Mac News Review

Lion a Win for Most Mac Users, OWC SSD Twice as Fast as Apple's, i5 Mac mini Reviewed, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.08.05

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Reviews

Apple Updates

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Lion 'Nothing but Win' for Most Mac Users

InfoWorld's Tom Yager has posted a full review of OS X 10.7 Lion, noting that it's been at least five years since Apple rolled so many user-relevant modifications into one OS release, and that Lion takes several bold steps toward defining a new Mac experience, taking its inspiration from iOS.

Yager observes that Lion shifts responsibility for protection and continuity from users and their human support systems to the platform by making key best practices automatic and transparent, laying on "fierce defenses arrayed to protect your data from thieves, vandals, and accidental loss," and enthuses that Lion is "nothing but win for nearly all Mac users," with the only users who won't benefit from Lion are those who remain dependent on PowerPC applications, since Rosetta, the PowerPC instruction translator that allowed pre-Intel apps to run on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, is history in Lion.

Apple, says Yager, is no longer afraid to tell users who don't upgrade, "You're going to be left behind," predicting that by this time next year a preponderance of apps on Mac App Store will require Lion.

Editor's note: Lion also leaves behind those who need to use a dial-up modem and send or receive faxes, as Apple's USB Modem is not supported. cm

Lion: Should You Make the Switch?

NewsFactor's Mark W. Smith asks rhetorically, "Should you take the Lion plunge or sit this one out?", noting that OS X 10.7 Lion is not for old or slow computers, and that Apple has unleashed its most complete rethinking in a decade of what it means to use a computer .

Smith cites five pluses (reasons to take the Lion plunge) and two minuses (reasons to sit this one out).

Plus

  1. Full-screen apps
  2. Multitouch gestures
  3. Fast Web browsing
  4. Launchpad
  5. Autosave

Minus

  1. No physical install media
  2. Not for old or slow computers

Editor's note: Not all of us would agree that Smith's plusses necessarily amount to positives. For example, fullscreen apps are anathema for multitaskers and the shift to multitouch gestures in place of traditional navigation and manipulation. The jury is still out on Launchpad. We can concur with him on the lack of physical install/restore media and Lion's requiring a fairly recent computer with a high-powered processor being negatives for computers bought in 2007, which Lion may very likely be incompatible or slow the computer enough to make the upgrade a bad idea. cm

Installing Lion on a 2006 Mac mini Upgraded with a Core 2 Duo CPU

Hardmac's Lionel says:

"Many of us purchased the first Mac mini that featured a Core Duo CPU (publisher's note - the Late 2006 Mac mini also used a Core Duo CPU), and many of us also decided to upgrade that processor by a Core 2 Duo.

"Theoretically, it should be possible to install Lion on these computers since they now run on Core 2 Duo. In reality, the installation cannot go through as the installer looks as the reference of the motherboard and not the one of the CPU. It is however possible to force the installation."

OWC 6G SSD More than Twice as Fast as Apple's in 2011 Mac mini

2011 Mac mini performance with OWC 6G SSDsPR: OWC Blogger Michael says the OWC Lab's benchmarking has been completed on the latest round of Mac mini machines from Apple, and that with the factory stock 5400 rpm hard drive - which is what most people are used to computing with - the Mac mini goes pretty fast, achieving read/write speeds around 86 MB/s, which is consistently above the rated 80 MB/s maximum of an external FireWire 800 connection. that's plenty of speed for your average email, web-surfing, and social media computer.

Michael notes that while Apple offers its own 256 GB SSD option (a $600 add-on that isn't available on the 2.3 GHz base model), if you're into audio editing, video editing, or doing anything else that reads and writes large amounts (or several small amounts) of data, there's just no substitute for a SATA Revision 3.0 capable SSD such as OWC's Mercury Extreme 6G SSD, which offers speeds well over twice as fast as the optional Apple SSD, the OWC product boasting 506 MB/s read speeds and 432 MB/s write speeds from a single drive.

