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(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?) Free Copy of MS Office for Linux? It isn't April Yet!

From Vic Ward on Sun, 27 Dec 1998

Where can I find a download site to download the free copy of Microsoft Office for Linux?

vic ward

(!) Whoa! Dude!
It's not April for a couple more months. Save the "Fool's Day" messages until late March!
If you mean "Where can I download a suite of Linux applications like MS Office" that's a different question.
So far the closest Linux analogs to MS Office are commercial packages:
You can download the "Personal Edition" of StarOffice for Linux by pointing your web browser at http://www.stardivision.com/office/so5linux_body.html. This appears to be free for personal, non-commercial use. Be prepared! This is a 70Mb download. The tar file isn't compressed, though most of the contents apparently are.
There are also some produtivity applications which aren't presented as "suites." Corel's WordPerfect is a recent example of a commercial application (word processor, surprisingly enough) that has been ported to Linux. Actually there have been versions of WordPerfect for Linux for several years --- originally it was sold exclusively through Caldera. However, recently version 8.x was ported and released to Linux. This also seems to be free for "personal" use --- or at least it's available as a free evaluation download. This one is only 25Mb and can be had at;
(Freshmeat lists three different download sites: download.com, cdrom.com, and surfnet.nl).
Getting just a word processor is probably not enough so it makes sense to get a spreadsheet, too. There are several of these available. For someone who likes Excel (as you presumably must, since you're asking for MS Office for Linux) you might try Wingz. This has also recently been updated to version 3.11 (?). You can find that at MetaLab (formerly known as Sunsite.unc.edu -- Univ. of North Carolina's premier Linux archive site):
... or you could get XessLite from a different directory at MetaLab:
From what I gather the latest versions of Wingz and Wingz Professional are under a more liberal license than the previous Linux version (which was shareware for about $50 US, if I recall correctly).
Naturally you'll want to read the licenses for each of these packages to glean details about your responsibilities before you use them.
To get something like "PowerPoint" you could look at 'MagicPoint' (http://www.mew.org/mgp) (from Japan --- MEW is a MIME mailreader for emacs/xemacs, MagicPoint is a separate application). This seems to be under a BSD or GPL license. I was able to get it up and running pretty quickly and it looks like a very promising package. (The presentation files are simple text --- and the effects are layed over them. You just write your presentation in a simple outline format, and slide styles are applied according to your indentation level).
For free applications you have to dig a bit deeper. There's the ongoing LyX project (to create a GUI front-end to LaTeX), and the Hungry Programmers (of LessTif fame) are working on GWP (GNOME Word Processor). From what I read the Mexican national educational infrastructure will be investing in GWP, Gnumeric (?) and a few other strategic projects as part of their initiative to put Linux unto about 1 million computers at 140,000 sites!
SIAG (Scheme in a Grid) seems to be getting more mention recently, as are Maxwell, PAPyRUS (?) and several others.
Generally you can look for Linux applications at several places. My favorites are Christopher B. Browne's web site at http://www.hex.net/~cbbrowne and the canonical Linux Applications Pages at: http://www.linuxapps.com
Also Linux File Watcher (http://www.filewatcher.org) does some decent categorization and organization.

Copyright © 1999, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 37 February 1999

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