Writing, OpenOffice, Linux, Windows, and Wine

My organization of the outline cards into some semblance of a coherent story continues. Because I wanted this to be my first non-windows book since I switched over from AmiPro, I went ahead and downloaded a Windows version of OpenOffice yesterday, since that’s what will be shipping with my version of Mandrake Linux, and installed it this morning while I was shuffling scene cards looking for the main thread. Mostly, OpenOffice not bad, though it was clearly designed for the needs of short-document writers. However, it has (unless I’m missing something huge) the one fault that makes it unusable for me. There appears to be no way to change the page view from white page with black letters to blue page (or green, or black — I don’t care) with white letters, which is so much easier on the eyes. I’m not talking about changing page color (which also changes the color of what prints) — I’m talking about page view, which prints default black on white while showing you white on blue. If one of you guys knows how to do this, please let me know.

Meanwhile, having realized that my eyes weren’t going to tolerate OpenOffice, I went looking for Windows emulators for Linux. And found WINE, a free open-source Windows-emulator that, from reading comments, doesn’t do to badly with many programs. You can browse the apps list and find out if the app you love in Windows is supported, and if so, how well or badly. Don’t think if you find the name of your program in there that it’s automatically supported. Rather, click on the link under Version, and take a look at user comments. Here are the comments on Word 97, for example.

I wasn’t too thrilled by the shaky support for Word — I DO use the advanced features, and heavily.

So then there’s Crossover Office, which looks like it will do exactly what I want it to do. It isn’t free — but then, I’m not looking for free. I’m looking for functional. I’m looking to get off of Windows, because 98 crashes all the time and I am ethically opposed to the invasion of my privacy that the use of WindowsXP would require. If I can get Mandrake running when it gets here, this is the route I will probably take.

Finally, if you’re a Windows user who has never considered switching to Linux or another operating system, Read this page on why running your Windows apps on a Linux box may be a good idea. It’s thought-provoking reading.

Back to work. I still haven’t found the one thread that will tie the whole book together, though I can almost taste it now…

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

12 comments… add one
  • charles baskin Nov 5, 2003 @ 16:11

    Help!
    Can you explain how to defrag my Windosxp in simple terms? I would greatly appreciate it if you can. Thanks
    Chuck

  • charles baskin Nov 5, 2003 @ 16:11

    Help!
    Can you explain how to defrag my Windosxp in simple terms? I would greatly appreciate it if you can. Thanks
    Chuck

  • charles baskin Nov 5, 2003 @ 16:11

    Help!
    Can you explain how to defrag my Windosxp in simple terms? I would greatly appreciate it if you can. Thanks
    Chuck

  • Jim Woosley Aug 13, 2003 @ 6:25

    Coming along late to comment here but….

    I’m finding that WinXP appears to have taken a sharp downward turn in reliability from Win98.

    This may be because of a mix of older and new software, but that should not be a problem. I’m having some sort of hard failure almost once a day. (And the last security patch I downloaded onto my old Win98 machine destroyed it’s ability to burn CDs; I’m trying to chase bad file transfers between the two machines without backup ability on the Win98 machine, and I hope I can do that before I have to take the time to backup, reformat, then backup again when I get the file transfers finished.

    I’ll also note that the kids didn’t help — my son got to playing on here six months ago and locked on some preferences I’ve still not been able to chase down and fix. Since I’m a user, not a real "geek." I prefer to take my time doing MY job, but Bill doesn’t always allow me to do that option. (Last night instead of a work report, I had to fix E-mail storage corruption problems….)

  • Holly Lisle Aug 22, 2002 @ 10:29

    > I’ve been a computer owner for
    > almost ten years now. I’ve owned
    > Win 3.1 machines, Win 95, now 98
    > SE . . . I’ve -never- had to
    > reinstall the OS.

