Goodbye Abiword, Hello Open Office on Crunchbang

Say what you will about Libreoffice, but it crashed and failed to restore my files at both my work terminal and personal computer one too many times. So I broke up with Libreoffice and started looking for other word processors.

Crunchbang comes with Abiword readily installed. I gave it a test run, but quickly discovered that Abiword had to get the boot. It crashed multiple times on my PLOSONE manuscript rebuttal and saved multiple copies of the document in strange filetypes. Crashing on a working manuscript was unacceptable. I may or may not have taken it personally. Not even that but the cursor was unbelievably slow, taking its sweet time to move across the screen.

Abiword No More!

Just two lines to make it disappear:

apt-get autoremove abiword
apt-get clean

Now for the Open Office goodness…

Unpack and Install Open Office on Crunchbang or Debian

Yes, I know that Libre Office is a fork of Open Office. I. Don’t. Care. Libreoffice crashed on my manuscripts – we’re through!

Download the latest tarball from the Apache Open Office website. Unpack it with the command: tar -xzvf ~/Downloads/Apache_OpenOffice_4.0.0_Linux_x86_install-deb_en-GB.tar.gz

Now that you’ve unpacked it, enter your terminal and enter the following series of lines:

$ cd en-GB/DEBS
$ sudo dpkg -i *.deb
$ cd desktop-integration
$ sudo dpkg -i *.deb

Great! Now how do I open it?

I encountered a slight, small obstacle in solving this quickly in that all of the Open Office forums were down that evening. Of course.

So here’s the thing. Crunchbang doesn’t tell you where Open Office is. You have to play hide and seek to locate it. Finally I found some Open Office documentation that shed light on how to access Open Office from the terminal. The documentation made sure to assure me that “Most users will never need to do this.” sigh Don’t patronize me, just tell me!

Here, in all its glory, is how to access Open Office from the terminal after you’ve installed it in Crunchbang:

soffice -writer or
swriter or simply,

Oh really? Was that all I needed to know? What happened to ooffice or even, oh, I don’t know openoffice?!

Open Different Open Office Suite Packages from the Terminal

If you want to open particular components in your Open Office suite, start with soffice and include any of the following after:

  • -writer   Write things!
  • -calc  Spreadsheet things!
  • -draw  Draw things!
  • -impress  Power Point… things!
  • -math  Calculate things… again!
  • -web  Write HTML-type things!

Bonus! How to Use Math in Open Office/Libre Office

My Classical Multivariate Analysis course recommended use of Mathtype and MS Word to complete the homework. I dutifully but resentfully downloaded Mathtype on my Windows partition, only to find that the program wouldn’t function correctly.

Now, I have oodles of patience for troubleshooting Linux problems. At this point I learn nothing and get no benefit from troubleshooting anything to do with Windows, while fixing a problem with Linux teaches me something useful for the long term. (See: Your Friendly Neighborhood Ghostscript)

Manually coding a matrix in Libreoffice/Open Office looks like this.

1 # 1 ##
1 # 1 ##
1 # 1

Tedious, yes. So, so tedious. My favorite thing about matrices with this not-Latex software is when -calc doesn’t like that you put too many hash symbols (or crunch or pound or octothorpe or hashtags; however you want to call them) in your matrices then it dissolves the structure and lets you search among your sea of # where the issue might lie. Sort of like when you try to make tables in Latex and it throws a hissy fit no matter what. You know, that joyous feeling. /sarcasm

Goodbye Open Office, Hello… Pandoc?

I’ve been reading about the capacities of Pandoc to compile any file written in markdown into a document of your choice in any format. Needless to say, I am intrigued, and will be testing this out myself very soon. See this post from R-bloggers:  LINK