WordPerfect 7 for Linux

WordPerfect 7 for Linux, I'm pleased to say, is very good—certainly good enough for me to finally abandon Windows as a word processing environment.
  • Manufacturer: Corel Corporation (ported by Software Development Corporation)

  • E-mail: custserv2@corel.com (info@sdcorp.com)

  • URL: http://www.corel.com/ (http://www.sdcorp.com/)

  • Price: $199 US (add $19.95 US for CD_ROM)

  • Reviewer: Michael Scott Shappe

Since the push for commercial applications under Linux began, one of the flagship applications has been the “grand old man” of PC word processing, WordPerfect. Originally, Caldera had ported WordPerfect 6 to their commercial Linux distribution. This port apparently did well enough to convince Corel, the current owners of the product line, that there was a market worth their efforts. They farmed out the port to Software Development Corporation, but Corel markets the results, WordPerfect 7 for Linux, directly as well as through SDC's web site.

WordPerfect 7 for Linux, I'm pleased to say, is very good—certainly good enough for me to finally abandon Windows as a word processing environment. It has few problems (no show-stoppers) and a reasonable price tag.

Getting the Program

There are two ways to obtain the program: downloading off the Net or ordering a CD. In both cases, you get a completely functional program with all its features but only a 15-day evaluation license. I thought this was a nice compromise between the commercial nature of the program and the freely available software model the Linux community is used to. This evaluation version is entirely free if you get it off the Net; you can also pay about $30 US to have a CD shipped to you. I tend to prefer to have the disk around, so I tested both the CD and the network installation.

If you decide to keep WordPerfect, a single-user license is $199 US—about $100 US less than for current versions of WordPerfect on other platforms, including other Unix platforms. This pricing also seems to be aimed at a compromise between the two mindsets. While not willing to give the license away, Corel is interested enough in the Linux community to offer an attractively low price.


Whether you grab it off the Net or opt for the CD, installation is fairly easy, as you would expect these days. If you choose to download, you will need to do a little more work. You will also need a lot more disk space to store both the distribution and the installation, but the former can be erased or archived as soon as you're satisfied with your setup. You will need between 50 and 150MB of disk space available for the final installation, depending on the options you select.

Installing from the Net

Getting the necessary files off the Internet is just a matter of linking to the right web site. In this case, you want to go to http://www.sdcorp.com/ or http://www.corel.com/. It's a little faster to navigate SDC's web site. SDC's main page has a link for “WordPerfect for Linux” that leads to the registration and download pages for the evaluation copy. It also leads to pages that allow you to actually purchase a license or purchase the CD from one of their resellers.

Once you have the files you need (and it will take a while, even on a fast link), make a directory and unpack the files (tar xzf should do the trick for each of them). Note that, unlike most GNU packages and other software you get off the Net these days, these tar files do not create a directory for you, so be careful.

When done, you will have a number of cryptically named files and a completely obvious “Runme” file. Execute “Runme” as root, and it will walk you though the installation with either a decently thought-out graphical interface or a bearable character interface, depending on whether or not your X server is running at the time and whether root currently has permission to display. If you're running XDM with its default configuration, and log in as a regular user and use su or sudo to get root access, root will not have permission to display by default. You can either use the command:

xhost `cat hostname`

before invoking su to add the entire local host, or use this command:

xauth merge ~yourusername/.Xauthority
as root to give root access to the necessary keys. Both are kind of cheating, and you'll probably want to undo them (by using xhost - or removing /root/.Xauthority) when you're finished. Both methods are almost identical in what they let you do.

When the installation is complete, you will find that all of those cryptically named files now have .bk extensions added. The files themselves haven't changed at all, but if you find you need to reinstall or wish to change installation options, you will need to move these files back to their original names before running “Runme” again.