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Sun Microsystems

StarOffice 6.0 Beta Available 465

Lumpish Scholar and 753 other people wrote in to let us know that Sun has released its beta of Star Office 6. CNET has a blurb about the release as well. I was hoping that Sun's site might be unclogged enough to try it out myself, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards today.
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StarOffice 6.0 Beta Available

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  • Office XP (Score:2, Troll)

    by talonyx ( 125221 )
    Shelled out a myriad of cash for Microsoft's Office XP, a few weeks ago.

    Despite how much you might hate the company, this is one hell of a product. Launches in seconds, takes up scant amounts of ram, hasn't crashed yet. It's going to be a tough one to beat... especially since every area where it excels (no pun intended), Staroffice falls behind (what a hog!).

    Whatever happened to it having been released open source? Where is GStarOffice with GTK+ widgets and Gnome integration? At least KOffice works well with the rest of the KDE apps...
    • Re:Office XP (Score:4, Informative)

      by dsb3 ( 129585 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:03PM (#2379532) Homepage Journal
      Whatever happened to it having been released open source?

      See [] for that one.

    • Re:Office XP (Score:5, Informative)

      by Steve Luzynski ( 3615 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:05PM (#2379562)
      Scant amounts of ram?

      Someone mod this +1, Funny, please.

      I'm running Office XP right now. Outlook is currently using 23M of RAM. Word is using 28M. (Windows 2000 + Office XP)

      Word doesn't even have a file open, not even a blank file.

      I don't count that as 'scant amounts'.

      And it loads quick because that "Microsoft Office" icon in your startup menu preloads most of the thing during your boot/login process where you think it's normal for your disk to be thrashing itself apart.
      • Re:Office XP (Score:2, Informative)

        by Trelane ( 16124 )
        Really? Interesting.

        I guess, if it worked for IE, why not Office?

        Make your stuff *appear* to load faster, even though the slow part is at the beginning and consumes RAM even when inactive. Whee!
      • Re:Office XP (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hadean ( 32319 )
        I just checked on my system, and Word XP is using 11.1 megs... And it loads in a few seconds... and NO, I don't have anything preloading for me (I hate things loading at bootup). I have a Duron 800 w/ 192 megs of RAM, too... Not that big of a system...
    • Re:Office XP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by John Fulmer ( 5840 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:18PM (#2379670)
      Please note that Office (any flavor) does not take "scant amounts of ram". Rather, it hides ram used in the system memory used column, and actually preloads many if not most of the Office specific DLL's on boot up, whether you want them or not. The memory that appears to be used by Office, is only the glue code that links the DLL/OLE/NET components together.

      The reason that Office appears to launch almost instantanously, is that most of it was already loaded on bootup.

      Just a clarification...

      • Show me the proof of this. What DLLs/Services/Etc? I have the exact same amount of RAM used immediately after bootup without Office XP installed as I did with it... What, then, do you propose its loading? Unless, of course, you're theorizing that these so-called pre-loaded DLLs are built into Windows XP, which seems very unlikely...

        • Re:Office XP (Score:5, Interesting)

          by John Fulmer ( 5840 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:47PM (#2379901)
          Tell you what I did a few years ago, when I wanted to know why my nice beefy NT workstation was eating most of my memory, with no services running:

          Install NT4. Note the available memory on bootup, before doing anything.

          Install Office. Note the available memory after bootup, but before doing anything.

          Do the math and wonder why JUST installing Office significantly decreased the available memory on bootup.

          Start Office. Wonder why the used memory doesn't increase much at all. Hmmmmm.

          A black box approach to be sure, but still very interesting.

        • It uses the same amount of RAM, eh? And how do you judge this? I'm betting with the task manager, right? You do realize that WinNT/2000/XP all pre-allocate about 2/3s of the memory don't you? That's why you can have 512MB of RAM and see 300 used on boot. To be perfectly honest, taskman is not really useful for tracking memory usage because of this and the fact that it does not show preloaded DLLs. Can you see a list of DLLs from taskman? No, you can't. You need special tools to do that.

          Previous versions of Office (Office 97) were pretty obvious due to the "office quickstart" icon that it places in the "startup" group. Later versions of Windows however, have a DLL cache which allows DLLs to be stored for preloading on bootup. That of course is why Windows machines take so *$%^#$ long to boot to a usable state and why 70% of a program's memory usage is not reported. Now to be fair, Unix TOP isn't much better. In order to get a reasonable view, you NEED some form of kernel hooks.
          • >Previous versions of Office (Office 97) were >pretty obvious due to the "office quickstart"
            >icon that it places in the "startup" group.
            >Later versions of Windows however, have a
            >DLL cache which allows DLLs to be stored for
            >preloading on bootup.

            It seems to me that this was what I describing. Task Manager can really only be counted to tell you total system memory allocated

            Your post appears to agree with what I was saying. Maybe you should re-read it?

