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Sun Microsystems

StarOffice 5.2 Preview 98

A few people over the last couple of days have pointed out that Sun has made StarOffice 5.2 available for preview. It's a big download, clocking in at 100+ megs for Solaris. There's also Linux (x86 only) and Win32 versions available.
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StarOffice 5.2 Preview

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I downloaded it, and it doesn't look bad at all. Can't see why those guys in the posts above are so crabby about the StarOffice deskyop. Anyway, here are two screenshots:here [tourdebutt.com], and another here. [marklowry.com] Hope those help.

    Cheers,
    -Phiz

  • Things I'd like to see:

    • works better with truetype fonts? I had an older version of Staroffice worked fine with them, but haven't been able (not that I tried much) to get the current version to work ... there's probably a hack but joe user wanting a word processor shouldn't have to hack.
    • junk the desktop. let the tools run standalone
    • make it less of a memory hog
    • as someone else mentioned, better capabilities for special chars such as m-dash etc.
    • may as well take out the email and web authoring stuff - does anyone use either of these?

    While I'm no fan of Microsoft OSs they do make good office software. Powerpoint 2000 is a dream and comes with great templates. Even Outlook, security nightmare that it is, at least looks really nice. If Sun really wants to compete with MS to lure people from office tools it has a lot of catching up to do.

    M

  • If you want MS users to feel at home in Linux and you hope StarOffice will help in that aim, you should help Sun rewrite the interface to be less onerous, clumsy and confusing (or realize you're out of your depth && shut the fuck up, heh)
    So only coders good enough to write entire interfaces should be able to have input on user interfaces? Um, so that's why the Linux desktops are so user friendly and why Windows users are converting eh?
  • FreeBSD not being supported as a compilation platform by Sun isn't that bad of a thing. Sun would do well to support installation of StarOffice using Linux compatibility on FreeBSD, since many people _do_ use that. The big advantage of compiling for FreeBSD would be to save memory/swap for people who don't normally use Linux apps; it would probably also be faster by a perecentage or two.

    I don't really disagree with Sun not doing a FreeBSD release, but they should attempt to support people installing the Linux version on an OS other than Linux.

    --

  • Why would you recommend a program to a client based solely on what you heard? I mean, you should at least try it yourself first, especially something that you don't have to buy to try.

    Thats really not a good way to preserve your credibility.
  • I noticed that StarMath in 5.1 was fairly anemic. There wasn't a way to align equations without resorting to crocks. There also was a lack of bold Greek symbols, which are pretty much necessary for displaying vectors denoted by Greek letters, i.e. angular velocity, torque. (Actually, the only word processor-like thing that got bold Greek letters right was LyX--for obvious reasons.) Have those problems been fixed?
  • Three top most htings I would like to see in Star Office:

    1: ability to drag a link out of one window and into another.
    2: when opening new windows, have them NOT automaticaly go full screen.
    3: a Beos port.
  • They vary considerably from the reality, but it is my firm belief that this is not intentional and that the microsoft internal developers themselves struggle with the difficulty of a lack of clear and sane documentation

    Nonetheless the documentation exists and while you must take the exact details under advisement and constantly check against the reality of the implementation, the docs do exist and are very useful

    C.

  • I think StarOffice has a lot going for it, and is, IMHO, the best productivity suite for Linux. But why do they wrap everything up in what is basically a self-contained desktop environment? 100 MB? Is that really necessary? I mean, there is such a thing as *too* feature rich. I wish I could get a stand alone StarWriter, or something.

    Or, here's another idea: can you turn StarOffice into a complete X11 desktop? Like the old Emacs joke: "Emacs is my shell." Make StarOffice a window manager. Wrap a distribution around it! SunLinux!!!

    Sorry, I'm going into stream-of-consciousness mode. I should stop now.

    --

  • There was a free OS/2 version of StarOffice 5.1, Sun modified changed the labels and 5.1a came.

    Now they dropped OS/2 support.

    Easy come, easy gone.
    __
  • For Pete's sake man I understand this is an important issue, but it has absolutely NOTHING to do with SO5.2! I normally tolerate offtopic rants but this is ridiculous - it's just too long. And if this kind of ramble is going to be moderated up what's the use of moderating content? Might as well just set my prefs to -1.
  • Actually, you can install it separately if you run
    "setup /net" (the DOS-style command line switches... uhhh). They describe it in the manual as "network installation" rather than the standard installation on a multi-user OS. You then have to run setup and give it some other options so that it copies about 3 Mb of stuff to your home directory.

    But yeah, if you don't use the "/net" when you install it, it will copy everything to your home directory, which is completely stupid. No, it's beyond stupid. The StarOffice people must be shot for that!
    ___
  • This is all off topic garbage
  • The title says it all.
  • Calm down, bubbleboy.

    Agreed, it should be optional. Be even better if I could have only the wordprocessor without the rest of the package.

    But do keep in mind that this is Star**OFFICE**, to be used by people who might not be so computer-literate as you. Much easier, cheaper and less-error-prone to have a single, constrained interface to the entire suite than to force the end user to learn an OS GUI that's different from the applications' GUIs.



    --
  • We had some odd problems running SO 5.0 over NFS.

    The users home dir's were on an old Linux server running 2.0.18ish. We upgraded the server to kernel 2.2, and haven't had any problems.