Apple's Tech Support Quality Lead Slipping

Apple's increasing problems with automation on tech support callsPR: Apple continues to lead Dell and HP in customer service quality for phone-based technical support, but customers are reporting more problems with the automated part of the call, according to a new study conducted by Vocal Laboratories Inc. (Vocalabs). In telephone interviews immediately following a support call, 58% of Apple customers were Very Satisfied with the experience during the first six months of 2011, compared to 47% of Dell customers and 53% of HP customers. However, Apple's satisfaction score is down a whopping 15 points from a year ago, while HP has improved nine points over the past two years.

"Apple used to be well ahead of the pack in tech support," says Vocalabs CEO Peter Leppik. "Now it would be fair to say that they are merely at the front of the pack. Apple used to lead on nearly every metric for support quality. Now there are several metrics where Apple is tied with its competition, or even trails."

Nevertheless, customers remain highly satisfied with Apple's support agents, with 77% of customers in the first six months of this year being Very Satisfied with the technician; as compared to 56% of Dell customers and 61% of HP customers. The automated part of the call is a different story, however, with only 24% of Apple customers being Very Satisfied with that part of the experience, trailing Dells 36% and HPs 40%. In this survey period, 40% of Apple customers reported a problem with the automated part of the call, nearly double the 21% rate from a year ago.

Statistics in this report are based on 4,161 surveys completed by Vocalabs between May 2008 and June 2011. You can download the Executive Summary.

To subscribe to the full data set, contact Vocalabs at inquiry@vocalabs.com, 952-941-6580, ext. 201.

Last Call for AppleWorks Fans

Macworld's Christopher Breen says that if you're a die-hard AppleWorks users, if you want to use a Mac running Lion, your time has run out because AppleWorks won't work. So what to do with those AppleWorks documents?

Publisher's note: This is a big deal for me, as I have been using AppleWorks since version 1.0 came out. I love how fast and user-friendly it is, and its spreadsheets have become second nature to me. Excel feels foreign, and Numbers, which can open AppleWorks spreadsheets, has a completely different feel. I'm going to keep using it on one of my older Macs when I get around to trying Lion. A real shame Apple let this program languish, as it puts semi-integrated office suites (Microsoft Office, iWork, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, and the like) to shame. dk

Don't Let Your Digital Photos Fall by the Wayside

The Star-Ledger's Allan Hoffman notes that a strong point of digital photography is that it delivers instant gratification, but that for a lot of users, the experience ends there, or close to it, without much effort to print photos, organize them, or otherwise preserve them for posterity.

This, says Hoffman, amounts to a disaster waiting to happen, and with many people using smartphones as their de facto cameras of choice, much of the visual record of our era is going to be lost forever because of the ephemeral nature of digital storage, archiving, and retrieval.

Hoffman suggests that the no-brainer minimum remedial step should be use of photo organization software like iPhoto (if you're on a Mac) or Google's Picasa (Windows, Mac, Linux), be sure to back up your computer, or even better, consider an online backup service like Backblaze, Carbonite, or Mozy to ensure against your computer being stolen or data being lost in a natural disaster.

Publisher's note: Always copy your digital photos to your computer before deleting them or erasing them from the memory card. Most new Macs have built-in SD card readers, and all Macs since 1999 have USB and will work with card readers. And if you use Migration Assistant when you move to a new Mac, it will copy all your photos (along with your apps, preferences, iTunes library, user settings, etc.) to the new Mac. Backing up with Time Machine is always a good idea, and Dropbox is another great service for backing up important files - and it lets you sync them between multiple computers. dk

UK Applies Some Common Sense to Copyright Laws

The Globe and Mail's Adrian Croft reports that the UK government announced that it will introduce a digital exchange where licences for copyright works may be bought and sold, as part of a revamp of its 300-year-old copyright laws, while scrapping proposals to block websites that publish copyright-infringing material after a regulator found the plan was unworkable.