          • Er, okay... So the same amount of RAM is pre-allocated then... What's your point? I haven't lost actual memory... Sure, it's bad that Windows (supposedly) does this pre-allocating, but since the same amount is allocated before and after Office, what exactly is my loss? I have always prefered Office over Star Office, so what is the argument against Office? And plus, again, show me PROOF. I'm getting annoyed by all of these attacks against Windows without any proof whatsoever... Name me some DLLs, give me a program that I can test this out myself (since you disbelieve any MS programs from displaying things accurately), etc.

      • Please note that Office (any flavor) does not take "scant amounts of ram". Rather, it hides ram used in the system memory used column, and actually preloads many if not most of the Office specific DLL's on boot up, whether you want them or not. The memory that appears to be used by Office, is only the glue code that links the DLL/OLE/NET components together.

        The reason that Office appears to launch almost instantanously, is that most of it was already loaded on bootup.

        Just a clarification...
        Its all a moot point. On my computer (300MHz, 256MB), Office loads faster than KOffice, Office + Win2K uses about the same amount of RAM as KDE-2 + Linux, and Office runs a *lot* faster than KOffice. In KSpread, selecting multiple cells gets annoying because the system has to struggle to keep up with the selected area. In Excel, I can whip the selection area around all I want without the slightest "stickyness." I can resize Word or Excel as fast as I can move my mouse and the toolbars adjust to their new sizes with nary a hiccup. In KOffice (or any KDE app for that matter) I get an ugly rubber-band effect until the stupid widget set can catch up to my pointer. It drives me f**king INSANE!

        BTW> While KDE-2 might be trash (speed-wise), has anyone switched to kernel 2.4.10 (with preempt patch)? It is AMAZING. Before, my mouse pointer used to stick whenever the disk was accessed or whenever Mozilla or Konq displayed a page. Now, not even compiling in the background can make it stick. Very, very nice. Props to the guys who worked on the AA patch, and also some kudos to AA for the new VM stuff!
    • I'm an ardent support of Office itself (one of three really good MS products nowadays, along with the latest version of IE and the service pack 2 release of Windows 2000). However, I was sorely disappointed by the "improvements" offered by Office XP.

      A lot of what was in it was already offered in Office 2000 (an underrated application suite) without the messy product activation. I recommend if you can get a copy of Office 2000, do so. It's very stable and runs like a champ.

  • SO (Score:2, Informative)

    by crumbz ( 41803 )
    StarOffice kicks ass apart from some file interoperability problems. But that just might be me. I think I'll wait awhile before I try 6.0.
  • MS support... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:00PM (#2379499)
    from the article: The new version of StarOffice is simplified to make file exchange easier. The software has support for XML file formats; more robust Microsoft Office import and export filters, including support for Office XP; and redesigned dialog boxes, new templates and graphics.

    will the "more robust support" actually be decent enough for serious transfers between my Word documents? Also an important feature would be importing WordPerfect8 files. I have 100's of papers written in WP8 and for me to switch over would require filters for that. Anyone know anything about that?

    I am going to try it as soon as I see some more information (the website was lacking what I really wanted to know).

    I really hope I can ditch WP8 (although it is still the best for what I need) and run something more up-to-date :)

    Enjoy the download :)
    • This is actually one of the things that kinda' upsets me also. Everyone is making a big deal at how it doesn't open Word Documents very well.... Well HECK, there isn't ANY support for opening WordPerfect documents. Being that this product is "OpenSource" wouldn't you think they'd throw in as many filters as possible to make it more competitive? I don't understand that. Could someone enlighten us, Please?
      • Re:MS support... (Score:3, Informative)

        by EisPick ( 29965 )
        Everyone is making a big deal at how it doesn't open Word Documents very well.... Well HECK, there isn't ANY support for opening WordPerfect documents.

        Before folks complain about what's missing or doesn't work well, it would pay to spend a few minutes actually installing the software and checking it out.

        I've only used StarOffice for about half an hour so far, but it appears that the import/export filters are actually quite extensive. There is ALL KINDS of support for opening WordPerfect documents from ver 4.1 to ver 7. No, there's no ver 8 filter, but considering the length of the filter list, I'm assuming it's just a matter of time before they write it (there are filters for Xywrite and Wordstar, ferchrissakes).

        Choose "Custom Install" or to to the setup app after installing and pick from their very extensive list of filters.

        As for Word support, Star Office opened a bunch of very complex (but macro-free) documents for me without a burp. I was even able to set Word (and Excel) as my default file types for saving.

        I say so far so good.
    • by jiheison ( 468171 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:08PM (#2379583) Homepage
      Seriously, there are few things that annoy me more than receiving a Word document from someone. Rarely, if ever, is there any justification for not simply using a plain old ASCII text file. They are smaller, platform independant and if formatted correctly, no harder to read.
      • they don't include many of the items that are VERY important to many people.

        For me WP and Word documents will always include footnotes (Chicago styles are not easily converted in "text" format)

        It would take me some serious time to send over a document in TXT and reformat it back to the way it needs to be to be acceptable.

