The long anticipated KOffice 2.0 release is now available for Linux, Windows and Mac users!  Be advised that the KOffice folks say that this release isn’t actually considered stable, and is intended for developers and early adopters only, similar to how KDE 4.0 wasn’t a stable release.  KOffice 2 is a port to the new QT 4 and KDE 4 libraries, and has a couple cool new features such as better KOffice component integration and the switch to using ODF as the default document formats.  (In contrast, AbiWord only supports ODT and will not use it as the default format.)

KOffice 2 feels much faster than OpenOffice.org, and has more features than Abiword.  I also really appreciate that ODF is the default format for KOffice as this means that compatibility with OpenOffice.org documents should be perfect.  My only problem with using KOffice is that the list of required dependencies is considerably longer than it would be were I using KDE in place of Gnome, as KOffice is designed to use the KDE libraries.  The installation size for KWord on my Dell Mini 9 running Ubuntu 9.04 system (with a 4GB SSD) is 160MB compared to 26.3MB for Abiword or 186MB for OpenOffice.org Writer.  Note: the installation size of KWord would be much smaller were I running KDE, and the installation size of Abiword would be much larger were I not already running Gnome.

The KOffice 2.1 release is currently expected to be out later this year, which should be more stable and more appropriate for everyday use.

Click here for the official KOffice 2.0 release announcement.

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Abiword is Awesome

April 21, 2009

Abiword has just become my new favorite word processor.  It’s always been nice for being so quick and low on resources (installing Abiword requires 26.3 MB in Ubuntu 9.04 compared to 186 MB for OpenOffice.org Writer), but the 2.6 release of Abiword has added two new features which have pushed it over the top for me.

First, Abiword now has .odt (OpenDocument Text) support, so making the switch from OpenOffice.org is a lot less painful.  This is a feature I’ve also been waiting for in KOffice 2 which has finally released it’s first Release Candidate.

My favorite new feature is the Abiword Collaboration Plugin, which adds Google Docs like collaboration functionality to Abiword.  So now I can collaborate on a document without the requirement of using an online service like Google to host our work.  Abiword supports direct connections over TCP, or you can connect over Jabber.  It’s very easy to set up.  After establishing the connection, one person checks the “Share” checkbox in their Abiword, publishing the document to the “Shared Documents” of the other collaborators, enabling them to open and edit the same document.  Everyone gets their own color coded cursor, just like in Google Docs.  The Abiword developers are also working on an online service called AbiCollab.net, which is currently in beta.  This will be an additional ttransport layer for Abiword collaboration, which adds the ability to view the changes a colleague has made to a document before it has been saved to disk.

While it’s true that Abiword doesn’t have all the features of MS Word or OpenOffice.org Writer, it does have all the features I have ever wanted in a word processor, and the small footprint works out really well for my new Dell Mini 9.  For an interesting interview with the developers of Abiword, including more on the Collaboration Plugin and ODT support, and more on AbiCollab.net, check out this article from Red Hat Magazine.  And if you didn’t know, Abiword is Free Software and it can be downloaded at no cost here.