    I run at home w/ SO 5.1 on my workstation mounting my home dir from the server and it works perfectly. Both servers are running (approx. ) Mandrake 7.0. The workstation in running kernel 2.3.99pre3

    Now, Corel WP 8.0 wouldn't work over nfs... all sorts of odd file locking problems.

    Hope that helps! I'd be happy to help you get SO working.

    Ben
  • 2nd that. I like how Staroffice doesnt take over my system, and doesnt increase my registry by a meg.

    Some people in our office are forwarding thier exhange email to our unix boxes and using Staroffice 100%. And Star office even has starlink for our palm tops.

    Exchange/Outlook and Viso are the ONLY 2 applications that keep me using windows at work. At home all my games keep me using windows...

    -IronWolve-

  • I just downloaded the Solaris version and it seems to run pretty well. I haven't done a major stress test on it but My ultra5 with 128 Megs of RAM is carrying it quite well.

    I still don't like the whole StarOFfice desktop. I would much rather the ability to just open the word processor instead of the whole office desktop thing.
  • Ok, I'll admit it is better WHEN it WORKS. I have
    some docs that it just pukes on that work fine
    with 5.1 Hopefully they will fix it before they
    release.
    ************************************** ******
    Superstition is a word the ignorant use to describe their ignorance. -Sifu
  • The whole reason I came to linux was for the superior performance and its lack of bloatware products. From the looks of it all Sun has done has given product with alot of options for free, but with the bloat to go with it.

    The source of the bloat is that they try to do everything in one shot. Star Office is a web browser, word processor, graphics editor, html editor, mail editor, desktop, etc all in one. It sad to say, but they need to seperate all of these applications into seperate programs and give the user options of installing and using whatever they want.

    The typical linux user probably has gimp which takes care of almost all graphical needs, a mail client, definitely a desktop of some sort, and a web browser. Why do I need to have all that pop up into my face when I want to use a word processor. A plus for star office is that it definitely has the best word processor in the linux market.

    One more critism is that they should use a better looking GUI toolset like GTK+ or QT which would give them the benefit of consistency with other X applications. I have not tried the latest star office but 5.1 looks dull in comparison to my other X applications.

    I know Star Office runs on other platforms like windows, but I don't run windows as my main platform so I am not concerned about that version.
  • Last time I checked, StarOffice could only install itself for a single user (perhaps I missed something). This is crazy: our machines are multi-user and I do not want each user to do a private installation of a package weighing 100MB.

    Have they fixed that problem?

  • I sure was right in saying "Perhaps I missed something". :-) The point is that StarOffice has a graphical install program that does not offer the option in some obvious fashion. I do not think that multi-user install is a kind of special feature only useable by expert system> administrators; it is in fact needed by any person maintaining a shared computer (for instance, a family machine).

    As for the "You should have read the instruction first": StarDivision and Sun made a big fuss about making the Linux desktop more useable for end-users. I thought that precluded having to read the doc and combing it for obscure features before running the install program. I was wrong. I prefer compiling Gnome on Solaris: you just understand better how it's supposed to install itself.

  • Why did Sun feel it necessary to tar the single install file? It only makes the file slightly larger. Does anyone else think this is totally stupid?
  • I think the prupose behind star office is that businesses can run multiple OS's and not have to worry about reteaching employees to use multiple OS's. Because all versions of SO have that (and I agree, it's stupid) start menu button, all ause has to know is how to click that button to run most of the apps they'll need to.

    I'm half suprised SO hasn't become it's own complete windowmanager :)

  • I've seen exactly this happen on an Ultra5 running Solaris 2.6 with absolutely all available patches installed.

    I would snicker as the senior SA would power cycle the Ultra as my Debian system would 'chug' (his words) along.
  • I could switch over my office desktop to StarOffice if they can handle dealing with Outlook.

    Like it or not, corporations love the Outlook/Exchange system. A competitor to Microsoft Office needs to include an Outlook replacement.
    -----
  • StarOffice is admirably componentized--except wrt its interface which is a separate issue altogether.

    Sounds like the desktop interface needs an "off" switch....
  • 2- what good app requires user to run setup after sysadmin has installed it? This is a complaint of mine with WindowMaker as well. Here's how it should work: user runs soffice, it notices that ~/$OFFICEDIR doesn't exist. It creates it. It populates it with default info taken from $PREFIX/etc/$DEFAULT.cfg

    It appears to be a consquence of the app having been designed for the "single user, end user is admin" type situation
    Which ends up being clumsy for unix (another part of this is handling of email.) Its also clumsy for networked Windows machines operating as Workstations
    (Netscape/Mozilla has similar issues.)
  • Last time I checked, StarOffice could only install itself for a single user (perhaps I missed something). This is crazy: our machines are multi-user and I do not want each user to do a private installation of a package weighing 100 MB.

    It can be installed so that it only puts some per user stuff in the home directory of each user. But it requires the end user enter all sorts of details and the ammount it stores seems over hefty
  • You then have to run setup and give it some other options so that it copies about 3 Mb of stuff to your home directory.

    This is fine for people who have machines with a few users. However in other cases it involves gigabytes of space...
  • Just do it!