        I agree that people should not be sending around .DOC files for no reason (as they usually do).
        What I think needs to happen (speaking of all these *fucking* recent monopolies on standards for files on the Internet -- Why not make a uniform document standard (no, not XML) that is mandated... Fuck MS and what they want to do. At least this way they will be forced to have fair competition (as no matter what document is released it will have to conform) and they basically will have to have better software to compete.

        That's at least my worthless .02
      • by anomaly ( 15035 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:57PM (#2379973)
        With all due respect, doesn't it seem a bit odd that a person demanding ASCII format would have a .sig that's an ideogram?
  • Well, the problems faced by many is the ability to read/write to Word 2000/XP format. Some companies tried to make the switch but couldn't share documents very well with other departments/companies. Best they did in StarOffice 5 was Word 97. It would be a lot more successful if it could do that. It's not Word or Office by a longshot but is Office really worth $400 when you can get this for nothing? It's still pretty good.
  • It's a hard battle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:02PM (#2379513)
    The problem with StarOffice is that it hasn't completely worked to import/export word/excel documents. Until that day people will never truly be able to switch to it. I would LOVE the company I work for to switch to this software. But until it's completely MSOffice complient nobody can use it.

    And just as it gets good at opening MSOffice 97 docs. They change their document just enough to screw everyone over with the release of Office2000. And just as that starts to work they screw it up enough to not work with XP.

    How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work???? I haven't been involved in the project, but I would really like to hear some feedback to why nobody can open freaking word documents. The TRUTH .. not our typical "MS Just Sucks".
    • Because Microsoft uses incredibly proprietary formats. These days, it's not even a file format you could call as such, is a serialized COM stream. That means it's dependent on the processor type, OS, etc., and therefore extremely difficult to reverse-engineer.
      • Sigh. The Word 2000 (and XP) file format is well documented; however, you do have to sign an NDA in order to obtain it. Further, it is *not* dependent on processor type, and so forth - MacWord reads WinWord files (and vice versa).
        • .wma, .asf and .ram are also very well documented. Doesn't mean you are allowed to write a program that can read them. So what use are they to me?
    • by aralin ( 107264 )
      Its pretty easy. Your are not allowed to reverse engineer the format by the EULA on MS Office license. You can try to do it from the documents since you do not sign any license for these, but then you don't get the whole format. You get just some features used in every document. And its binary and intentionally obfuscated format so its even way harder. I was doing some format conversions earlier and even with DOCUMENTED formats its extremly hard task.
    • Because aside from sucking, Microsoft understands that their market grip is in proprietary file formats and protocols.

      I believe it was back in the Halloween documents that they talked about "complex or subtle protocols and file formats" as a means for holding/gaining market share. You simply have to understand the goals in architecting and designing a protocol/format and parser. For most of us, it's simplicity and robustness. For Microsoft, add in the difficulty of reverse-engineering as perhaps more important than robustness, and clearly more important than simplicity. Lest you think that this is just a weapon against lil'old Linux users, don't forget that it's also a prime tool to keep their own users on the upgrade wheel. How often has it been said that the first MS Office user in an office eventually "forces" the whole office to upgrade, simply by passing around files in the latest default format.

      The flip side of this is that the most robust things are generally also simple. IMHO it is inevitable that MS has had to trade off robustness in order to bring these difficult-to-reverse-engineer protocols and formats to market. In other words, it's deliberate foisting of second-rate goods counter to the customers' best interests.

      Up until this Fall, the market has LOVED it, too.
      • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:34PM (#2379810) Journal
        How often has it been said that the first MS Office user in an office eventually "forces" the whole office to upgrade, simply by passing around files in the latest default format.

        I remember one computer our office got last year, it installed 2000 by default and when I tried to remove it and install a site licensed copy of 97 it installed, but told me I had an invalid license whenever I tried to run any of its programs. I later tried to reinstall with a win98 disk. But I couldn't get the device drivers out of the install disk as it was locked to only be used as a reinstall everything disc from boot. Tried many things, never could get it working perfectly without just letting it be on office 2000. So as our site licenses offered us 2000 Prof for less then 50 dollars a peice I went ahead with the upgrade. I do like office 2000, but still embarrased that I let MS get the best of me :(
    • by JahToasted ( 517101 ) <toastafari&yahoo,com> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:20PM (#2379686) Homepage
      They change their document just enough to screw everyone over with the release of Office2000. And just as that starts to work they screw it up enough to not work with XP

      Would you expect Microsoft to do anything less

      How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work????

      Parsing isn't that hard most of the difficulty comes in getting all the different OLE objects embedded in the document to work. Star/Openoffice, Koffice, AbiWord can all format the fonts, layouts, etc, quite well. The problem comes when you have an Excel Spreadsheet embedded in the word document as a table. Then each cell of the excel table is a word document. Then you gotta think about Macros, VB, etc.

