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Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:40 am
by nobbit
There used to be several alternatives to the full-blown office suites, but as the number of people with limited RAM and CPU capacity has dwindled so has interest and development of office software with a smaller memory footprint.

So, what's still out there? And specifically: what's available for raspbian?

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:45 am
by fruitoftheloom
nobbit wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:40 am
There used to be several alternatives to the full-blown office suites, but as the number of people with limited RAM and CPU capacity has dwindled so has interest and development of office software with a smaller memory footprint.

So, what's still out there? And specifically: what's available for raspbian?


Abiword is not as compatible to MS Word, but is in the repositories.

Gnumeric is not as compatible to MS Excel, but is in the repositories.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:49 am
by nobbit
I've used both of those before and quite like them, but I don't believe either is in active development anymore?

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:05 am
by graysky
Tried vim?

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:16 am
by nobbit
Yes, I use vim on a daily basis. But vim is a text editor. It doesn't have the features one normally looks for in a word processor.

And before anyone asks: yes, I have experience with LaTeX too. While LaTeX makes scientific article writing a breeze, it's a total time sink if you want to produce a document that looks different from that.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:05 pm
by scruss
There's always WordGrinder:

Code: Select all

sudo apt install wordgrinder
Personally, I prefer dosbox + Protext or Microsoft Word 5.5, or even Wordstar under CP/M. But those require a certain patience with fiddly emulator details.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:06 pm
by bjtheone
emacs? (come on it had to be said)....

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:24 pm
by tpylkko
One solution widely used in this situation is to use pandoc, a converter, which converts plain text documents written in markdown to latex, pdf, html, docx. The syntax is so much easier to remember than latex. While it does make a fairly standard MS word document by default, you can also give it an example/template docx file at compilation time and it will then automatically pull the layout, font and other settings from that template file (which makes it easier to make documents with different layouts and all that, than what you would with a standard latex work flow)

Many simple text editors understand markdown and pandoc (for example gedit) and you can get syntax highlighting, a GUI editor, spell checking and many other things.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:30 pm
by scruss
no, it didn't. Though emacs is my way of life, it's by no means a word processor. One might as well recommend any text editor (if we're going there, I really like micro: small, portable, mouse-aware even over ssh, uses Ctrl-[SXCVQ] like a text editor should) but the OP didn't seem to want that. I've written RTF documents by hand in emacs and it is no fun.

Seconding pandoc for text format demystification. Again, it's not a word processor, but it makes all the markup language problems go away.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:53 pm
by W. H. Heydt
nobbit wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:16 am
Yes, I use vim on a daily basis. But vim is a text editor. It doesn't have the features one normally looks for in a word processor.

And before anyone asks: yes, I have experience with LaTeX too. While LaTeX makes scientific article writing a breeze, it's a total time sink if you want to produce a document that looks different from that.
If you combine vi with nroff (and, as needed tbl and eqn), you can probably do anything a modern WYSIWYG "word processor" can do...and quite possibly more.

Old joke... You know what a "food processor" does. So what do you think a "word processor" does?

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:59 pm
by ejolson
nobbit wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:16 am
Yes, I use vim on a daily basis. But vim is a text editor. It doesn't have the features one normally looks for in a word processor.

And before anyone asks: yes, I have experience with LaTeX too. While LaTeX makes scientific article writing a breeze, it's a total time sink if you want to produce a document that looks different from that.
Latex is definitely not light weight, but it does have already configured formats for writing letters and such.

I've found that plain Tex (which is Latex without all the extra layers of macros) actually works quite well for writing letters. I typically use two or three commands to adjust the font size and margins. The rest of the work is thinking up and typing the letter.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:12 pm
by jamesh
I use Google Drive webapps nowadays. Seem to work ok on Pi4.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:34 pm
by cspan
How about Focuswriter?

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:54 pm
by fruitoftheloom
cspan wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:34 pm
How about Focuswriter?