    Put soffice into your .xsession and enjoy ;-)
  • ... and did you notice, it looks like Microsoft spam ? Still I don't understand what motivates the guy to post it there. Can you post to /. by chance ???!!
  • I will be interested in the details of your implementation, i've been having some little problems here with it (mainly because some of the stations, 5x86-133 with 24 Mb RAM that worked OK with Win/MsOff97, are too slow for this, and i would want to erradicate the last spawns of MS software here while i can)

    "Now you can see that evil will triumph, because good is dumb!"
  • I got my copy of Corel Wordperfect Deluxe yesterday, and I have never seen such a big piece of crap for $125 .. The installer only works on Corel linux and redhat. Caldora and SuSE and slackware, and others are out of luck. I run SuSE and it took several hours to install all the RPMs in the right order to stop depedency errors, and move everything in there right places. After installing, I figure out that Corel didnt port wordpertect suite, the apps run under wine. Wine is unstable and crashes every 2 minutes. Quatropro is yet to open a document without wine seg faulting. Corel did no reseach and no testing on this. There software is juct as expencive as microsoft junk, and works worse. Im staying on Staroffice
  • Im happy that It works for you. Im willing to bet that your running redhat or corel linux. Anyway the point is that If you pay $125 for linux software, they should not send you windows 95 software and an emulator. I didnt pay $125 for seg fault in wp.exe.

  • AmiPro was about the best word processor around in it day (at least for Windows - Word Perfect 5.1 ruled dos)! I bet it would run like a dream under Wine. The downside is that I can't find it anymore (I know that lotus changed the name to WordPro for their suite...it's an abomination)...and my original disks have long since dissapeard.

    Oh well, such is life.

    -binner

  • If what you say is true, and I don't know whether it is or not, then it speaks to the stability of Solaris more than StarOffice. Let's use the same standard here. No application program should be able to "crash the OS to the point of where you couldn't pin git and had to power cycle." If that's the case, which I doubt unless it was installed incorrectly, then it's a major problem with Solaris. Yes, StarOffice may have problems also, but I'd rank the issues with Solaris as more critical

    What version of Solaris was this? Was this with all recommended patches installed?
  • This is untrue. Obviously you didn't read the installation instructions. You have to give the install some funky switch, like /net or something. I hope this is the wrong switch and you are forced to read the installation instructions. When installed this way, you have to "install" it for each user, which used to use about 2MB of "personal" settings and data (and created the directory structure under your home directory).

    Next time, try reading the instructions.
  • I wish staroffice, or any project whose objectives include compatibility with ms products could have some form of lister, even in /var/log/, doesn't matter how wonderful, raw data is great...

    ..Something to list what hasn't been imported or exported correctly after a file has been loaded or changed.

    If I were sure for example that starcalc supported comments in cells, I would probably use it to edit the big executive spreadsheet i have to edit each week for my bosses.

    But even then, what guarantee do I have that it's not ruining this or that other little "enhancement" from excel that soffice doesn't support??

  • SO supports comments in cells. You put an apostrophe before the text just like every other spreadsheet program.

    The big problem is that MS doesn't publish the specs for their file formats. If they would do that, it would take a lot of the guesswork out of trying to make an office suite compatible with them.
  • It ain't Outlook 2000 yet, but then it's also not succeptible to script macros in message bodies.

    Hmm... if it's using the IE engine then isn't it susceptible anyway? I'm curious whether they use the IE engine when rendering e-mail.

    ...where VBA doesn't come into play.

    However, at least for the Win32 version, I would like SO to have an object model (ala Off2K) so that I can programatically do things with it from scripts, web pages, etc.

  • Both of them can make minor improvements to proprietary software, then double both the size and price while halving its performance! No wonder Scott McNealy hates Microsoft so much -- he's jealous!

    --
  • In my opionin Staroffice is VERY slick when you consider all the featrues it packs into a 60~ meg download... I was amazed the first time I ran it. Its less than a quarter the size of a minimal MS Office install with all the features, and more.
  • It's bloatware alright, The memory foot print in my box is > 174Meg (according to GTOP)
    That cuts into your swapfile when you only have 64Meg of real memory. I don't know how people with older boxes cope with it.
  • I'll talk to Emmett if AbiSource releases their next version ever :P

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • 100 megs my ass! I don't need all those bells and whistles, I'm just going to use my good ol' AbiSuite (www.abisource.com [abisource.com])... they're due for a new version soon, many cool things being added!

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • Only reason I have to run StarOffice is to load the MS-Centric docs that people send me.

    It uses 80+ megs of Ram on my box, but I give that much to VMware, too. StarOffice certainly runs quicker than VMware+NT+Office97, but the font handling is poor.

    Has anybody got it working with a TrueType font sever for Linux? Would it take advantage of TrueType fonts if they were available?

  • Looking at the feature set I don't see anything that Corel WPO4L does not have. I have been using WordPerfect for 15 years so I am biased. At least I can use the same file formats that have not changed since ver 6. Publish to pdf is handy as well as the real time preview. I hope to see the side by side review promised by the slashdot reader in the future.
  • Well I think that could be because it is a preview(beta) and not a release...
  • Hey man, thanks for the great links!!! I was totally unprepared and laughed my ass off at the first link. Hell yeah.

  • Does the new version do typographic quotes, em dashes & en dashes? Applix doesn't, WP does. Last time I checked, SO didn't. WP seems to be the only Linux word processor with decent output quality, but it is flawed in other respects.

