OpenOffice.org Saves My Day

by Jonathan Gennick

Recently we did the PC-shuffle at my house. I handed down a Thinkpad to my teenage daughter, and she handed down her ancient Toshiba notebook, which still insists on functioning, to my seven-year-old son. Everyone wanted a word-processor, so I had to review my Office licenses:




  • I was (and still am) using MS Office 2000 for work.
  • We had Lotus SmartSuite installed on the familly-room PC, which my wife mainly used.
  • My daughter was using MS Office 97 on her notebook.


This was a mess! Already my daughter grumbled occasionally about not being able to create a document on the familly-room PC and then take it upstairs to her notebook for further work. My wife and daughter couldn't help each other out, because they both used different programs. And now my son wanted a word processor, and I couldn't see spending hundreds of dollars to buy a word processor for a kid who can't type yet.



The solution came to me in the form of OpenOffice.org. Three of my authors are using it to write their books, and we'd had good success with it, so why not standardize on it at home?



I installed OpenOffice.org on all the PCs. My son now happily bangs away at his keyboard, and has created a huge document consisting entirely of random letters. My daughter writes her journal and does her homework, and all her existing Word files have converted over just fine. They can even help each other. My son learned how to password-protect OpenOffice.org files and he shared that knowledge with his sister.



The only glitch has been on the Windows XP machine. There I can only get OpenOffice.org to run for one user, the user who did the install. I hope there's a fix, but I haven't had time to track it down.



Like any program, OpenOffice.org has its annoyances. But it's very capable. That I and several authors use it to collaborate on book projects is proof of that. My kids are also both very happy with it.



It occurs to me that OpenOffice.org is just the right introduction to Open Source for the vast majority of people who currently run Windows. It fills a need almost everyone has, it plays well with Microsoft Office files, the price is certainly right, and it doesn't require someone to make the jarring switch from Windows to Linux.



We need to get the word out. Last fall I helped a friend buy a new Dell. When he configued the PC, I had him include Microsoft Office Small Business. I feel terrible about that. Tell your friends, when they configure that new Dell, to leave out Microsoft Office. It's highly likely they don't need it. Use OpenOffice.org instead.



Have you tried OpenOffice.org for Windows? Do you use it on a regular basis? Have you had success with it? Any problems with it?


5 Comments

anonymous2
2003-01-15 16:24:03
Probable Solution to the single user issue
Jonathan,


Under an admin account install openoffice.org by running the setup.exe program from the command line with a -net switch.


This installs the bulk of the program on the machine.


Under each user account, run the setup from the OpenOffice.org setup icon that gets created from the install. You will probably have to go to the Program Files directory to find it. When prompted for a path, put it someplace unique to that user. I've been putting it in "Documents and Settings\username\openoffice.org\" When prompted for an install, do the small one, I think it is called Workstation.


Hope that helps. If not, contact me at work.


Brick

anonymous2
2003-01-16 00:49:31
OpenOffice.org Writer for writers
I think it's probably better for writers than Microsoft Word is, first because it's free of course, but the autocompletion is amazing.
Jonathan Gennick
2003-01-20 05:51:34
A bit unintuitive, but...
It works. Be sure to say "no" if Windows asks you to run the second setup under an administrator username.
anonymous2
2003-05-03 12:37:15
Probable Solution to the single user issue
"Under each user account, run the setup from the OpenOffice.org setup icon that gets created from the install."


It seems like you should be able to copy a shortcut of that setup file to /Documents. and Settings/desktop so that each user could simply click on that to start setup.
I use Linux here at home so I have no way to test that.

anonymous2
2003-12-07 23:16:42
OpenOffice.org is good... Outlook equivalent would be nice
the biggest drawback for OpenOffice in corporate environments is the absence of an Outlook replacement, especially for MS Exchange users. If that were to be made available, I would replace MS Office at our company in a jiffy.