OpenOffice.org and OxygenOffice

[last updated 2010.2.15]

The latest posts on OpenOffice.org are available by clicking here.

Note: for Mac users, this is called NeoOffice but claims to be very similar.

Explanation of free OpenOffice.org and OxygenOffice

Microsoft sells its software, so the University is not able to provide free copies of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) to anyone. The University has to pay for licenses to use that software on campus computers.  Students must purchase their own copies of Microsoft Office to run on their personal computers.

Student discounts are available from Microsoft and through many distributors.

However, a FREE substitute is OpenOffice.org, which can save documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats. This would allow you to work in OpenOffice.org at home, for example, and save in a Microsoft Office format to bring to use on campus.

REMEMBER: save in XP or 2003 format (.doc, .xsl, .ppt, et cetera) in either program, to be able to use with both Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.

What You Get

The programs you use have slightly different names in OpenOffice.org:

Microsoft Office Suite OpenOffice.org
Microsoft Word for word processing Writer
Microsoft PowerPoint Impress
Microsoft Excel Calc
The database comparable to Microsoft Access is called Base, but is not quite as compatible with the Microsoft program — you should be able to trade the data itself, but you may not be able to swap all the display, queries and other programming with it.
OpenOffice.org also has Draw which is 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.” [from Wikipedia]
OpenOffice.org has Math which is “A tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other OpenOffice.org documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.” [from Wikipedia]
The software is free, but requires very large downloads (over 90MB). You can also get an enhanced version of OpenOffice.org with more extras called OxygenOffice Professional, which is also on the Library Software CD (which can be checked out overnight at the Circulation Desk in the Boreham Library).

OxygenOffice has all the extras including everything from a rich clip art gallery to variety of standard document templates (CV, greeting cards, etc.), plus over 90 text fonts, OOOWikipedia (an integrated Wikipedia Search Tools), ability to run Visual Basic for Applications from Calc (the OpenOffice alternative to “Excel”), ability to import Office Open XML (Microsoft Office 2007), and option to export (save as) documents to PDF, LaTex and MediWiki. To top it all off, OOOP has been able to integrate importing of Works and WordPerfect documents.

There is also a newer version of OpenOffice.org (which might not have all the extras of OxygenOffice yet) which is version 3.x at the link for OpenOffice.org.  This can also handle the docx, pptx, and other XML formats for Microsoft Office 2007.

What Can Run It

OpenOffice.org can run using:
  • Windows 2000 (Service Pack 2 or higher), Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Linux, Mac OS, and several other systems (check the list at the web site)
  • 256 Mbytes RAM (512 MB RAM recommended)
  • At least 650 Mbytes available disk space for a default install (including a JRE) via download. After installation and deletion of temporary installation files, OpenOffice.org will use approximately 440 Mbytes disk space.
  • 1024 x 768 or higher resolution with at least 256 colours
  • you also need to update your Java.  (This is a good idea anyway.)  This is free, also, and a version is available on the Library Software CD.

Note: there’s a lot of file names listed at the site, but the one to select for English is usually the shortest: OOo_2.3.1_071211_Win32Intel_install.exe (for example for Windows – the latest version may differ slightly) the ones with “install_” and more letters (such as “install_de.exe” are non-English language versions. This version is for 32-bit Windows. If installing on a Linux system, the shortest file name is usually the English version, again.

Note: 64 bit Linux version are available from these sites:

There are also versions of OpenOffice.org which can be run from a USB Flash drive. Click here for links.

Converting files from one to the other

OpenOffice.org uses the ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) for data interchange as its default file format. (Since this format is not “owned” by one company so it is less likely to be changed or limited by one company.)

To convert existing files you created in OpenOffice.org from an ODF format to a Microsoft one, just load the file into whatever part of OpenOffice.org you need, and click on the File drop-down menu, select Save As, and save the file again with the Microsoft format for 97/2000/XP extension (don’t just type in the change — change the extension where it says Save as type: ).

Since the extension is different, the full name of the file is different, so you can use the same name with the new extension.  When you want to open the file in Microsoft Office, select the Microsoft format version of the file.
BTW (By The Way): the Boreham Library has OpenOffice.org installed on a few staff computers so we can do this conversion for you in a pinch, if you forgot to do it on your own computer.

The difference in formats means that if you save a file in Writer (for example), it will save like so:

save-as-odt

Notice the file name will end in “.odt” instead of “.doc” or “.docx“.  So you need to change the file extension so Microsoft Word will recognize it:

save-as-doc

and then name your file as you normally would.

The same thing goes for using Impress, Calc, and so on.

Want to change OpenOffice.org so you don’t have to worry about that?

At the top of the screen, go to Tools, then select Options, then select Load/Save, then General and change the setting for Always save as to Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP instead:

load-save-options

That means that from now on, documents will be saved with the “.doc” extention.

You’ll need to do the same thing in the other parts of OpenOffice.org such as Impress, Calc, and so on, by changing to the Microsoft format for 97/2000/XP for those files.

BTW (By The Way): Microsoft allows others to create conversion software for Microsoft Office to convert ODF files to Microsoft formats, but at present, is not doing much more than that for Microsoft Office 2007.

Alternate Office freeware

Other Office-suite freeware includes:

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