    Of course, no word processor can match LaTeX for output quality.

  • The reason Sun has not gziped them is because the files inside the tar are already compressed...

    [ebola@hydra soffice]$ ls -lh
    total 175M
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 ebola ebola 89M Apr 7 11:50 so52beta_linux_01.tar
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 ebola ebola 86M Apr 7 12:12 so52beta_linux_01.tar.gz

    ftp://ftp.c-60.org/pub/soffice/ [c-60.org]

  • Hmm. Over 200 new features. Oh boy. I wonder if they improved stability on the UltraSPARC (kinda ironic on that one. Like QuickTime being more stable on Windows). StarOffice is (was?) horrible on sparc. A peon user, from a remote X session, was able to consistantly crash the OS to the point of where you couldn't ping it and had to power cycle. That was fun when someone was giving a presentation. I dislike the interface of star office. Copying microsoft, fine, okay, if you really want to, but they take it to the extreme. Why do I need url's to my files? Silly file-viewer-is-a-web-browser-like-MS. -- Mike DeMaria
  • Staroffice is not an attempt to make Linux more cozy to Windows users. Windows remains and has been the primary market for StarOffice, albeit in Europe. In the US, the Windows Office bundle has always been invincible--maybe European laws have something to do with the different market situations...

    And this isn't a reason to see this as an opportunity? If there is a customer need that isn't fullfilled, then that is an area to develope and make money. There are a lot of Linux users that need an office suite...SO provides that.

    I do believe S.O. is "decent"--that is the reason I care enough about the subject to get very angry about its muffed opportunities.

    It is good too be passionate about things...but remember, there is more to consider in any issue then one or two things...don't get a knee jerk reaction without additional consideration.

    It seems to me...that if you take 5.2 to be based on the 5.x line..then there is not likely to be major changes in the interface any time soon.

    Sun is promoting a lot of new bells and whistle (like Java 2 support) in their "Star Portal" version. Whether 5.2 is suppose to be Star Portal I have no idea...but I would think that would be the time that such a major user interface change would take place.

    Kind of like the difference in the 4.x netscape updates and the 6 mozilla/netscape update. Re-engineering something like that can take a lot of time...

    The piled-on junk in the interface is a terrible mistake and doesn't make Linux users, neither the new converts nor the cli veterans happy. Neither does it make the StarOffice-on-Windows users happy. It makes them all equally confused about how all this crap is supposed to work.

    There is, of course, one justifying case for the False desktop/Window manager crap of S.O. (versions 4.0 and later), but only one: deployment in a thin client situation where S.O. is really the only application that runs on that station. (One has to wonder tho' how thin such a thin client could realistically be. If S.O. ran on a monster server and only displayed on the client,a la X-windows, that would make sense--but GORR! that would have to be some kind of mainframe sized server to handle many concurrent sessions). This is just not a viable model for gaining share for the S.O. product though. The Office suite market is emphatically desktop oriented, has been so for many years--and, as everyone keeps telling Sun, whether we're on MS or Unix, we already have a desktop.

    But then again...you have to remember, that they are targeting it for more then just power Linux users who could care less about the desktop.

    And rather than have to make a version for Motif, KDE, Gnome, Generic X, Windows, Mac, Be, etc (you would think Sun would us Java a little more in this instance :-)...it might be easier for portability purposes (I know using some of the QT/GTK stuff might make some of that easier but that's another thread) to have their own desktop that looks the same on as many platforms as possible. If I use it on Windows and then want to move to Linux...it's kind of nice to not have to learn new shortcuts and stuff.

    I have never used it on Windows, so if it has a desktop in a desktop...I agree that doesn't make sense.

    If you want MS users to feel at home in Linux and you hope StarOffice will help in that aim, you should help Sun rewrite the interface to be less onerous, clumsy and confusing (or realize you're out of your depth && shut the *bleep* up, heh) MS Office based companies will not be converting to S.O., no matter how much money they blow on Office licenses so long as the S.O. interface is cumbersome and layered with redundancy the way it is. It changes the proposition from a switch to using a free product on your desktop oriented network, to a switch that requires some expensive retraining+downtime at best, and in the extreme case, a conversion to E10K servers and thin clients.

    Sun is dreaming the impossible dream here: unless S.O. can be obtained in a form that allows an efficient, drop-in replacement of MS Office, and I mean soon,well before MS starts releasing Office for Linux as result of the Antitrust suit, all that money they paid for StarOffice is just swirling around the bowl, soon to disappear forever. That's 500,000,000 dollars. Don't you think that kind of investment warrants the protection of an interface recode--at least making available an optional version that MS Office users and home Linux users say they want?

    And it is partially because of this investment that they aren't likely to throw away everything they invested in (SO desktop). It is a starting point...but give them a little time it's hard to re-engineer something as massive as this in a month or two.

    Hey...maybe we can get them to open up the source for Star Office and do a Mozilla version....naaaah...this is Sun we are talking about with their wonderful Licensing scheme..

    And before anyone comments about me changing any of the last post...name calling isn't needed...neither is cursing... Have a nice day :-)

  • Wine is not a Windows emulator! See www.winehq.com
  • 1996: Microsoft releases a competitor to Netscape Navigator, gives it away freely, and eliminates the revenue potential of Navigator.

    1999: Sun attempts the same thing with StarOffice.

