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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

By Mayank Sharma on April 09, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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In this age of multi-core processors and 3-D desktops, some people still get work done on old resource-strapped single-core machines, thanks to programs like the AbiWord word processor. The latest stable AbiWord 2.6.0 release was unveiled last month, two years after the software's last stable release. Feature-wise, the little cross-platform word processor has closed the gap with heavyweight OpenOffice.org Writer, but it suffers from the oldest Linux ill of all -- it's a pain to install.

If you are used to compiling apps from source that might not sound like a big deal. I've been compiling AbiWord since I started using the editor's 0.7.x branch in early 2000. But this is 2008, and it doesn't seem fair to not release any precompiled binaries. AbiWord isn't the easiest of apps to compile, especially now, since most of its exciting new features are packaged as plugins that have to be compiled as well. The lack of documentation on the software's Web site doesn't help either.

AbiWord developers leave it to individual distributions to package and add the word processor in their respective repositories. Most distros add it to their testing or development branch. If you install AbiWord from these repos, you'll be installing a lot more than the word processor, since the process also upgrades a lot of key libraries as well. By contrast, Windows users only need to double-click two executables -- one to install AbiWord and another to handle the plugins.

But once you get AbiWord 2.6 running, it's be worth the effort.

What's new

Lightweight and peppy yet loaded to the core, AbiWord 2.6 is as good as they come. With the latest release, you get a few templates to create documents from, and the program spell-checks text as you type. AbiWord is multilingual and lets you input text in various languages, including English, French, German, Finnish, and several Indian languages. You can configure the editor to autosave documents after specific time intervals and maintain document history. You can also compare two documents currently open in AbiWord and find similarities in content, format, and styles.

AbiWord

As in previous versions, AbiWord responds to Emacs or vi key bindings. For lazy Web editors like me, it's a way to generate simple HTML as well. The latest version can create a valid XML page and embed formatting in the document itself or as external CSS stylesheets.

The new version can track document revisions from multiple sources as well as show a document before and after applying the suggested revisions. There's also a find feature to move to the next or previous revision, which can either be accepted, rejected, or purged. AbiWord allows you to add a comment for a particular revision, but I couldn't figure out how to read that comment afterward.

AbiWord 2.6, like previous releases, has a lot of plugins with varying degrees of usability and compatibility. Some of the plugins I tried included the Wikipedia and Google lookup plugins, using which you can look up selected words in AbiWord documents on those sites. If you dabble in images, you'll also like the GIMP plugin, with which you can edit any inserted image in the document with the GIMP image editor. Speaking of images, AbiWord 2.6 has a limited but diverse clipart gallery. You can also drag and drop images into AbiWord documents, or drag images from AbiWord documents and drop them on your hard disk.

I couldn't get the Open Document Format (ODF) and the experimental Office Open XML (OOXML) plugins to work on the Linux installation. All I got was a simple "could not activate/load plugin" error, which didn't help resolve the issue. The plugins worked on the Windows installation though. With the ODF plugin you can both import and export a simple ODF file. The experimental OOXML plugin only lets you open a file in the newly standardized document specification. In addition to these two formats, AbiWord can natively open and save documents in a variety of formats, including plain vanilla text, rich text format, and Microsoft Word. You can also save documents as PDF files.

AbiWord handles documents of all formats well. Apart from a little loss in formatting in .doc documents (especially ones with comments), there wasn't any loss in formatting, or more importantly text, in any type of document.

The new AbiWord supposedly offers real-time document collaboration developed for the OLPC project and implemented by means of an experimental plugin. As per the AbiWord-2.6 release notes, there are three implementations of the plugin, one for the OLPC, and two (an XMPP-based one and a pure TCP/IP one) for Linux. The Linux plugins compiled without any issues, but AbiWord couldn't activate them. The plugin isn't currently available for Windows.

Versus OpenOffice.org Writer 2.4

It's probably a little unfair to compare AbiWord with the more full-featured OpenOffice.org Writer, but AbiWord is the only real word processor that fills the void between vanilla text editors and OOo Writer. OpenOffice.org 2.4 was also released in the last week of March and has lots of new features. We recently reviewed OpenOffice.org in its run-up to OpenOffice.org 3.0.

Thanks to having a more limited set of features than OpenOffice.org, AbiWord scores over its full-featured rival in the areas of speed and easy-to-navigate interface. Irrespective of the computer I run it on, AbiWord pops open with a blank document in a second or two. OpenOffice.org Writer 2.4 takes about 15 seconds on a dual-core box with 1GB RAM, which is a step up from earlier lethargic OpenOffice.org launch times. It's also much easier to locate a particular option or setting in AbiWord, thanks to limited feature set.

