Once upon a time, even a simple business presentation could be quite a costly affair. The person putting together a presentation would create her presentation using a word processor (or pen and ink), then transfer it to a business graphics presentation tool. Alternatively, a special design service might be hired to take that next step, but eventually, the whole project would be sent to yet another service that would create 35-mm slides from the finished paper presentation.
On the day of the big meeting, the old carousel slide projector would come out, and the slides would be painstakingly loaded onto the circular slide holder. Then, the lights would dim, and the show would begin. With any luck, the slides would be in the right order, and the projector would not jam.
These days, we use tools that streamline this process, allowing us to create presentations, insert and manipulate graphical elements, and then play the whole thing directly from our notebook computers. The projectors we use simply plug into the video port of our computers. There are many software packages to do the job under Linux. The most popular (and the one I cover here) is part of the OpenOffice.org suite. It is called Impress. For those of you coming from the Microsoft world, Impress is very much like PowerPoint. In fact, Impress can easily import and export PowerPoint files.