    It's a pretty wild move, and I doubt Sun was trying to win design contests with it. I just appreciate StarOffice for what it is - the last tool I needed to remove that Windows partition.

  • Which kind of blows away the /. view about MS being the only company to produce bloatware, doesn't it? I've never really understood why people think that because MS do bad things ONLY MS do bad things. Most companies produce horrible unstable ugly oversized code (Netscape has demonstrated this). And I bet that if any the other companies (including Sun) were as big as MS, they would have used exactly the same tactics. The problem is lack of choice. We've got MS Office (Produced by a huge monpolistic company), Wordperfect (Produced by an incompetent bloatware company) and Star Office (Produced by a bloatware company that at least has the decency to spend a lot of its time picking in Microsoft)
  • Okay, on the internal benchmarks we have here, startup is 20% faster on first load, and 60% thereafter. It's certainly leaner, and uses less memory.

    StarOffice is an excellent product that is getting better all the time.

    And believe me, you'll like it even more in a little while...
  • Yes, it is free, as in beer. But what does that have to do with my post?!

    What would you expect Sun to do with it anyway? You can't expect someone like Sun to give the source to such a big and important product away - can you :-)
  • Hey, a calm considerate voice of reason. Is that allowed in here?

    I have ligitamate for the current interface, exactly as it stands.

    I can set up StarOffice as a standalone interface for my office workers. I can tweak the little bugger so that my workers get a the work package I want them to get, running under Linux withtout they're even knowing their not running Windows. I've even been asked where I got the "Windows Theme" so they could use it on their home machine. For a business manager this is seriously cool. Completely customized for my business workstations, with free ( as in beer ) softwar, running over my favorite free ( as in speach ), OS, without any worker angst at all.

    The next time I lose a favored worker I'll also have the pleasure of saying to them, " Oh by the way, when you next upgrade your resume, don't forget to put down that you've got umptynine months of *ix enviroment experience. Surprise."

    All that having been said, it damn well ought to be optional so I can get it the hell off MY machine if I want. I want the best enviroment for me to work in, not the one that is deemed most familiar to the masses.
  • No surprise if you save a .doc file to /proc/kcore as root ;-)
    Stefan
  • www.wernerroth.de/en/staroffice/f aq [wernerroth.de]

    The newsgroups -- staroffice.com.* -- have fairly good SNR. They are available from Sun's staroffice news server if you don't get it as a part of your local Usenet feed; starnews.sun.com.

  • Note...the link is correct but might be down. I can't reach it at this time, though didn't have any problem about 2 days ago. /. effect?
  • As a fervent *former* OS/2 advocate, I'm not surprised that Sun isn't supporting upgrades to StarOffice under OS/2. IBM can't even be blamed to abandoning it...it was an unfortunate but necessary move by both companies. There's no conspiracy.

    As a long-time OS/2 user...from v.2.x to the last major release, I know your frustration. The first time I used it was with the pre-meditated idea that OS/2 = IBM product = crap^ . Boy, was I surprised!

    OS/2, specificially 3.x and above, was so clearly superior to the whole Windows ?? and DOS crowd that I was shocked. After some careful consideration, and looking at the facts, I wiped out Windows and used OS/2 for a few years.

    That was then...and like any Amiga owner knows those were the olden days. Just like it was ignorance that led me to mock OS/2 before I took a look at it, it would be equal ignorance to continue with it after even IBM has abandoned it for all but existing large-scale customers.

    Because of that, I gave away all my OS/2 software a few months ago -- hundreads of dollars worth --and haven't regreted it. Unix (Solaris, Linux, BSD, ...) plus VMware for Windows (Quickbooks) does things that OS/2 can't do, and in a much more reliable way.

    Sun would be foolish to support OS/2 with any future releases of StarOffice, when the more viable MacOS isn't supported (yet). Supporting OS/2 at this point is about as sane as supporting Amiga DOS 3.x.

    NOTE ^: Back in the days when OS/2 was first released, many IBM products were over hyped, and IBM itself was very difficult to deal with unless you had direct contacts in the proper technical departments. This is not the case anymore.

    ( ObRegret: I'd love to have the WPS open sourced and ported to X. That would be sweet!)

  • 'Nother question: how easy would it be for them to do? Would it be a total no-brainer? Slightly difficult? _Very_ difficult?...

    There are WPS-style window-manager extentions available, but none of them seem to be that good at it. For one, the WPS relied heavily on attributes stored in the HPFS file system.

    The typical Unix file system doesn't have space for those extra attributes, so it wouldn't work well there without modification. The hack they did to get it to work on FAT file systems made it useless there too; some programs worked well, others didn't.

  • Does the 5.2 beta sync to a palm pilot -- without duplicating entries?

    While 5.1 could pull data from a Palm Pilot, restoring it really caused problems. This is one very annoying bug....

  • I don't really like MDI applications to begin with. Star Office takes a major leap beyond MDI and throws all their 'applications' into one window as well. And they throw in a start button, file manager, and web browser, and ...

