by August 10, 2001 0 comments

One of the things that will help define Linux on the desktop is availability of good office application suites. By definition an office suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database and a presentation manager. Nowadays, added desktop functionality for Internet access will require a browser, an e-mail client and a graphics package to be a part of any good office suite.

There are several free office suites available for Linux of which the most commonly used are KOffice, Gnome Office, Siag Office and StarOffice. Apart from these there are products like Applixware, and Wine based solutions like Wordperfect 2000 that are also available. This month’s CD ships with Siag (Scheme In A Grid) Office version 3.4.4 in RPM format.

Siag Office is one of the earliest free office application suites available for Linux. It provides word processing, spreadsheet, graphics and a database API. It also ships with a Postscript and PDF reader.

To install the Siag Office RPM :

As root execute the command 
rpm -ivh siag-3.4.4-1.i386.rpm
Siag Office provides filters to read and save documents in several popular formats.
Word processor: Native format “.pw”, Rich Text format, HTML and Abiword. The word processor is capable of saving files in Postscript and PDF too.
Spreadsheet: Native format “.siag”, ABscript, HTML and Lotus 1-2-3
Graphics: Native format “.egon”, Magic Point and HTML. 
Using external plug-ins like wv (MSWord 8 to HTML converter), Siag’s word processor pw can read Microsoft Office files up to version 8.0.
We now take a look at the features that a few of these office suites provide.

Siag Office

Word processor: pw(Pathetic Writer)
Spreadsheet: siag
Graphics: egon
Siag Office offers most features required for basic word processing and spreadsheeting. Egon, the graphics package is excellent for generating animations.


Word processor: kword
Spreadsheet: kspread
Presentation: kpresenter
Graphics: killustrator
The functionality offered by Koffice is limited as compared to other office suites. However missing tools like a email client and browser are available under the umbrella of KDE applications. “Kmail” is quite a good program for accessing e-mail and Konqueror is a very popular and mature browser.


Word processor: Abiword
Spreadsheet: gnumeric
Database: Gnome-DB
Browser: Galeon
E-mail: Evolution
Graphics: Gimp

Gnome office covers the entire range of office applications. AbiWord is an excellent word processor that is almost at production level. A lot of Linux users swear by Gnumeric and Gimp is the de facto graphics tool of most Linuxers. Other programs like Gnome-DB, Galeon, Achtung and Evolution are still fairly new and will take a while to be stable and usable. Apart from the above-mentioned, Gnome also had Gnucash, a personal money manager that is developing very well.
Applixware Word processor, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation manager, E-mail Applix is one of the earliest commercial office packages that was available for Linux. It has all the components of a basic office suite and ran natively on Linux.

WordPerfect Office 2000 Word processor, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation manager,
Corel’s Wordperfect Office 2000 runs with the help of Corel’s WINE (WINdows Emulation). It works best on Corel’s version of Linux. The standard edition ships with WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Netscape Navigator.


Word processor, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation, Browser, Email, Graphics
Staroffice offers an integrated work environment with all the above-mentioned programs built-in.


Some of the software mentioned above are not shipped with the PCQ Linux distribution. You can download them from :

Achtung: Achtung is pending its first release. It can be downloaded from CVS at 
Galeon: html
Applixware: Applixware is a commercial product and can be purchased from
WorkPerfect Office 2000: WordPerfect Office 2000 is a commercial package and can be purchased from
wv: /en/ powertools/i386/RedHat/RPMS/wv-0.6.22.i386. rpm

Avinash Shenoy is manager, network operations at Exocore Consulting

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