Linux Desktop: Seven Leading Applications: Page 3

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3. OpenOffice.org

What it does: Offers an open-source alternative to the Microsoft Office suite.

How it will help you: In any enterprise environment, the typical Office suite is a must. Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are practically standards, and they are so tightly coupled with Microsoft OSes that the Office suite alone is enough to justify vendor-lock for many CIOs.

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However, OpenOffice.org offers a viable alternative. OpenOffice.org has its roots in StarOffice, which was developed by StarDivision and later acquired by Sun. After Sun released the StarOffice source code in 2000, OpenOffice.org was born. Supporting the OpenDocument standard, it is available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

One thing to be aware of is that OpenOffice.org does not offer the email, calendar, and contact applications included in Outlook and commonly bundled as part of the Office suite. You’ll have to select something like Evolution or Mozilla Thunderbird to fill that void.

PIM features are on the OpenOffice.org roadmap, according to Michael Bemmer, who is engineering director at Sun and is also in charge of the development of OpenOffice.org and StarOffice. These will be based on Mozilla Lightning, which is an extension of Thunderbird. Lightning is a relatively new projects that adds calendar and task features to Thunderbird, while providing support for PDAs.

Obstacles to Adoption: It’s not inaccurate to think of OpenOffice.org as Sun’s attempt to chip away at Microsoft’s market share. Many open-source evangelists aren’t big fans of this sort of corporate parenting, believing it sullies the intentions of the open-source movement. While Microsoft dominates the market, OpenOffice.org claims to have at least 50 million users. In an average week, 100,000 people register copies of OpenOffice.org.

OpenOffice.org has momentum in the open-source community, is perfectly stable, and is rather feature-rich. Potential threats to OpenOffice.org include Google, through Google Docs. However, Sun and Google have a strategic partnership focused on OpenOffice.org applications that includes joint marketing and development efforts. In the near-term, Google Docs are the online collaborative productivity suite, while OpenOffice.org resides on the desktop.

Developer: OpenOffice.org, with support from Sun Microsystems.

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