      Getting these things to work right is hard even for microsoft. Where I work now I have an Access database (I should've demanded they use something else, but they already had it installed everywhere) deployed to over 20 sites. I wrote the database in Access 97, but making it work in Access 2000 can be very tricky. Not only that, but at some places some of the Visual Basic Modules won't work in 97... welcome to my hell...

      Anyway the point being, Microsoft has trouble in making THEIR office read previous MS Office files. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone who doesn't have the specs to make an app capable of reading them.

    • How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work???? I haven't been involved in the project, but I would really like to hear some feedback to why nobody can open freaking word documents. The TRUTH .. not our typical "MS Just Sucks".

      Word format not only is a complex binary format requiring documentation at multiple levels, it has significant undocumented portions. Worse yet, it allows executable content which can call on a lot of Windows-specific facilities. MS Word format really does suck, and that's not an accident: Microsoft likes it that way. The implications for users aren't good, though: vendor lock-in, viruses, and data that becomes inaccessible in a few years are only some of the problems resulting from the way MS Word stores its documents.

    • The problem with StarOffice is that it hasn't completely worked to import/export word/excel documents.

      The problem with StarOffice is that it isn't Microsoft Office for Free [tm].

    • The problem with StarOffice is that it hasn't completely worked to import/export word/excel documents. Until that day people will never truly be able to switch to it. I would LOVE the company I work for to switch to this software. But until it's completely MSOffice complient nobody can use it.

      Yeah, I remember when people said that about Word not replacing Word Perfect.

      How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work????

      Hard enough that even Microsoft doesn't always get it right.
    • I don't understand why the makers of Office-like applications haven't done like the CAD-business. They created the OpenDWG [] alliance in order to reverse-engineer Autodesk's proprietary .dwg-format for storing CAD-drawings and succeeded with the task. Mabye an OpenDOC (no pun intended, Apple) alliance would speed up the acceptance and usability of open alternatives to MS-Office.

  • Have they gotten rid of that "integrated desktop"? That was my single biggest grip about previous versions.

    • Re:My first question (Score:2, Informative)

      by DebianDog ( 472284 )
      YES! It is gone thank God. I always hated that desktop too!
    • Re:My first question (Score:5, Informative)

      by corky6921 ( 240602 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:12PM (#2379616) Homepage

      Have they gotten rid of that "integrated desktop"?

      Yes. I think that was everyone's single biggest complaint about StarOffice. They have also gotten rid of the "memory hog" problem with 5.2, which was that it loaded all five applications into memory and used up about 64MB of physical RAM whenever you wanted to load it.

      Their big new feature is using an open XML format for documents. I also believe they have killed the problem where StarOffice took over all of your email clients, other text editors, etc.

      I think this version of StarOffice is honestly the first one that will be a real competitor to MS Office, but I think it will really only be used by small businesses and individuals. Large corporations are already dependent on Outlook/Exchange/macros to do their work, and I don't see any large corporations switching off of those anytime soon (especially since there is no real groupware solution that Sun offers that compares with Exchange.)

      • Does anyone know if they have expanded the dimensions of the spreadsheet? Problem with M$O XP also... 65536 Rows is usually enough, but I have hit the 256th Column more times than I can count. There really isn't a good program out there (that I know of) for working with very large data sets. If they wanted to put themselves ahead of M$, here is an opportunity. There is no reason that the worksheet can't be re-dimensionalized by the user if s/he needs increased space. I realize this would disallow full compatibility with M$ Excel, but I'd be more than happy with less than 100% compatibility if it is due to shortcomings in M$ and I have to "opt-in" to the incompatibility.

      • Re:My first question (Score:2, Interesting)

        by akula1 ( 463239 )
        Actually my corporation (Fortune 500) uses Lotus Notes for email/calendar etc.. I don't how many other large companies this is true for, but there is nothing blocking us from going to Star Office if we decide it is robust enough.
        Our CIO has demanded a report on why we can't go to Star Office instead of Office XP. The asset management people showed him the figures for MS's new liscensing scam er.. scheme. Therefore he wants to go to something non-MS.
        Are any other companies going this way?
    • yes (Score:2, Informative)

      by _damnit_ ( 1143 )
      The integrated desktop was the first thing to go. You can read a lot about what has gone on with Star Office at []. There you'll find the source, etc.
      • Re:yes (Score:2, Interesting)

        You won't find the source for Star Office at You'll find "much of the source", but it is missing a lot of the really good stuff unfortunately. My understanding is that is due to third-party licensing of some components and Sun can't let them out of the door in source format. Therefore, what we have is OpenOffice (a source-available most-of Star Office thingy) and Star Office, a binary-only (but free of charge) application.
  • Cool! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by astroboy ( 1125 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:04PM (#2379538) Homepage
    They lost the desktop, added better font handling, and do XML... this is great.

    One thing I couldn't see -- and I can't get at the downloads to check -- is to see if their Presentation software, Impress, can play movies in slides now. This is actually a big thing; in the hard sciences, where a lot of people use non-Windows and give presentations, one of the major problems for people who want to switch to Linux is that if you have results you want to show in movie form, you're pretty much stuck with using PowerPoint, or exiting your presentation and starting up xanim or something...

