Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Office Applications


Unlike word processors and spreadsheets, presentation software doesn't have a single industry leader to compare to. While Microsoft Office PowerPoint probably has the largest install base, Apple's Keynote is far ahead in terms of features and quality. Unfortunately, as with the rest of Apple's iWork suite, Keynote only runs in OS X on Apple hardware. Therefore, we will not be using it as a comparison product.

And, as with spreadsheets and word processors, presentation apps were tested using a .ppt test file that I found online. Note that I did open up this category to include apps that do not support .ppt files. As a result of mobile devices and the advent of bootable flash drives, those giving presentations shouldn't worry too much about compatibility with any proprietary format. For that reason, backward compatibility was not considered mandatory.

OO.o Impress (v.3.0.1)

Among the presentation apps for Linux, OO.o Impress is the most closely related to PowerPoint. It imported the test .ppt file flawlessly with transitions, objects, and all. Impress also tailors your presentation to overhead projector transparencies, traditional slides, screens, and even paper, furthering its usefulness, independent of medium.

If you don't already have PowerPoint, save yourself some cash by using Impress instead. But jump back to reality here. Being on par with PowerPoint is really just a tie for second place. Any shop serious about presentations no doubt has an Apple lying around for running KeyNote. Bottom line: Impress is really the only viable presentation software for Linux, if coming from PowerPoint.

SoftMaker Presentations (2008 Trial Edition)

SoftMaker Presentations opened the test .ppt file, but it confused numbered lists with bulleted lists. This is by far the most lacking app in SoftMaker's Office suite, both in terms of compatibility and feature set.

SoftMaker Presentations has a paltry number of options compared to PowerPoint or Impress. However, it is much more user-friendly than the other apps listed here. You can add text, tables, or pictures into any box other than title boxes simply by clicking the corresponding icons within the blank object boxes. I can see how somebody who doesn't need complicated slides or hasn't used PowerPoint in many years would get by just fine with this app.

KPresenter (v.1.6.3)

KPresenter is the only presentation application that does not open MS PowerPoint files. While that's not a deal-breaker, its lack of template variety is. This app is not user-friendly, and if you've spend time in PowerPoint, you will not feel at ease with KPresenter. The layout, functions, and steps needed to create a new presentation in this app seem alien in almost every way.

Compounding its user-unfriendliness is the document structure sidebar, which breaks slides into their various components (text, tables, pictures). While this could come in handy for large documents, as it does in KWord, it seems totally unnecessary for single slides.

One positive that I noticed was the crispness of text and objects when played in full-screen slideshow mode. Unless you're planning on running KDE and using the rest of KOffice, pass on KPresenter, especially if you're used to PowerPoint.

  • ksa-_-jed
    And don't bother looking for any anti-virus becuase you don't need it or cracks for your software becuase almost all app are free !!!!!!!
  • DjEaZy
    ... for my laptop @ work the only licensed thing are win7hp and KAV... all other apps are free... infrerecorder, inkskape, OOo and so on...
  • bloody llama
    Open Office and the other open source software are great for what they are, but try replacing Access 2007 or 2010 with something open source, and you'll be tearing your hair out.
  • jsowoc
    I assume that OO 3.0.1 is what you have in the repositories - was that the reason for testing the older version (version 3.2 came out two months ago)?
  • JonathanDeane
    bloody llamaOpen Office and the other open source software are great for what they are, but try replacing Access 2007 or 2010 with something open source, and you'll be tearing your hair out.
    This is very true, I love Open Office and for my home use it does 100% of what I would use MS Office for, that being said if I had to run a business on it I am afraid it would be worth it to pony up the dough for an MS product.
  • ejmarkow
    Tom's Hardware omitted the best performing, most comprehensive, free and Open Source Accounting ERP software available for download. It's called "xTuple ERP PostBooks Edition" and utilizes PostgreSQL. This software is capable of running anything from a small to large business. Link:
  • killerclick
    We installed Linux and OOo into one of our offices (sort of an experiment to cut costs) and it was a riot. Not that Linux and OOo are bad, it's just that the power of habit is too strong to break when Windows and Linux are concerned. Windows and OS/X... not so much apparently.
  • Open Source is the future. ...... companies that profit millions or billions off of proprietary software. They are what hold us back.
  • randomizer
    killerclickWindows and OS/X... not so much apparently.Well it's not like Office on Windows and Mac are vastly different, I'd hope that users would feel comfortable using the exact same software...

    I must attest to the uselessness of OOo Calc though. It needs a ground-up rewrite. It's slow to load and process even a small to moderately sized amount of data and charts are slow to redraw when altered. I have not tested GNUMeric enough to comment on that but it's supposedly alot faster.

    I'm interested in looking at those project management programs. There's also OpenProj to add to the list.
  • haplo602
    hmm ... not my area of software, I try to avoid office apps as much as I can, but last time I worked in Writer/Calc it was slow and unresponsive. The best thing in Writer was the TeX like equation editor, way better than what MS had to offer. I think they made some progress on OOo since that time, so I'd have to test.