Friday, October 19, 2012

Perils of free software

My son, David, is a Stallmanite. This means that he has a religious attachment to free software. 

He recommended "Libre Office" to me for use on my new deskbook, since I did not want to pay for Microsoft Office. I used this software to work on my third novel last summer.

Now I'm back using Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 and trying to process the .rtf files generated by Libre Office.

I had previously noted last sumer that Libre Office deleted a lot of punctuation from the .rtif files coming from WORD, which was a huge problem. Now I am noticing that it inserted Chinese characters going back to WORD.  It particularly seemed to create a sequence that results in WORD for mac 2011 interpreting directional apostrophes and quotation marks as part of the succeeding character.

My son's passion for free software is undiminished and he believes I should abandon .rtf files in favor of open document files. He cites

I have corresponded with Libre Office. They apparently lack Microsoft Word for mac 2011 and therefore cannot reproduce the problem.

On the one hand, I suspect that David is right that Microsoft is doing things to make its file formats indecipherable so that competitors cannot make software that reads them. On the other hand, I value compatibility more than idealism on this issue and feel annoyed with David for inducing me to take on this obscure office suite.

Addendum 11/3/12

My son persists in touting the benefits of free software and cites this:

Addendum 11/26/12

Someone claims that Libre Office 3.6.3 has corrected this problem.  I don't know.

Addendum 12/20/12

I had an old computer around running Windows that had died of a virus.  I had already paid twice to revive it, $200 a pop; and did not want to pay again.  We decided to install Ubuntu on it.  Then we wanted to add a wireless card, so we could interface with our wireless router.  We bought a netis WF-2117.  It doesn't work.  I contacted them.  They say they only support Windows.  Frustrating.

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