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CrossOver Office: Cutting to the Quicken - page 3

Mixing Windows, Linux, and Metaphors

  • August 29, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

Looking at CrossOver Office 1.2.0 proper, I found the product to be very simple to install, configure, and use.

Once you purchase and download the software from the Codeweavers site (or pay the extra $10 to have a CD shipped to you), all you need to do is run the shell-script you received from the company.

This, in turn, activates a very simple, two-step GUI installation tool. One-two, it's done and you're shown the main Configuration screen for the application (see Figure 1).

As the interface suggests, you are presented with a list of the supported applications that CrossOver will let you install (plus a catch-all "Other Application" listing for things not on the list). To begin, all you need to do is select the app to install and then click Add. You will then be asked for the location of the installation files and off you go.

Well, not exactly. If you want to hear the happy ending, I can tell you that I was able to install MS Office 2000 Professional on my Red Hat Linux 7.2 system. But the journey--that left a bit to be desired.

After I specified the location of my installation files on /mnt/cdrom, a scary little warning about Microsoft Office's hidden files (see Figure 2). I chose to simply proceed past this dialog, and then went on to specify where I wanted the software to be installed. Windows Installer revved up and began to run the standard MS Office installer.

Somewhere in here, things got a bit awry. I am running the Ximian GNOME Desktop on my system, and it was at this point that GNOME warbled an error message and crashed. It was not a horrendous crash--as soon as I acknowledged the error, all the screen elements came back--but only GNOME's. Inside the Windows-emulated screen elements, everything was a complete mess. Letters and words were completely missing within the Office Installer dialogs. I had to remember what each field and checkbox stood for as I limped through the rest of the installation. (Out of sheer luck, I had just re-installed Access 2000 on my wife's computer following a fatal hard-drive failure last week, so I remembered what everything was.)

Don't misunderstand--the mechanics of the installation proceeded smoothly--it's just that I was unable to read 95% of the text within the dialogs.

Towaards the end of the procedure, CrossOver pops up and tell you to go ahead and say Yes when the Office Installer asks you to reboot, which I thought was a well-placed message, especially for savvy Linux users who are racking up their uptime. What actually happens is instead of a real reboot, CrossOver will fake a reboot for the benefit of Office. (If you opt not to do this here, there is a Reboot command in the CrossOver application.)

Once that chore was done, Office proceeded with the rest of its set up, and utlimately I was left with the entire suite on my Linux desktop. Not to mention Internet Explorer 5.0, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player 2.0, and several new TrueType fonts. And let me tell you, there is nothing more surreal than seeing those apps listed on your Linux desktop (see Figure 3)!

I had good luck running all of the Office applications. Word, which I was especially interested in, opened up my old Word documents and displayed them with revision marks, comments and all. No glitches, no worries.

Actually, there was one odd thing: when I started Excel 2000, GNOME crached on me again. Nothing unrecoverable, just a reset of the screen elements again.

I was a little afraid that running these applications on my machine would hog up a lot of system resources, just as they do on Windows. But, although I did not a slight system slowdown, all of these applications ran pretty quickly. In fact, Word 2000 started up much faster than OpenOffice.org, which--though I love to use it--I am convinced is the slowest-starting app in the Known Universe.

Besides document handling, printing from these applications went flawlessly. I was able to print both to my local printer and the networked printer out on my Windows box.

With the exception of the rather disconerting installation, the Office apps really ran very well under CrossOver Office.

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