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OpenOffice.Org in a Corporate Environment?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the roaming-preferences-without-profiles dept.

Software 376

robpoe asks: "I've been working on a rollout plan for OpenOffice.org 2.0 for a medium sized network. This network runs a number of different MS Office versions, and we absolutely must retain the Microsoft Office 97/2000/2002 file formats (for interoperability with the public and other entities). Getting our versions of Office to 2003 is $65k+, so we're looking closely at OOo. The problem is, since OOo keeps track of changes per user, and we have users that move around (and no, Roaming Profiles are not an option for us), and you cannot expect a user to change those preferences on every computer they log in to. Let's hear some great deployment plans for keeping the default file type, and even general rollout plans. How are you doing it?""It seems that nobody has done this (or documented it) that I've found. Let's see if we can get a good thing going by documenting a good, easy to manage rollout plan. Oh, and the default for saving files has to remain in Office 97/2k/xp format.

What are you using to deploy OOo automatically on your network. Assume that we have capability of login script (batch files / registry changes), but no SMS/ZenWorks/etc.

cancel ×

376 comments

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058839)

FP

Store the OpenOffice config file on network drive (5, Informative)

Harry Balls (799916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058845)

Elementary, Watson.

Once a user logs on, a logon script mounts his own personal "network drive" from a central file server.

Just configure OpenOffice so that OpenOffice will read (and write) the OO configuration from that personal "network drive".
Yes, a user could still mess up his configuration, but that would only affect himself, not others.

Re:Store the OpenOffice config file on network dri (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058863)

Just run the entire thing off of a thumb drive or live distribution that they can use anywhere they go that mounts your netdrive ;)

Re:Store the OpenOffice config file on network dri (1, Informative)

buck_wild (447801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058931)

Ditto. This is exactly how we do it do.

Re:Store the OpenOffice config file on network dri (1, Interesting)

g-san (93038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059068)

Yeah, that will work great when I am in the field at a customer site with no internet access... what else ya got?

I like AC's thumb drive solution...

Re:Store the OpenOffice config file on network dri (2, Informative)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059363)

Assuming a windows environment you would use offline files, that's normally how people sync with network drives.

Re:Store the OpenOffice config file on network dri (1)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059175)

doesn't that still require that you change the profile setting for each user at each machine they log in to? he's trying to avoid that.

this is slashdot. i'm sure you'll all rip me a new asshole for being so obviously clueless, and demand that i surrender my firstborn child to the god of stupid sacrifices for asking such an idiotic question, so just save yourselves the effort before you hit 'reply', because i'm not going to read any replies anyway.

Re:Store the OpenOffice config file on network dri (5, Informative)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059237)

No. Lets say we mount the users' home drive as drive letter H. You can do this with windows policies or a login script. No touching workstations. Then we configure the base install of OO.org to look in H:\ooo-settings\ for all it's config data.

Boom! Unique settings for each user without roaming profiles

Why not? (5, Insightful)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058859)

Why not just keep Office 2000/XP?

Re:Why not? (5, Funny)

MankyD (567984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058877)

Why not just keep Office 2000/XP?
You're not from around here are you.

Re:Why not? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058904)

Nope. We don't laaayyyk winders in these here parts

Re:Why not? (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058882)

I Have Been Trolled (tm)

Re:Why not? (4, Informative)

buck_wild (447801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058967)

Um, because he doesn't want to spend an extra $65k. At least, that may have only been clear to me.

Re:Why not? (2, Interesting)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059040)

But he's already running older versions of Office. They didn't just magically stop working when Office 2003 came out and they're going to be a lot more compatible with the Word document format than OpenOffice is. The only ones that tolerated us using OpenOffice to munge Word documents were other techies who could tolerate the formatting being screwed up on internal company forms. If I wanted to make sure it looked right I'd have to boot up VMWare on my Linux box and use OfficeXP.

Re:Why not? (1)

buck_wild (447801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059079)

In my office, we paid annually for the 'privillege' of using MS Office. If we were found in non-complaince (using Office without paying for it) the resulting punnishment was far more than the license fee.

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059129)

Just send PDFs to those outside the company. 99% of the time you're not sending stuff to people outside the company that needs to be edited, anyway. Printed and filled out or signed, maybe, and usually just read, but not often edited.

Keep one copy of MS Office around for the rare occasions when you need to send something to the outside that needs to be edited, or the rare occasions when you recieve a doc from the outside that's completely unusable in OpenOffice.

