Allow me to plug a really cool program that I’ve been using for several years: Abiword. It’s a very slick, very fast, free open-source word processor.
If you’re looking for something smaller or faster than Word or OpenOffice, I recommend it. I’ve been using it as my primary word processor for a long time and have no real complaints; I only switch over to Word or OO if I need to do something particularly elaborate. For everyday document writing, Abiword does everything I need it to do.
There are a lot of open-source programs out there that make my computing life easier, actually; I should plug more of ’em. Ah well, I’ll start with Abiword. Go give it a look!

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4 thoughts on “Abiword

  1. topher

    I use abiword for reading word docs ALL the time. I don’t really use it for writing stuff for several reasons. One is that in general, I don’t process words. I don’t make documents. Pretty much ever.
    On the very unusual occasion that I do, I don’t print them. I send them to other people digitally, to view and edit. THEY tend to use MS Office, and abiword files generally look lousy in Word.
    I suspect that for someone who makes documents with the intention of printing them, abiword would be fabulous. But for sharing with people who use something other than abiword, it’s a pain.
    Yet let me mention that I *LOVE* abiword for word doc viewing. It’s never exactly perfect, but it’s usually good enough for me to read the text that people don’t know how to type into their email client. And WOW is it fast. It usually starts up in less than 1 second for me. Open Office usually takes 10.

  2. KDC

    I agree with topher on the usefulness of AW. Usually I am _not_ printing things out (or if I am, I am using LaTeX), so there you have it.
    Although my work-supplied computer comes only with MS Office, and I don’t want to have to install XWindows for Mac and then download the GIMP and OO etc… or maybe I should.

  3. jtr

    I have long been an OpenOffice.org user but it is currently broken in Debian. Well, broken may not be the right word. It takes about 1m15s to start. (This is new; it used to take about 20s.) As a result of this, I have begun using AbiWord and I must say it is a great piece of software. It is quite fast and the interface is clean and simple. I may be a convert. (I will wait for OpenOffice.org 2.0 to decide…)
    Topher, if you need to view the *content* of Word docs without concern for the fancy-schmancy formatting and/or images, check out “catdoc.” It is a commandline utility that cats the ASCII text to stdout.

  4. jrau

    Glad to hear from other Abiword users. (In fact, Topher, it’s possible that you were the one to first introduce me to Abiword 4-5 years ago… it’s come a long ways since then!)
    I would tend to agree that if you’re reading and writing a lot of Word docs–and those documents have to be in Word format–Abiword isn’t as good an option. But for everyday word processing, it works great. Fast, simple, not packed with a lot of extra features that I’ll never use.

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