The OpenOffice.org office suite is based on a commercial suite called StarOffice. Originally developed by a German company, StarOffice was purchased by Sun Microsystems in the United States. One of the biggest complaints about the old StarOffice was that all the component applications were integrated under a StarOffice "desktop" that looked very much like a Microsoft Windows desktop, including a Start button and menus. This meant that to edit a simple document, unneeded applications had to be loaded, making the office suite slow to load, slow to run, and quite demanding on system resources.
After the purchase of StarOffice, Sun Microsystems released a large part of the StarOffice code under the GPL, and development began on what has become OpenOffice.org, which is freely available under the GPL. Sun continued development on StarOffice and released a commercial version as StarOffice 6.0. The significant differences between the free and commercial versions of the software are that StarOffice provides more fonts and even more import/export file filters than OpenOffice.org (these filters cannot be provided in the GPL version because of licensing restrictions) and StarOffice provides its own relational database, Software AG's Adabas D database. The StarOffice counterpart to OpenOffice.org 2.0 is StarOffice 8.
Sun is still actively developing OpenOffice.org and continues to use it as the foundation of future releases of StarOffice.
Ubuntu provides OpenOffice.org as standard, and its components can be found under the Applications, Office menu. The installation of OpenOffice.org is done on a systemwide basis, meaning that all users have access to it. However, each user has to go into OpenOffice.org to configure it for individual needs. This initial configuration happens transparently the first time you load any of the OpenOffice.org components, and might mean the application takes a little longer to load as a result. Be patient, and your desired application will appear.
OpenOffice.org is constantly improving its productivity applications. You can check the OpenOffice.org website (http://www.openoffice.org/) for the latest version. The website provides a link to download the source or a precompiled version of the most current working installation files. A more current version might offer the file format support that you need. Should you need a Windows compatible version, you will also find it at the website.
Figure 9.1 shows icons in the Office menu that represent the different components of OpenOffice.org as well as other applications. The icons themselves may vary from distribution to distribution, so if you have used Fedora or openSUSE, you may see different icons for the same applications.
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