15 October 2008

Lotus Symphony on Ubuntu 8.10

I was almost looking forward to making a big entry about this, full of hacks, neat little tricks, and other goodies that I'd discovered.

I'd go in depth about what console commands I'd used to install Lotus Symphony on Ubuntu, what additional packages I'd have to install, what amazing little tweaks would be necessary to get it to work.

However, they'll be none of that today.  IBM has released Lotus Symphony as a .deb file, and like many developers and companies are figuring out, that's the way to go if you want the growing crop of Ubuntu users to use your product.

The product installs itself, just like a novice user wanting to try out IBM's office suite would need.  Simply visit here to download the .deb file, and then follow these easy instructions:

1)  Double click on the .deb file.

1a)  There's one additional library that needed to be installed on my system, but you won't have to worry about this even if it's needed.

2)  Lotus Symphony will install itself.

3)  Now, simply go to "Applications > Office" to start Symphony.

4)  And here's the only obvious sign that this product is still in Beta -- a text EULA.  This can be cleaned up into a window, I'm sure.  (For now, just press "1" to clear it.)

5)  And you're done.*  Easy, eh?  Compared to the last beta I tried of Symphony on Ubuntu (a release meant for Red Hat Linux months and months ago), this was a dream.

*)  I've personally turned off "Enable performance optimization" -- I don't use office software a lot in my development work, so I wouldn't benefit from this at all.  However, someone who does a lot of word processing would probably benefit, as this would speed up start-up times for Symphony -- I wonder how they worked in this Windows-familiar feature with Ubuntu, though?  It'd be neat if there was a entry in the "System > Preferences > Sessions" control panel to go along with it, just to show you what's happened (if anything) in Ubuntu.

And that's that -- I wish there were more to say, but they've made the installation so easy, it's worth it now to try it yourself.

IBM officially supports Ubuntu 8.04 for this release, and I have no problem with that -- 8.04 is the LTS release of Ubuntu, and it's the version that you should be running if you're in an enterprise setting (or you're a user who doesn't like tweaking their system every six months when a new "inbetween" version of Ubuntu comes out).  It's good for the next two years, and will be supported with security updates and patches and all that good stuff that makes Ubuntu so great.

If Symphony turns out to at least be as fast as OpenOffice (shouldn't be hard), then I'll even start using this on my home computer -- the fact that all your documents are presented in a unified window, like most Eclipse-derived products, is a definite advantage over OpenOffice.

I notice they're not using Ubuntu-standard bits for the individual drop-down menus and such -- this could be part of the whole Eclipse-engine background, though.  But that's a minor issue, and one that wouldn't stop me from using it.

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