Tag Archives: Abiword

AbiWord – First Impressions

AbiWord is a free word processing program similar to Microsoft® Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

Not being used to AbiWord I opened the word processor and started writing down what came to my mind. I was using version 2.6.6 as provided by Linux/Ubuntu, but followed the instructions on the Abiword.com pages to upgrade to the stable 2.6.8 version. There is however already a version 2.7.8.

First things I notice in AbiWord:

  • The nice clear big buttons, good friendly layout.
  • It loads quickly.
  • When I started using AbiWord the last letter typed appeared half finished. I first thought that it was a nice feature, but when all the letters disappeared half when I let the cursor run backwards over them I understood that it was not meant to be. Disabling Compiz on My Linux/Ubuntu fixed the “problem”. Pitty because I liked the half finished last letter.
  • The arrow in front of the sentence that makes it possible to select the whole sentence with one click.
  • Besides the well known red spell check there is also by default a green grammar checking. I am not sure how it exactly works and if I can use it, but I want it in my “perfect word processor” so I am interested.
  • In the menubar there is an option called collaborate. Sounds interesting, but the help section doesn’t exist unfortunately and only Jabber is available through the pop-up menu. This article from Linutop.com tells more about this feature.
  • It uses by default Konquerer or Epiphany as the browser on my computer to display the help files.
  • There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to edit a toolbar.
  • Mail merge is the term used to print copies of a file, each with a new entry in a data field. Used for example when printing invitations to a list of people where each copy is addressed to a different person.
  • “Revisions”  is very interesting, it is a good way to edit a document of somebody else. It is not so user freindly friendly to have to right click and point/click accept or reject for every single revision, but it works.
  • “Maintain full history” mode makes revision sets every time the document is saved, so one automatically can recreate a new document with a previous version of the current document.
  • ‘AbiWord cannot export Microsoft Word documents at the moment; you should use RTF for sending files to people who use Word.’
  • Plugins can be installed from within the word processor but only if you know the name. A list of plugins can be found on the Abiword homepage and in order to download them one is directed to the download page. There is a section for Linux (which I use) but unfortunately there is no possibility to download any plugins (if needed btw, as many are installed by default).
  • I played around to discover the table features, it worked well, but it doesn’t completely show up after copy/pasting it to this blog post:

Here is a link from magazine.redhat.com with a somewhat older but extensive interview with the developers of AbiWord.

I easily got used to AbiWord and I like the fact that it loads quick. It is a nice alternative in between a text editor and a more complete word processor as for example OpenOffice.org Writer.

See this article for a comparison between AbiWord and OpenOffice.org Writer.

Here is the link to the AbiWord information page.

Yalm Magazine compared Abiword with OpenOffice.org Writer

There is a nice article in the German Linux-orientated Yalm Magazine about Abiword and OpenOffice.org Writer. Both Wordprocessors function flawlessly under Windows as well so the article might be interesting for many readers. It is in German however but since it is published under the admirable Creative Commons license I take the liberty to tell about it here in English.

The article can be found in Yalm Magazine 06/2009 here is a link to the pdf.

First of all the writer (Ralf Hersel – rhersel@yalmagazine.org) urges to say that he by no means pretends to have written a conclusive and final verdict. It is his personal interpretation based upon a more or less random observation, of course.

He had a look at Abiword version 2.6.6 and OpenOffice.org writer version 3.0.1 on Ubuntu 9.04.

The article is written in a nice and easy way, giving a score for each task or feature that he had a look at. In order to test the abilities he used a letter that he recreated in each of the two word processors. That is a simple and good test that I will certainly reproduce in my reviews.

Remarkable enough he “lets” Abiword be the winner of his small comparison, even though he concludes that in his test they end up equally interesting and that he could have continued giving points for a long time.

Here are the points he gave:

Abiword OO.org Writer
Load time 1
First visual impression 2 1
Changing the default font 1
Help documentation 1
Creating a header in the test letter 1
Creating a table 1 1
Creation of a numbered list (layout) 1
Creation of a numbered list (numbering) 1
Alignment 1
Saving the Document 1 1
Selecting text for more than 1 page 1

Total  :

8 7

Ralf concludes by writing that he realizes that the result of his comparison might be surprising to some, as OpenOffice.org Writer is the more complete product of the two. But on a day-to-day basis Abiword can stand a comparison as it is easy to use and loads fast.