Sure, some shops do need to send out easily editable documents to others frequently, and it might not work for them, but for most small- to medium-sized places this would be fine.

I agree on the "don't fix it if it's already working" thing, though. Unless they've got some truly ancient copies of Office floating around, I'd think that it'd still be less of an inconvenience to deal with what they've got than to switch to OpenOffice, assuming they deal with very many documents from the outside world.

Re:Why not? (2)

Doc Squidly (720087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059073)

Getting our versions of Office to 2003 is $65k+

Its not going to cost him $65K to keep his current software. The posting says that his company already has Office 97/200/2002.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059153)

Now come back to the Real World(tm) where you actually have to pay for the licenses for your software. Businesses tend to pay for a limited license when it comes to Microsoft software. They usually expire every 3 years, don't renew, don't use the software. Don't like it, tough.

Of course, you could be like my last job who ignored this fact and continued using 150 copies of Office 2000. Or when we upgraded to Office 2003 and only bought 150 licenses when we had 300 computers with the software installed. Too bad Microsoft just gives universities a slap on the wrist for piracy.

Re:Why not? (5, Informative)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058986)

It they have an open license agreement with MS (as most do in a corporate case), they are required to upgrade in X number of years. They could still use the software but it would be illegal (in the eyes of the BSA, MS, and the EULA).

Last time I checked, the retail version of MSOffice 2002/2003 doesn't allow the use of transform files which set corporate preferences for the user during profile setup.

Re:Why not? (2, Informative)

pythas (75383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059123)

Uh, that's 100% wrong. An open license doesn't require any kind of repurchase in a certain amount of years. Using it after that time isn't illegal.

Who the hell modded this up?

Re:Why not? (0, Troll)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059261)

You must not have installed any MOLP (Microsoft Open License Pack) setups. You get a certificate that clearly states the number of licenses, the agreement date and date of expiration which in mice type states that after the agreement expiration date ( usually 2 years ) you are no longer licensed to use said products which becomes illegal to use under the eyes of the BSA, MS, and the EULA on the media pack(CD).

Re:Why not? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059337)

What are you talking about ?! The "expiration" date is the date up to which you are elligible for an upgrade "discount". After that, you have to pay full price again. That's all.

Re:Why not? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059157)

In addition to the other response to this, almost always, a corporate license is viable for downgrading. 'Buy XP, install 2000', be it Windows or Office.p.But really...there is no need to upgrade, if you don't see a real need for it.

Unfair Moderation. (5, Insightful)

Doc Squidly (720087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059032)

Why not just keep Office 2000/XP?

This is a valid question that shouldn't have been modded as flamebait. Sure, its an unpopular question considering the /. crowd but, still valid.

The first option that is usually overlooked in IT is, "Do Nothing". If any software product is meeting a businesses needs then why replace it without a good enough reason. Will the benefits of switching form product A to product C outweigh the cost.

I love new stuff as much as the next guy but, if a product works, even one made by M$, then asking if your company should continue to use it is a question any IT Pro should ask.

There plenty of good reasons to switch to OOo but, don't do it just because it's not a M$ product.

[Gets off soap box]

Re:Unfair Moderation. (1, Troll)

DetrimentalFiend (233753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059094)

Valid question or not, it still is flamebait. Whether it was intentional flamebait could be debated, but it was definetly flamebait. Anyone reading the post obviously saw that the guy was looking for ways to make OO work to replace it, so obviously 'just keep it' was the easy answer that had already been ruled out.

Re:Unfair Moderation. (0)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059139)

Valid question or not, it still is flamebait. Whether it was intentional flamebait could be debated, but it was definetly flamebait. Anyone reading the post obviously saw that the guy was looking for ways to make OO work to replace it, so obviously 'just keep it' was the easy answer that had already been ruled out.

The guy is asking a question about ways to send money, it probably was flamebait to 3/4 of the Slashdot crowd due to there hate for M$ but honestly anyway I think of it, keeping there current version of office makes the most sense to me. Just because something new new and shiny dosen't mean you have to get..... Do you go out and buy a car new year because a model came out or do you drive your car till it's no longer reliable?

Re:Unfair Moderation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059285)

If it's not intentional, then it's not flamebait. End of story. Flamebait means it's attracted to draw flames. Otherwise, it may be called "dumb post" but definately not flamebait.

