free always catches the consumer's eye. As it has with Java and
Solaris, Sun announced that it would also make the cross-platform
StarOffice suite available for free as a Microsoft alternative. Sun
recognized the potential success of and demand for StarOffice late last
summer when it acquired Star Division, the German software company that
created the office suite.
On August 31, 1999, Sun announced that StarOffice would be free to
download; By early March of this year, over 1.6 million people had
downloaded StarOffice. It was reviewed in LinuxWorld's October
1999 issue in an article titled "Star Wars: Will office from any other
vendor smell as suite?" (See Resources.)
That article took a look at what StarOffice could mean to you and your
organization. Here we focus on the actual installation of StarOffice and
getting it up and running for both single-user and multiuser
Minimum hardware and software
Before going to the trouble of
downloading the StarOffice software or purchasing the CD, you should make
sure you have the minimum hardware and software setup for StarOffice.
StarOffice is available for the following platforms:
- Intel Pentium (or higher) running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows
- Intel Pentium (or higher) running OS/2
- Intel Pentium (or higher) running Linux
- Intel Pentium (or higher) and SPARC running the Solaris 2.5.1, 2.6,
or 7 operating environments
To take advantage of some of StarOffice's more advanced features,
you'll need to have the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) already installed
and the environment variable
JAVA_HOME set to point to the
JRE directory. (See Resources
for the Linux port of Java). You don't need this to use StarOffice;
however, it will provide access to some additional features and make Java
applications available directly from the StarOffice desktop. If the
JAVA_HOME variable is set, the StarOffice setup interprets it
For the Linux version of StarOffice, you'll need approximately 160 MB
of hard disk space, 2 MB per user for a multiuser installation, and 32 MB
of RAM, though 64 MB is recommended.
Our testing setup consisted of a Pentium Pro 200 MHz machine, as well
as a Compaq Presario 1260 notebook, both running Slackware 4.0 Linux
(which includes the 2.2.6 kernel, and XFree86 184.108.40.206).
There are two ways to get StarOffice:
The advantage of purchasing the CD
is that, in addition to the Linux version of StarOffice, the CD also
includes versions for Windows 9x/NT, OS/2, Solaris (SPARC), and Solaris
- By downloading it from Sun's Website (see Resources).
This is a free download; however, you must register to access it. Other
Websites from which you can download StarOffice include CNET.com and
- By ordering on CD (see Resources).
When Sun purchased StarOffice, it offered a promotion whereby you could
order the StarOffice CD with no printed manuals and pay only the
shipping and handling costs. That promotion appears to have ended,
however, and the StarOffice CD can only be obtained by purchasing the
StarOffice full media kit, which includes user documentation, for $39.95
plus shipping and handling.
StarOffice uses both the new glibc2
(libc6) and the Linux-Kernel-Threads libraries. According to the
installation documentation on the CD, Sun tested StarOffice with the
versions libc-2.0.7.so and libthread-0.7.so (glibc-2.0.7-7-7.i386.rpm).
Before beginning the installation, check that the corresponding libraries
are set up in your system. To see whether your Linux system contains the
appropriate libraries, type:
ls -l /lib/ld-linux.so.2
ls -l /lib/libc-2.*.so
If these files exist, you probably already have the required libraries,
though you should still check the version numbers. If in doubt, go ahead
and try to install StarOffice. If these libraries are not installed on
your system, you will simply experience a segmentation fault when you run
the setup program. At least that was the case with Slackware 4.0.
The table below shows some of the more common Linux distributions, the
libraries they're based on, and whether glibc needs to be installed.
|Red Hat 6.0
|Red Hat 5.1
|Red Hat 5.2
|Delix DLD 6.0
Although you can upgrade your entire Linux
installation to include the required libraries, you can also install the
libraries in a way that minimizes any changes to the rest of your system.
That is useful if you just want to try out StarOffice on a given machine
and uninstall it at a later date. Below we describe how to install the
libraries to minimize changes to the rest of your Linux installation.
To install glibc from the StarOffice CD:
- Change directory into the directory containing the glibc2 libraries:
If you downloaded StarOffice rather than purchasing the CD, you also
will need to download the glibc libraries from the StarOffice FTP server
For the English language version, download the file:
- Start a Bourne shell by typing:
- Run the executable
soprep in the current shell, using:
- When prompted for the glibc2 installation directory, note that the
default attempts to install to
/opt/Office50/lib, while the
default installation directory for StarOffice (5.1) library files is
/opt/Office51/lib. Therefore, be sure to change this
If you do not have write permission to the directory, you could
perform a single-user installation of StarOffice. In that case, type in
the path to the
lib directory in the intended installation
directory. If the directory does not already exist, it will be created
- Important: In spite of any messages that
displays, only run
gldrinst force if required by the table
above. This may damage your system even if glibc-2.0.7 already exists,
since the existing glibc-2.0.7 may be incompatible with the version on
LD_LIBRARY_PATH to point to the new libraries:
You are now ready to begin the installation. However, ensure that you
continue the installation in the same terminal shell as the one you just
Even if you are installing
StarOffice primarily for use by a single user on a single machine,
performing a multiuser installation is probably worthwhile -- and cleaner
from an administrative standpoint. A multiuser installation requires
approximately 150 MB of disk space (162.5 MB during installation), plus 2
MB per user.
To perform a multiuser installation:
- Change to the directory containing the installation files. On the CD
version of StarOffice, this is
the setup program using the
/net command line option:
If you get a segmentation fault at this point, your environment is
probably not set up correctly. Refer to the earlier section, titled
"Getting Started," for details on setting up your environment.
- The setup program is much like the familiar InstallShield type of
installations. It will create the necessary directories, copy and
extract program files, create local settings, and compile the help
If you use KDE as your desktop environment, you can install StarOffice
with KDE. The installation program will be able to detect that you are
running KDE and automatically update the KDE program menu with three new
icons for running StarOffice. KDE will prompt you to restart the KDE Panel
to make the new icons appear.
Users then will need to run setup to install their user files. This can
be done by selecting the setup icon from the StarOffice program group
under KDE. Alternatively, each user can execute the setup program from the
You may want to perform a
single-user installation of StarOffice if you just want to try it out and
don't have the required write permissions to install into
/opt. A single-user installation also requires approximately
150 MB disk space (162.5 MB during installation).
You should ensure that you have set up your environment -- with respect
to required libraries -- as described in the "Getting Started" section.
To perform a single-user installation:
- Change to the directory containing the installation files (on the CD
version of StarOffice, that is /cdrom/linux/office51) and run the setup
Again, if you get a segmentation fault at this point, your
environment is probably not set up correctly. Refer to the earlier
section titled "Getting Started" for details on setting up your
- The setup program is similar to the familiar InstallShield software.
It will create the necessary directories, copy and extract program
files, create local settings, and compile the help files.
another commercial-quality office suite to Linux, as well as to Solaris,
Windows, and OS/2 desktops. The current version, 5.1, has clearly been
designed with a multiuser environment in mind, and it works well in that
scenario. With a little planning, the single- or multiuser installation is
A future version will enable the office suite to work through a Web
browser from anywhere in the world.