Apache OpenOffice

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OpenOffice is a leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.

OpenOffice in Arch Linux

Arch offers 4 trees of binary packages for OpenOffice with different package names:


This will always be the last released stable version of OpenOffice.
Current version: 3.2.0
Start it with "soffice" or from a desktop menu.


This package will be only present when a new release is not far away. It will be the alpha, beta, and release candidates packages for the next stable release.
Current version: 3.2.0_ooo320_m12-1 (way to=3.1.1rcX) (versions branched from DEV320_m12 that will lead to next stable 3.2.x release)
Start it with "soffice-beta" or from a desktop menu
It is safe to install it together with the stable and devel version.
Please test it carefully and report upstream bugs to OpenOffice and packaging bugs in our flyspray.
See http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/OOoRelease311 for roadmap


This packages will be updated from time to time and is a playground for the packager and for testing latest features. Please test and file upstream issues at http://www.openoffice.org/issues/query.cgi
Current version: 3.3_dev300_m70-1 / snapshot DEV300_m70 (snapshots past branching the 3.2 stable tree that will lead to 3.3 release and beyond)
Start it with "soffice-dev" or from a desktop menu
It is safe to install it together with the stable and beta version.
See http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/OOoRelease33 for roadmap


In addition, there is a package for go-openoffice also called ooo-build - the "Novell fork" in the extra repository, which includes enhancements and features found in versions of openoffice.org available in Ubuntu, OpenSuSE and other distributions. For users of Arch switching from other distributions go-openoffice may be more familiar to them. It will always be the latest stable release in extra based on the source of openoffice-base pkg. Future beta/devel versions will go to the testing repo.
Right now go-openoffice cannot be installed along any other openoffice branch; consider it a replacement.

Note: If you play with more than one openoffice-base version it is highly recommended to always backup your configuration directory, ~/.openoffice{2,3}.


  • First, install a Java Runtime Environment (optional, highly recommended). See: Java
  • Also, make sure that fonts are installed, otherwise you will see only rectangles:
# pacman -S ttf-dejavu artwiz-fonts ttf-ms-fonts (and additionally any other needed for your language)
  • Download the base for stable and/or beta and/or devel and/or go-oo:
# pacman -S openoffice-base openoffice-base-beta openoffice-base-devel go-openoffice
  • Download a language package. The main package contains only en_US files, yet the repository offer every shipped upstream langpack, except for go-openoffice.
# pacman -S openoffice-en-GB openoffice-de ....

Extension management and spell checking for OpenOffice 3.x

The Arch package is now shipped with some dictionaries. Check Extension manager if your language is already there simply by loading up any OO program (Writer for example) and access the Extension Manager from the Tools menu. From there enter the following location to install a spell check dictionary:

Note: If you installed go-openoffice, the path will be /usr/lib/go-openoffice/share/extension/install/ instead.

Alternatively, there are several ways to accomplish this:

  • 1) Use the Extension manager from OOo menu for download and installation - installs only for the user into his ~/.openoffice.org/3/user/uno_packages/cache
  • 2) Download the extension and install it using "/usr/lib/openoffice/program/unopkg add extension" for the user or
  • 3) Download the extension and install it using "/usr/lib/openoffice/program/unopkg add --shared extension" for every user on the system (requires root permission)
Other extensions installed by default

(This list is valid for go-openoffice)

  • pdfimport.oxt: ability to import PDF files in Draw and Impress
  • presenter-screen.oxt: when using two displays this plugin provides more control over slideshow
  • sun-presentation-minimizer.oxt: reduce file size of current presentation
  • wiki-publisher.oxt: allows to create Wiki articles on MediaWiki servers without having to know the syntax of the MediaWiki markup language

Set OOo environment variable

OpenOffice supports to use several toolkits for drawing and integrates into different desktop environments in a clean way. To choose by hand, you need to set the OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP environment variable.

To run OpenOffice.org in GTK2 mode(this is default and already preset), you can issue (using bash):

 # OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome soffice

To run OpenOffice.org in QT/KDE3 mode, you can issue (using bash):

 # OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=kde soffice

To run OpenOffice.org in QT4/KDE4 mode, you can issue (using bash):

 # OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=kde4 soffice
Note: As KDE look was removed in Openoffice3 it is highly recommended to use the GTK mode for all users. KDE4 integration is in experimental state in go-openoffice and in openoffice-base-devel (starting from m56)

Configure OOo environment globally

To configure the look for anytime OpenOffice gets started, you can export the OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP variable in /etc/profile.d/openoffice.sh, or in /usr/bin/soffice, with the value gnome, kde, or kde4.

Environment variable scripts

If for whatever reason you do not want to configure the look globaly, as a non-GNOME/KDE user you may run into problems when trying to add the environment variable to the command in a *box menu, as such menus do not seem to like environment variables.

This script will run openoffice using the GTK look while still accepting command line options like -writer.


#### openoffice-gtk - A script to start openoffice with the GNOME/GTK environment

OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome /usr/bin/soffice "$@"

Just use this script as a command (e.g, /usr/bin/openoffice-gtk) for your menu or whatever other sort of launcher you use.

Note: If you open a file in a filemanager, for example Thunar, the default look will be used, as the file association will not use your personal script.

KDE4 look and feel for OpenOffice

Check Uniform Look for QT and GTK Applications for a broad application, general tips and other methods to achieve it.

Method 1:

Open the menu editor, select Office and insert OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=kde4 before /usr/bin/soffice -(writer/calc/base/etc.) for each OpenOffice application in the general tab/Command field. For example, change /usr/bin/soffice -writer to

OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=kde4 /usr/bin/soffice -writer

Save (i.e. update system configuration), open an OpenOffice application and do a CTRL+O to check whether it worked.