    • Re:Cool! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mz001b ( 122709 )
      I agree with this 100%. This is the only reason that there is a windows partition on my laptop. I need to show movies of my simulations in talks, and having them inline is soo much nicer. Switching to a standalone application takes momentum away from the talk.

      My recollection is that SO 6.0 does not yet have this ability. The first Linux suite that offers this is the one that I will switch to. MS Office compatibility is low on my list -- everyone I interact with uses some flavor of Unix or Linux.

      • Re:Cool! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by JanneM ( 7445 )
        I use Galeon, actually. I run it in full-screen mode, and use the mouse pointer as a pointer for the talk. The presentation is normal web pages with discreet next and back links at the bottom, and an 'up' link to a start page with thumbnails of all slides, so I can pick and choose at the inevitable question phase at the end.

        This also means I can run movies and such inline, as it's just to put those into the slides/webpages as usual.

        A friend avoids clicking links by going through the slides beforehand, backing up, then using the 'forward' hotkey to switch, but I feel more comfortable clicking.

  • Staroffice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:04PM (#2379539)
    To all those who say 'Staroffice isn't 100% compatable, so we can't switch our office'. Well.. I understand the logistics and all.. but.

    To switch to staroffice, you have to instruct your staff to learn to use it, and adapt the workflow to staroffice, not the other way around. The same goes for switching to any product.

    The financial benefits of using staroffice in many cases outweigh the use of OFficeXP
  • Unix Screenshots? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceswiedler ( 165311 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:04PM (#2379540)
    All of the screenshots on the Sun site are of the Windows version. What does it look like under X Windows?
    • It looks pretty much 99% the same under unix as windows. They built a ToolKit alot like GTK or KDE has. They comple cross platform and their toolkits make it all look the same cross platforms.
      • by Webz ( 210489 )
        Aside from the standard time-is-money argument, why don't developers use an operating system's native environments for their software, much in the way Microsoft will do for Office v. X for Mac? One could counter this by saying that Microsft almost never uses the native GUI elements of Windows and always makes proprietary versions, like for Office, but the functionality of that proprietary ToolKit meets and exceeds the accessibility of Windows. It's been my personal and I guess limited experience that programs that don't use regular GUI elements (i.e. Limewire) generally suck.
      • by be-fan ( 61476 )
        They comple cross platform and their toolkits make it all look the same cross platforms.
        That's really brain-dead. People tend to use one platform consistantly, and like it when a particular app looks like the other apps on their system. Eg. no-one cares if a program looks the same on Linux and Windows, as long as all the Linux apps look the same and all the Windows apps look the same.
  • Huge Improvement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmkaza ( 173878 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:05PM (#2379554)
    When I first tried StarOffice my intent was to use it for a week to see if it was a viable alternative to MS Office. I didn't make it through the day. Kudos to Sun for finally taking the hint and creating a product that any Office user can use with little to no relearning curve. With Microsoft's new subscription licensing program, this couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully 6.0 will prove to be a competitive product.
  • Mirror up (Score:4, Informative)

    by rveety ( 223650 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:05PM (#2379555) Homepage
    Here it is:
    Star office 6.0 beta, linux x86, english []
  • Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JediTrainer ( 314273 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:08PM (#2379584)
    Any idea of we'll be seeing a compatible implementation of something that can do everything Outlook can do (including connecting to an Exchange server)? I don't mean just email, but I mean Calendar, Tasks, Contacts booking meetings etc.

    As soon as I can get something that would replace this one last piece, then I can switch away from Windows in my company (as I have at home). Unfortunately, the company relies very much on Outlook's functionality, and will not move away from Exchange server, so if I want to move it's up to me to find and install a compatible alternative, but so compatible that the REST of the users can stay on Outlook if they choose to.

    In my opinion, this is one thing that any true Office suite needs before MS-Office can be truly replaced. As buggy and insecure as Outlook is, it organizes the company that I work for, and it can not be removed from my desktop until a fully compatible replacement is available. It's the one last thing that ties me to Windows.
    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jermz ( 6352 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:21PM (#2379702)
      Try Insight from bynari [][]. They make both a client (Insight) and a server (Insight Server). The client can talk to an Exchange server, and includes calendar, addressbook, and email, just like outlook, but on Linux. The server is feature-compatible with Exchange, and is built on exim, openldap, and cyrus IMAP/POP. Outlook clients can talk to the Insight server just fine, even transparently. I am demoing it right now, and it might just replace Exchange here, and allow me to run Linux exclusively.
    • Try Bynari Software, at; IIRC, they have at least partial work-alikes for Exchange client and server, some of which code is GPL and some not-free-but-reasonably-priced. I myself use a standard SMTP/POP3 mail client rather than Outlook to access my company Exchange server's SMTP interface. Look, Ma, no viruses! Of course, I also don't use the calendar/planner cruft, a Dayrunner never crashes...
    • You want Evolution (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That product was designed to do everything that Outlook
      can do, from what I understand.

