OpenOffice Suite:

For a long time we were all dependent on the excessively expensive products of MICROSOFT, particularly the Microsoft Office Suite. Several less expensive products were on the market, like World Perfect and Lotus 123, but there were always conversion issues and they gradually faded away, in a large part as a result of the aggressive commercial practices of Microsoft. In 2002, a free, open source office suite was offered to the public, free for downloading without any restrictions or conditions for the users. It has all the main elements that you find in the Microsoft Suite: 

It is very compatible with the Microsoft  open Office suite and I continuously receive files prepared with the Microsoft Office Suite, make amendments using Open Office and send it back to other people who use the Microsoft open Office products.

Since a year or so, a group of software developers split off from Open Office and called themselves LibreOffice. For whatever reason, Libre office now stole the hearts of many of the open source software promoters, and I also started using it, because it has some elements in the database manager that I need, and it can standard import MS Access database files. Both use the same wiki services, add ons, etc. Libreoffice also comes with a number of add-ons pre-installed, including the portrait/landscape switcher, a must to install in Open Office.

Libreoffice opens .pdf files. I have not seen what it then can do with them, but I presume that the developers will soon start facilitating makeing minor corrections. Mind you, a .pdf will probably never become a flexible document with sentences running to a next line, as we are accustomed in a word processor. But small corrections are possible in a .pdf editor. So keep an eye open for new developments. Now that Open Office and Libreoffice are competing, we are bound to see lots of interesting developments, with each version trying to be unique and ahead of the other. Competition stimulates creativety. 

The OpenOffice websites are a labyrinth. Here are some additional links to get the most essential info to get started, but they may already be outdated. Good luck:  Great visual instructions without text  Find here the OpenOffice version in your language  Essential manual to get started  Essential manual for the OO word processor  Good manual for the OO "powerpoint"  Essential manual for the OO spreadsheet  Several more turorials

Something about the pdf exporter. I make documents with lots of pictures and they often grow to 60 - 100 MB. Far too large to send of the internet, and the pictures don't compress in a compress programme. So what you do, you export in as a .pdf file by setting your graphics at 50% reduction. It reduces your file size to 5 - 7 MB and when printing you can't see the difference. Then you send whomever needs the document a pdf in the email. Alternatively, the person you need to send a file, uses Skype, you can send the file by skype: contact your recipient in his/her window> conversation>file

Then the file will go over directly by skype. There is no size limitation; I have sent satellite images of 250MB. One does need a decent internet speed at both ends though.


It does not really belong her, but we have to put it somewhere. This open source compression programme, 7-ZIP, compresses in many different compression formats. It seems to be open source and it is free. This may eventually become the standard compression format. What is really important, that in this programme, you can compress entire directories, and thus send them over in the same way as they are on your computer. We even use it to sent over entirely installed programmes, like an installed version of ILWIS. Click to download any of the 2 versions:


For a long time WINZIP was the commonly used file compression programme. The programme incorporates itself in Windows Explorer and you can compress files directly from Windows Explorer. But gradually the maker provided versions that would no longer function after 30 days. We still have an old Version 8 available for which payment after 30 days is voluntary. It embeds into you windows explorer, which is very convenient. However, for extremely large files, we recommend that you start using the open source 7-zip, which has a very high compression power.


Foxit reader 

To deal with this problem, a commercial product has been created, the "Foxit reader". This is a very fast light programme, that opens inmediately. First download it and install in on your computer. In order to open it in Firefox you will have to do the following actions:

Open Firefox: tools> options. Open the "content" tab. About 2/3 down you will see a heading "File types" and a button "Manage". Click on "Manage", and it will open a list of file types. Look up PDF, highlight it and click the button "Change Action" underneath. Click "Browse" in the new window and go to C:\progamFiles\Foxitsoftware\FoxitReader\FoxitReader.exe. This will cause Firefox to use Foxit to open .pdf files with Foxit reader. You won't need this in Linux, which has several fast pdf readers installed. At a moderate price compared to Adobe software, you can buy additional abilities to create forms and edit existing pdf files. We have not tried that, since we use OpenOffice and each time we modify our own OO files and then convert those to pdf files.  But sometimes it may come in handy to edit someone elses' .PDF file. 

Acrobat Reader 

If you insist on Adobe reader......... here it is. Traditionally, .pdf files were opened with Acrobat Reader of ADOBE. However, over the years, the programme became loaded with more and more features, that made it very very slow, without providing noticeable benefits to the users. The programme does NOT facilitate the conversion of files of other programmes like text documents and spreadsheets to the pdf format. For that you actually need to buy the very expensive Adobe Acrobat or the free OpenOffice suite. So, don't use it and set Foxit to your default pdf reader.