Friday, August 04, 2006

SOT Office - an OenOffice varient...

SOT Office: a free productivity suit for Linux

The freeware office suit, SOT Office is based on trimmed down version of Star Office, called Open Office and is available for Windows and Linux platform. SOT Office has four basic built in programs. It has Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation Tool and a basic Drawing program. The office suit acts as a small yet efficient browser too. The program is rich in features including two extremely useful features- Navigator and Stylist that you may not find in other popular office applications. Navigator allows you to move instantly to the desired part of a document, whereas Stylist can format your document on the fly with a single mouse click. Its word program can suggest you tips and word on the fly during typing (similar to Auto Text and Auto Complete features of MS Word) that you can simply accept by a stroke of enter key. This does not mean that it always suggest right tips and right words. For example, while typing this line, it suggested Forward for every word typed ‘for’, everyday for 'every' etc. Still, this feature is really helpful in making your typing real fast since you can train it to behave accordingly. It has on line suggestion tool that can intelligently change as your type progress. For example, while successively typing 'accordingly', it suggested 'accepts' for acc, 'accomplish' for acco, and finally 'accordingly' for accor; which you finally accept by pressing enter key. Thus you save 5 key strokes in typing word - 'accordingly'. Its spelling check is efficient, but fails in delivering proper grammar check.

This suit can open and save your Microsoft Office document including some other popular file format and can preserve their complex formatting. This article is edited partially in Microsoft Word and partially in SOT Office without any much problem. Its spreadsheet program is also feature full and so is its presentation program. The drawing program is somewhat basic, yet all your need for embedding basic drawing in documents can be fulfilled if you are not intending for real Art.

Though this suit is very easy in use, as usual, installing this program is somewhat tricky in Linux platform. Here is step by step guide for using SOT Office in your RedHat / Mandrake Linux installation.

Installing Package

Login as root and install the RPM file (that is available for download across its web site or from i.t. CD) by giving following command:

rpm -ivh soto*.rpm

The rpm file for SOT Office is distributed as single rpm file soto-2002-gen.i386.rpm. So, it will probably not make any dependency problems during installation if you have most common packages for running XWindows installed along with latest Linux distribution. Make sure that you are in the current directory where rpm file of SOT Office is available while giving above command. You can also install this package through RedHat / Mandrake package manager in XWindows. Installing this RPM file makes a directory called /opt /SOTO where all the installation files of SOTO Office are copied. This way, the package is installed, but the application is not yet setup for running. For installing and setting up the application, you have to run its setup program for every user so that it can create desired configuration file for each user.

Installing Application

For installing SOT Office for root user, simply go to the /opt/SOTO directory and run setup from there. For this, you must have XWindows up and running. During installation, it will ask certain small things like installation type etc., that you can left for default and complete the installation.

After installation completes, you may wonder from where you will run this application? There may not be any desktop icon or program group icon created as standard Windows installation. You have to run the application launcher soffice from its installed directory. Alternately, you may create an icon on your desktop for launching this application else you have to go to its installed directory every time to run this application. By default, the program installs in the home directory of user, such as /root/soto unless it is not changed during installation. The typical command for /root/soto installation will be:

cd /root/soto/program


For creating desktop shortcut, right click anywhere on the Desktop. Depending upon your windows manager, a context menu will appear that may have entries like - Create New > Link to application. Now specify icon, put the address of the program for launching SOT office (for example, /root/soto/program/soffice). Note that the utility to launch SOT Office named 'soffice' will be at the /program directory of newly installed soto directory and not SOTO directory.

Either way, you can launch your SOT Office from command line or from desktop shortcut that you may create for your self.

Installing Hindi and other fonts

SOT Office has its own font and printer manager. You can install SOT Office compatible printer and fonts separately for this application. Here is step by step method for installing Hindi / Devnagri true type and other fonts:

Start a terminal in Xwindows

Change to the directory where /soto/program is installed

Run the shortcut of executable file spadmin from there by giving command: ./spadmin

A GUI based tool will be launched and you will be presented with option of setting up New Printer or Font. Click on Font button and then click on Add button. In the next window that appears, select the source directory. You can put check mark in the check box 'create soft links only' if you copy these fonts from local hard disk such as Windows/fonts directory. Finally select the fonts you want to install and click OK. Your fonts will be installed for use in SOT Office. Take note that these fonts will not be available for other Linux application or environments.

SOT Office is never intended to become replacement for full fledged commercial Office Suit, but it indeed is a better, free alternate.

Screen shot descriptions:

1. sot_01.jpg Installing applications in Linux were always tricky. There were version conflicts, package dependency issues and more, which are to be addressed before proper package installation. SOT Office needs to be installed as package in your Linux partition prior to running its application setup program.

2. sot_02.jpg Once the package installs, SOT Office setup program runs and completes like any standard MS Windows program.

3. sot_03.jpg During SOT Office setup, you are given option to customize your installation like directory location, components to install etc.

4. sot_04.jpg SOT Office has word processing program comparable to most popular commercially available Word processor.

5. sot_05.jpg At times, SOT Office becomes corrupt and refuses to work properly. You can repair it by running its setup program again. However, some critical errors may still refuse to go and you need to de-install it and then reinstall.

6. sot_06.jpg You may need to create a desktop shortcut or start menu item for launching SOT Office program.

7. sot_07.jpg SOT Office takes a little while on starting but when it is started once, it delivers things real fast.

8. sot_08.jpg You can install and use virtually any type of True Type fonts in SOT Office which has its own font manager.

9. sot_09.jpg You must disable auto correct / auto complete option to use Hindi Fonts.

10. sot_10.jpg SOT Office has powerful presentation tool with some beautiful built in presentation template.

11. sot_11.jpg SOT Office open dialogue box has three pan where you can see some extra attributes of chosen file.

12. sot_12.jpg SOT Office provides you option to work with MS Office documents.

13. sot_13.jpg SOT Office has two extremely useful tool – Navigator and Stylist.

14. sot_14.jpg Installing fonts in Linux application made easy; thanks to their individual Font manager.

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