    I get the impression that Star Office is pretty much a full desktop environment. You don't need to 'leave' your desktop to 'do anything'. They're building their desktop environment from the application level downwards, instead of from the OS up (like GNOME or KDE) -- a nice idea for maintaining consistency across multiple platforms. But what I would really like to see is for Star Office to have some options to allow it to play more fairly with the other tools available in the currently running desktop environment. As wonderful as some people may find the integrated file manager, task bar, and start button, I would rather stick to the info and tools provided by the underlying OS/window mgr.
  • Maybe WINE doesn't work on your system, but it's rock solid on my version of Corel Linux. Quatropro, Paradox etc. all run great.
  • [...] Butthead (hey, you started the name calling).

    I'm glad at least you (unlike one poster who responded to you) got the joke. :)

    Windows remains and has been the primary market for StarOffice, albeit in Europe.

    I stand corrected on that note, then. Perhaps I misstated my point, which was that they're mimicing Windows for some reason. I sincerely doubt it's because they think *nix users like the Windows desktop and want to have a pseudo-implementation of it. If you have a better suggestion (other than your thin client one) as to what that reason is, I'd be interested to hear.

    If you want MS users to feel at home in Linux and you hope StarOffice will help in that aim, you should help Sun rewrite the interface to be less onerous, clumsy and confusing...

    Why? Are you saying that Windows isn't onerous, clumsy, and confusing? I think that learning yet another bastardized interface is just a day in the life of the average Windows user. I think that anything that helps "them" feel comfortable with an alternative OS is a good thing.

    [...] (or realize you're out of your depth && shut the fuck up, heh)

    I would, in fact, be out of my depth. I also wasn't the one complaining about it in the first place, therefore don't have to shut the fuck up.

    That's 500,000,000 dollars, Butthead. Don't you think that kind of investment warrants the protection of an interface recode--at least making available an optional version that MS Office users and home Linux users say they want?

    It depends on what their goal is. Remember, Beavis, $500M is a lot to you and I -- but not nearly as much to Sun. But, yes, you're right -- an alternative interface would be nice. Personally, I'd like to see some competition for MSOffice, and SO is at least a start.

  • Settle down, Beavis.

    StarOffice is obviously an attempt (a decent one, IMO) to make Linux more "cozy" to Windows users. This is a good thing.

    If you like it, use it. If you don't, use something else, write something yourself, or shut the fuck up. Otherwise you're no more than a Windows user bitching about how unstable it is.
  • Like the old Emacs joke: "Emacs is my shell."

    This reminds me of something my operating systems professor, an publicly-avid XEmacsian, once said.

    There were a lot of *nix newbies in the class and he made the comment that, unlike Windows, in Unix, every program was a tool that did only one thing and did it very well.

    I was sitting in the front of the class and laughed aloud when he said that, and when he asked me why, I told him that was particularly ironic coming from an Emacs user.

    He was not amused.

  • Just wanted to say that MS Office 97 install without clipart is 170M, if StarOffice can do more(web browser, desktop) and still be smaller than the product it is coping then how can you call it bloatware.
  • SO 5.1 ran horribly on my linux PII-400 with 128 mb of ram - slower than AmiPro ran on my 286 back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. It seemed like the old set of "features" were already more than enough to overwhelm a reasonably configured system - would Sun not have been better off optimizing what was already there? And yes, the pseudo-W95 desktop is stupid.
  • by hawk ( 1151 )
    It's a company trying to do a bug-for-bug copy of microsoft bloatware, and (surprise!) produced bloatware while mimicing.

    I'll keep whith scalc3 when possible.
  • You'll get a limited time license. At a certain date the program will refuse to start until you download another 100 meg update. Secondly, the improvements are restricted to linking everything to Sun's portal not functional improvements.
  • Are there any Experts on Sunology in the house ? Do any Slaashdot readers understand why Sun would choose to forcibly time limit and expire a product that it's giving away for free ?

    Yep. The SO preview has a limit and will stop working in a few months. What's so bad about allowing someone to keep using a free BETA rather than the equally free final product if it works for them ?

    Hewing to fill out a lengthy application form just to download this baby isn't such a good thing either.
  • If I roll it out, it will be thin-client for most users. We will be using combo ICA/XWindow terminals, and presumably running StarOffice on a big Linux or Solaris box (~4 CPUs, 1GB RAM), serving out sessions to the 20 or so people on the terminals. In other words, low-end, diskless machines on desks and a big fat server or two behind the scenes. You don't save the money on hardware (or software, necessarily). You save on downtime and maintenance. As long as the server is humming along, desktop maintenance consists of throwing terminals away when they break and zero prep time required for a new one.

    By the way, those P133s, as long as they have a 2MB video card, make darn good X or ICA terminals. Throw on a nice pared-down install of Linux, point 'em at a *nix box running XDM, and you're in business.
  • &gt I'm half suprised SO hasn't become it's own complete windowmanager :)
    It has. :) It does its own mouse cursor, and manages all its windows internally, using a Windows-like look.
    Again, this is probably for ease of cross-platform interoperability, but _damn_, does it look bad on my GNOME Aqua-themed desktop.

    "If ignorance is bliss, may I never be happy.
  • i've started the process of making a mirror
    of the 5.2beta release available in australia
    for those who want to try and get it locally
    and/or quicker

    ftp://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/staroffice/5.2bet a/

    i'll be trying to mirror the english versions of
    linux, SPARC and win32 in that order..

    -jason
  • Well in fact their desktop also exist in the windows version, which is just plain stupid.
  • Why did Sun feel it necessary to tar the single install file? It only makes the file slightly larger. Does anyone else think this is totally stupid?