But there are a couple of things that AbiWord can learn from OpenOffice.org. If AbiWord would allow adding comments in a document, it would be more useful on an editor's desk. And it would be great if users could embed audio and video objects in their documents and not just images.

Some people criticize AbiWord because it lacks the ability to create charts, but if you run AbiWord on GNOME, you'll benefit from the GNOME-Office integration and will be able to create and import Gnumeric charts into AbiWord documents. The GNOME-Office package works well on lightweight desktops like Xfce.

Conclusion

AbiWord is a great word processor and totally rocks on lower-end machines. AbiWord 2.6 has further bridged the gap to full-featured apps like OpenOffice.org Writer, and the new release has enough features to satisfy a fair proportion of the word processing population. Some tools, such as the collaboration plugin and the OOXML/ODF file import/export plugin, need some work before they can fully interoperate with other word processors that produce documents in these formats. The project's participation in Google's Summer of Code program should help to this end. New Linux users wouldn't mind an easy-to-use installer as well, like the one their Windows cousins get, and some updated online documentation would help too.

But make no mistake about it, AbiWord 2.6 is a hallmark AbiWord release -- cholesterol-free, fast, and with a couple of jaw-dropping features that you won't find in any other word processor.

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on New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.113.253.161] on April 09, 2008 07:56 PM
"If AbiWord would allow adding comments in a document, it would be more useful on an editor's desk."

This is being developed on in our development version. It's already quite usable.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.169.163.241] on April 09, 2008 08:13 PM
"AbiWord developers leave it to individual distributions to package and add the word processor in their respective repositories." Er, that's the way the vast majority of Linux software is managed. Does Abiword handle Unicode yet? Last time I tried it, it didn't.

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Re: New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 132.228.195.207] on April 09, 2008 08:22 PM
No clue on the Unicode, but I want to second the comment about the precompiled binaries not being a big deal. It's not like you're going to go to apache to get http server binaries unless you're on windows.

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Re: New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.113.253.161] on April 09, 2008 09:14 PM
Could you elaborate on your problem? We are a unicode only application, so I can't really see how we _don't_ handle unicode :)

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Re(1): New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.169.163.241] on April 09, 2008 10:10 PM
Hmm, if you're an Abiword developer you have some reading to do. Abiword on win32 doesn't support Unicode; it's pure ANSI, and if the Linux version supports Unicode it didn't appear until fairly recently.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 90.177.139.216] on April 09, 2008 08:26 PM
Embedded video in this kind of document? Why? Have you ever seen a book with movies and music?

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Abiword comes with most distros - why is installation an issue?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.192.250.149] on April 09, 2008 09:58 PM
Pain to install? Which distro are you using? I'm using Debian Etch and it seems to have installed Abiword without my even asking it to. If I had wanted to install it, well, it would have taken about 4 mouse clicks. I think this article was rubbish.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 128.146.172.220] on April 09, 2008 10:18 PM
I really hope ODF gets fully integrated (as the default) really soon. I have no need of their custom file format.

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Installation is not a problem but absence of ODF is a big problem

Posted by: hopethishelps on April 09, 2008 10:45 PM
The article mentions a non-problem (installation - Abiword comes with most distros) and ignores a real problem (non-standard file format). ODF should be the default, not relegated to a plugin.

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Smooth Scrolling

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 134.174.149.186] on April 09, 2008 11:00 PM
I like AbiWord, but on my old laptop it was so slow that it was basically unusable. It took ages to figure out that this is because of the smooth scrolling "feature", and quite a while to figure out how to turn it off (no option in the GUI, you have to edit the profile file manually). I do hope this was fixed in this release.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.126.78.57] on April 09, 2008 11:16 PM
Yes, it's Unicode. (except on Windows, due to lack of developers there).

RE: precompiled binaries: we have AbiWord developers with upload privileges to Fedora and SuSE, so both of those distros had the new version nearly as soon as it was out. Unfortunately, there's a bit more bureaucracy in Ubuntu, which appears to be what you tested. I'm currently working on preparing binaries, and hopefully we can overcome the obstacles to get them included in Hardy. (If you feel like testing, https://launchpad.net/~abiryan/+archive/ will give you the address to put into apt-get)

With 2.6.2, Windows also has the collaboration feature.