Never heard of this one, but appears to be in repositories:

https://packages.debian.org/buster/focuswriter

https://gottcode.org/focuswriter/

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:07 pm
by bjtheone
scruss wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:30 pm
no, it didn't. Though emacs is my way of life, it's by no means a word processor. One might as well recommend any text editor (if we're going there, I really like micro: small, portable, mouse-aware even over ssh, uses Ctrl-[SXCVQ] like a text editor should) but the OP didn't seem to want that. I've written RTF documents by hand in emacs and it is no fun.
At one point in my professional life it was pretty much an OS... shell scripting, rfps, perl, mail, c, debug.. SunoS and HP-UX ware just a way to launch emacs... and then there were the sad people who clung to the doomed ship called vi. But yes, now that I am older and much wiser I will concede it is not the optimal solution for WISIWIG in modern times, and even contemplate admitting that it has a bit of a learning curve.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:32 pm
by W. H. Heydt
bjtheone wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:07 pm
...the doomed ship called vi.
For a "doomed ship" it seems to be doing pretty well.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:43 pm
by Heater
Reincarnated as vim it's in use every day here.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:49 pm
by bjtheone
la la la I can't hear you.

As a quick a dirty config editor it is lovely. As a programming editor loaded up with stuff (ick) just give me emacs. The one that I really don't understand is vim. Take all that is wrong in the world and tack on a GUI. WISIWIG with modes... yeah that is easy to wrap your head around if you are just starting out with computers now.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:59 pm
by jbudd
The worst thing about vi[m] is that I keep getting ESCjjjj appearing in my LibreOffice documents!

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:03 pm
by Heater
bjtheone,
The one that I really don't understand is vim. Take all that is wrong in the world and tack on a GUI. WISIWIG with modes...
I have no idea what you are talking about. The vim I know and love has no high res graphic or WISIWIG. It's just good old fashioned text as we might have seen or our VT100's back in the day.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:38 pm
by W. H. Heydt
bjtheone wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:49 pm
la la la I can't hear you.

As a quick a dirty config editor it is lovely. As a programming editor loaded up with stuff (ick) just give me emacs.
One of the first things I do on a new Raspbian image is to add "export EDITOR=/usr/bin/vi" to the end of /etc/profile.

I use vi as a programming editor. The largest program I currently use it on has just short of 2200 lines of C. My wife has used vi for typing academic papers and writing fiction. She wrote numerous short stories and a novel just using vi and nroff with the -ms macro set. I will grant that vi has a bit of a learning curve, but you can get started by just getting a grip on the two modes and a handful of commands. The -ms macro set are very powerful, but it takes a real effort to really master them.

Possibly the most interesting thing about vi was that Bell Labs tried to write their own full screen editor and failed. So they went--hat in hand--to Berkeley to license vi. Then rather than just adopting termcap as it stood to support the myriad of terminals on the market, they "reinvented the wheel" to come up with terminfo.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:05 pm
by rpdom
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:38 pm
One of the first things I do on a new Raspbian image is to add "export EDITOR=/usr/bin/vi" to the end of /etc/profile.
I do

Code: Select all

sudo update-alternatives --set editor /usr/bin/vim.tiny

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:39 am
by PetesPi
If you are looking for a word processor rather than a text editor (for coding), then here are your best bets.


1) Focuswriter (rocks: fast launch, easy spellchecking via hunspell and allows you to create 'themes' that customize appearance)
2) Pyroom ( is a super simple full-screen word prcoessor that has buffers for multiple projects ... fairly featureless with no distractions)
3) Wordgrinder (mentioned by others in this thread.... simple word processor that uses ncurses -- but takes a bit to get the hang of managing files)
4) dav-text (or dav-txt) a tiny terminal-based word processor similiar to wordgrinder but arguably better because there is no mussing with ncurses menu


try them all. see what works best based on your needs and writing approach. :geek:


all of tthe above can save as plain text... focuswriters saves as plain text, RTF or obt (libre office's format)

Another alternative is LYX, which is a latex-based layout and document generator. If you are writing research papers or journal articles, it might be worth exploring. But it is not designed to be a pure word prcoessor.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:49 pm
by ejolson
PetesPi wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:39 am
Another alternative is LYX, which is a latex-based layout and document generator. If you are writing research papers or journal articles, it might be worth exploring. But it is not designed to be a pure word prcoessor.
Opposite of LYX is TeXmacs, which was designed to be a word processor and surprisingly doesn't use the TeX layout engine nor is it based on emacs.

TeXmacs actually quite lightweight. If I got along better with my mouse, I might use it.

Re: Lightweight word processor (alternative to LibreOffice Writer)?

Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:04 pm
by W. H. Heydt
ejolson wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:49 pm
TeXmacs actually quite lightweight. If I got along better with my mouse, I might use it.
Have you considered joint therapy?