How I Learned to Appreciate LibreOffice, or Why Sometimes the Best Things Are Right In Front of You

It takes a while to get happy about a program function– sometimes years– but when it happens, it’s worth talking about. Of course, sometimes one must– as they said on DC comics shows like 500 times last season– endure a crucible for this appreciation to firmly develop.

I finally appreciated LibreOffice today.

While I’ve recommended the software for years (mostly to terrified Windows users annoyed with Microsoft but scared to leave) I’ve privately used other text editors and word processors for myself. To me, LibreOffice was too reminiscent of the big, bloaty Windows programs it competes with, and all that stuff on the screen distracted my writing. And today, I just wanted simple with a word count.

So my personal favorite program was ( and to a degree still is) Atlantis Word, a minimalist word processor designed for Windows. However, the help file was displaying some “.ocx file error” today, and I didn’t feel like not having it sit in my brain. It bothered me that something was wrong.

Assuming it was an issue with WINE, I decided to try some new things. What I really wanted was something that looked as simple as a blogging window: so I did something that I would kick myself for yet again. I downloaded Jarte.

Now, please keep in mind I have never gotten Jarte on any Linux distro– including ones where it seems to work for everyone else– to work since Windows. Keep in mind that the one time I did try Jarte on Windows years ago, I hated it because I thought it too simplistic. No matter. I wanted a way to write that wasn’t horrible, and I was going to try it again, because dangit, it works and now I think it looks nice!

It didn’t work.

This led me on a magical journey of pain, as I went searching for alternatives in the FOSS world. I found two: one I’d never heard of, one I used years ago. TextRoom just required qt and some dependencies! Great! And then, after my third install, I saw it there in the menu.

And it didn’t work.

This led me to go look for TED, a really old-style text editor. Keep in mind, I had used, and rejected TED before. So… I decided to download it, install it, and give it another try.

And it DIDN’T WORK.

Finally I just decided to Google “text editor Linux” and look at the pictures, looking for a simple formatting section and a word count. No dice. Tried “word processor Linux”. Finally I came upon something semi-complex looking that had a word count at the bottom.

Finally making LibreOffice look the way I want on my
Finally making LibreOffice look the way I want on my “Windows” Desktop.

It was LibreOffice. And I had LibreOffice, so I didn’t see any reason to try it.

But then I had an idea. Most programs have ways to hide toolbars you don’t need. And LibreOffice was a big program. It probably had removable toolbars for everything. What if I could simplify it?

Turns out you can simplify it. You can reduce it to nothing if you feel like it. So after reducing it to almost nothing and then making sure that it always opens up to web view, I was happy. Lesson learned: sometimes the big, complicated program can be the nice, simple program with a little extra effort.

And LibreOffice is pretty cool.

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