Hits the Big 1.0

By Eric Foster-Johnson, ITworld |  Opinion

In announcing 1.0 (, Linux
gains another production-quality open source office suite. Reaching the
1.0 release is a big event, even if the version 1.0
corresponds to Sun's StarOffice 6.0. provides a totally
free office suite on par with Microsoft Office that runs on Linux.

The entire suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, drawing
program, presentation program, and a whole lot more. The suite is
available for Linux on Intel, Linux on PowerPC, Solaris, and Windows --
a MacOS X port is also in the works. The wide array of available
platforms constitutes one of the software's great
appeals, providing a starting point for migrating Windows users to open
source software. Once your users run the suite, you can
then discuss migrating user desktops to Linux if appropriate for your

The suite has been around for some time and forms the
base for Sun's StarOffice suite. StarOffice
( adds some features beyond the free,
open source suite, including fee-based support and a
database module. You can download the free suite from

The project site has a press section on their Web page, which even
includes a Flash presentation, indicates a serious effort to promote 1.0.'s public relations effort describes
the suite as a near drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office. does a reasonable but not perfect job at loading and
saving Microsoft Office document file formats.

Much of the promotional effort demonstrates's lower total
cost of ownership (TCO) over Microsoft Office, highlighted by's free distribution. Being free eliminates the costly
licenses and upgrade costs.

A Gartner Group estimate claims that StarOffice (and presumable can wrest up to 10 percent of the Microsoft Office
market share. Gartner's estimate is an incredible amount of market
share, but also indicates Microsoft's dominance of this market. In part,
this estimate stems from the fact that Sun plans to charge for
StarOffice 6.0 on Linux and Windows. The assumption is that businesses
would prefer to pay for software and the new fees will increase
StarOffice's usage.

If you are not using or StarOffice, you really should
take a look at these suites. They are not perfect and require a good bit
of RAM, but on the whole are great products. Questions about can be answered by the slew of frequently-asked-questions
(FAQ) lists at

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