alternatives - Part 1

OOo logo

The free software office suite is great for many office productivity tasks and in a lot of cases can prove to be very useful. However, it's easy to forget that there are other open source alternatives to OOo for almost all portions of the suite. Also, with the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard, you can be free to pick and choose which suite you use, as almost all of the alternatives provide good compatibility for ODF.

In this part of this multi-part post, I'm going to look at alternatives to the word processing part of OOo, Writer. There are a couple of major alternatives to OOo in the word processing space.



AbiWord is a very popular alternative to OOo Writer. It is very fully featured and aims to be a viable competitor to similar fully-featured word processors. It supports its own file format as well as ODF and many others including Microsoft Word.

AbiWord is unique among word processors in its drive to become a fully cross-platform word processor. Our source code is carefully written so that AbiWord will run on virtually any operating system with a minimum of time spent on porting. This combined with our support for internationalization (the ability to run AbiWord in many languages) gives AbiWord a massive potential user-base.

Currently we run on most UNIX systems, Windows 95 and later, QNX Neutrino 6.2. We also have a MacOS X native port available. There used to be a BeOS port, but that version has been unmaintained for too long and support for it has been discontinued.

AbiWord runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and more and can be downloaded from the AbiSource website.


Kword logo

KWord is part of the KOffice suite designed for KDE, but it will happily work on any Linux system (and on other platforms too with upcoming ports of KDE). KWord is slightly different to other word processors since it uses a concept of 'frames' similar to desktop publishing applications rather than a more traditional layout system.

KWord is a frame-based word-processing and desktop publishing application. KWord is capable of creating demanding and professional looking documents. Whether you are a corporate or home user, production artist or student, KWord will prove a valuable and easy to use tool for all your word processing and layout needs.

If you are a KDE user already, however, KWord is the word processor that will give you the best possible integrated experience and is well worth a go for other users too. You can find more information about KWord at the official site.


Of course, there are also online alternatives such as Google Docs and Zoho Writer and there are probably more obscure FOSS desktop word processing offerings as well, but AbiWord and KWord are the main free competitors to OOo Writer and are definitely worth a try.

In the next part, I'll be looking at alternative open source spreadsheet applications. Until then!

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: alternatives - Part 1

  1. Peter Cruickshank (guest)

    # Posted on 09 July 2007 at 12:26 AM

    Of course, there is always leet-generator, too, which is one of the top rated word processing/text apps on gnomefiles.

    For reference:

  2. Peter (guest)

    # Posted on 09 July 2007 at 12:57 AM

    Tried <a href="" rel="nofollow">LeetKey</a> for Firefox?


  3. Peter Cruickshank (guest)

    # Posted on 10 July 2007 at 10:46 AM

    No, but it looks like and interesting solution for my 1337 needs. I have to disagree with the graphic linking to this article from the front page: who could really be "sick of", the best office suite available in the open source world? If you're simply sick of word processing, play Tremulous (I recommend everyone do this anyways).

  4. # Posted on 12 July 2007 at 02:27 PM

    [...] - Practical MythTVPeter reviews Practical MythTV - Building a PVR and Media Center PC from alternatives - Part 1Peter takes a look at alternative free software solutions for word processing that aren't part of [...]

  5. # Posted on 11 May 2008 at 01:15 PM

    [...] looked at alternative word processor AbiWord previously, in a round-up of many different alternatives to OOo, but today I want to look at it in a lot more detail, and go through what makes it different [...]

  6. Blair Gordon (guest)

    # Posted on 04 May 2010 at 10:16 PM

    OpenOffice is not a good word-processor. I wish I had filed for a loan at the bank to get a real one before I started a major project 6 years ago. Now, all my important research notes are stuck in OpenOffice files. OpenOffice Writer is a mess, the tables don't hold their shape. Every time you open your page to work on it, you find the tables have slopped over the margin of the page, sometimes well beyond it, and you keep having to re-size all your tables back to the original dimensions. OO crashes all the time, too, and in the event it can't recover your file that you were working on, you LOSE IT !!!!! Right off the hard drive. In effect, every time you open your file, it seems to vanish from the hard drive until you save it and close it again, and in the event of catastrophe before you close it, you lose it. Sometimes OO can recover a crashed file, however, on two occasions, my BIGGEST and most important files (of course!) it couldn't do it, they are corrupted and not recoverable. There are also keyboarding glitches in the thing, so if your program is set to French language but you want an English quotation mark (I'm in Quebec), it can't easily do it, you have to type the French and then hit undo and backspace and stick a pen in your ear and maybe it will make one. In some versions of OO, you find that suddenly, in the midst of highlighting and underlining, bolding text or italicizing, OO suddenly finds a spot on the page where it simply refuses to do any of this, and you can't make it do it. Do not get OO if you are busy, if you have important work, if you are a young professional starting out. Get a LOAN, and get a REAL program. Also, Windows search doesn't seem able to "see" OO files, you have to convert them all to Word, and the conversio between versions is POOR, and has caused some of my files to become totally corrupted and unuseable. Be forewarned !!!

  7. Blair Gordon (guest)

    # Posted on 04 May 2010 at 10:18 PM

    Oh, P.S. -- tables in OO - an even worse issue: you can sit there and set up tables NESTED inside other tables, and apply color coding to cells and to the frames, and separate all your data into the various cells, and save, all with NO WARNING or ERROR message. I spent 14 hours color-coding a massive document in this way, saving every few minutes, figuring all is well. When I opened the file next morning, the ENTIRE STRUCTURE had collapsed. OO is not capable AT ALL of tables nested in tables. The text in all the different cells was now jumbled together in one big cell, all the color coding was gone. Warning! It is way far from being as good as it looks.

  8. # Posted on 17 June 2010 at 08:44 PM

    OpenOffice is atrocious. Especially in a Mac environment. Its styling features are difficult to access let alone maintain. It's UI is counter-intuitive. It lacks precision. I mean, its a WYSIWYG... one of the tenets of that being when you save a document, especially in application native format, it should LOOK like it did when you saved it.

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