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Why is OpenOffice.org not 100% compatible with Microsoft Office? Well, Microsoft is notoriously secretive about its proprietary file formats, and the only way that OpenOffice.org could ensure compatibility would be to reverse engineer each file format, akin to taking apart a telephone to see how it works. This reverse engineering could be classed as illegal under U.S. law, which would make OpenOffice.org somewhat of a potential hot potato if they chose this path. However, OpenOffice.org manages to maintain a high standard of importing and exporting, so you should not experience too many problems.

A productivity suite could be classed as containing two or more applications that could be used for creating documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and databases. Other applications could include email clients, calculators/formula editors, and even illustration packages. Commonly they are all tied together by a default look and feel, which makes sticking to one particular suite much easier. In this chapter, we look at OpenOffice.org, which is the primary office suite shipped with Ubuntu. You will learn about the different components of OpenOffice.org and learn how to do some basic tasks in Writer and Calc (the word processor and spreadsheet applications). You will also discover some of the alternatives to OpenOffice.org available through Ubuntu's software library. Finally, we take a look at desperate measures when you just have to run Microsoft Office under Ubuntu.

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