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StarOffice 5.1

Introduction

StarOffice 5.1 is a complete office suite with a word processor, spreadsheet, presenter, mail client, and more. StarOffice was orginally a commercial product developed by a German company, Star Division. Sun Microsystems in 1999 acquired Star Division and began shipping StarOffice free of charge for both personal and commercial use.

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Star Office Installation

StarOffice 5.1 is available in TAR format in precompiled binary form. The name will be something similar to so51a_lnx_01.tar. StarOffice can be installed by root as well as by regular users.

  1. mv so51a_lnx_01.tar /usr/local
  2. cd /usr/local
  3. tar -xvf so51a_lnx_01.tar
  4. cd so51inst
  5. cd office51
  6. ./setup The installer will launch. During the installation, you will be asked to select the installation directory. The default is to create a directory under your home directory named Office51. For example, if your username is jed, StarOffice would be installed under the /home/jed/Office51 directory.
  7. cd installdirectory/Office51/bin (where installdirectory is the directory that you installed Office in)
  8. ./soffice
  9. If you want to run StarOffice with just the soffice command, you will need to add the location of soffice to your path. For example, if you installed StarOffice under your home directory, /home/jed, you will need to add /home/jed/Office51/bin to your path.

Review

StarOffice has its own desktop that you must use to open the other StarOffice applications. At first, I was a little taken aback by how StarOffice seems to intrude on the desktop. After a while, though, I got used to it and decided that StarOffice is quite a nice piece of software. It’s free, so you can’t beat the price. It has the ability to import and export Microsoft Office documents. However, like every other office suite, the conversion is not perfect, and many formatting details can be lost in the conversion. If your MS Office document uses any macro functions, you can expect even more problems.
The applications themselves are mature and easy to use. The look and feel of the word processor reminds me very much of WordPerfect 8. The mail client is nice, but there are a few issues I’d like to see resolved. The first one is that although StarMail supports multiple inboxes, it only allows you one outgoing email address. Therefore, all of your outgoing email has the same reply email address, regardless of which inbox’s message you are replying to. Also, I found there to be too many frames in the StarMail interface. For instance, StarMail removes the header from the message and displays it in it’s own frame. There are multiple layout choices, all of which have too many frames.
The font support in StarOffice leaves much to be desired. I don’t know if it is a problem with XFree86 or StarOffice, but the edges of the fonts look jagged instead of smooth. The same problem affects WordPerfect 8 for Linux. be desired. Hopefully XFree86 4.0 will improve this situation.
All in all, I think that StarOffice is a quality piece of software. Linux needs more productivity applications like this to make it attractive as a desktop operating system to home and business users.

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