Linked by Howard Fosdick on Sat 24th Nov 2012 17:52 UTC
Editorial Do you depend on your computer for your living? If so, I'm sure you've thought long and hard about which hardware and software to use. I'd like to explain why I use generic "white boxes" running open source software. These give me a platform I rely on for 100% availability. They also provide a low-cost solution with excellent security and privacy.
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Alas...
by ingraham on Sun 25th Nov 2012 02:31 UTC
ingraham
Member since:
2006-05-20

I prefer to use FLOSS whenever possible, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with your position on OpenOffice.org / LibreOffice. We ran about a 6 year experiment of using OOo and later Libre. I was arguably the biggest proponent, although it was our CEO's desire to avoid the Microsoft Tax that made it actually happen. (He cares nothing about FLOSS philosophy, just wanted to avoid the ~$300 per seat for MS Office.) We managed to limp along. Most files were viewable, if occasionally horrifically rendered, and we had the free Office viewers to fall back on. But anything complicated required finding one of the three people who were still allowed a copy of Office, and we sometimes pissed off customers when we failed to realize something important was missed due to formating or macro errors. About 3 weeks ago our CEO finally gave in. Even I have thrown in the towel. OOo / LO has worked well for me when I didn't have to exchange files. MS Office has no equivalent to Draw, and I vastly prefer OOo / LO's equation editor. But making large, auto-indexed Writer documents was essentially impossible, and our sales department has a very complicated Excel spreadsheet with about 20,000 lines of macros that we never managed to convert over anyway. (Those the were the guys still allowed to have Office.)

As good as LibreOffice is (I haven't tried OOo since the Oracle / Document Foundation split and subsequent Apache takeover) it has some failings. Ultimately, interoperability is the biggest obstacle, but not the ONLY problem.

So, yeah, I prefer to use FLOSS. But I'm not going full Stallman.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Alas...
by tony on Sun 25th Nov 2012 11:19 in reply to "Alas..."
tony Member since:
2005-07-06

That mirrors my experience. Open/Libre Office would be fine in a vacuum, but Microsoft Office's stranglehold on the market has little to do with the programs themselves, but rather the file format.

When inter-operating between MS Office and O/L Office, many little formatting issues would crop up here and there: A paragraph that should be single spaced but shows up double, a PowerPoint with an off-center picture, a spread sheet with unreadable formatting.

If you put any value on your time above say, minimum wage, it's cheaper to pay the Microsoft tax then to spend the countless hours fixing those maddening little problems in document after document after document.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Alas...
by zhuravlik on Sun 25th Nov 2012 12:09 in reply to "RE: Alas..."
zhuravlik Member since:
2009-08-24

>When inter-operating between MS Office and O/L Office, many little formatting issues would crop up here and there

They also crop here and there even when inter-operating between MS Office and MS Office. I remember one day when colleague brought me MSO document typed in the same version of MS Word as I had, and there were formatting issues here and there.

The main problem is how the documents are really formatted. If the user uses several pre-defined style templates, the document will be rendered and printed correctly even in OOo. Or it will be very easy to fix it just by changing style a bit.

But much more frequent case is: text and pictures are formatted using tabs+spaces combination until they are properly aligned in this particular instance of text editor. Some pictures are inserted in presentation using absolute/relative values inappropriately.

And if you presented something in PowerPoint format, you may easily remember that you should triple-check your presentation on the same computer where you present it, otherwise, some magic can happen.

After all, at our faculty (where Windows prevale a bit) there is even the recommendation to publish presentation to PDFs for the defence of dissertations instead of PowerPoint, because otherwise some formulas are unreadable or improperly displayed, or there could be encoding problems, or someone would bring PowerPoint 2003 presentation to display in PowerPoint 2007 and have a lot of fun, etc.

It is the same for all WYSIWYG software, that if improperly used, WYG on another machine is not the same as WYS on current machine.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: Alas...
by Tim Locke on Sun 25th Nov 2012 15:42 in reply to "RE: Alas..."
Tim Locke Member since:
2006-03-23

Wouldn't a more sane strategy be to use LO/OOo internally and not export them outside of the company? Any document needing to be exported could be a PDF. LO and MSO (with a free plugin from MS) both can export as a PDF.

If you wanted to take it further, you could put a filter on the mail server not allowing doc/xls/ppt files and giving an error to the sender that such files are not allowed due to viruses and to try re-sending them as PDFs. This should fix the problem of opening stuff in LO/OOo and not seeing all of it. If people *really* need to send an MSO file, they can zip it.

If an office file needs to be edited on both internally and externally, shouldn't it be in Google Docs or a web app?

Reply Parent Score: 3