Doing (Office) Business in Ubuntu

It’s been some time since I worked on just an Ubuntu box.  For the past few weeks I’ve been working and using solely Ubuntu 12.04.

For me the biggest draw back of Ubuntu was not having MS office. Most All of our customers use MS office and sending them a LibreOffice or open office document will leave them scratching their heads wondering what to do with it! Yes, you can use the free alternatives to create Office document in Ubuntu but they don’t do as good of job (not for me anyway) plus the document you see on your screen won’t be the same document your customer see’s on their screen. Formatting, comments etc. just don’t transition over correctly and it’s a bugbear for me to send something that doesn’t look 100%.  At Cauwill I just couldn’t live without MS Office so I needed to get Office working in Ubuntu. In my past academia life you could easily live without Office – in fact using MS Word for a dissertation/IEEE paper was a very bad sign indeed.

Solving the Microsoft  Office Ubuntu problem

I looked around and tried the good old usual WINE. No luck 🙁 crash after crash got me very frustrated.

I looked at Google docs & MS Office365 but it’s still way too limited (I love creating a slick powerpoint deck + tricky animations to wow the audience… after a talk I often get asked  “What did you use to create your presentation?” )

After a bit of searching around I then found playonlinux and boy does it work!  I now have excel, powerpoint and word all working 100% – not one single crash in the past two weeks. I’ve loaded heavy documents and it seems very stable. I didn’t use the latest version of POL as I found some people were having problems with it so I used version 4.1.1 of POL Google it to find the version, install and then proceed to install Office 2010 using POL. I won’t bore you with the details of how POL works but it actually uses WINE with some voodoo magic. POL provides wrapper shell scripts with a .pol filename extension that specify the configuration of Wine needed in order to install and run a particular application. It choose the correct version and tweaks WINE to work for the application you are installing. Nifty!

Once up and running the biggest problem I then encountered was the lack of association of documents to the Office (Playonlinux) applications. Here’s a solution to that problem: How to associate files with playonlinux . A quick sudo apt-get remove libreoffice*.* and I had office 2010 fully working in Ubuntu 12.04.

For the record  – it’s a Sony Vaio VGN-SR19XN (4yo laptop) with 3Gb of RAM and a 140Gb SSD harddrive.

The biggest drawback for Linux nowadays is the lack of support for media clients like Plex and Netflix – I hope these get fixed soon and if the do I’ll let you know!


Sharing my experience on startup, sport, linux, mobile phones, movies and some other random stuff.

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