Croft quotes Business Secretary Vince Cable commenting at a news conference that, "By freeing up the intellectual property copyright system . . . we help consumers, we help business and we help the pursuit of knowledge. But at the same time we do it in a proportionate and balanced way that protects genuine creative artists," and that the government planned to "bring the law in line with common sense" by legalizing the copying of CDs or DVDs onto digital music players or computers for personal use as well as allowing commercial and cultural use of so-called "orphan works" - works in instances when the copyright owner can't be contacted.

The coalition government accepted the "broad findings" of an independent review which found that reform of Britain's intellectual property framework could add up to 8 billion pounds ($13 billion US) to the economy.

Editor's note; It's about time some common sense was applied to copyright legislation in the digital arena. Bravo. cm

Reviews

2.5 GHz Core i5 Mac mini 'a Very Welcome Update'

T3's Ian Osborne notes that Apple's small form factor Mac mini has lost its DVD drive and replaced its Mini DisplayPort with a Thunderbolt port, and he thinks it's a fair swap, since Thunderbolt can handle both video and data, and you can daisy chain up to six devices on a single port. Mini DisplayPort monitors can be plugged directly into Thunderbolt, adapters for other types of displays are available, and as a data port to an external optical or hard drive, Thunderbolt has 12 times the bandwidth of FireWire 800 and 20 times that of USB 2.0.

Macworld: Mid 2011 Mac minis Deliver Serious Performance and Value

Macworld's Dan Frakes reports that the latest version of the Mac mini, officially called the Mac mini (Mid 2011) and released along with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, sticks with last year's design, but it gets a price cut, a major power boost, and a Thunderbolt port. Frakes observes that, like most Apple products, the new mini is compelling, but it won't appeal to everyone.

The new base Mac mini at $599 comes with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 2 GB of RAM (easily upgradable on a mini), a 500 GB 5400 rpm hard drive, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics processor that uses 288 MB of main system memory. There's also a $799 upmarket model with a 2.5 GHz Core i5 and a more realistic 4 GB of RAM plus a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6630M GPU with 256 MB of dedicated memory, and there's also a server version starting at $999.

Gone in the 2011 edition is the slot-loading SuperDrive optical drive, with Apple evidently bound and determined to push us into the Cloud. However, that's one reason for the price cut, and external optical drives are available, with Apple's $79 MacBook Air SuperDrive being only one (relatively expensive) option. Leaving out the SuperDrive made room for the discrete GPU on the $799 model while providing room for a second hard drive. Frakes notes that even with the external SuperDrive, the $599 model is still $21 cheaper than last year's mini - and it has a lot more get up and go.

Go hog wild with the options list, and you can configure a Mac mini up to $1,849, and you'll still need a keyboard, mouse, or display on top of that, but the stock $799 mini sounds like the sweet spot to me, and you can upgrade it more cheaply using third-party RAM, hard drives, optical drives, etc.

Editor's note: It's gratifying to see the Mac mini, which has been my favorite desktop Mac since it was introduced, getting due attention from Apple. I'm mostly a laptop guy, but were I to switch to a desktop, the mini would be at the top of my short list, and the latest Sandy Bridge Core "i" powered iteration sounds like the best mini yet, according to Macworld's review. cm

Apple Updates

Apple Declares Earliest Intel Macs Obsolete as of September 13

Hardmac's Lionel reports that as of September 13th, Apple will consider the Macs and iPods on the list below as obsolete, and no longer accepted for service or repair by Apple Authorized Service Providers.

This marks the first instance of Apple pronouncing Macs powered by Intel processors obsolete (2006 iMac and Mac mini), soon after it was announced that they would not be compatible with OS X 10.7 Lion.

Products & Services

Iomega Mac Companion Hard Drive with FireWire 800, USB 2.0 Hub, and Port for iDevices

Iomega Mac Companion Hard DrivePR: Iomega's new Mac Companion Hard Drive includes two FireWire 800 interfaces, a USB 2.0 hub, plus a FireWire 400 to 800 adapter cable. Styled to match Apple's latest Mac computers, it also includes a convenient USB charging/syncing port for your iPad, iPod, or iPhone.

