Open Source Software vs. Commercial Software:
Migration from Windows to Linux
An IT Professional's Testimonial


Additional Software: OpenOffice Office Suite (Microsoft Office replacement), Dia (Microsoft Visio replacement), Gnome Planner (Microsoft Project replacement)

OpenOffice (Linux)
Linux version of OpenOffice Writer 3 with an open document.

There is no doubt that OpenOffice is the best office suite available for Linux. Backed by Sun and other main players in the Linux community, it has been expanded over the years and today is a direct replacement for the popular Microsoft Office. This software is offered during the installation of Fedora, and is a very useful thing to install. The only case where you would probably not want to install it is on a server. But even on a server, it is harmless and could come in useful. The main components of OpenOffice are very powerful, and can read/write to and from Microsoft Office formats, including from Office 2007. This software is a must have.

Major components of OpenOffice are the following:

Writer - A word processor similar to Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. It can export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can function as a basic WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages.

Calc - A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user’s data. Calc can also export spreadsheets to the PDF format. (See ooWriter entry, above, for details of PDF).

Impress - A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files, allowing them to be played on any computer with a Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files, and the ability to read Microsoft PowerPoint's .ppt format. Impress lacks ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.

Base - A database management program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base may be used as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0. Native to the suite is an adaptation of HSQL. While Base can be a front-end for any of the databases listed, there is no need for any of them to be installed. Raw SQL code can be entered by those who prefer it, or graphical user interfaces can be used.

Draw - A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool, similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It has similar features to Desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher. Draw can also export its creations to the PDF format. (See ooWriter entry, above, for details of PDF).

Math - A tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.


Dia (Microsoft Visio replacement)

Dia is an independent application from OpenOffice that does basic drawings, like Microsoft Visio. It is not nearly as feature-rich as Visio, however it handles the basic flowcharts and things.


Gnome Planner (Microsoft Project replacement)

Gnome Planner is also separate from the OpenOffice suite, but handles project management and is a direct replacement for Microsoft Project.

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