ODF is already import/export and works well. OOXML is import only (although I suspect we'll possibly get export support courtesy of GSoC) and completely separate from ODF, and should not be linked with a slash implying relation :)

While we hope that AbiWord is self-explanatory in most places, there is a new set of documentation being worked on by a volunteer.

Glad you enjoy the speed - we start fast enough now that one of the "features" of 2.6 is the removal of the splash screen. :)

If you ran across any bugs, please file them at http://bugzilla.abisource.com Thanks!

Ryan
AbiWord Windows Maintainer, Ubuntu Packager, and Artist

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.126.78.57] on April 09, 2008 11:20 PM
PS - AbiWord is in the regular distribution, not testing or unstable branches, in both Fedora and SuSE - there's nothing exotic that we need that would pull in a ton of new upgraded dependencies.

Ryan

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Re: New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Mayank Sharma on April 10, 2008 01:52 PM
Thanks for the clarification Ryan. Unless I am much mistaken, the regular repository of the current Fedora release (Fedora 8) still has AbiWord 2.4. OTOH 2.6 (2.6.2 now, wow already!) is in here (http://download.fedora.redhat.com/pub/fedora/linux/development/i386/os/Packages/) -- the development branch. From your blog post I understand you just packaged 2.6.2 for Ubuntu's "upcoming" Hardy release. What about users running the LTS versions? They'll not be able to apt-get AbiWord 2.6.x, without enabling the latest, currently testing/devel/whathaveyou, repos. I run Mandriva and I can't use AbiWord 2.6 because it doesn't work with the installed fribidi-0.10.4-6 and upgrading it to 0.10.9 also pulls in a lot of additional files.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.126.78.57] on April 09, 2008 11:28 PM
Oh wow, lots more comments.

Yes, there were some smooth scrolling fixes. AbiWord (well, actually an embedded derivative) got a lot of improvements and runs smoothly on the OLPC XO-1, and this was one of the benefits.

ODF should be included in your main AbiWord package in your distribution for those of you choosing to use it. (It's not default for technical reasons, and I won't re-open that can of worms, Google if you want to learn more.) If it's relegated to a plugin package, file a bug against your distribution as there is no technical reason it needs to be there. (Yes, I know it's in the plugin installer for Windows. I'll get around to fixing that later.) Plugins are just as "fully integrated" as anything else - maintained by the abi core devs, etc, etc.

Unicode: Windows no, everything else yes, and I believe for some time now, it's been at least partially unicode for as long as I can remember.

And remember everybody, if you find bugs, search, then file them!

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Age old Linux problem? Are you kidding?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.119.12.163] on April 09, 2008 11:36 PM
Yes, it is harder to build it from source than to have a whiz-bang installer do it for you. That is not a shortcoming. It's pretty obtuse to state this as a flaw. As with most (all?) open source software for Linux, it will be in the repositories of your favorite distro soon. And you can keep using the version you have now and pay exactly the same price to update to it.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: proopnarine on April 10, 2008 02:18 AM
"but it suffers from the oldest Linux ill of all -- it's a pain to install."
Oldest as in no longer a mainstream problem, but one that harkens back to the good old days of compile your own kernal? I really hope that's what you meant. Is this really a problem when "apt-get install gimp" or "yum install acroread" will do the job for you? This is an AbiWord problem (albeit for the newest release), not a Linux problem.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.156.172.115] on April 10, 2008 02:42 AM
Can you print a #10 envelope with the address taken from the associated letter? Extra points for printing a #10 envelope with both the return address (from a config file?) and the target address from the associated letter.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.87.70.74] on April 10, 2008 03:34 AM
1: $ emerge abiword abiword-plugins
2: fix some coffee
3: done

What was so awful about that?

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.179.153.199] on April 10, 2008 04:19 AM
I actually think it's a bad thing when a project publishes their own distro-specific binaries, because it confuses new users and causes them to break their systems by not installing everything from repositories.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.156.13.66] on April 10, 2008 04:29 AM
"AbiWord is the only real word processor that fills the void between vanilla text editors and OOo Writer"

uh... Kword? Hello?

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ODF

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.31.187.238] on April 10, 2008 06:40 AM
While I appreciate that having ODF as the default it probably messy from a developer's perspective, please look at it from a (gasp) user's perspective. The .abw format is not understood by anybody else, so it useless to most people. If OOWriter, AbiWord, Kword, Google docs, and others all standardized on ODF, we wouldn't have so much fragmentation, and maybe this would help to convince MS to support it natively as well. We could all exchange documents easily and painlessly.

