February 20, 2019

The StartX Files: Between the Sheets with Quattro Pro - page 2

Free As In Continuity

  • February 1, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

It may seem a little odd that I am reviewing a product that, for all practical purposes, no longer exists for the Linux platform. When Corel announced it would sell off its Corel Linux division on Jan. 23, 2001, many industry watchers were not terribly surprised. After all, Microsoft had just invested $135 million in the Canadian software firm just three months prior.

When Corel made the sale of its Linux division to Xandros (through Linux Global Partners) in August 2001, a lot of people seemed relieved. At least the Linux holdings would be out from any potential influence from Microsoft.

Under the terms of the deal, Xandros would get all of the source code and licenses for the Debian-based Corel Linux, as well as the source code for the never-released Corel Linux 3.0.

Xandros, accrording to its Web site, is planning on releasing the first version of their Linux distribution sometime in the first quarter of this year. The beta program for Xandros Desktop 1.0 for just launched earlier this week, in fact. But something is conspicously absent from the terms of the sale: Corel, it seems, has kept the licenses and the code for the WordPerfect Office for Linux suite to itself.

Conventional wisdom after the Microsoft investment in Corel was that Corel would be left to its own devices as long as it assisted Microsoft in developing its .NET services, which the software giant claimed was all it wanted out of Corel. It was speculated at the time by many (including me) that this boiled down to "you can have CorelDRAW, but stay out of direct competition with us."

Which, one would think, means no more office suites.

Except... Corel is still marketing WordPerfect Office 2002--for Windows.

In a Reuters interview in May with Steve Ballmer, Ballmer made it quite clear "Corel is free to do whatever it wants with Linux." You can take that statement however you want. I laughed my head off.

To be absolutely fair, we could speculate all day why Corel has decided to keep all of the WP Office licenses to itself, but only a handful of the readers of this column will probably know the whole reason. Certainly they know at Corel, but as this column went to press, only one person has returned my messages and that was to tell me someone else would be getting in touch with me--something that has not happened in all my experience with Corel.

Whatever the reason Corel is doing this, all I have to say is: what a colossal waste.

WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux was one of only a handful of complete office suites for the Linux platform, until its untimely demise. And, let's face it, it had a lot more name recognition than StarOffice ever did (at least in the United States). Denying users the chance to access the application because of adherance to a license is just a waste. Like it or not, WordPerfect Office for Linux was a big contributor in lending credence to the notion of a Linux desktop.

This, then, is the source of my embitterment with proprietary licenses. It's not that I can't get to the source code; I'm no programmer, what would I do with the code if I had it? No, it's the fact that there is always going to be the chance that the owner of the license could up and decide to just cease production and support of the application, leaving users up the creek without a paddle.

So how do you get a copy of WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux? Ask around. Maybe someone in your LUG has a copy. Check computer trade shows--I found two boxed sets this summer sitting on a vendor's card table. It can be done, with a little effort.

Also, check eBay or your favorite auction site. I found a whole bunch of sellers auctioning off copies of WordPerfect and WordPerfect Office (where Quattro Pro can be found).

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