Re:Unfair Moderation. (4, Informative)

buck_wild (447801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059113)

Valid point. However, in a business environment there are other considerations, such as per-seat licenses. If his office is like mine, we were *required* to pay. In this case, doing nothing meant that you were no longer allowed to use MS Office, in which case stiff penalties applied if you were caught*.

*Employees could 'report' usage to MS anonomously.

Re:Unfair Moderation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059154)

Yeah, there are many people on Novell and NT.

You would be the first one to jump out and say "why dont they upgrade?"

Its the same mentality that kept them there...

(another alternative may be citrix :) )

Re:Why not? (1)

constantnormal (512494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059504)

He's already stated their motive for going to OO was to save money by avoiding the upgrade to Office 2003.

Assume that they can no longer purchase copies of their current (older) version of Office, or that they are anticipating an increase in the number of seats.

Admittedly, the cash outlay is less than upgrading to Office 2003 -- unless Microsoft will no longer sell them copies of their current software. Then they are stuck -- unless they opt to make additional copies of their current version of Office without paying for them. That route makes upgrading to Office 2003 look downright cheap, as once the BSA hits them with an "audit", Microsoft effectively owns their company. And you can expect an "audit", as the company is vulnerable to disgruntled ex-employees snitching on them to the BSA.

Corporate pirating of products from Microsoft is stupider than lying to the SEC.

This is one of the best arguments for replacing Office with open source products, as it removes control of your IT budget from the hands of Microsoft. The fact that you save money immediately is trivial. The important thing is the ongoing savings you have achieved, which repeat annually. Anyone who pitches replacing Office with OO should do so via a spreadsheet and a chart showing the cumulative impact of those savings. And then mention that this does not include the impact of occasional additional expense of forced software upgrades.

Sounds like... (1)

s-twig (775100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058871)

You want to put too many constraints on the deployment. You need to realise that it's not a Microsoft so you'll have to accept OOo the way it is.

Re:Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059164)

hahaha ... the true zealot of the so called great open source movement. If you don't like it, just accept it and work around the problems. ... sure you don't work for microsoft?

OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (5, Insightful)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058875)

While this doesn't address your question, you mention the necessity of using MS office files. Be absolutely sure you are aware of the limitations of importing/exporting MS office documents. Contrary to what a lot of slashdotters imply, the document compatibility is only so-so when working with complex Word and Powerpoint files, which forced me back away from OO.org. Don't get me wrong - I don't like MS Office myself. But when forced to work with MS Office files, it's incredibly difficult to use any other tool.

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059082)

Goood point. But so frankly stated that you now need to stand by for a down-modding from the school of OSS fanatics who use OO.org to create their own one-page CV, and who have concluded from that OO.org is fine to use even on huge documents where problems in conversion to the MS formats might make your firm look stupid, zealotish and perhaps even lead to loss of business.

No-one ever got modded up on /. for giving an actual experience-based viewpoint on why some OSS tools really are not quite there yet.

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (2, Insightful)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059177)

create their own one-page CV, and who have concluded from that OO.org is fine to use even on huge documents where problems in conversion to the MS formats might make your firm look stupid, zealotish and perhaps even lead to loss of business.

Being a card carrying OSS fanatic, I can tell you truthfully that OO.org is not fine to use on huge documents. But being a suffering MS Office user, I can tell you that MS Office is just as bad for huge documents.

The professional way of writing huge documents is with a markup language and a revision control system.

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (0, Troll)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059256)

I use notepad.

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (1)

dindi (78034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059393)

I do not mean ad flamebait i swear:

can you define huge and big document?

I mean for me a huge document is let's say 500 pages (technically a book for ne), and I worked on 200 pages myself (not too big I admit) and OO just worked fine. It was 4 years ago and compatibility, processing power was limited, and I had several illustrations and others inserted (about 20 pages of images), and 10 pages of tables/graps.

I really wonder what is the limit when you say : uhh that is unbearably sucky/crashes/etc.... also can that improve with hardware, or it just plain sucks?

really I barely edit documents nowadays over 3-4 pages, so I really wonder what you think!
I also save everything in native OO formats or RTF (rich text is reich anough for me) and barely print anything... I mean I am a "home office" user of OO but totally satisfied by it

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059487)

No, no, I think you misunderstood.

OOo is just fine on huge, complex documents. It's very stable, predictable and reliable.

OOo has a hard time with rendering large, complex MS Word documents, though. They get all screwed up.