    It's not stupid at all.

    Tar preserves the file attributes. Most of us don't mind chmod +x'ing a downloaded binary but most regular people won't be too keen on it, and that's if they even *knew* that they had to do that to get the damn thing to run...

  • My major beef with staroffice and using it on a large NFS server shared by thousands of machines is that star office is just plain dumb about multi-user-ness.

    1- "setup /net" - when is a unix install not multiuser? When in unix do you use a "/" for an option flag?

    2- what good app requires user to run setup after sysadmin has installed it? This is a complaint of mine with WindowMaker as well. Here's how it should work: user runs soffice, it notices that ~/$OFFICEDIR doesn't exist. It creates it. It populates it with default info taken from $PREFIX/etc/$DEFAULT.cfg

    3- no console-only install script or method. I can't say it enough. GUI-only installs are inflexible, inefficient, screen-monopolizing, unwanted, slow... give me a "sh install" or similar text-based script. PLEASE!!!

    4- change staroffice user directory to .staroffice . Versioned app directories are lame. app directories without a dot in front of them are even lamer.
  • At least we had support for Macintosh at that time...

    Now the FAQ says Mac support is under investigation and that FreeBSD won't be supported. Of coursen that's not new, but what a pity. And don't even ask about BeOS.

    But don't take me wrong, I'm a big StarOffice supporter (I use it on Solaris@work, and linux@home), I just wish Sun made StarOffice a bit more multi-platform, as it used to be in the past...

  • I just appreciate StarOffice for what it is - the last tool I needed to remove that Windows partition.

    What? They even included fdisk int it ?!

  • I test software for a living and one of the most problomatic things that I encounter is users calling me up at all houres of the night complaning about bugs that they just found on my copmonys software. And I'll spend 5-10 minuts waking up only to dicover that this user is reporting a well documented issue with his v0.081b If we had been smart enough to put an experation date on it the user would have uploaded the new version (one that is not beta) a year ago. S/He would be having no problems and I would be asleap.
  • so 5.1 does take advantage of the true type fonts.
    It's only that someone told StarWriter
    that it can't print ttf on linux
    (but it can),
    so it doesn't show
    them. you have to type
    the font names in manually
    to use them. you
    can probably fix
    that weirdness, but I try to avoid SO anyway. Just why exactly
    is it so damn unresponsive?
    (In my opinion,
    a K6-266 should be enough to write a letter.
    Really.)
  • Disclaimer: I have not looked StarOffice5.2 yet.

    However, based on what I'd heard, I (tentatively)recommended SO to a client of mine. After a month or two of dealing with a buggy, crashy, poorly documented, (no, screw that--effectively undocumented, and I can't get any of the 3rd party books locally) and SLOW program that stores all of its config and data files in binary formats, I'm beginning to regret my decision.

    It pains me greatly to say it, but StarOffice 5.1a is a big, bloated, nonstandard, immature program. God knows I WANT to like it--I really want to be able to do all of my work on Solaris/Linux, and want a package that my clients can use to integrate mail, browsing, and word processing. Unfortunately, this ain't it yet, and based on some of the fundamental design decisions (mail stored locally is in WHAT format??!?!), I don't think it ever will be.

    *sigh*

    If 5.2 is actually stable and faster (as it's rumoured to be), then maybe I'll be able to overlook the other faults. Maybe I'll be able to ignore the ugly interface and the stupid file formats, but I'm still not sure it's going to be a _good_ product--merely the best (?) one out there, in an almost nonexistent market.

  • I knew someone was going to bring this up. It's a valid point. However, I should mention that the whole 'recommendation' went as follows:

    They were looking for a way of integrating mail, word processing, spreadsheets, and (ideally) browsing for their XTerm users. That limited their choices.

    I told them that I had never used StarOffice, but that it was free, and if they were interested, we could do a pilot project for one of their users, to see how it would work for them. They knew full well that it would be a learning experience for both of us.

    The client is pleased as punch with StarOffice. It does things they've never been able to do before. After the test pilot was in place and functional, they asked me to deploy it company-wide, and are happy with it now.

    The client is happy, and I never promised (or implied) anything other than the truth. I'm just not so impressed with it yet.

  • Agreed, although hstorically, it was Betas that required surrendering the most information. Of course, that was when 'beta' meant 'beta test product' (and having trackable testers was important) as opposed to 'buggy unfinished pre-release' (where bug reports are not required and occasionally read)

  • Is it just me, or does StarOffice seem to be suffering from a MS Office case of bloatware. I realize a majority of the new features listed are there simply for MS Office compatibility (which is a good thing), but it seems like Sun is making StarOffice into a MS Office "Me too" package, adding new features just because they can.
  • by Frag-A-Muffin ( 5490 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @04:14AM (#1145915) Homepage
    What ever happened to the days where there's a link to a supposed "free" download, and you go there and there's a link that links to the file. What's up with this registering and asking me about the size of my mother's army boots just so I can get SO5.2 BETA!!! I didn't download it because I'm getting seriously ticked off with the registration crap just to download something I might not even use! I'm going back to vi and LaTeX. :P
  • by Croaker ( 10633 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @10:15AM (#1145916)
    that the whole GUI glop that surrounds the StarOffice apps is the easy way out to cross-platform compatibility, documentation, and support.

