5 Must-have Linux office applications

Jack Wallen
Feb 11, 2009
Updated • Jan 12, 2013

If you work in a business environment then you know the value of the office application. And if you have ever thought about using Linux in your office you know there are boundaries to adoption. The good thing is those boundaries are growing smaller and smaller with every year. The reason those boundaries are shrinking isn't dictated by an ever-improving kernel. Nope. The acceptance of Linux in the office is directly proportional to the amount of outstanding office applications available.

But how many people can actually rattle off the names of five linux-based office applications? I would venture to say not many. And that's where I come in. In this article I will list five must-have office applications that will allow you to introduce Linux into your office. Naturally this list won't be perfect for everyone. There will always be those with proprietary needs that are simply not met by Linux. But for those who needs are more standard, this list is just for you.

1. OpenOffice. This is the obvious answer. What office isn't complete without and office suite? How can you do you work without the ability to manage documents? But since this entry to this list is so obvious I will offer up this tip. Instead of going with the standard OpenOffice, give Go-OO a try. This office suite offers a few benefits that OpenOffice.org does not. First it has built in OpenXML support. It also offers: Better Microsoft binary support, macro fidelity, Visio embedded object support, a Solver component for Calc, and much more.

2. Kontact. I have discussed Evolution in a previous article (Replace Outlook With Evolution: An Open Source Groupware Suite) and so I thought I should offer another alternative groupware suite. And Kontact is quite a groupware suite. Kontact is the KDE groupware suite that offers quite a bit more than your average suite of tools: Email, Calendar, Todos, Contacts, RSS feeds, a Journal, Notebooks, Popup Notes, Time Tracker, and Syncing. Kontact supports groupware servers such as: Kolab, OpenXChange, eGroupware, OpenGroupware, Citadel, Exchange Server 2000, and Novell Groupwise 6.5. Kontact supports full drag and drop support with the KDE desktop.

3. Planner. This is one of the most useful of all project management tools available for open source. But Planner is not just for the GNOME desktop and Linux. A Windows installer has been created which makes Planner even more justifiable as one of the most important open source office tools. Planner handles resources, resource usage, Gantt charts, projects, and more. If you have a need for project management (and what office doesn't), Planner is the tool you are looking for.

4. Meeting Room Booking System. Meeting Room Booking System is a web-based booking system for rooms, resources, employees, etc. MRBS is very easy to use, reliable, and flexible. I have deployed this system for various types of companies as a room reservation system, a client reservation system, a resource booking system, and more. It has a very small footprint, is written in PHP, and can use either a MySQL or Postgresql database. MRBS can be set up to automatically notify, via email, when a room/resource/employee has been booked.

5. Firefox. I hesitate to mention a piece of software that is so well known, but it goes without saying you can do little to no work without a browser these days. And what better browser to mention than Firefox. But instead of just mentioning the browser, I thought I'd share a couple of outstanding office-related firefox extensions. Zotero is an extension that enables you to easily collect, manage, and cite research sources. DataAnalytics is an extension that helps you import, analyze, and graphing of data. What can this do? Imagine being able to extract data from a web site tables and actually use it.

And there you have it. Five must-have open source office applications. Do you have an application that is a must-have that is not on this list? If so, share it with us.


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  1. Jo-Erlend Schinstad said on March 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    It would be nice with a comparison between different FLOSS financial accounting systems.

  2. MK said on February 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I had terrible experience with OpenOffice Impress. When it crashes, it doesn’t revert to the previous version, nor that it has recovery feature. Instead, it blanks out all the changes I have made.

    Any alternatives?

  3. Dotan Cohen said on February 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks, Jack. An Inkscape tutorial would be great too, while we’re on the subject.

    In the FOSS nature, maybe you should have a post of community-voted apps to review. I would personally like to see the review of more commercial software on Linux, to disspell the idea that a program must be “free” to run on Linux.

  4. jack said on February 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I could add a sixth and put Scribus in the mix. I thought I did an article on Scribus here. Maybe I haven’t. Just did a search and I haven’t. My mistake. I will do a “get to know” article on Scribus. It is an amazingly powerful PDF creation tool.

  5. Danny said on February 11, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Yes, I know. But not all office documents are created from OO.o apps. For such documents, you need a general purpose PDF printing tool.

  6. Dotan Cohen said on February 11, 2009 at 9:21 am

    @Danny: Open Office can write PDF files, and can import them in a limited fashion.

  7. Danny said on February 11, 2009 at 5:38 am

    While not Linux-specific, I’d add PDF Creator as a must have open source office app. For a small business, it’s a great app for creating PDF files for sending documents. Also, any PDF reader for Linux (can’t remember the one in Ubuntu) is a must have. When you have clients and suppliers sending you invoices, technical data sheets, and other business-related documents in PDF, it’s imperative that you be able to access the content with a competent PDF reader. Finally, Truecrypt is a definite must have for office security. With the ubiquity of USB flash drives and laptops containing sensitive corporate data, it makes sense to protect them with “military grade” encryption.

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