MS Word, on the other hand, also has a hard time with large complex MS Word documents. The formatting is okay, but Word crashes constantly and tends to corrupt your files and lose all of your work.

Does that clear it up?

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059268)

I, too, am a card-carrying Free/Liber/OpenSource Software fanatic, and I feel I should attest: I have many times modded up people talking about the very real limitations of the GIMP for professional photo manipulators.

The clearer the limitations are, the better we fit people with the right product, and the clearer what needs to be worked on is.

There is a small contingent of newbies in the FLOSS society. As in most societies, there is a group of people at the entry gates who rave wild madness about whatever it is that they have discovered. It is just part of the passage of perspectives. [communitywiki.org]

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059092)

The issues with trying to save documents in OOo as MS formats is significantly reduced in simpler documents by using older MS formats such as Word 6 and Excel 5.

I have found that bullet point issues in newer MS formats disappear in these older MS formats.

And I also install the MS 'viewer' software to verify just what my MS-bound clients will be seeing when they open the document/spreadsheet.
(and as the viewer software is free to use...)

The viewer software is also handy for when I receive MS format documents from clients and the OOo conversions go astray.

neither does MS Office (0, Troll)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059132)

Different versions of MS Office also don't have "perfect compatibility" with each other. In my experience, using OOo is not much different from using a different version of MS Office. Overall, it's probably best simply to avoid "complex Word and PowerPoint files" altogether.

Re:neither does MS Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059342)

You are just wrong. OO.org compatibility is very poor on heavily formatted word documents. If Word has similar issues they are orders of magnitude smaller. If you really believe otherwise you really don't use word in a production environment day in and day out for formatting complex documents. If you did, you wouldn't be spewing this myth that OO.org import/output filters are good. They aren't.

Re:neither does MS Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059390)

Ok... First, install OpenOffice on your computer, search google for some random doc or xls files, open them with OpenOffice and compare with what they look like with MS Office. In my experience, very few documents are imported correctly with OpenOffice. OTOH, while it's true that sometimes Office 97 screw up Office 2003 files, most of the times it's ok. Saying it's not much different than using a different version of MS Office is simply trolling.

Re:OO.org does not have perfect file compatibility (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059473)

We looked at going to Star Office (Paid for version w/more features) before switching to 500 Office 2003 PRO licenses. (From version 97)

The biggest problem was all our accounting Excel cross linked documents got corrupted when we saved them in Star Office.

What happens is the formatting for importing some of the columns from a date field worked fine. Re-opening looked fine in Star Office. But when re-opening in Excel, the date field had been converted to some other type of field which didn't display in Excel.

My personal business has used Star Office / Open Office for years. But I could not recommend it for the multi-millon dollar company I work for.

Use the source, Luke? (4, Interesting)

marimbaman (194066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058879)

I imagine it can't be too difficult to build your own distro of OOo that saves in MS Office format by default.

Re:Use the source, Luke? (1)

cshark (673578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058953)

Or why not go with any one of the several others that are already out there? I've heard good things about Neo office.

Re:Use the source, Luke? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059130)

Man, your house must be a wreck.

Because you swat flies with a sledge hammer.

Re:Use the source, Luke? (1)

Vacendak (717163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059336)

OpenOffice.org 2.0 tools/options/load/save/microsoftoffice select all to save in M$ office format by default.

Re:Use the source, Luke? (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059444)

I've spent the last couple of days getting modded down for vaguely defending Microsoft against the dopier sort of Open Source zealots, so maybe that gives me some credibility to say -- he's absolutely right.

This is where the benefit of having the source code comes in. Not so you can jabber about how you need to look through a hundred megs of source to make sure there are no bugs, but so you can change a line or two of code (at least, I assume so) instead of implementing one of the hairball schemes people are propsing to work around the default behavior.

Re:Use the source, Luke? (1)

dcapel (913969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059306)

Heh, theres an option to set default in the it. Recompile is overkill :)

Use a macro (5, Informative)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058889)

Make an OpenOffice.org BASIC macro that sets the configuration settings [openoffice.org] . Put the macro in an empty document, and make it autoopen that document on startup only once (also code the document so it closes automatically once it's done).

Re:Use a macro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058949)

Are you guys fucking stupid? The parent is NOT a troll!