    • Get a REAL calendar, and a notepad. They're very useful, they are fully supported on the Desk and Wall platform, and work just as well on other platforms. They're very cheap, and there are many companies that sell them, so you're not locked into one vendor's continued upgrade cycle forever.

      Also, best of all, they are very resistant to virii. Really, the only virii than can infect them are co-workers who can't keep thier hands off things, who should really be fired anyway.

      They are also very easy to find. In fact, just about any shopping center of mall will carry them.

      Good luck!

      • Get a REAL calendar, and a notepad

        Uhh... no. I'm assuming you haven't used Outlook's calendar, but here's what it gives me. Think large corporate environment:

        -I can see anyone else's calendar without leaving my desk. Where's my boss - OH - he's in a meeting which is in meeting room 2. Ok.

        -I can book a meeting, and at a glance see when everyone is free (on a chart) and choose my meeting time by that. No millions of phone calls to arrange a mutually-convenient time

        -I can book a meeting room, reserve a projector and send a notice to all attendees in one step, without picking up the phone

        This is why it's important that it's compatible. Everyone needs to be able to access everyone else's calendar for this to work. Outlook, despite its faults, does this very nicely.
        • This is why it's important that it's compatible. Everyone needs to be able to access everyone else's calendar for this to work. Outlook, despite its faults, does this very nicely.
          No it doesn't. Outlook is compatible only with outlook. You can do all you want plus more with a free thing called WebCalendar. It works with every friggin web browser, not just a handful of braindead windows boxes.

          If a company has made themself dependent on the MS platform for the sake of email and Calendar, I most seriously doubt their judgement and competence.

          • If a company has made themself dependent on the MS platform for the sake of email and Calendar, I most seriously doubt their judgement and competence.

            Corporate workstations all running 'doze (especially the ones on the desks of the guys with the budgets to spend), lots of NT servers in the data center, no its not surprising that they should choose to standardize on outlook for corporate email. Once thats in place its also an apparent no-brainer to get everybody using the integrated calendar management. Then, once this hypothetical company has done all this, they start getting bitten firmly on the ass by the disadvantages of this solution and the IT dept can do nothing but shrug and say "we warned you, but you didnt listen...." Unfortunately having said that they still have to look for solutions that will work in the environment that exists at the time. Unless it was done comparatively recently there wasnt any real alternative to 'doze for the generic user - unix variants and other alternate OSs have come a long way in that regard real fast.

            Once you've been "embraced and extended" its real hard to break loose unless you've got something thats 100% compatible to ease the migration process.

    • by Raul Acevedo ( 15878 ) <raul.cantara@com> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:49PM (#2379907) Homepage
      Ximian [] is coming out with Evolution [], which is essentially an open source Outlook replacement. It's still in beta but should be reaching 1.0 before the end of the year (I think).

      So far, Evolution's main shortcoming is it doesn't understand Exchange protocols, so Linux clients can't use it to talk to Exchange for shared calendaring. I realize that is one of the main points you need. I believe it is a fatal flaw for evolution, but Ximian apparently doesn't think it's such a big deal, saying that such support will come "eventually, but not high priority". Nonetheless, it can do IMAP, POP, LDAP, and a bunch of other open protocols.
    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @04:13PM (#2380089)
      Any idea of we'll be seeing a compatible implementation of something that can do everything Outlook can do (including connecting to an Exchange server)?

      At the other end of the problem, the free software community is in dire need of a Samba-like clone of Exchange's MAPI abilities.

      Right now, Linux still makes a better server than it does a desktop. I've replaced NT file/print servers with Samba+Linux; I've used PostgreSQL+Linux instead of MS SQL Server; but there is no way to replace an NT Exchange server with anything and still take advantage of Outlook's sweet MAPI groupware functionality.

      I just don't understand why there isn't a free software Exchange clone out there. I'll tell you what - Exchange aint cheap; if a stable replacement existed for *nix, it would be one less reason for anyone to run NT Server.

      Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to do it.

  • I noticed in SO v5.2, some of my fonts, spaces, and tabs are not correctly formatted (like my resume). Is this still the same issue with v6.0 beta?

    Thank you in advance for a reply. :)

  • The feature-touting list is actually pretty strong for this version. I used StarOffice briefly back in its 5.1 days, and while I found it to be a capable word processor, its Microsoft Office support was sorely lacking.

    Now, not only does it contain the basic file filters, but it sensibly starts utilizing things like the default Outlook address book. Will all of this stuff work? It's questionable. But one of my best arguments for the Mac was "and this program can read Word files". Now, hopefully, I can say the same thing for Linux.

