Linux Mint and OpenOffice

Several people have mentioned to me that they have given Linux Mint a try following my recent blog post about it. They have consistently been positive about it, with the most common comment being "it really is Ubuntu plus all the stuff I used to download and install myself, and even more".

Several people have mentioned to me that they have given Linux Mint a try following my recent blog post about it. They have consistently been positive about it, with the most common comment being "it really is Ubuntu plus all the stuff I used to download and install myself, and even more". However, one thing that has turned out to be a problem is that Linux Mint 6 still only has OpenOffice 2.4.1. This is a big problem for people who need to be able to open MS Office 2007 files, but not only for them. It is also a problem for those who are aware and concerned enough to know that there have been significant security fixes in OOo 3 as well.

The reason for this is simple - Linux Mint 6 is derived from Ubuntu 8.10, and Ubuntu 8.10 still has OpenOffice 2.4.1. When 8.10 was released, as I wrote in my blog at that time, it was generally thought that they would update to OOo 3.0.1 when it became available. Perhaps because that date turned out to be fairly close to the Ubuntu 9.04 release date, they seem to have decided not to do that. I'm even more surprised that having decided to stay with OOo 2.4, they haven't even updated to the 2.4.2 release, as I thought there were some significant security patches in it, but perhaps I am wrong about that. Anyway, I think this is a bit unfortunate, because I have the impression that a fair number of people might choose to skip Ubuntu 9.04, as they have the impression that it does not contain "significant" improvements. Those people would then be left on OOo 2.4 as well, unless they manually update to 3.0.

Speaking of manually updating, to finally get to the point, as I reported in the previous blog about this, it is fairly easy to change the software repositories so that you get the latest OpenOffice.org 3.0 release. Because Linux Mint has maintained compatibility with the Ubuntu repositories, you can do essentially the same thing as for Ubuntu. There are some differences in the procedure for Linux Mint, of course, so here are the specific instructions for that:

- Start the Synaptic Package Manager (Menu / Package Manager)

- In Synaptic, go to Settings / Repositories

- Click "New", and enter the following information (the same as was previously given for Ubuntu 8.10):

Binary(deb)

URL: http://ppa.launchpad.net/openoffice-pkgs/ubuntu

Distribution: intrepid

Section(s): main

- Click "OK". You will probably get a message telling you that the software sources are out of date. (DUH)

- Click "Reload". You will probably get a warning about no public key available for the new repository. Not a problem.

- Close Synaptic

- Start the mintUpdate utility (Menu / Administration / mintUpdate)

- You should see a number of openoffice updates listed, with "new version" containing 3.0 and "old version" containing 2.4. If you don't, click "Refresh", and they should show up.

- Click "Install Updates"

Once that finishes, you should have OpenOffice.org 3.0.1 installed, and it should be automatically kept up to date in the future.

Of course, Ubuntu 9.04 already has OOo 3.x included, and I'm pretty sure the next major release of Linux Mint will be based on Ubuntu 9.04, so I am very much looking forward to that. Especially because the Ubuntu 9.04 installer works properly on my HP Mini-Note, so I will be able to put it on there as well.

jw 16/4/2009