TermServer/Citrix/XWindows/whatever (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058890)

Since you're going to make a fairly large paradigm shift anyway, why not go all the way and centrally host it? Running it over your favorite remote protocol might work fine, it wont bloat or slow down the clients, you can insta-upgrade people to new versions, and the roaming profile requirement evaporates.
If people save to some network share, and their PCs can access that, then there's no problem. Map some printers back to local clients (depends on how you do the remote session, might be LPD, share, or LPT redirect), and people might not ever know they're NOT on the local machine.

paradigm shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059071)

Since you're going to make a fairly large paradigm shift anyway..

Ugh...

in other news.... (5, Interesting)

mulcher (241014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058909)

For $65k you should be able to bargain with MSFT somehow. Academia does it by department which should be far less than what you pay... and it is department negoiated, not University wide. In other news, expect a slashdot article in a month stating that "I got fired for installing OO 2.0 on our corp. network".

MS Office doesn't even work with highly complex objects and docs... even between versions or across different computers.

Re:in other news.... (1)

buck_wild (447801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059138)

Another good idea: Negotiate. Except that with the Open Office solution he would pay esentially nothing. Academia also gets discounts for being just that. A small business would likely just get laughed at, or MS would simply bury the costs elsewhere.

Re:in other news.... (1)

jargoone (166102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059380)

Except that with the Open Office solution he would pay esentially nothing.

So, staff time is essentially free? If you think so, you can get a management position at my employer no problem.

Remote Folders (4, Informative)

Doc Squidly (720087) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058910)

Via group policy you can redirect the users' application data folder to a drive on a file server. Assuming Open Office saves the user configuration in the %user name%\Application Data folder, it should work.

Of course, if you don't already have enough space on your servers; you've got another fight on your hands.

Good luck!

Open Office (5, Informative)

scarolan (644274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058911)

We are a much smaller company - at only $8m a year in sales, but here's how we do it:

12-15 users all log into a central server running Fedora Core 3 using thin clients. We currently use the excellent LTSP (www.ltsp.org) packages to accomplish this. Through experience we have found that a Pentium 4 server with about 2 gigs of RAM can comfortably handle up to 15 users or so, more than that and the load gets a bit too heavy. The programs that eat up the most memory and CPU cycles are Firefox, Evolution, Open Office, and Adobe Acrobat. We do allow streaming radio with xmms, because it doesn't eat up too much bandwidth or memory, and our users like it. The desktop clients themselves are old Pentium II boxes with 64mb of ram, no hard drives, and no cd-roms.

All our sales reps use OpenOffice every day to type up their quotes, fax cover sheets, etc. My secretary uses OpenOffice Calc to do spreadsheet work for our government contracts. It's easy to set all your clients to default to MS file formats - go into the File > Save settings and set them to always use .xls or .doc for your files.

You don't need to use thin clients, however, to use Open Office. We just went the thin client route because it was inexpensive and easy to do with existing hardware. We are planning to upgrade soon so that each user has their own desktop machine running local apps, but still mounting the home directories on the server.

I suppose if it can be done with 15 computers running linux, you could also do it with your Windows boxes. Just make sure they all have the same OO settings, and that they are all set to save in the proper file formats before your users even get a chance to work with it. OO works almost like MS Office - but be prepared for lots of complaining from users who will say "But Microsoft Office didn't work this way" . . .

My OO.o tips (3, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058912)

I'm far from an expert, but I've been using OO.o for over two years now.

My first tip is at home or for basic users, you can go into
Tools
Options
Java
Disable the Java, and your startup time is almost certainly going to improve.
[Another Slashdotter showed me this trick, and it apparently disables macros or something I don't use much if ever.]

I install OO.o on a computer, and log into the profile that will run it, hit enter a few times to accept the agreement, and say I've already registered then proceed. This loads the quickstarter into the Startup, and if MS Antispyware is running it might even ask if you want it to run every time.

Since I image computers and roll out a standard image when a machine needs redoing, I don't worry about standard config settings yet. Most machines I put it on don't have Word, so I set OO to automatically open Word files, when I install it.

Re:My OO.o tips (1)

DirkBalognapantz (609779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059152)

At our office, we roll out a ghost image to the whole firm. When we build the image, we create a local administrator account named BUILD to install and configure all of the applications. After everything is seasoned to taste, we log back in as the regular Administrator account, and copy the BUILD profile over the Default Users profile (grant the everyone group access to it in the process).

Sysprep, then start rolling out the image. As each new user logs in, their new profile is based off the pre-configured Default Users profile.

