support the entire Unicode sequence. In which case, I create the text in KWord and then import it in OO.

No

Another vote for OO. I have no need for most of the fancy features it comes with, but Abiword doesn't handle Japanese well, and printing works better and looks much nicer on OO. OO just also seems more solid and reliable - Abiword has been a bit flaky for me. Gnumeric is quite nice, but OO is not really too slow since I increased RAM to 512MB, even with this 450MHz CPU.

No

It's not really that slow, has the best support for Microsoft Office (which is important to most people) and no other Free office suite comes near to its feature level (not counting its own forks, such as go-oo). It's also a relatively good example of how open-source can work, and be recognised widely, not just because it is open source, but because it is *good*! It will need to quicken its pace a bit soon, so that we don't hang on to it because "we have to", but because we want to.

No

I just installed a 180GB SSD RAID 0 these days and it really pays off. OO starts instantly on Windows 7 (same on XP)!
When OO is slow it definetly is your hardware, it's not bulit for normal HDDs.

Cant!

Need a decent gui driven database app for building company accounts program. Base is the only option I have found so far. I really wish there was an alternative.

No

I've used OOo since before the 1.0 release, and it's the only alternative for me since I use Linux. I need both writer, calc and presenter. I've had high hopes for Abiword since their 0.47 release, and use it every now and then, but I always end up going back to OOo. It's slow to start, but from then it's fast enough on my Archlinux system. And I use it a lot.

No!!!

I have to interwork with MS Word users every day, and OOo is the only viable option for me in this context. And it is not that bad. It is cumbersome and unattractive, but I don't find it especially slow. I mainly use PCLinuxOS and the version from their repositories loads VERY fast on my old Athlon 2600. The version that ships with Linux Mint 6 seems very snappy too.

I work as an editor and need the heavy-duty tools in a good word-processor, so stripped-down, lightweight Word clones will never be any use to me.

That's just silly

I use OOo for heavy stuff and Abiword or Gedit for light stuff. Moving my heavy stuff to a feature-short lightweight would be just plain silly.

Maybe this is a troll over the Oracle takeover of Sun? Would I still use an Oracle dominated OOo? Well, let's wait and see what happens. For example will Go-OOo become a true fork or will Oracle accept its code back into the OOo base? I'll prob'ly follow the debian developers, cos they already give us Go-OOo by default.

Need the Notes2

In the latest OO.org, they've finally included a functional notes feature that's compatible with Microsoft Word's notes feature.

I'm a grad student and teach college. My students don't run OpenOffice, they run Word. They submit papers electronically as word docs, I need a way to make comments on their papers such that they can read them -- and that's Notes2. My notes/comments pop up as comments in the margin of their papers.

Abiword can't come close to this, and KOffice... meh. Clunky, unintuitive -- it forces a user to relearn how to use a fairly standardized user interface. If I had to do that, I'd rather use Office 2007.

No.

OO.o has the features and ability to handle varied formats that any full-fledged WP needs. Its competition seems to me more at the text editor end of the scale (which is fine if that's sufficient for your needs).

I really don't get all the stuff about OO being so slow. I mostly use an old machine with 512 K of memory. OO takes about 12 seconds to open the first time. Then I see no bothersome lags, and I'm a fairly fast and sloppy typist. I don't use spreadsheets or presentation stuff enough to have an opinion on those parts of the app, but when I have used them they seem to do the job. Go-OOo does sound like a step ahead though, so if it turns out as good as the hype that's probably where I'll go.

I also don't understand people complaining about OOo's slowness and then confessing to switching to Goog Docs. On Firefox at least, that's the very essence of s-l-o=w in my experience.

OOo No!

I use OpenOffice regularly and apart for the slow startup it's fine by me. It works and it works well. Very well, I might add.
People complain for the sake of it. I didn't hear them whining when OpenOffice came up. I guess it's not so bad as people now want us to think.

Another vote for OOo

While I'd really love to tell everyone to switch to emacs, I just can't see that happening :P

I've never noticed any slowness using OOo before, save when I've been booting it off a USB stick. The splash screen is there for about 10 seconds, and then I'm straight to work.

But if other people are finding it slow, perhaps rather than jumping ship to another product we should work on making OOo better. That's what open source is for, right?

OOo No! #2

I agree with Tuxedo.
I can't say that the load time issue bothers me that much to be honest.

Dont Drop Ooo But dont be afraid to Ooo at rivals

I think its important to embrace and help the smaller offices suites such as abiword and Koffice and i think help in development of these projects is vital, but until they reach a level of functionality similar to Ooo i dont thinks its practical to use them...

I would like to think otherwise but have been proved wrong many times....

google docs ne one ?? :D

Maybe text editor.

What I have longed to see in OO is a way to dumb down the writer often into a simple text editor. e.g. allow default assumption if opening text file, that you want it to stay a text file in simple, fast system. Also in that case, reduce the eye candy unless asked for it to make into other document...no need to "format" screen text for former, etc.

Depending on how they do it might make it lot faster (e.g. the formatting stuff goes away)?

So can use it quickly on majority of my files (text) but still have a mircosoft like interface when needed. I use these so little that I do not want to learn different systems for word-like and excel-like things.

Also useful when drafting documents. Also might be useful in formatting master documents that could be made of many smaller text documents.

Then, there is always LYX... ah sweet LYX.

YES

The more I use linux, the more I see the importance of using only community software. Open Office is almost, but not quite, proprietary software where its long term future is determined by Sun. This is a dangerous situation as without Open Office, Linux wouldn't be the serious desktop alternative for a swathe of people. Also the fact that it is here, may be stifling development of Koffice, abiword and gnumeric all of which are playing second fiddle.

I think that Linux needs to weed itself off Open office, as it might just turn out to be the case of a house built on sand.

start using koffice 2.0

in my jaunty box i can install it by sudo apt-get install koffice-kde4

also you can try the abiword and gnumeric they are very nice on lowend machines

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