A list of text applications that can be found in Linux Ubuntu – Part 1

To start off the exploration of the world of text orientated software I had a look at my own computer.

I am running Linux Ubuntu 9.04 at the moment and had OpenOffice.org Writer and gedit installed plus Wine (a program that makes it possible to run some Windows programs in Linux) with The Journal and for some reason Notepad.

In Linux there is a section where you can add and remove programs. These programs are just a selection of what can be installed on a Linux computer, but for some reason they are offered conveniently under this add/remove section.

When you click add/remove you’ll see a list of all the programs available and the different subsections that arrange the programs after subject.

I thought I could just name them in a post, but they are too many, so I will divide it into three posts:

  1. Programs that can be found under the header “Office”

  2. The ones found under “Accessories”

  3. and other programs found under “Internet”.

Part 1: Programs that can be found under Applications -> Add/remove.. -> Office

Besides OpenOffice Writer there were 13 other programs that I downloaded to have a look at. Many of them are LaTeX editors which I will mention briefly in the end.

I copy/pasted the text that is given for each program. The Screenshots are taken from my screen.



KWord is a FrameMaker-like word processing and desktop publishing application. KWord is capable of creating demanding and professional looking documents. It can be used for desktop publishing, but also for “normal” word processing, like writing letters, reports and so on.

This package is part of the KDE Office Suite.

Homepage: http://www.koffice.org

IBM Lotus Symphony.

IBM Lotus Symphony provides three powerful editors by which you can create, manage, and edit documents in Open Document Format(ODF): Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Presentation, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets. With Lotus Symphony Documents, you can create and edit simple or highly structured documents, graphics, tables, and charts. With Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets, you can perform standard and advanced spreadsheet functions to calculate, analyze, and manage your data. With Lotus Symphony Presentations, you can create and edit professional screen shows that include charts, drawing objects, and text. You can also import, edit, and export Oo 1.1 files and Microsoft(R) Office files in Lotus Symphony

Homepage: http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home

This is a big office suite that comes with the above mentioned 3 programs in one. It opens with a “home” screen from where one can choose to open one of the three programs. Besides that is has a build in browser.

The second screenshot is the Lotus Symphony Documents wordprocessor.

It took a while for the program to open the first time, so I suspect it had a close look at the documents on my computer. After that all my .odt files open now by default in Lotus Symphony but I can choose “open with…” to choose another editor.

Go to the OpenOffice.org homepage Lotus Symphony is based on OpenOffice.org Technology and supports the ODF standard, ISO 26300


AbiWord is a full-featured, efficient word processing application. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks, and is extensible with a variety of plugins.

This package includes many of the available import/export plugins allowing AbiWord to interact with ODT, WordPerfect, and other formats. It also includes tools plugins, offering live collaboration with AbiWord users on Linux and Windows (using TCP or Jabber/XMPP), web translation and dictionary support, and more. Additional plugins that require significant amounts of extra software to function are in the various abiword-plugin-* packages.

Homepage: http://www.abisource.com/

Full Screen text-editor:


PyRoom is a free editor that stays out your way – and keeps other things out of your way, too. As a fullscreen editor without buttons, widgets, formatting options, menus and with only the minimum of required dialog windows, it doesn’t have any distractions and lets you focus on writing and only writing

Homepage: http://pyroom.org/

A simple fullscreen dark (text colour is customizable) texteditor. Does what is promises.

LaTeX editors:

(If you don’t know what LaTeX is than you very likely don’t need these editors).


Texmaker is a clean, highly configurable LaTeX editor with good hot key support and extensive LaTeX documentation. Texmaker integrates many tools needed to develop documents with LaTeX, in just one application. It has some nice features such as syntax highlighting, insertion of 370 mathematical symbols with only one click, and “structure view” of the document for easier navigation

Homepage: http://www.xm1math.net/texmaker/

LyX Document Proc

LyX is an almost WYSIWYG-frontend for LaTeX. It makes the power and typesetting quality of LaTeX available for people who are used to word processors. Since LyX supports LaTeX’s concept of general mark-ups, it is even easier and faster to create professional quality documents with it than with usual word processors. It is also possible to use LaTeX commands within LyX, so nothing of LaTeX’s power is lost.