Requiring a plugin effectively relegates ODF to second-hand citizenship in AbiWord.

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For someone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.1.160] on April 10, 2008 06:53 AM
who use Windows every day it must be pain in the ass if he should install software using something like apt-get, yum or aptitude. LOL

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Re: For someone

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 137.229.74.206] on April 11, 2008 04:15 AM
apt-get install abiword
yum install abiword

after that abiword gets downloaded, installed, and placed in a linux start menu. It's tons easier than installing abiword in windows. In windows you have to go the abiword site, download it yourself and download it yourself. The linux way of installing is certainly easier and more automated (what windows users dream of).

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.57.13.70] on April 10, 2008 07:33 AM
"Some people criticize AbiWord because it lacks the ability to create charts, but if you run AbiWord on GNOME, you'll benefit from the GNOME-Office integration and will be able to create and import Gnumeric charts into AbiWord documents."

I don't consent in all parts of your article. One does not have to run GNOME, just an GNU/Linux, BSD or that alike OS in order to use charts from GNUMERIC. I don't get the point. Thus it works on GNOME, Xfce, Enlightenment, KDE, ... or whatever DE. Moreover, nobody is preventing the user/writer to import charts as graphics. If you don't create them "dynamic" it's still a convenient way to finish a document.

Many other mentioned it and as they do I don't understand the installation issue. Took me a couple of seconds to install it on Debian/Sid. Sorry, but Abiword has certainly other problems than those you mention here. Is compiling from source still the "common way" to accomlish the task these days? I can not consent here for this "mainstream" application.
BTW, sure you want audio and video objects in a text document? If so put the document together with the audio and video objects in a folder and give a link to the audio and video objects within the Abiword document to the corresponding files.

Anyway, most of your other points describe Abiword quite well.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.10.204] on April 10, 2008 08:09 AM
No mention of AbiCollab or the OLPC "Write" activity version? :-)

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Text import?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.50.35.4] on April 10, 2008 08:24 AM
How is importing text and copy/pasting large text bits now?
I found that Abiword would hang when I imported large text files - pure ASCII from gutenberg.org - and sometimes when I pasted large (100+ pages) texts into it.
That is actually my only problem with Abiword; otherwise, it has served me immensely well. I wrote quite a few university projects in Abiword, and that was very Unicode-focused - with me being Danish and writing with long excerpts in Russian.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.69.99.90] on April 10, 2008 10:26 AM
Is the reviewer on drugs or is he just another FUD spreader about Linux? Kword is a great lightweight Word Processor that exactly fills the Abiword void and installing on Linux is way easier than on Windows these days. *Way* easier.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.64.214.198] on April 10, 2008 01:28 PM
Check out the portable version of abiword (usually packaged with the odf plugin) from portableapps.com

This can be carried round on a keypen so that if you need to use a windows PC you have abiword & odf support.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.1.118] on April 10, 2008 02:31 PM
Compiling is what it is. I guess I'm a sorta masochist because I run a distro where compiling happens more often than if you run, say, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc. Abiword provides the binaries for the systems which need them... like Windows! Others are taken care of by their package maintenance teams (like the above distributions).

I run Slackware and compiled Abiword 2.6.0 and its plugins by myself... yeah, it took a bit of time to get all the configure options right, but I'm lovin' the speed and functionality of Abiword. I even tried the OOXML import with a few test documents I found on google and it worked well, not that I will ever have a need for OOXML... haha.

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Re: New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.137.126.4] on April 11, 2008 08:48 PM
How on earth can you compile more then on Gentoo???

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My guess

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.148.150.64] on April 12, 2008 09:08 AM
My guess is that "compile more" means "compile and do other installation related work". In fact, this is a comment to "installation is hard", right?

If an app is in a repository, neither Slackware nor Gentoo user actually compiles it. Both use a package manager. On Slackware the package manager mostly unpacks, on Gentoo it mostly compiles, but neither action is performed by the user directly.

If an app is not in a repository, which happens on Slackware more often than on Gentoo, both have to compile it. If it is OK to just create running executables somewhere, the effort is the same on both distros. If it is also necessary to preserve all the accountability and maintenance potential of the package management system, a Gentoo user has to create an ebiuld and a Slackware user has to create a package.

Quite often, a Gentoo user can use an already existing ebuild to simplify the task. Slackware user normally has to figure out how to create the package from scratch, which may be harder.