    If you did it the other way, where the apps adhered to the UI of the base system, you'd go nutt having to map all of the functionailty to different gestures on the native platforms. You couldn't really seel StarOffice as an app that makes the underlying system moot. You Windows-centric person who sat down at a Mac to use StarOffice would still have a learning curve to figure out how to do and find common things.
    Ditto for support. You'd need to have support personnel experienced in every single platform (or break the team down into different, specific platform support teams).

    As far as development is concerned, I'm sure it's easier to work on one unified GUI. Ditto for QA. You'd need to change your test plan for every platform otherwise. Ditto for documentation. There's only one GUI you have to guide the user around.

    Is it the best solution from the viewpoint of the user, who is already familiar with the platform of his or her choice? Nope. But recall who these apps really get sold to. CIOs, the support and systems folks, etc. That's basically who this was designed for. It's probably a good argument against commercial apps of this sort.

    Totally taking over the user experience can be a good thing... take some of the Metacreations tools, such as Bryce and Poser. They basically have their own interface, and take over your entire screen. You either hate them with a passion or love them. In general, I think, they were very successful with the target audience of graphic designers, though.

    In this case, StarOffice just went for the lowest-common-denominator: the Microsoft Office interface. Probably a safe bet from a corporate viewpoint. People already using Microsoft apps on Windows (the majority of the potential market for the app, that is, when it was being sold) would be able to adapt easily. And it's already been proven that at the very least, people can muddle along with it. A radical departure would probably not been accepted by the market.

    It would be interesting to see what StarOffice would have been, had it not been intended to be sold to a corporate market...
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @03:52PM (#1145917)
    What's up with this registering and asking me about the size of my mother's army boots just so I can get SO5.2 BETA!!!

    StarOffice is, unfortunately, in the clutches of an evil corporation. Oh sure, there are far eviler corporations out there (I could name one right now:) but Sun is certainly no angel, especially with respect to LInux which they perceive - correctly - as a threat to Solaris. Course they would be a lot smarter to leverage Linux instead of doing the subtle sandbagging-with-a-smile they engage in now, but what the heck, that's just my opinion.

    In the short term, Sun owning StarOffice is good for Linux - it will speed Linux takeup on the desktop. But in the long run, we basically have to kiss StarOffice goodbye as an open-source program. That's probably bad.

    Or maybe it's not. Actually, Abiword is really coming along and once it gets fleshed out a little more, I think I'll prefer using it by a ***wide*** margin of some of the other bloatware office products. KOffice is really promising too, and Gnome supplies a few pieces of the puzzle (gnumeric is already darn good and it's getting better every week).
    --
  • by cowbird ( 49696 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @02:41AM (#1145918)
    I downloaded SO5.2b (Linux) a couple of days ago. ITs interface hasnt changed much, but there are some subtle new features, some nice, some not. I was rather hoping that they would jettison the Windows-esque start button, but it is still there. Unfortuantely, some type of security problem causes the application to crash when accessing almost any web page. It does a nice job of sucking in your settings from 5.1 and even your mail and newsgroups from Netscape. Still quite buggy, but beta is beta.
  • by sheckard ( 91376 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @03:12AM (#1145919) Homepage
    Avoid those slow Sun ftp sites! A mirror have been made available for the linux and solaris versions:

    ftp://ftp.c-60.org/pub/soffice/
  • by martin-k ( 99343 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @05:42AM (#1145920) Homepage
    Only problem is that what they publish is not even remotely close to the truth.

    I know that because we are just finishing our Excel 95/97/2000 filter. The Gnumeric people know this (just look at their source code comments). And your new colleagues over at the StarCalc team surely know this as well.

    You probably know this: Do at least the Word specs have some resemblance with reality?

    -Martin

  • by caolan ( 2716 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @04:05AM (#1145921) Homepage
    I am blue in the face from repeating that they have published their specs, you can get them on the July 1998 MSDN cd, they had them on their website for over a year. They can now be got from wotsit.org [wotsit.org]. These are the Office97 formats, in addition worsit also has the word 6 spec

    Also my wv [wvware.com] project has a passable word reader that abiword [abisource.com] is using as a word importer, and gnumeric [gnome.org] has quite a good excel importer

    C.

  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Friday April 07, 2000 @04:32AM (#1145922)
    No, they haven't slimmed it down or made noticeable UI changes. This is a subtle upgrade.

    It seems a bit snappier than 5.1. The Win32 version now embeds the IE browser engine if it's present, which improves web browsing from within the app. The IMAP mail support is a bit slicker, roughly on par with Netscape 4.x but with some extra niceties thanks to its integration with the rest of the suite. It ain't Outlook 2000 yet, but then it's also not succeptible to script macros in message bodies.

    But the best improvement I've seen is in the MS Office import and export capabilities. It always did a better-than-average job of opening MS Office files, but it wasn't good enough to replace MS Office for shops with lots of Office documents floating around. Now, it's nailed every small to mid-sized Word, Excel and Powerpoint doc I've thrown at it, save for the Microsoft-dialect VBA macros, and it neither runs nor harms those. Based on my use of it over the past two days on Linux and NT, I now feel it's a viable product to roll into mixed MS Office environments for roles where VBA doesn't come into play.

    Now that 5.2 plays nicer with MS Office files, I will definitely be evaluating it as a server-based X app for a 20-person call center I'm putting together.

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