Method 2:

OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome never did the trick for me. A good workaround is to set (as root):


into /etc/profile.d/openoffice.sh. In KDE4 systemsettings, make sure "use my KDE style in GTK applications" is selected in Appearance > GTK styles and fonts (you must install gtk-qt-engine first).

Method 3:


Although by default it applies a KDE look to all GTK+ applications, it can be made to apply only to specific applications. Check the documentation in the package available at kde-look's project page.

Method 4:

Uniform_Look_for_QT_and_GTK_Applications#GTK-QT-Engine (applies to all GTK+ applications).

Alternative configuration

You may wish to set the Xorg server dots-per-inch in the KDM configuration.

Do not select "use my KDE style in GTK applications". Instead choose a native syle and font for GTK2 applications.

# pacman -S gtk-chtheme
# pacman -S gtk-engines

Use gtk-chtheme to select a style (in general different from KDE) and a font (may be the same as your KDE general system font). There are also other GTK engine packages available.

There are two relevant parts of the OOo options dialog, View and Fonts:

  • View
    • set scale to 100%
    • set use system font OFF (otherwise replacement table will not be used)
    • set antialiasing OFF
  • Fonts
    • select "Use replacement table"
    • replace "Andale Sans UI" (you must type this in -- it is not in the drop down list) with another font (your KDE system font or another if this looks bad)
    • Press the tick symbol to update the list
    • Select "always" and "screen only"
    • Press OK

When choosing fonts for OpenOffice note that the poor font rendering engine included in the package may not render a particular font in the same way as other apps on the desktop. Use the Template:Filename magnifying glass to examine shape of each letter.

Running OpenOffice

If you want to run a specific module of OpenOffice.org (instead of the soffice default Startcenter), for example the word processor (Write), spreadsheet application (Calc) or presentation program (Impress), check for the following script front-ends:


 /usr/bin/soffice -writer


 /usr/bin/soffice -calc


 /usr/bin/soffice -impress


 /usr/bin/soffice -draw

Math (Formula Editor)

 /usr/bin/soffice -math

Base (Database frontend)

 /usr/bin/soffice -base

Printer Administration (Recommended to run as root)


Speed up OpenOffice

Some settings may improve OpenOffice's loading time and responsiveness. However, some also increase RAM usage, so use them carefully. They can all be accessed under Tools > Options.

  • Under Memory:
    • Reduce the number of Undo steps to a figure lower than 100, to something like 20 or 30 steps.
    • Under Graphics cache, set Use for OpenOffice.org to 128 MB (up from the original 20MB).
    • Set Memory per object to 20MB (up from the default 5MB).
    • If you use OpenOffice often, check OpenOffice.org Quickstarter.
  • Under Java, uncheck Use a Java runtime environment.


Font substitution

These settings can be changed in the OpenOffice.org options. From the drop-down menu, select Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Fonts. Check the box that says Apply Replacement Table. Type Template:Codeline in the font box and choose your desired font for the Replace with option. When done, click the checkmark. Then choose the Always and Screen only options in the box below. Click OK. You will then need to go to Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > View, and uncheck "Use system font for user interface". If you use a non-antialised font, such as Arial, you will also need to uncheck "Screen font antialiasing" before menu fonts render correctly.



$ echo "Xft.lcdfilter: lcddefault" | xrdb -merge

To make the change persistent, add "Template:Codeline" to your Template:Filename file. [1].

If this doesn't work you can also try adding "Template:Codeline" to your Template:Filename. If you do not have this file, you will have to create it.

TrueType font detection

See Font Configuration#Programs can no longer access TrueType fonts. To add fonts to those already available in OpenOffice, run Template:Codeline.

Qt looks with KDE >4

OpenOffice has transitioned to Qt 4, and as such the look of the applications can not be set with Qt 3 tools.

French dictionary

As of openoffice 3.0.0-2 the french dictionary is buggy due to a character encoding problem. To solve this problem, first execute the following commands (you will need zip and unzip packages):

$ cp /usr/lib/openoffice/share/extension/install/dict-fr.oxt dict-fr.oxt
$ unzip dict-fr.oxt -d dict-fr
$ cd dict-fr
$ iconv -f ISO-8859-15 -t UTF-8 dictionaries.xcu > dictionaries.xcu.utf
$ mv dictionaries.xcu.utf dictionaries.xcu
$ zip ../dict-fr.oxt *
$ cd ../
$ rm -r dict-fr

then go in the openoffice extension manager (Tools menu) and install the dictionary from the new dict-fr.oxt file.

Dark GTK themes and gtk-qt-engine

For a quick fix, see openoffice-dark-gtk-fix or if you have go-openoffice see go-openoffice-dark-gtk-fix on the AUR. This also sets 'OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome'. Another fix is to export SAL_USE_VCLPLUGIN=gen (generic X11). See for more info

In 3.2.0 (OOO320m12), the fixes mentioned above do not seem to work. The colors can be configured manually in Options -> Appearance, but Impress and Calc (maybe others too) will stay dark unless you disable automatic detection of high contrast themes first.
This can be done by going to Options -> Accesibility and setting Automatically detect high contrast mode of operating system to off.
Now the colors can be configured in Options -> Appearance.

Hanging when using NFS shares

If OpenOffice hangs when trying to open/save a document located on a NFS share, try prepending the following lines with a "#" in /usr/lib/openoffice/program/soffice (/usr/bin/soffice if using go-openoffice):

# file locking now enabled by default

Original post here

Note: Only NFSv3 is affected. NFSv4 works well with OpenOffice.