This page includes reviews of almost every available piece of free-ware word
processing software for linux. The freeware available is good enough for most
users. Until recently, the free packages suffered from the problem of very
limited font selection. Nowadays, people have been able to install fonts into
Star Office, and since Maxwell has been available, installing fonts for that is
An Overview: Editor's Picks
The Free Stuff
For users who are looking for applications similar to what they are
familiar with in windows, Star Office, word perfect (with some added fonts ) or a commercial
package are the best bets. Note that while word perfect has a free
version, the commercial version has some worthwhile features
(including more fonts )
Keep an eye out for kword. It is a
promising word processor under developement, and is a component of the
koffice project. It is very alpha at the
moment, but looks promising.
Ditto for an up and coming project, abi-word.
Abi-word and kword are probably the future as far as free word
processorson linux are concerned.
For users who print a lot of technical documents,
LyX and kLyX, which output LaTeX , stand head and shoulders above any word
The Commercial Stuff
Some users might want something which includes more functionality out of the
box. It is suggested that these people go after Applixware or Word Perfect.
Word Perfect is a better Word Processor than Applix but Applix's advantage is
that it's a complete office suite, and Word Perfect is just a stand alone Word
Processor. note that Corel will be porting Word Perfect 8 to linux.
In commercialware, there are a number of packages available,
but the most popular ( ie the only ones widely used ) are :
all of which can be found at
has the most extensive list of software packages I have seen.
- Corel Word Perfect 8.0
I'd suggest that the best startegy for finding a commercial package is to
actually try some of them out for yourself, since several have trial versions,
and decide which ones you like. Or just get a free one.
Corel Word Perfect 8
Availability: free. commercial version available
I tested out the evaluation version of this package and was very impressed. It includes all the features you would expect to see in a word processor. It was faster than any of the other word processors that I tested, and doesn't seem as resource greedy. It definitely has the highest power/resource use quotient.
A brief and incomplete feature list:
Import/export to a number of formats including Word for mac/windows,
word perfect (duh!), MsWord , RTF, HTML, plain text, post-script
(export only, of course)
Support for Tables
User definable character styles (styles are the FOUNDATION of serious document editing!).
User definable Paragraph Styles.
Lots and Lots of different fonts (each font available in bold/italic/underline/strike-through
and several colours) I'd say the number one question to check
with Xwindows software is "are the fonts any good?" because in a number of
them, the range is limited.
Background patterns / borders available.
Headers and footers
Proofing features (dictionary)
It also comes with an enormous collection of fonts (commercial version
only), which helps to give it an edge over its competitors. As a stand alone word processor, I liked this product much more than Applix or Star Office. It contains every feature that Word Perfect has. Very nice.
The only drawback in comparison to Applix and Star Office is that the latter two are full integrated office suites, while Wor Perfect is essentially stand-alone word processor.For those who need it, Word Perfect has facilities to import spreadsheets and databases. However, those who are really looking for an integrated office package will probably find Applix or Star Office more to their liking.
Applix Office Suite
Homepage: Applix home
Applixware office suite is a powerful coolection of office tools including
of a word processor, spreadsheet, graphics (drawing) tool, and a mail tool.
The word processor comes with all the features one hopes for in a word
- Import/export to a number of formats including Word for mac/windows,
word perfect, RTF, HTML, plane text, adobe Frame-maker, post-script
(export only, of course)
- Support for Tables
- Support for embedded objects such as images, drawings, spreadsheets, etc.
- User paragraph definable styles
- Allows hypertext.
- 25 different fonts (each font available in bold/italic/underline/strike-through
and several colours)
- Easy import of true type fonts (very extensible font collection)
- Background patterns / borders available.
- Clip art
- Frame support (much like that available in MS word)
- Headers and footers
- Create index/glossary
- Proofing features (dictionary)
- A very well written users manual.
- etc etc etc...
Applixware was the commercial package I chose to invest in because I wanted
a high grade word processor on linux , and as a starving student, couldn't
afford anything else. Applixware is a powerful package.
It incorporates nearly all the features of the other commercial word processors,
and is of sufficient quality to produce publication grade material.
The font selection is moderate, but very sufficient (this does tend to be a
problem in other Xwindows applications...), with a good mix
of headline, typewriter, variable width and decorative fonts. It also supports installation of true type fonts, so you can use all of your windows fonts on it. It essentially
has all of the right features.
The only thing that I didn't like about Applixware is that the application
is bulky (150 MB, 110 MB with a bare-bones installation) and a little slow.
And because of this, the interface feels sluggish and heavy at times.
For some reason, some of the features are a little hard to find, their
menu system felt a little odd. But the documentation is superb (it comes with a detailed user's manual) and any confusion
is easily resolved by a quick glance at the book (unlike the Microsloth
documentation where they spend 10MB explaining the basics and when
you really need some non-obvious information, it's not there...)
But it's undeniably a fairly strong piece of word processing software.
If you like wysiwyg environments and you want a powerful, flexible, commercial
grade word processor, this could be it.
Word Perfect 8
This is probably the pik of the free word processors.
This one is a full featured commercial grade wordprocessor,
and it's FREE! (only the linux version is free... )It appears to be very similar to word in terms of the basic interface. The only thing thats missing is a diverse collection of fonts. While Star Office does take up a lot of disk , and requires a lot in the way of resources (perhaps 32 MB RAM) , it is a very nice office suite, especially given that it's free for non-commercial use.
In conclusion, it's cheap (FREE) and effective, but the resource usage is a problem, especially when handling embedded images or large documents.
Maxwell used to be my pick of the free wordprocessors. However, it
appears to be unmaintained. However, it is sufficiently funciotnal to
serve as a lightweight wordpad replacement. Users looking for
something more full featured however, should probably take a look at
star office or word perfect.
Maxwell is simple and lightweight.
It is very easy to install several fonts on it. It is available at
A hint on installing the
freefonts in Maxwell: first, copy and paste this script into
an executable file:
for X in /usr/share/fonts/freefonts/*
ln -s $X `echo $X|sed -e 's/\///g'`
# end of script
Now CD to the directory you installed maxwell into, then CD to the fonts/Type1
subdirectory (say /usr/maxwell/fonts/Type1) and run the script. This will make
the right symbolic links. To finish the job off, run
Abi word is a promising new project. The code base is currently in
early developement, don't expect binaries just yet.
Abi uses the same gtk widget set used by gnome. This IMO was a very
good decision on the authors part, as gtk and QT are becoming the main
GUI libraries on linux.
This program is a front end to LaTeX. It is great for producing academic documents,
writing school projects, etc, all of those things that require a document nicely
laid out. It uses LaTeX, which is THE standard in math academia, so it is
great for producing documents with a lot of math symbols (MUCH better than
any of those rubbishy equation editors that come with most word processors...
this one is the "REAL THING" ). And, of course, it's free.
This package is my pick for producing technical documents.
KLyX is the KDE version of LyX. Since it is based on the QT Widget set, the
look and feel is a little nicer than LyX. The functionality is the same as
far as I can tell.
URL: Thot home
This appears unmaintained. Thot is somewhat similar to lyx in design
philosophy. However, it appears more or less dead.
Andrew Office Suite
Appears unmaintained. Included on this list mostly for the sake of
URL: Hungry programmers Homepage
This package is still in its testing days, so as yet is not at the
same level of refinement as the other applications. The package died
for a while but is being resurrected as part of GNOME.