Abiword: A Lean Word-processing Machine

Jack Wallen
Dec 29, 2008
Updated • Dec 5, 2012

I like my tools to be efficient. Part of efficiency is opening quickly, not sucking up all of my systems' resources, and saving in various formats. When considering office needs one of the first tools that pops into my mind is word processing. Naturally the masses will first turn to either MS Office or OpenOffice. But there is another alternative that can do the job faster, easier, and without hogging up your system resources. That alternative? Abiword. In this article you will learn how to install and and run Abiword.

Abiword is considered part of the GNOME Office Suite, but does not require GNOME to be running to use.  Abiword is also available for Microsoft Windows. Abiword is available for most distributions and can be installed by both traditional routes. The first, and easiest method, is to open up your Add/Remove Software application (such as Ubuntus' Synaptic), do a search for Abiword. What should appear is a list of possible matches. The following are the packages you need to install.

  • abiword
  • abiword-help
  • abiword-plugin-mathview
  • abiword-plugin-grammer
  • abiword-common
  • libgtkmathviewOc2a

Select those and click Apply to begin the installation.

Once installed you will find the Abiword entry in your desktops' Office sub-menu. If you are using a desktop such as Enlightenment you may have to click Ctrl-Left Mouse Button (to make the Maintenance menu entry appear) and click Regenerate Menus to make Abiword appear. Once the menus have regenerated Abiword should be found in the Other menu in the Office sub-menu entry.

When Abiword opens what you will find is an efficient, well thought-out word processor that has everything you need to create solid, professional documents. You will also find some nice additions that make your writing even easier. One such tool is the Wikipedia entry tool. With a word highlighted you click the Wiki Encyclopedia entry and it will open the Opera browser on the Wiki entry of the highlighted word. There is also a Collaborate tool that allows users to collaborate on documents through Jabber. Of course Cisco purchased Jabber so who knows if collaboration with Abiword is going to be possible. The good news is you can do collaboration with a direct TCP connection (we'll go into this in my next article.)

Final Thoughts

I have used Abiword and in the past have thought it had a ways to go before it was production ready.  Well, that time has come. Abiword is certainly worthy of being your word processor of choice.


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  1. Esteban said on July 26, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I have been using Abiword for Windows 10 years +. And of course when I switch over to Linux /Ubuntu I made sure to install Abiword. I am very happy with it. I rare occasions I will use either OO or Word.

  2. Paul. said on December 30, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Thanks for you thougths Jack after reading your comment i think you write writing Abiword is better. This because i know,thanks to you, now there is a problem with, Sun and the code base and i want no problems with outher applications or components.
    p.s. i going to look much closer to KOffice because this is, a integrated office suite. I realy like the combination with KPresenter and Kword.

  3. Votre said on December 30, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Abiword is an excellent wordprocessor. I loveit’s speed and clean design.

    But there was a time when Abiword had trouble with very large documents. Have they since addressed that problem?

  4. jack said on December 30, 2008 at 1:19 am

    There are a number of reasons why you might not want to use OpenOffice.org. First there is the issue with Sun and the code base. If you are really an open source champion you might lean more toward Abiword or KOffice. Second – the size. OpenOffice is pretty large and can be slow (depending upon the machine). Abiword is light and fast…plus it is only a word processor so there is little to no bloat.

    I am not saying OpenOffice is bad. I use open office. I do tend to use only the Novell version because it doesn’t have the licensing problems that the Sun version has.

  5. Paul. said on December 30, 2008 at 1:06 am

    i forgot to add with main last message that maybay OpenOffice is better because there will be more uniformity?

  6. Paul. said on December 30, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Do i understand i correctly that i can only install this program with, Ubuntu and noth with main SUSE Linux Enterprise? And it looks like a great crossplatform wordprocessor. Why not OpenOffice.org 3.0?

  7. Dotan Cohen said on December 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Abiword is nice, I recommend KOffice as well. Well, not yet, but the KOffice 2 betas are really, really good. KOffice 2 should be available on Windows too, I think.

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