The Mac Companion's space saving design fits perfectly on the Apple iMac base or on your Apple monitor's base. With multiple interfaces, you can easily add other peripherals like a printer or other external storage. It also includes a handy capacity gauge on the front and a fast 7200 rpm drive mechanism. Shipping formatted HFS+ for Mac computer users, the included Iomega Protection Suite Mac Edition software includes Trend Smart Surfing for Mac and several backup software solutions. A three year limited warranty is activated when you register your product.

Mac Companion Features

  • Fast: Fast transfer speeds available including FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 connections; 7200 rpm drive speed
  • Multiple Connections: One USB 2.0 port, two FireWire 800 ports, and a 2-port integrated USB 2.0 hub lets you connect multiple devices (the Mac Companion must be connected to the computer via USB in order to use the USB hub or the charge/sync port)
  • Feature-rich: Styled to match the latest Mac computers; Stacks on the iMac base or Mac monitor; HFS+ for ease of use right out of the box; USB port (2.1 Amp) to charge/sync your iPad, iPod, or iPhone
  • Capacity Gauge: Capacity gauge on front lets you know how much storage is available on the hard drive (requires software utility install to enable capacity gauge feature)
  • Warranty: Three year limited warranty with product registration

In the Box

  • Iomega Mac Companion Hard Drive
  • USB 2.0 Cable
  • FireWire 800 Cable
  • FireWire 400 to 800 Cable (for 1394b to 1394a conversion)
  • Power Supply
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Iomega Protection Suite Software via Download
  • Trend Micro Smart Surfing software for Mac - 1 year free subscription via download - $59.99 value
  • Iomega QuikProtect
  • MozyHome Online Backup service (2 GB Free)
  • Three year limited warranty with product registration within 90 days of purchase

Specs

  • One USB 2.0 port
  • Two FireWire 800 ports
  • Two port integrated USB 2.0 hub (The Mac Companion must be connected to the computer via USB in order to use the USB hub or the charge/sync port)
  • Preformatted in HFS+
  • Compatible with PC and Mac
  • Transfer rates of 480 Mbits/s when connected to a USB 2.0 controller; up to 800 Mbits when connected to a FireWire 800 controller
  • Memory cache of 8 MB or better
  • Three year limited warranty with product registration within 90 days of purchase
  • Dimensions: 1.75" H x 5.82" W x 7.77" L
  • Weight: 4.54 pounds

System Requirements

Mac:

  • Power Mac G3 or greater
  • FireWire 800 (1394a)/USB 1.1: Mac OS X 10.5 - 10.7 (drive performance will be reduced using a USB 1.1 connection)
  • USB 2.0: Mac OS 10.5 or higher
  • 128 MB RAM or higher as required by operating system

PC:

  • Pentium II-class or equivalent processor (300 MHz) or higher
  • Built-in USB connection/FireWire 800/400 (1394a) depending on drive connectivity
  • Microsoft Windows Vista (all versions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate), Windows 7
  • Drive must be reformatted to work with PC

To View User's Manual:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 3.0, Apple Safari 3, or higher browser

Pricing

  • 3 TB FireWire 800 / USB 2.0 - $369.99
  • 2 TB FireWire 800 / USB 2.0 - $239.99

Software

Roccat 1.8 Fast Web Browser Adds Lion Features

PR: Roccat Browser is an interesting and somewhat quirky new Apple WebKit-based browser from the fludium family with a focus on speed and some interesting features, such as:

  • VisiTabs which give a preview of the website in the tab.
  • Navigate Launchers- assign letters or words to navigate to webpages, there are already many preloaded ones
  • Ad-Remover built within the engine
  • Internal engine effects, orange glows on inputs, hold down on text field for 5 seconds for them to enlarge.
  • Email-Previewer; tells you when a link is an email link and tells you the link
  • Change User Agents- View sites which need other browser, view apples videos which require safari etc...
  • A choice of VisiTabs or normal tabs or both, a bookmarks bar which fully supports bookmarklets
  • Downloads files and programs really easily and fast
  • Gets 100/100 in the Acid3 test
  • New Download Manager and now has FullScreen Mode
  • Lovebyt.es integration for instant URL shortening

Low End Mac as viewed using the Roccate browser
Low End Mac as viewed using the Roccat browser.

New in version 1.8:

  • Various bug fixes
  • Many cosmetic changes throughout the app (including bookmarks bar and tab bar)
  • Mail Link to This Page... feature added to the social menu
  • New three finger gesture to switch between tabs

System Requirements:

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later

Roccat's developers note: We have spent a lot of money on the Roccat Project (this version in particular), so if anyone can help support future development please do donate! Thank you!

Runecats Recommended Add-ons

  • Click to Flash: Automatically blocks Flash content and offers features which allow you to never block certain Flash content and always block others. To activate Flash simply click on the settings icon in the left hand corner of the flash and choose "Show Flash Content".

Lion-Compatible Carbon Copy Cloner Upgrade

PR: Lion is finally ready, but are you ready for Lion? OS upgrades offer the thrill of new features, better performance and bug fixes, but they come at a price your time and potentially your productivity. If you upgrade your OS only to discover that a critical third-party application or peripheral doesn't work right, you could be really lost trying to downgrade your Mac. Unless, that is, you have a complete, bootable backup of your Mac, pre-Lion.

To make your bootable backup with Bombich Software's Carbon Copy Cloner:

  • Get a backup disk. If you need advice, some can be found in CCC's documentation
  • Prepare your backup volume for an installation Mac OS X
  • Download CCC and fire it up
  • Choose your startup disk in the Source menu
  • Choose your backup volume in the Destination menu
  • Click the Clone button
  • Sit back and watch the fastest cloning tool on Earth. When you're bored after about three minutes, check out the new features in CCC 3.4.

The key to a successful backup plan is to actually do the backups regularly. When left to a human, the task often gets tacked on to the end of a very long list of other things to do. When you eventually have a catastrophe, the data is simply gone. You know that feeling you just lost six years of family photos. Your kids being born, their first birthdays, their first everything. The answer to this is consistent and regular backups, placed on a schedule and handled automatically by your computer.

Carbon Copy Cloner offers fast, incremental backups that copy only items that differ from the last backup, as well as checksum analysis of your backed up files, archiving and archive management, and backup task scheduling. With CCC, you can back up to a locally-attached hard drive, to a network volume, or to another Macintosh across your network or across the Internet.

A Better Bootable Backup

  • Your data, the operating system's data, all preserved impeccably on a bootable volume, ready for production at a moment's notice
  • Simplest method to migrate to a new, larger hard drive, especially if you have lost your original Mac OS X Installation DVD
  • Support for block-level disk-to-disk clones for super-fast upgrades
  • Smarter & faster
  • Subsequent backups copy only the items that have changed since the last backup
  • Archive past versions of your files and items that have been deleted
  • Back up to hard drives, network shares or to disk images
  • Schedule backup tasks on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis
  • Configure a backup task to run when the backup device is (re)attached to your Mac
  • Convenient "Defer or Skip" features allow you to dynamically reschedule or skip a backup that occurs at an inopportune time
  • Email notifications keep you on top of your backups
  • Back up to another Macintosh on your home network or across the Internet
  • Back up to a disk image with optional encryption
  • Back up to and from network shares
  • Simple interface for indicating exactly what to back up
  • Restore using the same process used for backup
  • Backups are nonproprietary, so you can browse them or use them with Migration Assistant
  • "Cloning Coach" offers proactive configuration advice and expert troubleshooting guidance when hardware or filesystem errors occur

Update your Mac

Download Lion from the App Store and let it do its magic.

