One of the primary concerns for new Linux users is what kind of access they will have to their Microsoft Office files, particularly Word files. The Linux operating system and many applications for it are designed to provide seamless access to MS Office files. The major Linux Office suites, including KOffice, OpenOffice, and StarOffice, all read and manage any Microsoft Office files. In addition, these office suites are fast approaching the same level of features and support for office tasks as found in Microsoft Office.
If you want to use any Windows application on Linux, three important alternatives are the Wine virtual windows API support, VMware virtual platform technology, and the CrossOver Office by CodeWeavers. VMware and CrossOver are commercial packages. Wine allows you to run many Windows applications directly, using a supporting virtual windows API. See the Wine Web site for a list of supported applications, www.winehq.com.
CrossOver Office also lets you install and run most Microsoft Office applications. CrossOver Office was developed by CodeWeavers, which also supports Windows Web browser plug-ins as well as several popular Windows applications like Adobe Photoshop. CrossOver features both standard and professional versions, providing reliable application support. You can find out more about CrossOver Office at www.codeweavers.com.
CrossOver can be installed either for private multiuser mode or managed multiuser mode. In private multiuser mode, each user installs his or her own Windows software, such as full versions of Office. In managed multiuser mode, the Windows software is installed once and all users share it. When you install new software, you first open the CrossOver startup tool, and then on the Add/Remove panel you will see a list of supported software. This will include Office applications as well as some Adobe applications, including earlier versions of Photoshop. An Install Software panel will then let you select whether to install from a CD-ROM or an .exe file. For Office on a CD-ROM, select CD-ROM, place the Windows CD-ROM in your CD-ROM drive, and then click Next. The Windows Office installer will start up in a Linux window and will proceed as if you were on a Windows system. When the install requires a restart of the system, CrossOver will simulate it for you. Once the software is installed, you will see a Windows Applications menu on the main menu, from which you can start your installed Windows software. The applications will run within a Linux window, just as if they were running in Windows.
You can also try CrossOver for unsupported applications. They may or may not run.
With VMware, you can run Windows under Linux, allowing you to run Windows applications, including Microsoft Office, on your Linux system. For more information, check the VMware Web site at www.vmware.com.
NOTE Though Linux allows users to directly mount and access any of the old DOS or FAT32 partitions used for Windows 95, 98, and ME, it can mount NTFS partitions (Windows XP, 2000, and NT) reliably as read only, with possible write support. There are two drivers for mounting NTFS, ntfs-3g and the original NTFS project support. The ntfs-3g driver supports writing NTFS partitions and is included on the Fedora repository. The orginal NTFS project driver is read only and can be downloaded from the Livna repository. (see Chapter 4).
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