You can extend the functionality of LyX by installing these packages:

* chktex: check for typographical errors

* dvipost: display tracked changes in DVI format output

* gnuhtml2latex: import HTML documents

* groff: improved table formatting in plain text exports

* linuxdoc-tools: export SGML LinuxDoc documents

* noweb: import noweb files

* rcs: integrated version control

* sgmltools-lite: export SGML DocBook documents

* tex4ht, hevea, tth, or latex2html: export HTML documents

* texlive-latex-extra: more styles and packages

* wv: import MS Word documents

Homepage: http://www.lyx.org/

I found it on my computer after installing by right-clicking on a text file and then choosing “open with…” – > “Open with Other Application….”


Kile is a user-friendly LaTeX source editor and TeX shell for KDE.

The source editor is a multi-document editor designed for .tex and .bib files. Menus, wizards and auto-completion are provided to assist with tag insertion and code generation. A structural view of the document assists with navigation within source files. The TeX shell integrates the various tools required for TeX processing. It assists with LaTeX compilation, DVI and postscript document viewing, generation of bibliographies and indices and other common tasks. Kile can support large projects consisting of several smaller files.

Homepage: http://kile.sourceforge.net

I wasn’t able to open the kile handbook that is mentioned in the help section of the program, but it can be found at this address: http://kile.sourceforge.net/Documentation/html/index.html

Winefisch LaTeX Editor.

Winefish is a GTK+ based LaTeX editor, which was forked from Bluefish. The main features are autotext, auto-completion, function references, syntax highlighting, customizable external tools and UTF-8 support.

Homepage: http://winefish.berlios.de

Has a very clean look out-of-the-box.


JabRef is a GUI to manage BibTeX databases, the standard LaTeX bibliography reference format. JabRef is built to be platform independent (requires Java 1.5). It merges and extends the functionalities of BibKeeper (Morten O. Alver) and JBibtexManager (Nizar Batada)

Homepage: http://jabref.sourceforge.net/

GNU TeXmacs editor

GNU TeXmacs is a free scientific text editor, which was both inspired by TeX and GNU Emacs.

The editor allows you to write structured documents via a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) and a user friendly interface. New styles may be created by the user. The program implements high-quality typesetting algorithms and TeX fonts, which help you to produce professionally looking documents. The high typesetting quality still goes through for automatically generated formulas, which makes TeXmacs suitable as an interface for computer algebra systems. TeXmacs also supports the Guile/Scheme extension language, so that you may customize the interface and write your own extensions to the editor. This package contains the architecture dependent files.

Homepage: http://www.texmacs.org

After downloading it can be found under Applications -> Accessories



Referencer is a GNOME application to organise documents or references, and ultimately generate a BibTeX bibliography file. Referencer includes a number of features to make this process easier:

* Automatic metadata retrieval from PubMed, CrossRef and ArXiv

* Smart web links

* Import from BibTeX, Reference Manager and EndNote

* Tagging

Homepage: http://icculus.org/referencer/index.html

I have to find this one out – available when you (right mouse) click on a document -> “open with” -> Open with Other Application…

Txt Reader

Txt Reader is a general text viewer, especially suited for reading novels.


* Automatically remember the place before you closed

* Support fullscreen mode

* Support hiding reader to tray with Esc

* Support page-scrolling with arrow keys

* Support bookmark

* Support encoding selection

Homepage: –

Txt Reader had a slight problem for me (see first screenshot)

It is possible to change the language of the gnome desktop icon. (see second screenshot).

This program is not a text editor. At a first glance this seems to be a rather simple reader.

Update aug. 2010 -The homepage (http://www.minisrc.com/?q=taxonomy/term/2) is no longer connected to Txt Reader


Link to part 2 of the three posts: Software found under “Accessories”

Link to part 3 of these three posts: Software found under “internet”