When I got first call from Monika I felt a bit annoyed - there is somebody who wants to learn OpenOffice Writer (the most used application from the canon of openoffice), and Lo... he is going to pay me for that. The reasons for my annoyance are multifold, first, I was stuck up in some urgent deliveries, second, I had to attend an official meeting and third "a person so serious to learn openoffice". With some haphazard thoughts, I switched off my mobile (that's a part of my etiquette before attending any meeting, you will agree mobile phones have become a personal as well as public menace) after firing an SMS.
Meeting went fairly well, though we never really come up with anything worthwhile, Monika's SMS arrested my attention, especially the domain name component in the mail ID - fosteringlinux.com. And I got on to put something - "These people are up to something good."
Ok. Let's talk plain. Learning OpenOffice is as easy as learning any proprietary office application suite, like that ubiquitous Microsoft Office. All you need is to be familiar with its interface, menubars, tools and context menus. Though internally it is much different from MS Office, the surface elements are much similar, except for the context menu (the menu that is invoked by right-clicking). They work differently but put the same result at the end. All is well that end's well!
As a novice user one can't find much difference, but a power-use can. The macros, the templates, and the preferences make all those difference. OpenOffice has its counterparts from Microsoft Office. There you get Word, here you get Writer; there... Excel, here Calc; there... PowerPoint, here Impress; there... FrontPage, here Web; and there... Access, here Base.
One can notice OpenOffice taking much time to startup. The startup time can be optimized by enabling openoffice quickstart and disabling java runtime (from the options menu) and splash screen. However, after first startup, consequent startups take very less time.
I am well versed with OpenOffice. I have been using it for last 5 years. But recently I am in love with Gnome Office (Abiword and Gnumeric), as it is simple, light and fast, it gives me exactly what I want.
Well, let's discuss to propagate our Tux race.
What is Linux and what's all that hoopla about it? Linux is an open source variant of the UNIX operating system. The present standing of Linux is the result of millions of lines of codes and volumes of documents.
What's so good about using Linux?
- You can shape up Linux the way you want it as the source is available for free, but you can't do the same with Microsoft or OSX.
- You get a wagon of software and applications, all for free.
- You will have piece of mind, you won't have virus, trojans and malware.
- You have a community of like-minded people to share your views, creativity, code and documents.
- You live on the edge of technology. Tech-savvy hobbyists swear with Linux. Because lakhs of developers contribute their codes for rapid development cycle.
The above list of points state that Linux has an edge over any proprietary operating system. Is not it unbelievable that it only enjoys a user base less than 10%? So what are the roadblocks?
- Aggressive marketing campaign of proprietary operating systems: Microsoft can spends fortunes on its promotional campaigns. But Open Source OS, Linux can publicize itself with words of mouth only (it's also powerful).
- Geek like approach of Linux contributors: You will agree Microsoft is the most user-friendly OS, though not the best. As a profit-oriented company, MS considers its customers (Windows users) as king, pop up the disk and you are almost there. Whereas, Linux is badly influenced by geek like approach. You have to do that extra configuration for better performance. Of course, that approach is defied by PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, Mepis and several other flavours. Linux Desktop has made usability its prime goal.
- Communication Gap: Many newbies to Linux still don't know which distro to choose from. Let me site a real life example. Today I morning I had been to a Photostat stall to get my PAN card copied. There I found some old books of RedHat 9 lying to be copied. Later I came to know that till date many think RedHat 9 is the latest and best distro. But the fact is Linux is moving very fast. Compare RH9 with Fedora 7, you will know the difference, the truth. This lack of information leads to frustration in many users. They found RH9 far behind Windows XP or Vista. Besides, RH9 does not has device drivers for the current hardware. The reason for this downward trend is the suggestion of old Linux users who still suggest RH9 and lend RH books and CDs.
- Chaotic development: Freedom is good but excess of freedom leads to anarchy. Makes sense? Hundreds of distro, dependency problems, lack of proprietary drivers, multiple display managers, multiple x environment (Kde, gnome, xfce, icewm, fluxbox, blackbox....the list continues) and the immature application development leads to a real chaos. That's what gives newbies a sense of inconsistency, instability and alienation. We know these are all surface elements, and the kernel is the same across many distributions. But how many new users know that?
Let's propagate our Tux race (Linux OS and the community) through unified effort and a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach. In this regards, I find PCLinuxOS 2007, a true desktop, best in usability, stability, performance and beauty. I must say it has a personality also. Let's follow its path of development. It just works and is radically simple!