    I’m a bit ahead of you. I started with an 8088 running DOS, which I liked, back in 84. I’ve always done my own hardware installs, barring an issue once with a case configuration that just foiled me utterly. I’m comfortable with computers, never minded command-line interfaces, and thought the mouse was sort of an annoying idea initially — after all, there were dot commands that did everything a mouse could do, and you didn’t have to move your fingers from the home row to use them.

    In re: OSes, You’ve been lucky. I run a few apps, I defrag regularly and virus-check daily. Windows does not permit a clean uninstall of anything, though — that potluck DLL system is atrocious. And the Windows install-uninstall process corrupts things, and programs start not working correctly. So once every six months or so, when things get too buggy to be bearable, I reformat the hard drive, reinstall all my software, and curse Windows.

    What the hell, though. Mandrake should be here this week, and I’ll move on.

  • Jon Aug 22, 2002 @ 9:52

    Reinstall every six months? What do you -do- to that poor machine?

    I’ve been a computer owner for almost ten years now. I’ve owned Win 3.1 machines, Win 95, now 98 SE . . . I’ve -never- had to reinstall the OS. And I do install lots of other stuff – games, mostly, but 2d and 3d graphics packages, Web software, drivers for new hardware… I’m pretty active on the machine. And I’ve never had to reinstall the OS; I defrag once every couple of months and that’s about the end of it. I know you’re certainly not the only one who feels the need to reinstall… I just don’t get it, though :o). Lots of memory and a big hard drive, that’s my solution… :o) I won’t say I’ve never had crashing problems (duh, it’s Windows), but by and large things are stable, and I’ve never lost writing because of crashes…

    -j

  • Alison Aug 22, 2002 @ 2:19

    And I used to think cleaning a fountain pen was a hassle …

  • Eliste Aug 21, 2002 @ 18:27

    Windows XP basically takes advantage of people who don’t know any better. While many of the new features, like Passport, .NET, and Universal Plug n Play seem like neat ideas, they rely rather heavily on the Internet being an honest place. XP comes with tons of security holes that the average user wouldn’t even think about checking (did you know xp comes set up with a guest account that is turned on by default?). On top of that, "services" like .NET mislead people into thinking they must sign up with Microsoft to use the Internet. And once you do sign up, your consumer information is tracked & logged by Microsoft. Here’s a link on it: http://news.com.com/2100-1023-270592.html?legacy=cnet
    I’m stuck using XP on my Sony Vaio Picturebook. I love the hardware design, but I would seriously consider donating a limb to be able to run Mac OS 10.2 on it. Maybe someday the perfect machine & OS will come in the same package….

  • Krista Aug 21, 2002 @ 16:28

    Just because I’m curious….how does WindowsXP invade the user’s privacy? I use WindowsXP both at work and at home….I’d be interested to hear what you’ve discovered.

  • Jonathan Aug 21, 2002 @ 14:03

    I have a workaround for you on the page view thing. If you right click on the document you are working on, you can select background and font colors from that menu. This will actually change the document colors so you will have to change them back to normal before printing them, but it will gove you the white text on black background you are looking for.

    Jonathan

  • Holly Lisle Aug 21, 2002 @ 11:02

    I do a clean install about every six months as things stand. It doesn’t help. Windows is buggy, flaky software. There are folks on the site who haven’t had to reboot Linux in months. I’ve heard of people who haven’t had to reboot in years. I reboot a couple of times a day on good days.

    And, frankly, I like what open-source stands for. If I can do the transition, I will.

    It’s kind of like switching to the Dvorak keyboard. It was very difficult — tough learning curve, I was writing a book while I learned, I questioned the value of making the transition. But it was worth it.

  • Jon Aug 21, 2002 @ 10:35

    Um… why bother?

    What I mean is this – if you hate Windows XP, don’t want to use it, but you have a functional win95 or 2000 or 98SE or whatever CD . . . why upgrade the OS at all? I only upgrade OSes when I buy new computers (every 4-5 years). If it ain’t broke, and all that.

    If you’re having loads o’ problems with Windows (losing data, etc.) then a clean install might help more than a new OS . . .

    Just a thought.

    -j

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