  • Limerick (Score:2, Funny)

    by 575 ( 195442 )
    Once a man up in Washington state
    His competitors, how he did hate
    A new Office contender
    Useless it was rendered
    "Change Word formats, make it obsolete!"
  • For those of us that remember how to use ftp []. instructions are on the sites on how to download. Have Fun
  • What is exactly the difference (technically speaking) between staroffice and openoffice. Are there real differences or is staroffice iddentical to openoffice with some commercial features (like netscape mozilla) ?
    • From the openoffice faq []:

      The source code available at does not consist of all of the StarOffice code. Usually, the reason for this is that Sun pays to license third party code to include in StarOffice that which it does not have permission to make available in Those things which are or will be present in StarOffice but are not available on include:
      • Spell checking
      • Certain fonts (including, especially, Asian language fonts)
      • Help
      • The database component (Adabas D)
      • Templates
      • Extensive Clip Art Gallery
      • Some sorting functionality (Asian versions)
      • Certain file filters

      Looks like Sun is giving away everything that doesn't cost them money to give away.
  • $479 for Office XP!?!?! remember that's in US dollars well. the price is just insane. it's funny that a company that produces unstable bloatware 'suites' think that they are just as good as the hardware designers. because it looks like it's even more expensive than a bloody computer processor!

    each year they add a few clicks here, move the menus around, change the file format a bit so no one could parse it properly and then they would sell it for sky high. well if they quality of the software justifies the cost, that's fine. but obviously but unfortunately it's not the case. now that's the cost for one person if he/she wants to buy it. if he makes (let's say) $30 an hour. it would take him 16 hours = 2 days of salary just to be wasted on this.... minus tax, minus food/shelter/money to be spent on car/insurances... that's about 3-4 days of salary just to get something like that...oh man....!

    now imagine the whole company wanting to upgrade for whatever reason (yes.. it's true... just look around the labs in your college/university campus. they ALL want to spend so much money for the upgrade for whatever reason...)...

    BUT afterall, i never bought a copy of office. my windows is a pirated version. so it's still free for me.... unfortunately it takes at least one person to buy it before i can burn myself a CD copy...

    hope the new version of staroffice is not as bloat and can actually keep consistant formats so i can write my engeering docs and paper on it day in and day out!
  • The Register has also noted StarOffice new version here [].

    They also go on to say that they find Abiword the best of the free Office suite pack.

  • Just last week, I reinstalled to put RedHat 7.1 on a new hard drive. On the old install, I had Star Office 5.2, mostly for the kids to do homework, but have thrown away the download file.

    So now to get access to their old data, I have to re-fetch *something*, either 5.2 or the 6.0 beta. Most people will not be in this precise situation, but I'm sure many will want to know about the interoperability and quality of the beta.

    So before I get started on either/any big download, should I just skip 5.2 and go for 6.0?
  • by nuetrino ( 525207 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:39PM (#2379845)
    If there is one thing we know, M$ thrives on subtle incompatibility, even within their own product lines. It is these incompatibilities that drive the upgrade process and allow them to retain market share. It is the subtleness of these incompatibilities that allow the claim of fair competition even if they are purposefully sabotaging other people's products.

    For instance, if I give someone a M$ Word document created on the Macintosh, the opening of that document will sometimes crash a windows machine. There is no reason for this as I am simply transferring a document from MS Word to MS Word. I suppose that such problems are tolerated because it limit the appeal of MacOS machines, and may indicate that I need to upgrade to the latest Office.

    So, naive folks, do not wait for the day when MS Office documents will seamlessly integrate with Star Office. And do not blame Star Office for the problems. History provides nearly 20 years of evidence, all the way back to incomplete specifications for system calls in DOS, that M$ will do whatever it can to insure that integration does not occur.

  • MSOffice & XML (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:44PM (#2379876)
    Here's Microsoft's Plans for XML. I think it's very interesting how they word things: /xmloffice.htm []

    Because of the many benefits associated with the use of XML, customers have demanded easy, robust support for XML, and Microsoft has answered them. Currently, Microsoft is concentrating on Microsoft Access and Excel--the applications in which XML can have the biggest impact.

    Access and EXCEL? They just want to keep Word as proprietary as possible. Word is the one people can't get in or out of. Of course they don't want to focus on XML for Word. Jeash .. People have been able to export Access & Excel documents to tab deliminated files for years now. Thats why they're not worried about XLM for those apps. People can already do whatever they want to spreadsheet files, etc.. Customers need to be more pissed off at Microsoft so they force Word to use XML.
  • by mbyte ( 65875 )
    Their new file format ROCKS :)

    Basicly its a pkzip encoded directory tree with a pictures folder, XML metadata and content, really looks nice !

  • almost there... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xeno ( 2667 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @05:40PM (#2380406)

    It's nice to see some reasonable competition for MS Office. I alternate between Office2K and Openoffice (633) with reasonable success, but there are a few things left to complete the puzzle:

    1. Where's the Mac OSX version? OS10.1 is getting great reviews, but this is even more critical from a general marketing standpoint than from a Mac-head view. Why? Cross-platform compatibility is a great marketing lever, not because of a possible massive platform shift (unlikely) but because of uncertainty about platforms and compatiblity over the long term. (See #4 below.)

