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OpenOffice Bug-- Stuck in Document Recovery Loop

Persistent Dratted Bug

  • November 15, 2010
  • By Carla Schroder
There is a recurring bug in OpenOffice that has been around for several years, and afflicts various distros though it seems most prevalent in Ubuntu. Maybe because more people use Ubuntu, maybe Ubuntu does something to it, I don't know. I do know there many unresolved bug reports and frustrated users.

For me, every time I saved a document in Writer it would trigger the Document Recovery dialogue. Sometimes it would crash. Sometimes it would let me click the 'recover the darned documents' button. Then next time I hit the Save button boom, same story. It got so bad it was unusable. A Web search on "openoffice document recovery" will find many reports of this and similar problems.

The recovery data are stored in ~/.openoffice.org/3/user/registry/data/org/openoffice/Office/Recovery.xcu, so I tried editing it. This is a plain-text file and you can see the filenames of the documents it thinks need to be recovered, so I deleted them. That worked through one save. Then I deleted the whole file. That didn't work any better.

Then I purged OpenOffice and all config files from my system, and default-jre, which is the current Java runtime package for Ubuntu. Then I reinstalled them from fresh packages after running apt-get clean to force fresh package downloads. No joy, same problem.

Now keep in mind this represents several hours of troubleshooting and researching, and a fair bit of bad language. When one finds that this problem has existed for years and no one but us lowly users are bothered by it, it tends to color one's mood negatively.

Finally I followed this howto on Ubuntugeek, How To install OpenOffice 3.2 in Ubuntu. This walks you through the steps to install OpenOffice from Oracle, rather than using your distro version. First remove your existing distro OpenOffice packages. Then you will have to find the appropriate download for your system, and verify the correct filenames to use in the commands.

(uname -m shows if you have a 32- or 64-bit Linux installed, i386, or i686. An alert reader kindly pointed out that i386 or i686 indicates a 32-bit Linux, while 64-bit is indicated by x86_64)

It worked, and now I have a usable OpenOffice.

What about LibreOffice, you may ask? I tried it and ran into a showstopper installation bug. But I shall certainly follow its development and test it as soon as I can install it.

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the Linux Networking Cookbook (O'Reilly Media), the upcoming Book of Audacity (NoStarch Press), a lifelong book lover, and the managing editor of LinuxPlanet and Linux Today.

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