A first run with IBM's free office suite|
Computer giant IBM yesterday released a free office suite for Windows and Linux machines called Lotus Symphony. Symphony is available from the Symphony website which requires users to register and be logged on to download the software.
Symphony is made up of three applications: Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and Lotus Symphony Presentations. Lotus Symphony supports multiple file formats including Microsoft Office and ODF (Open Document Format), and can also output content in PDF format.
Symphony is available for both Linux and Windows platform and houses much of the same technology as IBM's enterprise-grade Lotus Notes 8 product.
The Symphony download, once you've got through the registration process, is a hefty 214MB which will stretch some bandwidth budgets in SA. Using the Download Director tool on the IBM site, however, completed the download in double-quick time.
Installing Symphony is relatively straightforward if you've read the installation guide on the Symphony site. You need to run the .bin file you download, then switch to the folder created and run the setup.bin file. The installation takes about five minutes but requires a sizeable 400+MB hard disk space.
Launching Symphony the first time was incredibly slow, even on a dual core 1.8GHz machine with 1GB of memory. But once running the suite was quick and responsive and handled most files I opened in OpenDocument Format, Word Documents, Excel files and PowerPoint presentations. There were a number of warnings along the way that there 'may be features that would not save correctly if continued' but I pressed on and had little trouble.
Interface wise, Symphony is not unnattractive but does feel as if it hogs the desktop. Perhaps it is the toolbar down the right hand side by default that makes it feel as if there is more space dedicated to the menus than to the content of the document.
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