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KWord, The Lightweight Word Processing Power Tool

Aim Higher Than MS Word

December 6, 2007

OpenOffice is the darling of the FOSS office suites, and it is a nice suite. It's cross-platform, and OpenOffice Writer is a first-rate word processor with a lot of advanced features. But it's not the only good option for Linux users: Abiword and KWord are excellent lightweight word processors with good feature sets, and both are licensed under the GPL. All three are wonderful. In this two-part series we're going to dig into KWord 1.6, and mine some of its hidden jewels.

But before we get to the good stuff, allow me to indulge in a small rant. Virtually all Linux word processor reviews and articles operate from the premise that Microsoft Word is the benchmark to measure Linux word processors by, and that the most important feature is compatibility with MS Word documents. I couldn't disagree more. Why hold ourselves to such a low standard? MS Word is buggy, lardy, malware-friendly and incompatible on purpose. It's not even compatible with previous versions of itself. To me it's a cruel, expensive joke, not a professional tool.

KWord calls itself a complete word-processing and simple desktop publishing program. It operates in two different modes: text-oriented and page-oriented. Text-oriented is similar to document-oriented word processors (like MS Word) which treat a multi-page document as one long page. Text automatically flows across page breaks without needing user intervention. This is nice for long text documents, but it can be vexing when you want precise control of page layout. Page-oriented mode sees each page as a complete unit, and uses fixed-size and fixed-position frames to control layout. With KWord you get the best of both worlds.