So, if installation is a nonissue on Slackware, it indeed is a nonissue.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.202.234.254] on April 10, 2008 07:13 PM
"ODF is already import/export and works well. OOXML is import only (although I suspect we'll possibly get export support courtesy of GSoC) and completely separate from ODF, and should not be linked with a slash implying relation :)"

Thank you! :-)

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Abiword *not* only alternative to OO.o Writer. E. g. KWord

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 151.188.247.104] on April 10, 2008 09:11 PM
Mayank,

If you're writing articles for www.linux.com, then yes, you would be expected to know about KOffice, and thus KWord's, existence, even if you haven't used them yourself.

I've been using AbiWord since 0.7 as well, ever since the Red Hat Linux 7.2 days, and yes, AbiWord is fast, small, and efficient. I still continue to use it, and I still continue to like it, especially when dealing with Rich Text Format (RTF) documents.

However, I've learned over the years that KWord is roughly its equal, albeit with a different feel. And furthermore, KWord, as with nearly all of KOffice these days, uses ODF as its default. KWord even has the remarkable ability to edit PDF's. Is the PDF fidelity perfect? No. But, it turns out to be pretty good--certainly good enough--for my purposes.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 149.149.120.95] on April 10, 2008 10:42 PM
Hard to install? Well, if I don't go to Mandriva's control panel and install Abiword that way (using a mouse and keyboard), I can go out on the web and find a Mandriva rpm file. Two clicks, a root password and it installs. If I don't like that I can go out and download an Abiword Autopackage. Excellent software that AutoPackage method is. A couple clicks and it will install and be functional that way too. I wish there were more AutoPackages available.

So do you author types usually choose to use Linux the hard way? VBG!

My concern is that some newbie considering switching to Linux will come along and see your article and think Linux is hard to use. It isn't for average user needs. I installed Mandriva Linux for one of our college students last week in about 30 minutes and he was up and using it almost immediately. Never used anything but Microsoft products previously but he does not like Vista apparently. He had a brand new tablet PC and it seemed quit stressed by Vista. Would have been zippy with Win2000 or Xp I thought. I was a DREAM running Mandriva Linux and everything works apparently.

He has asked a few questions about how to do stuff but no more than I've had to ask about using the new Vista instead of XP.

Folks - Abiword is a GREAT word processor for Linux and Windows. So is KWord and OpenOffice. I prefer the lightweight Abiword on my old 600Mhz laptop. I am so happy to have free alternatives to the MS Office money machine. Once upon a time it was easy to think you either had to fork over big cash or risk running a pirated version of MS Office. Neither of which I want to do and won't because there are excellent alternatives in open-source land. Now Inkscape is able to import PDFs and edit them (in some ways MUCH easier than Adobe Acrobat) so my Linux computer can do ANYTHING I want it to do now.

Thank you Open-Source!!!

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Re: New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.169.163.241] on April 11, 2008 04:14 AM
Yes, Abiword is an excellent lightweight word processor, and cross-platform without dumb ole Java is a wonderful thing. KWord is nice too, but so far is *nix only. One Abiword feature that I used to love, and I hope it still has, is the ability to select blocks of text vertically. Now that is a kewl thing. Neither one is meant to be a bloated behemoth like OpenOffice, and I hope they never try to be. And yes, thank you FOSS!

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 137.229.74.206] on April 11, 2008 04:21 AM
OOo is so good though. I used abiword a while ago, but the lack of odf pissed me off (most of my documents are in odf). I wanted to move to a faster loading word processor, and it performed great for that. But, odf i lost out on. It's nice there's finally a plugin for odf in linux that may work in the future. But, more luck to them getting the flawed ooxml working. Ooxml will probably only work properly in ms office only. Ooxml sounds like a daunting task. Hopefully ooxml wont be a standard and less emphasis on it wont matter.

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AbiWord still need work for CJK users

Posted by: Jeff Zhang on April 11, 2008 09:08 AM
2.6.2 deals CJK glyphes better than before, however more work still need to become perfect.

http://bugzilla.abisource.com/show_bug.cgi?id=11537

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.248.89.66] on April 11, 2008 02:29 PM
Software installing is a function of the software package managers you are using, not part of word processor. Heck, compiling code is part of the development environment you are using, not part of a word processor. If every software package used their own installer, we'd have the absolute mess that is now known as Windows. Luckily with Linux we have the options of easy to use installers and software updates. I would suggest you try using one.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.86.232.182] on April 11, 2008 03:33 PM
1. IMO, if AbiWord doesn't support Unicode on Windows, it is better not to release it for this platform at all.
2. I agree with all the posters saying that first-class built-in ODF support is essential. The last time I checked the export plugin, it was not really compatible with OOo's interpretation of the format (granted, that was a long time ago). So I am disappointed that the article does not elaborate on its performance, and also presents the MSOF plugin as equally important to ODF.

