OnlyOffice: the office suite for collaborators who like flexibility

Visit the Office category on any Linux distro that organizes software into categories, such as ones with the XFCE or Cinnamon interfaces, and the applications that compose LibreOffice will be found. The suite is the most popular for Linux users, and many Mac and Windows users also have installed it on their systems.

LibreOffice is not the only alternative to Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac that is available to Linux users, however. There is another that has several capabilities that LibreOffice and Microsoft Office 365 don’t have.

OnlyOffice has had desktop applications, packaged as an integrated suite, for most Linux distros, as well as Windows and Mac OS that is free to download and install. Users also can access the same applications through any Web browser on any computer, as long as they or the organization they work for has a cloud service account. The price for an account is free, and there are business and vip tiers that organizations can subscribe to on a monthly or annual basis.

OnlyOffice doesn’t have as many settings and features as the well-known office suites, but it is more flexible than they are. This article will compare it with LibreOffice and Microsoft Office, as well as give an overview of its user interface and the file formats it can handle.

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Linux distros give artists, creators easy access to software

Linux distros are still considered by many as only for nerds. They are not operating systems for musicians, artists, photographers, and creators in related fields.

The major reason for this is that leading software designed for creators, such as Adobe’s products and Avid Pro Tools, only works on Mac and Windows. This gives the impression that Linux distros have been relegated to the operating system for programmers and network specialists.

This belief is false, however.

Software titles, like the ones listed above, are expensive, and they are not flexible. Users can only install each title on one or two computers after purchasing a license from the developers.

There are many alternatives to these titles that are open-source. They can typically be downloaded and installed for no charge, and they can be installed on as many computers as the person downloading them desires. For most of them a subscription is not required.

The open-source software is typically not as powerful and feature-rich as the leading software applications. However, these titles are usually better than the free or inexpensive software that can be acquired through the Windows 10 store or the Mac OS X store.

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Manjaro gives users consistency across different types of computers

The store is open for business and all the products are free. It’s free beer day. Now that 100s of flavors are on tap, the biggest problem is which do you choose.

Most marketplaces don’t present consumers with this problem, but this is the key problem in the desktop Linux marketplace. While those new to desktop Linux typically like the number of choices, this aspect of Linux can be overwhelming. Ubuntu, elementary OS, Linux Mint, Zorin, Fedora, pop_os!, Manjaro, and LXLE are just a few of the choices of operating systems based on the Linux kernel that are easy to use and easy to install on most laptops and desktops that ship with Windows pre-installed.

Many new users are interested in replacing Windows with a Linux operating system, also called a distro. Another reason these new users want to try a distro is that there is great hardware on the market that isn’t made by the major manufacturers, like HP and Dell. Some of the smaller manufacturers make high-end computers that cost several thousand dollars, but there are a few that specialize in ARM-based computers that cost well under $300.

The inexpensive laptops and many computers are capable of performing basic tasks like editing spreadsheets, surfing the Web, and communicating through e-mail. Users can even do some gaming, programming, and light video editing on them.

There is one operating system mentioned in paragraph two, that is easy to install and use on laptops and desktops that were originally designed for Windows, several ARM-based computers on the market, and comes pre-installed on several computers designed by small manufacturers.

It is Manjaro.

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Two common functions make easy clones from documents

Office applications, for decades, have always had a way to create a duplicate document from another document. Save As has traditionally been the function that does this. There is another function that is nearly identical that was added to productivity applications in their later versions.
It is called Save a Copy.

Some applications use both. Others use one rather than the other. Most people who have used a Microsoft Office application or an application that is part of another office suite have used one of these.

There are several benefits they offer:

  • They allow others to take a document and work that has previously been done by someone else and use it for their own purposes.
  • They allow for a document to be frozen at a critical point in its evolution. If there are major errors in a document created from it, users can discard the new document and return to the original.
  • They allow users to create two documents that are nearly identical but make them different.

This article compares these functions in Microsoft Office and LibreOffice.

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Is Linux Mint the best distro? It may be the only distro

What is the best Linux distro? There are tons of articles, YouTube videos, and social media posts dedicated to this subject. Ubuntu, Elementary, Pop!_OS, and Zorin OS are a few that can consistently be found in best of lists.

Another one that is usually number one or two on many lists is Linux Mint. This distro has three user interfaces that are similar to Windows: Cinnamon, XFCE, and MATE. These are some reasons why these versions of the operating system are considered to be the best distro:

  • Users can play DVDs on computers running one of these without having to install additional software.
  • They don’t have annoying update warnings that most operating systems flash before their users’ eyes
  • It also comes with unique applications that other distros don’t have and runs some applications a little better.
    • Warpinator, for example, allows users to share documents with other Linux Mint users on the same network.
    • An example of an application that works better is Insync. This application, that syncs Google and Microsoft accounts with different desktop operating systems, will run on almost any Linux distro. However, installing it places an indicator in the Linux Mint menubar that tells if the application is up-to-date, still syncing, or if there is an error. The only other distro that this indicator installs on is Ubuntu.

However, I have another reason why I consider it to be the best distro. It is the most important reason (at least for my situation).

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LibreOffice: almost 40 years of development

When people think of software, they often think about multi-million dollar corporations. They do not always think of charities or non-profit organizations. However there are many applications that are developed by non-profits and their volunteers. The open-source office suite,LibreOffice, is such an application.

