Corel's free, downloadable version of WordPerfect outshines other Linux-compatible word processing programs.
Corel WordPerfect 8 for Linux Personal Edition
Corel Corporation, www.corel.com
$69.95 Personal ($495.00 Server)
Recently, Corel announced that it was making Corel WordPerfect
8 available for free (monetarily, not source, unfortunately) over the Internet for personal use.
They announced this at last year’s Atlanta Linux Showcase. While the version they make available is
not fully featured, this is the version many people are downloading, so I decided to review it
WordPerfect 8 is a large program — 28.6 megabytes to be exact. It took something like two hours
to download from the overloaded site http//:Download.com, which is the site that Corel’s
WordPerfect 8 page took me to. Luckily I use Linux and not a lesser operating system with a buggy
TCP/IP stack, so I spent most of this time working in other workspaces, but I digress….
After the download completed I was presented with a tarball that I promptly opened. I ran the
installation program, aptly named, “Runme”. The installation routine began with what many believe
should be the standard for installing a program, namely a series of colorful, informative dialog
boxes. You can run the install routine as a regular user and it turns out fine, although I also ran
it as root to make sure that the program installed well both ways.
The colorful slide show that ran during installation went off without a hitch, but in reality I
would have preferred a simple tarball.tar.gz and not all of this stuff. Not counting the download
time, the installation took all of seven minutes, although the exhaustive array of printers present
in the selector was quite nice and the installation was quite flexible, and in it’s own way,
I have used both Applix and Staroffice, and in fact have Applix installed at work for my daily
activities. In my previous life I had considerable exposure to MS Word, WordPerfect and Ami Pro (all
in earlier generations). Since that’s what I know, that’s what I’ll compare WordPerfect 8 to.
In short, it beats Applix and Star’s word processing offerings hands down, which is not
unexpected, considering WordPerfect’s long lineage. I believe that WordPerfect is as competitive an
offering as any out there under any operating system, and this release makes me look forward to when
I can use the entire suite from Corel on my Linux machine.
The machine I tested on was a Pentium 200 3lb. Sony Vaio Notebook, with 96MB of RAM and 2GB of
hard drive space. I used the WindowMaker Windows manager (with a groovy theme from http//:www.themes.org), and I was not running Gnome or KDE on the machine.
Features of WordPerfect that impressed me included the real-time spelling and grammar checking
(which I detest, but should pay more attention to), the context sensitive, expandable tool-bars, and
most importantly to me, the ability to show a window that tracks your progress through the document
while showing you the formatting codes as well. (It can also show you the field codes in the
document.) To enumerate each feature would make this review longer than the magazine could possibly
hope to hold, so I’ll just tell you that there is very little this program can’t do for a needy
|New and Enhanced Features: WordPerfect 8 for Linux can handle footnotes,|
graphics, tables, and watermarking even better than the Windows-based version.
The zoom feature is nice, and you have the option to set the zoom level for page width double
pages, a feature that is sorely lacking in Applix. The maturity of the product really shines through
in little points like this one, and in the fact that you can choose to view the page in draft mode
for speed, and in a web page mode if you were crafting web pages. While Vi is a far superior tool
for html crafting, this is a nice beginners’ tool, with the toolbar reflecting a number of webbish
options for changing the fonts and doing tables.
WordPerfect also has nice table-handling features. I was able to create and format tables in
ways that were more than just convenient, but in ways that really enhanced the way I was able to
work with the tool. The speed formatting options available for tables are very cool. With a few
mouse clicks I was able to set up a variety of different table styles for the data I was profiling.
WordPerfect had no issues in importing the few Word documents I had lying around, but in reality
this is not a good test, as I really have no complex documents to feed it.
In graphics handling, the program was able to handle the graphics nimbly, auto-laying out the
text. Also, you are able to move the graphic on the page by simply dragging it around — it
automatically moves the text out of the way when you do it.
I performed a number of tests on the product to see how it would perform under load. The first
was to take a copy of the Linus/Tannenbaum debates and paste them into a document. Then I did a
select all and copy, and then appended that to the end of the document. Rinse and repeat. Once the
page count had hit 2000, I stopped and paged around the document and began to do some tests on the
I suspended the laptop and waited a few moments, then I unsuspended it, and there were no
problems. I did not expect there to be, although this was more of a Linux test and not a WordPerfect
Then I started foregrounding and backgrounding the application, with no appreciable effect on
performance. So far so good. I started some search and replaces. It took the program 45 seconds to
search and replace the 9005 occurrences of the word “minix”and replace it with “cp/m”. I did some
editing and paging around the document. There was no perceivable difference in editing a 2000 page
document versus editing a two page document. That is, until I did a select all and delete. This
froze the program (this is a Bad Thing, by the way.) I reloaded the program and the data and was
able to perform the same operation without a crash, but this is clearly indicative of a larger
problem that Corel must fix. The memory management methods behind the program are flawed as well.
After dismissing the word processing window (the little launcher program was still running,
however), the memory that was consumed during the load of the 2000 page file was not released.
Ultimately however, this was the only bug I was able to find in this full-featured program.
In the same tests, Applix took almost three minutes just to load the file (which was only 5.5
megabytes of ASCII text!) and took six minutes to perform the exact same search and replace. I
experienced a number of crashes using this file under Applix too, which leads me to believe that
word processor developers have a secret love for minix.
In printing my table and graphic laden file, WordPerfect produced a very nicely put together
printout, so no disappointments there either. Everything considered, I can recommend WordPerfect 8
for Linux. It’s easily as good a word processor as anything out there, and it works on Linux, so
that makes it that much better.
Chris DiBona is the Director of Linux Marketing for VA Research. He is also the Vice President
of the Silicon Valley Linux Users Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.