Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ubuntu on alcohol doing Office 2007

Up until recently I've found myself drawn to explain people who wanted to do something good with their computers to step into the Ubuntu way (or equivalent free linux distr.). But the caveat would be the same — people would have to let go of the Oh-so-good-and-pleasant-without-whom-I'd-do-nothing-out-of-my-life Office 2007. But last week I took another shot at it. Installed an ubuntu on an 2 year old Asus F3JC laptop, saved the rescue disc to keep the windows XP license, and created a Virtual Machine (tried QEMU, VMWare, and was about to try the Sun approach too). Yes, it runs. Yes, it loads office's apps. But hey, I'm trying to talk someone into leaving XP because Ubuntu 64 would be a better experience... Come on, booting an OS and then booting another OS and go through the hassle of sharing folders between them in order to use the guest OS's apps? That's... devilish unpractical, to say the least!

To work around that, a good friend reminded me of Wine, a (the?) WINdows Emulator for Linux. I remember having read that office 2007 didn't run there, but boy, I was clearly wrong about that! Yes, it's not a click-install-run procedure yet, but It's doable, if you're willing to follow some precise guidelines. The trouble is, there are lots of machine/architecture/emulator version/office version combinations out there, and I found out most guides only work for a specific one. Thus yes, some forum scavenging is required. First, let's give a warm thank you to the Wine team. It has grown so much, now it can run .NET frameworks, DirectX and other recent MS works flawlessly. Then, note that I tried and successfully install, run and use Word, Excell and Powerpoint (Publisher crashes, as well as Access, and I didn't try any other Office app). This was done using Ubuntu 8.10, the 64 bits version. To make your life easier, I'll state that I had troubles following most guidelines with the updated wine version (1.1.12), so I reverted to 1.1.11 (use the archive here). After doing that and starting from a clean (sober!) wine state (do a 'rm -rf ~/.wine' on the console shell), I followed the instructions on two sources (I've found many others, but the procedures are essentially the same, gotta set the required libraries and runtimes right before installing everything), and got everything up and running. Sweet! I can now ditch the 6-10 GB image for a virtual system, and have people run office as fast (faster? or is it just me?) as open office. If that won't make up people's mind, what will? Oh, right. Yes, you can wooble a word window just like any other, and it looks as sleek as you think it would! Eh. (Btw, see here for a handy replacement for your office disks. Claimed to be working, I haven't tested any.)

Share and enjoy. And in a Windows 7 15-minute's of spotlight era (do you really believe it will stay much longer than that?), let's keep our machines light, pretty and productive with the free alternatives.


Anonymous said...

hey man,
thanks for linking me! you know, i have detailed instructions of how to run office 2007 in WINE up on my blog if you're interested.

also, i thought that you should know that WINE actually stands for "WINE Is Not an Emulator" seriously. :P haha.

Anonymous said...