I'm currently set up with a Windows 7 PC for work, with notepad++ and Sublime Text 2, and a XAMPP server. I'm also using the PC for studying.

I'm considering switching to Ubuntu, but I wanna make sure I don't lose functionality. The thing is I've heard badly about the LibreOffice and OpenOffice compared to Microsoft Office. Is there anything about LibreOffice and OpenOffice I should know?

Also is there a good multiple programming language, syntax highlighting editor built in to Ubuntu, or a good one anyone can recommend?

  • Geany is probably the closest to notepad++. Linux is awesome for programming. LibreOffice needs a bit of time to get used to and is less fancy then MS Office but all you need is there. Don't get discouraged at first. The freedom is worth some effort.
    – con-f-use
    Feb 22 '13 at 1:14

You ask two questions in your post which might be better as two posts, but I'll try to answer both as best I can.

Regarding MS Office vs LibreOffice, I find LibreOffice good enough for everyday use. LibreOffice has a couple of weak spots:

  1. If you take a MS Office doc, edit it in LibreOffice, then open it in MS Office and try to work with it, you will often find some of the formatting has changed. If you have to do this often, you will likely give up on LibreOffice.
  2. If you have used MS Office all day long for months on end and have learned every keyboard shortcut, you will be thrown off by the change. Don't expect to have everything work exactly the same.

If these issues do not apply to you, or you are willing to put in a bit of extra effort to relearn old habits, you will be happy with LibreOffice.

Regarding your question about programming editors, Ubuntu (and Linux in general) have a great set of choices. These editors are available on Ubuntu, OS X and Windows so you won't have to give up on them if you don't like Ubuntu. These are my favorites:

  1. Sublime Text 2 - A great all around editor. Code is rendered beautifully with a beautiful font. Good, simple project management through the sidebar. It also has this thing on the right hand side that gives an overview of the whole file. For the spatial learner like me this is huge. I often can't remember what the function is called but I know where it is in the file. This is a for-pay program, but there are no limitations when you download it, only an annoy-box that pops up on save occasionally.
  2. Emacs - A great tool for manipulating text. People joke that it is capable enough to be an operating system, so be prepared for a learning curve. Many commands are multiple key combinations, like Ctrl-x, Ctrl-s to save a file.
  3. Vim/Gvim - Another great tool for manipulating text. I find it a little less polished than emacs, but for some reason I find myself using it more. It is an example of a Modal editor, which means that in one mode you can edit text like normal, but then you can switch out of it and suddenly almost every key on the keyboard means something else. It is very powerful if you take time to learn it.

There are other tools like Eclipse (it is utterly giant, but it shines with Java code), gedit (installed everywhere), Bluefish (good for html). I personally wouln't put in the time to learn anything unless it is available for all 3 platforms.

Good luck with school!

  • Doh. And I just realized you already use Sublime Text 2. :) sigh. Feb 21 '13 at 19:02

I use Ubuntu for work - and I often need to create/edit office docs that are used by other people using MS Office. I have tried using LibreOffice/OpenOffice for this in the past, and did occasionally run into issues where what they saw in the docment wasn't what I saw.

Today I use a licensed copy of MS Office on Ubuntu with CrossOver, and it generally works quite well.

You mention that you are a student - If you are creating documents to submit for assignments, I would not recommend submitting .doc or .ppt files created with LibreOffice - the teacher might not see what you see.

If you can submit PDFs, then I'd be more comfortable - as long as you review the PDF before submitting to make sure it says what you meant it to.

more generally, if you use LibreOffice to create content and share with others via printing or converting to PDF, you probably won't have issues...


Very subjective question... In my opinion, LibreOffice isn't any worth than MOffice, in differents ways. It may be uglier, but I find it more open, and that matters to me.

For the IDE, gedit is built-in and support a lot a language and has a lot of plugins. You also have some serious Java IDE like Eclipse, NetBeans and IntelliJ, or C# one like MonoDevelop. Well almost any language can be code from Ubuntu.

I went there one day, and I'll never come back to Windows.

Have fun !

  • Would you suggest waiting for 13.04 or switching now, and then upgrading in april? Feb 21 '13 at 18:31
  • If it's your first experience with Ubuntu, start with an LTS (Long Term Support) version, like 12.04
    – NorTicUs
    Feb 21 '13 at 18:34

I think you should install LibreOffice on Windows 7 first and satisfy yourself that you are prepared to go where Microsoft Office is unavailable, especially if you must continue to interchange documents with Microsoft Office users.

Microsoft Office and LibreOffice will co-exist on Windows 7 machine with no problem. LibreOffice provides more bidirectionality with Microsoft Office at the moment (saving back in OOXML, not just binary Office formats), and it is probably included in the Ubuntu distribution.

The question about programming editors also depends on what programming languages and other development tools you expect to be using. While there should be no problem, you might want to double-check whether the tool chain that matters to you has an appealing counterpart on Ubuntu/Linux.

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