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Abi right here January 8, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Apps.

I’ve long had issues with OpenOffice, even before I began using it exclusively on the EeePC (mainly because it came in the box with it). Set aside the fact that it’s a noble attempt to give everyone MS Office for free – on pure performance and reliability terms, OpenOffice has issues.

I’ve had files self-destruct when opened on other apps, even if they were properly saved in that app’s format. If they opened in the first place, that is. Other files’ formatting get scrambled beyond repair, and just using OpenOffice is an exercise in patience sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good product; I live with it at the office. It just needs more work.

Since I refuse to go Windows, MS Office is by default a lost cause. I looked around the net for other open source word processing options; the world of Linux is a wide open, uh, vista for me, the unexplored, the great unknown. So I take small, hesitant steps. Thank God for the forums.

Eventually, I would come across lots of good things said about something called AbiWord. The name appealed to me for some reason, so I gave it a shot.

It isn’t too easy to install – or maybe I just didn’t chance on a more plug-and-play method in my searching. It involved manually locating three files on a Debian repository and installing them via the CLI in a console window.

Three days ago I wouldn’t have even attempted something like that, after mostly working on Macs for the past several years (my command-line days were decades ago). But after the foolhardy rush headlong into Linux this past week, it wasn’t too scary. I got the basic commands and syntax down already.

(My careless damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead mentality wasn’t completely without grief. The other day I wanted to try and watch a 700mb movie file on the EeePC, but was loathe to empty out my large flash drives to transfer the thing. So I connected my Mac via wifi and set about copying the file over the air. The file’d take about a half-hour. I was halfway through when it dawned on me that The Roach might not actually have 700mb to spare. It didn’t. With all my installs, there was barely 300mb left on the SSD. Of course five minutes later it tanked, and then on next bootup it froze, saying there was no more disk space and it couldn’t continue. Egad! I had to go to the command line, locate the TMP file and delete it, then reboot, which for a Linux n00b was terrifying.)

AbiWord looks more homey and accommodating, and has a less cluttered, busy look. Using it, it seems faster and more stable. It feels …comfortable to use. And, oddly enough, safer. I can’t explain it, or put it any better than that. (Then again, I’ve been known to have an overactive imagination.)

It seems like too much fuss for just a word processor, but hey, this is important to writers. I’d take as much care in picking and choosing my writing app as I took picking the laptop.

These are our equipment, our tools, our weapons. In the old days I would have been finicky about my typewriter and the ribbons I used. Or even the paper. Heck, I’d be fussy with the pencil if it came to handwriting again. These are superstitious rituals that are simultaneously silly, yet very important to me.

So I’ll be using AbiWord as my writing app for now, and give you guys my impressions over the next few days. So far so good. I wrote this whole post on it.



1. Art - January 10, 2008

Re: your attempt at downing a 700MB video.

Shouldn’t there be a way to stream video from a server via wifi? Admittedly, this was one of the frustrations I had while my eeep was still Linux’d. I wanted a quick and dirty way to just watch my vids while taking a bath without having to download the damned things in the first place (which, yes, took ages).

Now that my eeep is under the OS-who’s-name-could-never-be-mentioned, I have no problems at all and can watch vids effortlessly. So if you find a streaming-friendly solution, let me know and it will actually make me consider going back to Xandros.

2. bernie - January 10, 2008

@Art: I have three letters to answer your video streaming query: V-L-C (http://www.videolan.org/)

3. Art - January 10, 2008

I knew it. I was about to install it na when the need to get my comfort zone back kicked in and there went the OS, hehe…

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