    2. Some major features are not quite there: imho outlining is the biggest hole; people who write large documents or like structure really need it. Instead of just copying the MS interface, perhaps the existing SO/Navigator tool could be extended to provide a killer structure interface similar to Framemaker+SGML. That would be pretty compelling. Likewise, a quickstart feature (as just implemented in Mozilla) would help to silence the yelps about quick startup ( after long preload) of MS Office XP.

    3. Sun/OpenOffice needs migration documentation & tools. For example, it would be nice to have a short whitepaper from Sun that describes (or better yet, provides a one-click tool) that reconfigures MS Office to save in known cross-compatible formats. Word files should be saved in RTF or a reasonably-documented .DOC/95/97 format. Picking XLS/97 wouldn't be that difficult, but it's important to nail down the multitude of inconsistent PPT formats in a way that retains all content.

    4. Marketing!! Star/OpenOffice has such potential, and if handled properly, can deliver a very compelling message. I'm no marketing guru, but imagine turning some heads with these advert leaders:

    • "StarOffice: Full-featured software for free. You pay for the support you use. You control when and how you upgrade. Isn't that how it should be?"
    • "The software license for Microsoft Office XP says you're prohibited from figuring out the .DOC format your own documents are stored in. Do you think you should pay a license for your own data? Try StarOffice - open formats, full compatibility, and lower costs."
    • "StarOffice is compatible with of all systems worldwide. Freedom to choose."
    • "StarOffice is available on every major operating system in your company, from the systems guru to the graphics geek, and the secretary to the CEO. Shouldn't your company communicate like this?"
    • "The arrival of MS Office XP forces you to pay more for your licenses, and forces company-wide upgrades by introducing yet another data format. StarOffice reduces TCO by allowing you the flexibility of running any desktop OS you choose (even the free ones), and doesn't commit you to costly upgrades in the future."
    • "Running Office XP? That's great, as long as renew your licenses to the new, more expensive program, can support the increased hardware requirements, upgrade everyone in your organization at the same time, or are willing to take the productivity hit by introducing yet another document format. Oh, and you can't take it back for a refund. Try StarOffice for free."

    Jon (
    • From what I've heard, Sun doesn't feel that SO is a real MSO competitor yet (on a features level), so they are resisting marketing it very heavily. and instead letting it spread by word of mouth or have it be discovered by cost conscious purchasers. Ultimately they are doing this to fuck with MS and not to make any real money, so it's understandable that you won't see a heavy marketing campaign.

      Note that WordPerfect and Lotus have 100x the name recognition of StarOffice and competitive products and they've failed to compete on price. It's good to see Sun not fall into the same trap and not embarrass themselves by pushing SO before it's ready.

      Also, at this point there is no plan for a Mac port. That gives MSO "" market coverage and StarOffice only 95% or so. :)
  • by rleyton ( 14248 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @05:53PM (#2380476) Homepage
    Oh, don't you just hate it:

    * Day 1 - You must register to download product, but server overloaded due to demand and /. effect.

    * Day 2 - You must still register to download product, but server takes ages to allow you to download. Give up.

    * Day 3 - You've forgotten your password, re-register, to find that server's been misconfigured by some Sun intern SA who doesn't know his apache rewrites from his linux rawrite.

    * Day 4 - You get registered, get the software, and find the file got corrupted in the download.

    * Day 5 - Internet connection down, so nothing to do but work.

    * Day 6 - Internet connection up, remembered password, downloaded product, ran of out of disk space.

    * Day 7 - Having mentioned the product was out to your colleagues, a week ago now (without having seen it), you are ridiculed when they realise
    you're still using MS-Office on the sly.

    * Day 8 - Hurrah! Downloaded, installed and running. Success. Treat yourself to visit a conference that's on in town. Some bloke hands you a "special edition CD", featuring beta of staroffice 6. Go home to weep.

    *WHY* is there this damn registration. *WHY* aren't there loads of mirrors (sunsite!!!!). You know they'll be dishing out the damn CD's eventually.

    And they say the network is the computer....

    and after all that, my downloads working, on day one.

    strange things are afoot at the circle-k.

    (no, i don't work weekends these days)
  • Why is it that Star/Open Office wants to be installed on a per user basis, instead of a system wide location where everyone can use it. I've never had any luck getting it to work unless I installed it in my home directory. Does anyone know of a way that I can make it available to everyone?
  • Gobe Productive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It may not be open source, it may not have originally come from Linux ... it's Gobe Productive 3.0 and I think it deserves a little advertising here.

    Productive 1.0 started as a product of the team who created ClarisWorks (now AppleWorks), but for BeOS. With it's wonderful interface, and the backing of the great but now dwindling BeOS community, Gobe stayed alive and released a 2.0 version a year or two before Be began to go under.

    Productive is a great product, and I suggest you all look here [] to find a great alternative to Microsoft Office and Sun StarOffice. Now for both Windows, Linux and BeOS.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson