WordPerfect Office 2000 Deluxe

One box contains everything needed to use Linux in an office environment, and if you don't have Linux yet, there is even a CD with Corel's LinuxOS distribution.

Corel is aiming at several types of users with WordPerfect Office: people who already use Linux but want the power of a professional office suite; people who are putting together a new computer and don't want to tithe to Microsoft; and existing WordPerfect users who are ready to make the switch to Linux. To support the widest range of existing systems, they include an installation program that recognizes your distribution and installs itself accordingly. Corel also provides the suite in both Red Hat RPM and Debian DEB files, so if you have problems with the installation program, you can perform the installation manually. People buying WordPerfect Office as a complete desktop solution get a general-release version of LinuxOS, identical to what you can download from Corel's web site.

I installed WordPerfect Office on three computers running three different Linux distributions, just to see what how it would handle the differences.

The Old System

The first was a typical older system, a P90 with 32MB of RAM, a 4X CD-ROM and a 2GB hard drive. This is significantly below the recommended minimum system requirements, and you'll quickly see why when you try to run the office applications. It is the sort of system that Linux is often called upon to resurrect (or at least sustain) for a few more years after Windows bloat has rendered it “obsolete”. Don't expect WordPerfect to help, though—Corel recommends a minimum of a 166—200MHz CPU, and they mean it.

I started by popping the LinuxOS CD into the drive and rebooting, hoping the BIOS was modern enough to boot from the CD-ROM. It was, and after a few moments of earnest disk access, I was rewarded with a subdued low-res color graphic of Stonehenge, a sundial and other oddities, with messages politely telling me to be patient while Linux loaded.

Once the system was sure I remembered why nobody sells 4X CD drives any more, it got on with its job and started asking me questions. Not many questions, however. Agree to the license? Want the full installation? Repartition the hard drive? Yes. Yes. Yes. My name is Jon, and so on. Five questions later, the installation began in earnest, and I, remembering how slow a 90MHz CPU feels in this age of 700MHz laptops, left it to its devices and went off to have dinner.

When I got back, the system was patiently waiting for me to eject any floppy disks that might have snuck into the drive so that it could reboot. A quick click of the “OK” button, and the system automatically ejected the installation CD and started toward its first LinuxOS boot.

Corel has done their best to hide the “Linux” in “LinuxOS”. A graphical boot loader hides as much detail as it can, telling you in the simplest possible terms that, yes, the system is booting, and you should just hang on while it does its job. The system probes your hardware and auto-configures itself based on what it recognizes, which may or may not be what is actually there. Once the auto-configuration process is complete, you are presented with a simple graphical login prompt. You can log in as root or the one regular user account created during the installation process, and, after setting your password, you are ready to go.

This is about as hands-off as you can get in a Linux installation. The system defaulted to 1024 by 768, 16-bit graphics, no network and no sound, which is surprisingly good considering how little I had to do to get it working. I would have preferred to answer some questions about my network card and preset the passwords, but their decision to keep the installation simple and hands-off is probably justified considering the target audience.

KDE is the default user interface, and Corel has kept that as simple as possible, too. No questions are asked about how you want the system to look. There is no choice of having a CD-ROM icon on your desktop. Instead, you are presented with a rather Windows-like desktop with a few icons on the left edge and a bar along the bottom having a few icons on the left and a clock on the right. The configuration isn't totally Windows-like, with four virtual desktop icons and no “Start” button, but any Windows user will be able to figure out that the icon where the “Start” button would be does the Start button's job.

For everything Corel intends LinuxOS to be, it is perhaps a little too simple. Corel seems to have done a good job of removing redundant menu options, which also means that unless you know where to look, you are going to have a harder time finding some features.

After a little bit of random searching, I had a directory listing of the WordPerfect CD on screen. A quick double-click of the setup icon launched the WordPerfect Installer.