I am unsure how well OOo would work doing things this way, but it would be interesting to see.

Be careful about compatibility (5, Insightful)

mferrare (65039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058950)

I used to run my own consultancy and I used OpenOffice (well StarOffice back then) as my office suite. I found it more useful to send documents around in PDF format instead of sending word documents to my clients. Most of my clients could read PDF back then (this was '99/2000) - even more should be able to now.


Be careful about compatibility. The MS Office compatibility in OpenOffice is not all it's cracked up to be - even things like bullets and headings change fonts and spacings during conversions. IMHO it's better for you to work in native formats and send PDF files around.

This is word processing, not desktop publishing (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059112)

The MS Office compatibility in OpenOffice is not all it's cracked up to be - even things like bullets and headings change fonts and spacings during conversions.
This kind of thing doesn't sound all that severe. I would expect programs like Word and OpenOffice.org Writer to support things like default serif and sans-serif fonts. For example, at least in the old days, Mac users typically didn't have Times New Roman and Arial; those documents, when opened on the Mac, would render in Times and Helvetica.

The larger issue here is that a word processor really shouldn't be expected to be a page layout program. If you have a document that you want to "publish" with fancy layouts and everything, then yes, by all means render it out as PDF. If you have a living document that you want people to collaborate on, do it in Word, but you shouldn't expect the final product to be the equivalent of a Quark layout. And -- hey, marketing people, I'm talking to you -- if all you have is a press release with some text in it, don't bother to send it as an attachment; just cut and paste it into an e-mail as text, already!

Which brings me to my question: Does OpenOffice.org Writer support the equivalent of Word's "Normal" layout? Every time I open a document in Writer it shows it to me in a page view, with borders around the "paper" and everything. I don't want that. I want what word processors like WordPerfect used to do in the Good Ole Days, which was give me an area in which to edit a document. A few type styles and bullet points here and there are fine, but all that fancy formatting stuff should come later, using programs that were designed for it. (And the fact that all the screenshots I've seen of Office 12 are also using the Print view is starting to make me nervous...)

Re:This is word processing, not desktop publishing (2, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059269)

You just want to change the view to "Web Layout." You can do that either by checking it, or by unchecking "Print View."

Re:Be careful about compatibility (4, Informative)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059115)

The MS Office compatibility in OpenOffice is not all it's cracked up to be - even things like bullets and headings change fonts and spacings during conversions.

And truth be told, MS Office compatibility in MS Office is not all it's cracked up to be. Opening MS Office 97/2000/2002 documents in a different version of MS Office can yield in wildly different results.

Opening an Office 2000 document in Office 2000 can also result in different results, as I noticed yet again with my resume. The bullets are NOT as I left them last week.

And here I am editing a document in Word 2003. I have a bulleted list, and I hit return. MS Word creates a new line with a bullet-- great! But it also automatically changed the font, itallics and spacing for the rest of the bulleted text in the list-- WRONG! This bug has existed since Office 1997--- I hate it!

Roaming Profiles aren't a good solution... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058958)

They only solve this problem for EVERY app on your network.

You're basically asking for the features of Roaming Profiles without having to actually implement them.

Re:Roaming Profiles aren't a good solution... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059019)

iirc they are also pretty damn expensive in terms of network load and login times though...

Re:Roaming Profiles aren't a good solution... (1)

Bluey (27101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059120)

Only if you keep large amounts of data in the profile itself and even then, usually only during your first login to a particular computer. If you can keep your users from storing all their mp3s and porn in the profile by redirecting their Desktop to their remote home directory, Roaming Profiles work very well, in my experience.

hire a programmer? (0, Troll)

germanStefan (766513) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058964)

Why not hire a capable programmer for half of what buying office would have cost, and have him make changes which are useful for your company. Chances are that what one company needs, others will as well. Therefore you save money, 1/2 this time around, and get to customize it any way you see fit for your users, and if its something others like, then the changes can be pushed upstream and incorporated. I'm sure many companies would love a quiet auto installer which could be deployed via batch script without user clicking yes/no/next/I agree and with default output settings set to .doc.

I don't think.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14058969)

..that any of the 3 people who have done this in a medium size company are going to be giving away any of their secrets here.

Bite the bullet (2, Insightful)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058975)

Consider biting the bullet and spending the money. $65k, depending on where you're located, could be much cheaper then the amount of money you'll have to spend on supporting Open Office. Microsoft Sharepoint allows people to easily move between computers, yet still have access to documents in a central repository.

