I just love using this infamous opening from Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford (written in 1830) to introduce a chapter on word processing. Those famous words, "It was a dark and stormy night," were made even more famous (infamous?) by Charles M. Schulz's Snoopy, that barnstorming, literary beagle. It just seems fitting considering this chapter's topicword processors.
Word processors run the gamut in terms of complexity, from simple programs that aren't much more than text editors to full-blown desktop publishing systems. Users coming from the Microsoft world are most likely to use OpenOffice Writer, part of the OpenOffice.org suite.
OpenOffice.org is actually the free sibling of the commercial StarOffice suite. When Sun Microsystems decided to open the source to StarOffice, it became another boon for the open source community, not to mention the average user. OpenOffice became the free version of this powerful word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation graphics package, and StarOffice became the corporate choice. Both of these are full-featured office suites, and users familiar with Microsoft Office will feel right at home with the similarities.
You might well be wondering what differences exist between these two sibling suites. The great difference is the price. For anyone with a reasonably fast Internet connection (or a helpful friend), OpenOffice is free. StarOffice, on the other hand, costs something for the boxed set. Included with StarOffice are documentation and support, as well as additional fonts and clipart. That said, you'll find that it is still far less expensive than the Windows alternative.
There are other word processor choices at your disposal. They aren't installed, but that's easily resolved with Synaptic (refer to Chapter 8). I'll tell you about some of those choices and why you might want to look into them at the end of this chapter.