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OpenOffice Writer vs. TextMaker: Which Linux Word Processor Should You Use?

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Linux offers two good word processors: OpenOffice Writer, installed by default with most Linux distributions, and TextMaker, for download from a third-party site. Compare their strengths and weaknesses here, to see which one best meets your needs.
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Like most people, the word processor I have the most experience with is Microsoft Word. But Linux offers two very good alternatives: OpenOffice Writer and TextMaker.

I've used OpenOffice for the last few months. I got TextMaker a couple weeks ago; it's currently my default opener of .doc files and the first thing I reach for when creating a new document. But which is the superior product?

Comparing Features

OpenOffice Writer (OO-Writer), shown in Figure 1, is the dominant Linux word processor. Like Mozilla, it's installed by default with most Linux distributions. It's part of the free open source Open Office office suite package, which is intended to have roughly the same or better functionality as Word.

Figure 1Figure 1 OO Writer.

TextMaker, shown in Figure 2, is not free, it is not open source, and you have to download and install it; it costs $50 from SoftMaker. Then why is it getting so many good reviews?

Figure 02Figure 2 TextMaker.

Let's run through the features and capabilities of both OpenOffice Writer and TextMaker so you can decide which one best meets your needs. Note that I also compare both programs to Microsoft Word, when appropriate. Yes, it may seem strange to start a discussion of Linux word processors with a mention of MS Word (shown in Figure 3), but remember that Word is the dominant word processor in the business, academic, government, and personal markets; it's also the word processor whose look and feel the majority of us are most familiar with. True Word .doc format compatibility will be needed long after MS is a confused past memory of lawsuits, high prices, and software crashes generations from now.

Figure 3Figure 3 Microsoft Word.

Opening Speed

TextMaker takes 4 seconds to load a blank document, and 2 seconds to load this article.

OO-Writer takes 33 seconds to load a blank document, and 4 seconds to load this article.

Word 97 is not compared for speed here because it runs in Windows Win4Lin emulation on my Linux system. Although the functionality is identical, the environment I run it in is so radically different that it makes opening speed comparison meaningless.

Installation

OO-Writer is installed by default with your distribution. You can update it via whatever automated installer (yum, apt-get, urpmi, etc.) comes with your Linux distribution.

You download TextMaker from SoftMaker (cost is $50), get the license code, and follow the installation instructions. Download the program and dictionary .tgz files, unpack them, and run. Apparently, this works with any Linux distribution—it certainly worked on my Red Hat Fedora Core 2, with no problems.

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