Play! And make sure everything is working.

Take some time to run the applications that are most important to you. Remember that Lion no longer supports PowerPC applications, so fire up the Apple System Profiler and see if any of your applications won't work.

If things look pretty good, detach your backup disk from your Mac and set it aside for a couple days. If, after a week or so you decide that everything is copacetic, fire up CCC and rerun the backup task with the same settings CCC will update your backup volume with only the items that have changed since your last backup.

If you have to downgrade, here's what you need to do:

  • Attach your CCC backup disk to your Mac
  • Open the Startup Disk preference pane in the System Preferences application
  • Choose your backup volume as the startup disk, then click on the Restart button
  • Ah yes, there's your old Mac, everything in order! If you need to get real work done, go right ahead. Anything you modify on the backup disk will be restored later.
  • Launch CCC
  • Select your backup volume from the source menu
  • Select your Lion volume from the destination menu
  • Stick with the default preset, "Maintain a backup (Archive modified & deleted items)"
  • Click the Clone button

When the restore process has completed, reset your startup disk in the System Preferences application and restart your Mac. You'll be back to Snow Leopard in no time. It'll be like putting on an old, comfortable pair of shoes that were just sitting there in the back of your closet, waiting for you to come home.

Are you expecting some sticker shock now that you've seen that list of features? Not with CCC. Bombich's philosophy is that you should try the full-featured product until you trust it, then consider a donation to support the development of Carbon Copy Cloner.

NeoOffice Beta Adds Support for New Lion Features

PR: NeoOffice's new 3.2.1 Beta adds Apple's new Versions, Full-Screen mode, and Resume feature for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion users.

NeoOffice

NeoOffice is a full-featured set of office applications for Mac OS X. Created in 2003 when there was no Mac OS X version of OpenOffice.org available, Patrick Luby and Ed Peterlin have devoted their decades of Mac software engineering experience to create an office suite that is adapted to the unique needs of Mac users.

While OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice now have their own Mac OS X versions, Patrick and Ed continually add improvements to NeoOffice that Mac OS X users will not find in OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice such as:

  • Extremely stable Mac OS X code that has been in daily use by hundreds of thousands of NeoOffice users since 2003
  • Significant speed improvements to the OpenOffice.org text layout, rendering, and printing code
  • Native Mac OS X text highlighting
  • Native file locking support for local and networked volumes
  • Mac OS X Services support
  • Native floating tool windows

NeoOffice 3.2.1 beta updates the free Mac OS X-native version of the OpenOffice.org office suite, which includes Mac-like features such as Services support, floating tool windows, trackpad gestures, and Mac OS X grammar checking support.

This beta release offers support for the Versions, Resume, and Full Screen mode features of Mac OS X 10.7. NeoOffice is $10 for Mac OS X 10.5 through 10.7 (Intel). Older versions are still available free of charge.

Free Open Source LibreOffice 3.4.2 Office Suite

PR: The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced LibreOffice 3.4.2, the third version of its 3.4 family, targeting both private individuals and enterprises. LibreOffice 3.4.2 fixes the majority of the most-important bugs identified by users in the previous version, and TDF says it can be deployed for production needs by most enterprises.

The Document Foundation encourages large organizations deploying LibreOffice to do so in conjunction with a support partner, who can carefully assess specific requirements, help manage migration and provide bespoke fixes for identified issues. Purchasing LibreOffice support from a TDF partner also provides enterprises with an indirect means to contribute financially to the project, thereby funding its development, improving its stability, and accelerating its growth. Users should always refer to the release notes before deploying the new version.

LibreOffice is a comprehensive, professional-quality productivity suite that you can download and install for free. There is a large base of satisfied LibreOffice users worldwide, and it is available in more than 30 languages and for all major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, ...). You can download, install and distribute LibreOffice freely, with no fear of copyright infringement.

