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Test drive 3.0

By   |  July 14, 2008 3.0, the next major release of the open source office suite, is scheduled to be released in September. Which means that it is pretty much guaranteed to be included in the next release of Ubuntu 8.10, Mandriva 2009 and Fedora 10, all of which are due out in October. Until then it is easy enough to test out the beta releases of OpenOffice 3.0 without removing your existing 2x OpenOffice installation. Installing OpenOffice 3.0 beta also means you can test out Sun’s PDF import extension which is also still in development.

What to expect

OpenOffice 3.0 has a number of new features including a better “notes” feature which lines up notes down the side of the page. Adding and deleting notes in this format is easy to do and in initial testing worked rather well.

The upcoming release also includes a better zoom function. Zooming in on, or out of, pages is done using a slider in the bottom bar. Zooming out shows multiple pages on a single screen which a a nice-to-have.

The presentation tool, Impress, also has a new feature that shows the user with a different screen to what is on the projector. The presenter’s screen can display the current slide as well as the next slide. The alternative display can also show the time and elapsed time as well as speaker notes.

One of the features not included by default in the OpenOffice 3.0 beta is the PDF import feature. The ability to import PDF documents into OpenOffice is, however, expected to be included in the final release. The good news is that the beta version of Sun’s PDF import extension is available and can be tested in the OpenOffice 3.0 beta.

The import extension opens PDF documents in either Impress or in OpenOffice Draw. The PDF is imported and each line of text can be edited as a single entity. Importing PDFs at this point does work but there are variable results in the formatting of documents, particularly those with complex layouts. But standard documents with a linear layout work reasonably well.

Install OpenOffice 3.0 beta

These instructions are to install OpenOffice 3.0 on Ubuntu 8.04, but they can just as easily be adapted for other platforms.

The OpenOffice 3.0 beta releases are available as RPM, Deb and source packages. There are also Solaris, Mac OSX and Windows packages available. One of the major claims of the 3.0 release of OpenOffice is that for the first time the office suite will be available as a native application for the Mac OSX platform.

To install OpenOffice 3.0 on Ubuntu visit the OOo download page and download the .deb Linux package. This is not a small download at around 150MB.

Download the .deb package to your desktop and, once completed, extract the packaged file to your desktop:

tar xzf ~/Desktop/OOo_3.0.0beta_20080429_LinuxIntel_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz

With that done you need to install all the packages in the “DEBS” directory. To do this with a single command do this:

sudo dpkg -i ~/Desktop/BEA300_m2_native_packed-2_en-US.9301/DEBS/*.deb

That’s pretty much it. OOo 3.0 beta doesn’t install a menu item to start the application so you’ll need to run it from a terminal:


PDF import

The PDF import extension can be installed once OpenOffice 3.0 beta has already been installed. To do this download the extension from Save the file and from within OpenOffice 3.0 open Tools->Extensions manager. That will pop up a dialog box. Choose “Add” to load the PDF import extension.

You will need to close OpenOffice and re-open it for the extension to take effect. Once that is done you’ll be able to open PDF files from the normal “Open” menu option.


5 Responses to “Test drive 3.0”

  1. Riaan
    July 14th, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

    Downloading Beta 2 (not officially announced yet)

    As of 14 July 08 (today) the current Beta download page ( allows you to download Beta 1 (from April, check the date in the download file name) only.

    However, Beta 2 (aka milestone 2 / build 9328) has been available from the mirrors for a couple of days now. There probably/hopefully will be some official announcement soon. For those that cannot wait until then, here are direct download links (to the South African mirrors)

    Users from other countries can find OO.o 3 Beta 2 in the developer/3.0.0beta2 directory of their local OO.o mirrors

    The PDF Import feature works surprisingly well, and shows a lot of promise. It is very easy to edit existing text, but somewhat cumbersome to add new text.

    PS: apologies to the guys at OO.o and pre-empting your announcement, but if people are going to take the time to install an OO.o Beta, they could just as well go with Beta 2 instead of Beta (1).

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    July 15th, 2008 @ 12:35 am

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  3. NoCaDrummer
    July 15th, 2008 @ 3:15 am

    I’ve been using some of the builds for a couple of months now. One of the features that I’d really appreciated was the expanded (from 256 to 1024) Calc columns. I’m currently running it on a couple of Windows PCs at work and my Linux box at home.
    For some reason, one of the Windows PCs doesn’t “register” the program, so I’ve had to copy all the files from the 3.0 version to the directory that had been for the 2.4 version. Otherwise, it seems to be fine.
    Since I recently moved from OpenSuSE 10.3 to 11.0 at home, I took the opportunity to clear out a LOT of junk. I backed up my HD, reformatted the drive, and did a clean install. I then downloaded OpenOffice 3.0, unpacked it, and moved all the RPM files into a special folder. I then used the Program Manager in YaST to select the OpenOffice files ONLY from that RPM directory (I skipped the fr and es files). Although it worked okay before, it works exceptionally well now, and I don’t have to worry about it getting mixed up with OpenOffice 2.4. The latest builds are looking better & better and have fewer and fewer quirks. (One previous version suddenly made all my formulae appear instead of the values, another crashed regularly from the startup screen). No complaints so far, and I’ve been using it for a few days now.
    The only “complaint” I have is that I’d really like a key-combination for “fill-down” and “fill-right”, such as Ctrl-D, Ctrl-R. But that’s been since the 1.x versions of OpenOffice that I’ve complained about that issue.

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