Open Office just keeps coming through for me. I know this isn't a Linux
program per se, but I use it under Linux and it's one of the reasons I
can remain a Linux user.
The first time was when I needed to convert the minutes of a volunteer
organization into pdf format for our website. Although it wasn't
obvious how to accomplish this task, with some USENET help I discovered
that if you start the printer administration program you can set it up
for pdf print-to-file. Great! I didn't have to get a new program--the
one that came with Linux could already do it for me.
The second time was yesterday when I needed a way to use mathematical
symbols (for union, intersection and subset, etc) for a class I am
taking. I looked for math in the OpenOffice help and found little of
use. Using the Special Character seemed to take about six clicks to get
to the symbol I needed, and then I had to drill down again for the
second symbol. this was a pain. Since the class was offered online
only, I was worried that I'd be reduced to drawing things out (with a
pen) and scanning so I could hand in assignments. After a lot of
digging in Freshmeat I found "Math Planner 3." This program outputs
files in something called .mpl format, or something similiar. I
couldn't paste from MathPlanner3 to OpenOffice so I started looking for
a way to insert the .mpl file. That's when I discovered the Insert >>
Object >> Formula in Open Office. It had literally dozens of
mathematical symbols and it allows you to write the formula from the
keyboard and have it appear in the text. Awesome.
It's true that in both instances OpenOffice was unable to explain it's
own capabilities in a way that I could understand. In both cases I
found the way to get work done either from someone else or by attempting
a work around and not from the Help in OO. But at the end of the day, I
am still able to get my work done without going to an un-Free solution.
Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make that possible!