LibreOffice is a feature-packed and mature desktop productivity package with some really great advantages:

  • It's free - no worry about license costs or annual fees.
  • No language barriers - it's available in a large number of languages, with more being added continually.
  • LGPL public license - you can use it, customize it, hack it and copy it with free user support and developer support from our active worldwide community and our large and experienced developer team.
  • LibreOffice is an Open Source community-driven project: development is open to new talent and new ideas, and our software is tested and used daily by a large and devoted user community; you, too, can get involved and influence its future development.

LibreOffice gives you high quality:

  • The roots of LibreOffice go back 20 years. This long history means it's a stable and functional product.
  • Thousands of users worldwide regularly take part in beta testing of new LibreOffice versions.
  • Because the development process is completely open, LibreOffice has been extensively tested by security experts, giving you security and peace of mind.
  • LibreOffice is user-friendly:
  • You get a simple-to-use yet powerful interface that is easy to personalize - Microsoft Office users will find the switch easy and painless, with a familiar look and feel.
  • Compatible with all major competitors' file formats. You can easily import files from Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and many other formats, and can easily save to Microsoft Office and other formats when needed.
  • LibreOffice is supported by a big worldwide community: volunteers help newcomers, and advanced users and developers can collaborate with you to find solutions to complex issues.

LibreOffice Application Modules

Writer is the word processor inside LibreOffice. Use it for everything, from dashing off a quick letter to producing an entire book with tables of contents, embedded illustrations, bibliographies and diagrams. The while-you-type auto-completion, auto-formatting and automatic spelling checking make difficult tasks easy (but are easy to disable if you prefer). Writer is powerful enough to tackle desktop publishing tasks such as creating multicolumn newsletters and brochures.

Calc tames your numbers and helps with difficult decisions when you're weighing the alternatives. Analyze your data with Calc and then use it to present your final output. Charts and analysis tools help bring transparency to your conclusions. A fully-integrated help system makes easier work of entering complex formulas. Add data from external databases such as SQL or Oracle, then sort and filter them to produce statistical analyses. Use the graphing functions to display large number of 2D and 3D graphics from 13 categories, including line, area, bar, pie, X-Y, and net - with the dozens of variations available, you're sure to find one that suits your project.

Impress is the fastest and easiest way to create effective multimedia presentations. Stunning animation and sensational special effects help you convince your audience. Create presentations that look even more professional than the standard presentations you commonly see at work. Get your colleagues' and bosses' attention by creating something a little bit different.

Draw lets you build diagrams and sketches from scratch. A picture is worth a thousand words, so why not try something simple with box and line diagrams? Or else go further and easily build dynamic 3D illustrations and special effects. It's as simple or as powerful as you want it to be.

Base is the database front-end of the LibreOffice suite. With Base, you can seamlessly integrate your existing database structures into the other components of LibreOffice, or create an interface to use and administer your data as a stand-alone application. You can use imported and linked tables and queries from MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access and many other data sources, or design your own with Base, to build powerful front-ends with sophisticated forms, reports and views. Support is built-in or easily addable for a very wide range of database products, notably the standardly-provided HSQL, MySQL, Adabas D, Microsoft Access and PostgreSQL.

Math is a simple equation editor that lets you layout and display your mathematical, chemical, electrical or scientific equations quickly in standard written notation. Even the most-complex calculations can be understandable when displayed correctly. E=mc2.

LibreOffice also comes configured with a PDF file creator, meaning you can distribute documents that you're sure can be opened and read by users of almost any computing device or operating system.

LibreOffice 3.4.2 is the result of the combined activity of 300 contributors having made more than 23,000 commits, with the addition, deletion or modification of around five million lines of code. The developer community is well balanced between company-sponsored contributors and independent community volunteers: Oracle and SuSE have each provided around 25% of the commits, with a further 25% coming from community volunteers new to the project since our inception, and with a further 20% from RedHat. The remaining commits came from a combination of pre-TDF contributors, Canonical developers, and organizations like Bobiciel, CodeThink, Lanedo, SIL, and Tata Consultancy Services.

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