WordProcessors For Linux



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 very easy.

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 processor.

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 :

  • Corel Word Perfect 8.0
  • Applixware
all of which can be found at linuxapps.com which has the most extensive list of software packages I have seen.
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 linux.corel.com
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.
  • Frame support
  • Headers and footers
  • Create index/glossary
  • 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

    Availability: $100
    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 processor:

    • 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.

      Star Office

      Star division

      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.


      Availability: Free

      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 Sunsite

      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 type1inst


      Availability: FREE
      WebPage: www.abisource.com
      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.


      Availability: FREE
      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.


      Availability: FREE
      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
      Availability: FREE

      This appears unmaintained. Thot is somewhat similar to lyx in design philosophy. However, it appears more or less dead.

      Andrew Office Suite

      Andrew Consortium
      Availability: FREE

      Appears unmaintained. Included on this list mostly for the sake of completeness.


      URL: Hungry programmers Homepage
      Availability: FREE

      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.