Re:Bite the bullet (1)

lancelet (898272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059038)

Hold on, the question said:

Getting our versions of Office to 2003 is $65k+

So, you're recommending $65k+ the cost of Windows Server 2003?

Re:Bite the bullet (1)

bach37 (602070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059101)

Consider biting the bullet and spending the money. $65k, depending on where you're located, could be much cheaper then the amount of money you'll have to spend on supporting Open Office.

OO.o support costs? Heck, I'll offer OO.o support myself for just $50,000! Limited time deal, contact me today only!

Store the OO config file on a network drive (1)

rhoppenrath (807743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14058980)

Elementary, Watson. Once a user logs on, a logon script mounts his own personal "network drive" from a central file server. Just configure OpenOffice so that OpenOffice will read (and write) the OO configuration from that personal "network drive". Yes, a user could still mess up his configuration, but that would only affect himself, not others.

global settings (1)

LinuxRulz (678500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059022)

The problem is, since OOo keeps track of changes per user

So you want all users on a machine to have the same config for OO.o? Why not put the config files in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users ? Once the settings are ok, you put them there and everyone has the same config, with the default save format to .doc if you want.

Re:global settings (1)

caller9 (764851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059171)

I think you meant: tweak the settings that aren't easily tweaked via GP using an administrative login. Then logoff and replace the Default User profile. That way further personalization is possible after intial login to the "correct" defaults.

However, I think the other guy nailed an easier solution when he said to redirect the settings to a home drive network share so they're pulled in per user and transportable. Your problems arise when they mess up the settings and you have to delete them and start over. They will always mess up the settings.

I don't know how, but they will always find an option 30 tabs deep into the advanced settings. This option will invariably be wierd as hell. The stories I could tell...

I don't understand (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059055)

"and we have users that move around (and no, Roaming Profiles are not an option for us)"

Without roaming profiles, how would this be any different in MS Office land?

Re:I don't understand (1)

Sneeper (182316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059143)

The difference is that Office already writes .doc files by default so they don't have to go around reconfiguring each user's account. The thing he's trying to avoid (unless I misread it) is configuring each OpenOffice to create .doc files by default.

Re:I don't understand (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059274)

Ah! That makes some sense, then.

Scripting should do it. Failing that, beat the users until they learn to make one extra mouse click for every new document they create. That's what we did, and it seems to be working. The best part is the side effects--more people are using XML files instead of stupid .doc files all the time.

Re:I don't understand (1)

shibashaba (683026) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059308)

Open office already asks people what default format people want to use when it starts up, if thats all it is that people can't handle where he works then they'll probably have more problems down the line...

try a USB drive (1)

beta-guy (715984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059066)

you can use http://johnhaller.com/jh/useful_stuff/portable_ope noffice/ [johnhaller.com] to implement the portablity, and the price of USB drives are fairly cheap, at a cost of $90 for 1 GB not bad...

Portable OOo! (3, Interesting)

thecampbeln (457432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059201)

This is exactly what I was going to suggest (but some dumb ass modders downgraded both threads that mention it!?) Just in case the parent falls off, here is the URL [johnhaller.com] .

Despite what the parent says, you DO NOT NEED TO PUT THIS ON A THUMBDRIVE! All it really equates to is a fully preconfigured and compartimentalized "install" of OOo. Need to update it? No worries, roll out a new version (or a diff) of the changed files. Everything is housed under the one directory.

I use the portable version of FireFox and Thunderbird for myself and the inlaws because you can always guarentee that you've got all of the config files and user data (bookmarks and emails in their cases) under the one folder, so backups and updates are 100x easier (least for me). YMMV, but it's worht a look!!

portable openoffice (1)

oscartheduck (866357) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059085)

I use portable open office; buy everyone a USB pen (which will be a fractional cost compared to 65K), download once, install on each pen.

http://johnhaller.com/jh/useful_stuff/portable_ope noffice/ [johnhaller.com]

Only drawback I see is that you're trusting the users to not lose these pens.

Stay put (0, Redundant)

external400kdiskette (930221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059134)

It would appear you don't need the latest version of MS Office since your considering moving to OO in which case based on what your saying it would seem better to stay put with what you have now.

You mention "we absolutely must retain the Microsoft Office 97/2000/2002 file formats (for interoperability with the public and other entities). ".

