Using Gnome Office

GNOME Office (shown in Figure 7.3) is the Borg of office suites—it assimilates other projects into its collective, turning each component into just one part of a greater whole. Most GNOME Office projects began life independently, and some still maintain independent web pages. In fact, according to the official GNOME Office website

(http://www.gnome.org/gnome-office/), OpenOffice.org is becoming part of GNOME Office. For the moment, though, I think of OpenOffice.org as a separate project.

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Figure 7.3: GNOME Office is built from independent components—note the different icons in the icon bars of each application.

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Figure 7.3: GNOME Office is built from independent components—note the different icons in the icon bars of each application.

Whereas KOffice is built with KDE in mind, GNOME Office is designed around GNOME. Like KOffice, you can use GNOME Office or its components even in other environments—KDE, XFce, or anything else. Unlike KOffice, GNOME Office components are installable separately. This fact is very fortunate, because the sheer number of GNOME Office components is huge. Some of the more important of these include:

AbiWord AbiWord is the least sophisticated of the major Linux word processors, but it's still good enough to be used daily on many systems, and it's improving rapidly. This program was originally developed as a cross-platform tool, and you can obtain versions for Windows, Mac OS X (with an X server), and others.

Gnumeric This program is a powerful spreadsheet program; the developers claim to have implemented 95 percent of Microsoft Excel's functions. Although Gnumeric isn't a clone of Excel, users of Microsoft's spreadsheet shouldn't have trouble adapting to Gnumeric.

GNU Cash This program is the only major Linux entry in a field that's very important to home users and small businesses: personal financial management. GNU Cash is roughly equivalent to Microsoft Money or Quicken, but it uses a somewhat different model. Specifically, it uses the double-entry accounting instead of the single-entry approach used by most personal financial packages.

Agnubis This program is GNOME Office's presentation manager. It's a very new program and, therefore, it isn't very mature as I write these words.

GFax GFax is an unusual office component, but it is an important one for many businesses—it helps manage faxes. Specifically, GFax provides a uniform GUI interface for sending faxes from applications that can print. You can use GFax even from programs that aren't part of the GNOME Office suite.

The GIMP The GNU Image Manipulation Program is one of the most sophisticated programs in the GNOME Office suite. It's a powerful bitmap graphics editor that closely approaches Adobe Photoshop in power.

Sketch The GIMP handles bitmap graphics for GNOME Office, and Sketch does the same for vector graphics. Sketch isn't nearly the dominant player in this field that the GIMP is for bitmap graphics, though.

Eye of GNOME This program is a simple graphics file viewer. You might configure your desktop environment to launch this program whenever you double-click on a graphics file.

Evolution This program is the Linux world's answer to Microsoft's Outlook package. Evolution handles e-mail, address book, and scheduling functions.

Galeon This web browser is based on the Gecko engine (used by Mozilla and Netscape, among others), but it is much slimmer than Mozilla or Netscape.

In addition to these major components, GNOME Office claims many others, even including multiple entries in specific categories. For instance, in addition to Evolution, the Balsa mail client is part of GNOME Office. Of these components, the most mature and powerful are the GIMP, Gnumeric, GNU Cash, and Evolution. Other programs are often useable, but they are usually not the leaders in their fields. Of course, you might not want the feature leader. For instance, if you just want a basic mail reader, Evolution is overkill.

GNOME Office's scope is such that many of its components have no counterparts in other office suites, but this fact isn't terribly important. For instance, KDE's Konqueror web browser is similar to Galeon in many ways. Konqueror isn't officially part of KOffice, but it is part of KDE. Whether the web browser is part of the desktop environment or office suite is unimportant to most users.

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