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It used to be easy to install

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.58.218.139] on April 11, 2008 03:41 PM
What a pity they don't provide no Autopackage, anymore. That was easy to use.

When the new version will be available in my repositories, I probably will have forgotten there's a new version to try. In fact, if even its developers don't care about making it easy to install, it ain't worth testing, anyway.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.150.123.15] on April 11, 2008 05:47 PM
My major reason for shying away from Abiword is that it insists on saving everything in its proprietary file format. If Abiword ever supports ODF as its default file format or gains an option for selecting a file format as the default, then I will give the program serious consideration again. Until then, it is just a fancy text editor and not a genuine word processor.

I have no intention of supporting proprietary file formats if I don't have to, and OpenOffice.org means that I have a real choice.

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Re: New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.185.76.208] on April 23, 2008 10:34 PM
It's not really a proprietary format. Open it in a text editor and see for yourself. I don't know of anything that reads it besides AbiWord, but it's not as if you're stuck with a binary format like DOC.

As for the article AbiWord being hard to install, that's not really the development team's fault. They don't have time to create packages for Ubuntu, Debian, Mandriva, Fedora, Arch Linux, Slackware, etc, etc. It's the responsibility of the package maintainers associated with those projects to compile AbiWord for their distro and to provide decent packages.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.73.7.13] on April 11, 2008 05:54 PM
I can tell you that I do _not_ want some weird custom installer on Linux, like I get from companies like Sun that don't get Linux. I want it to install with my package manager like every other properly packaged app. And right now it does. Sounds like the author doesn't really get Linux.

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AbiWord's good, but OpenOffice is better for me

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.218.114.232] on April 11, 2008 10:11 PM
When I switched to Linux whole-heartedly over the past year, I tried AbiWord and OpenOffice and just found that OpenOffice works better for me. It's more familiar, even from the first tikme I began using it. I dual-boot my main machine between XP Pro and Kubuntu 7.10, have a box running PCBSD, another on LinuxMint XFCE, another on XP Pro, and another on XP Home (not to mention the office comp on XP Home). All have OpenOffice installed and I know I can switch documents around whenever I want and still be able to read old documents from when I used MSWord. I couldn't do that with AbiWord, though I will admit that it may have been because I didn't know what I was doing with it. Then again, I didn't have to know what I was doing with OpenOffice - it worked for me.

And I just don't understand the slow opening times of OpenOffice I read about. Just timed it on this box and it opened 2.3 in less than three seconds. That's on a single core Athlon XP 2500 running barely overclocked at 2.08 GHz.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.28.66.22] on April 12, 2008 05:08 PM
I use both Abiword 2.6.2 and OpenOffice 2.4. What Abiword does that OpenOffice can't--

Recently wrote a 14,000 word document and tried to save it to html in OpenOffice. All the paragraph marks became doubled, so had huge space between paragraphs. Worse, when I complained on the OpenOffice forum they told me I was crazy (moderator: "I don't see it.") Then they told me the display was a "normal" artifact of my browser. So I loaded the file into Abiword, saved as an html, and all the formatting came out perfectly. Abiword does better html than OpenOffice.

Rich Text Format can be loaded by anybody (even in Wordpad if you have Windoze), so I prefer to distribute files in RTF. In OpenOffice a hyperlink (web link) was lost if saved to RTF. In Abiword select RTF, and the hyperlink is preserved.

(Someone complained about .abw being the default for saves, but the default can be changed in only a few seconds. One can save in .odt for compatibility with OpenOffice.)

In OpenOffice I marked and changed all my subheadings to title case. Then I saved the file to RTF and all my formatting work (about an hour) was lost. What, so OpenOffice can't save ASCII characters? Give me a break. I complained. The result: the new version of OpenOffice has removed title case (rather than fix the problem), so now all you can do is lower or upper case selected text. But Abiword does that, plus title case, or toggle case, etc.

About the only thing Abiword lacks for me is the ability to search for nonprintable characters like paragraph mark. Then I could easily reformat text downloaded from the web.

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New AbiWord looks solid but suffers from age-old Linux problem

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.121.75.147] on April 14, 2008 05:49 AM
AbiWord 2.6.2 win32 runs fine under wine in Linux if you want to quickly check it out without compiling or finding the most current pacakges.

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