Do you really want the possibility of the "public and other entities" getting stuff that isn't going to render perfectly? It could have a terrible affect on your business image.

Another alternative for roaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059162)

I use a variety of computers, not all connected to the same network. I carry my world around with me on my usb memory stick. Actually, mine is a memory stick/mp3 player. Given the size these things are getting to be, you could probably install OO right on the stick, then you'd never be without your preferences. (only half kidding.)

Better Idea. (2, Interesting)

unixbugs (654234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059192)

Why don't you spend 35K on someone to implement all the OOo you can stand.

Re:Better Idea. (1)

ninja_assault_kitten (883141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059233)

And another $1,000,000 on support.

ABIWORD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059198)

OO can be confusing to some users. Try working with ABI word before opting for OO. Similar enough interface.

Acompw

Best Tool for the Job (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059204)

Lets face it, Open Office is an ameturish product, one which will fall apart as soon as Sun is squashed by IBM. Why are you pushing to put in place? Yes, the short term licensing costs are smaller, but in the long term, you will suffer massive compatibility problems with Microsoft Office users, as well as all kinds of naggling technical issues (which I'm sure your FOSS-loving super expensive Unix consultants and employees will love to draw out).

Honestly look at the options available, and then choose what to do. I very much doubt Open Office make sense.

Default File Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059243)

To save default file format in OO.o:

"Tools" Menu / "Options" / "Load/Save" Option / "Always save as:" dropdown

Pay the 65k.. (1)

killtheOSSnazis (861780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059250)

And continue useing the software that already meets your needs. OO is not a corporate replacement for MS Office. sorry.

Have you checked with your Finance department? (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059281)

Especially the really heavy users of Excel? The ones who build "models"? Don't tell them, but all that "macro" stuff they build? It's essentially a furball of VB. Furball? Yes, because it's been written by somebody who doesn't know how to program. They just keep whacking at it until it works.

And guess what? It doesn't work in OpenOffice.

can someone explain what he means by track changes (1)

PortWineBoy (587071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059299)

I'm a MS guy so when I think of track changes by users I think redlining/blacklining.

Is this something like a config file that keeps track of toolbar/font/etc. customization and such? Is OP saying he wants to keep these configs for every user but not use roaming profiles or network shares? If you have your laptop #1 in the field and user Bob logs in and changes default font to Helvetica, you want Bob to have that set as default when he uses laptop #2 on a different day? If not, as another suggested, store the user configs in all users profile. Otherwise maybe use folder replication on user profiles when they login to the domain?

We switched at our office. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059332)

We're less than a dozen people though, so I can't comment on large-scale deployments. Still, we haven't had too much trouble passing documents around to people outside our company, since OOo has native PDF support (unlike Microsoft Office). We use the OpenDocument format internally, and it works just fine for us. Frankly, I just don't think Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org are that different, unless you're going to be doing a lot of macro programming.

Perils and Pitfalls (2, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059385)

I'm probably crazy but, I'm thinking it's kind of a "convince me" kind of post rather than a "solve my problem."

Unless someone WAY at the top of the organization drives this, advocating the move is more likely to make you look bad. The first hiccup and the brown-stuff rolls downhill to your door. Present the facts and be done.

If $65K really is an intollerably large chunk of change, then I don't really understand why there's even a question.

Since... (1)

Marthisdil (606679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059413)

...he has to retain high compatability with office, sending out documents in PDF format is useless. It would seem that the people he is sending stuff to needs to view, edit, change, and resend back whatever it is he is sending them. PDF is great if you wanna see it and print it...bout it.

As such, may as well either stay with what you have, or pay the money and upgrade to Office 2k3. Or you can wait til Office 12 comes out - it's pretty nice.

Non-profit likes it (1)

h4ckintosh (842712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14059446)

I work at a local medium-sized fire department in my area doing tech work at their station as a hobby and OOo is greatly loved by them (99% are non-techy per se) seeing that their board would be shelling since they wanted an Office 2003 upgrade for all 10 PC's in station and we just don't have that type of budget, even when discounted, for software.

Why not StarOffice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14059493)

I would think if you went with StarOffice and paid some support fees you could probably get Sun to figure it all out and implement it for way less than the M$ alternative. My company has been using OpenOffice/StarOffice for years and we have nary a problem. Basically the only noticeable difference is the Macro language. Like others have said, with a click of a button you can export to PDF and all formatting compatibility issues disappear.
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