The office suite that is maintained and developed by a non-profit organization, The Document Foundation, has been in existence since 2011. Built on source code, it has become one of the most feature-rich suites on the market. It has several features that Microsoft Office for Windows does not have, such as the ability to export documents in the XHTML format. Its applications also can create and editor standard Office formats, from the 1997 versions of the suite to the most current ones. Its primary formats, however, are OpenDocument Formats (ODF).

It is composed of six applications and a document manager, called StartCenter. The applications are Writer, the word processor; Calc, the spreadsheet; Impress, the presentation application; Draw, the vector graphic program; Base, the relational database manager; and Math, the formula editor. These applications have been part of the suite since its beginning.

The suite has these same applications and features, regardless of whether its running on Windows, Mac, a Linux distro, or BSD (Berkely Software Distribution). It can be downloaded in various ways, and it comes preinstalled on most Linux distros. There are also several off-shoot versions that are available for iOS, Android, and Chromebooks.

LibreOffice’s heritage is two office suites that were developed at the same time that Microsoft Office began to dominate the market.



The original office suite that LibreOffice code was taken from was developed in Germany in the mid-1980s. In 1985, Marco Börries created StarWriter 1.0, and a year later formed the company Star Division in Lüneburg. It was originally created for CP/M and MS-DOS, and Star Division developed several versions of the stand-alone application in 1986.

For close to 10 years, Writer was the sole application. Then, in 1994, Star Division released version 2.0; its first suite. This included Writer; Calc, the spreadsheet application; and Base, the database application. The suite was originally designed for Windows 3.0.

Version 3 of the StarOffice suite, released in 1995, had a few more applications, and it was the first Star Division product developed for Windows 3.1 and Mac OS. It was also available on a few other operating systems. The next version, 3.1, which was released in 1996, was the first version available for Linux.

Versions 5.0 through 5.2 contained a dozen applications. Most of these were only around for this series of the suite.

Close to the end of the 20th Century, Star Division was acquired by Sun Microsystems, Inc. The California-based company, that was known for developing the Java language, released version 5.2 of StarOffice in Summer 2000. It acquired Star Division originally for internal use, but they decided to release it to the public.

Most of the code for version 5.2, which was released in Summer 2000, was under a free and open source license. This gave spawn to, which was developed by Sun employees and a community of volunteers.

Version 6, released in 2002, came with only the six applications. These are the ones that now compose LibreOffice. There were nine versions of StarOffice, all together, before its name was changed by a company that acquired Sun.

Oracle purchased Sun in 2010. It renamed StarOffice to Oracle OpenOffice. Like StarOffice, it was the commercial twin of Oracle only kept them for two years. was owned by Sun for 10 years until the company was purchased by Oracle. Many of the developers were unhappy with how Oracle was handling the project, and several of them left in 2011 to form The Document Foundation, the organization behind LibreOffice.

The open-source suite was the dominate suite on Linux distros before LibreOffice came on the scene. It also had versions for Windows and a few other operating systems. Version 3.0 was the first one that ran natively on Mac OSX. Previous version required Mac users to launch the suite using Unix.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice have the same applications and source code. LibreOffice is based on it.

LibreOffice comes into existence

A group of volunteers for were concerned about the direction Oracle would take the open-source project. They had wanted Sun to take a more equal approach to the development of the project before the company was bought out, and Sun had stated in 2000 that a non-profit organization would be over the management and development of the suite. The intended organization was never formed.

The community was bothered by Oracle’s lack of commitment to, and The Document Foundation was founded in 2010. Several months later LibreOffice 3.3 was released. It was based on the source code for 3.3.

The two suites were very similar in the beginning, but due to the focus of The Document Foundation and the development cycle, LibreOffice is more advanced. It releases new versions every six months, so it is more advanced than Oracle donated OpenOffice to the Apache Foundation, and it is now called Apache OpenOffice.

The first version of LibreOffice was based on 3.3, so it was called LibreOffice 3.3. LibreOffice’s latest version is 7.1.


LibreOffice is not a top-of-mind office suite like Office or Google’s office applications, but it has features and capabilities that these two do not. The foremost one is that all of its applications and features for each version are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux distros. Google’s applications don’t run natively on these platforms. Office doesn’t run natively on Linux distros, and their Windows and Mac versions differ.

For Linux users, LibreOffice is not the only office suite, but it is the most accessible. The Document Foundation and others who work on the suite have made it available on just about every distro and just about architecture. Those who use Intel computers and those who use Raspberry Pi or another ARM processor can install the suite or will find that it is already part of the operating system they install.

Windows machines received the most downloads and installs of LibreOffice, even though their users have many other choices. The uses like that it handles open formats and that it does not track the number of times it is installed or require them to login to use it. There is also a portable version for Windows that can be stored on an external drive and used on different PCs.

Mac users will have an office suite that is just as capable as the version that runs on Windows. It also has more features than Office for Mac and the iWork suite.

In many respects, LibreOffice is the best suite on the market. It has capabilities and features that are comparable to Office and some that the popular suite does not. Most users may not replace Microsoft Office with it, but it may be an excellent companion to it.

Click here to install LibreOffice free of charge. There are articles and videos about it on the OS-College Website.

Firefox and Chrome/Chromium trade off capabilities

Firefox used to be the most popular Web browser in the world. It took the lead from Internet Explorer in 2009, but in 2012 Google Chrome took over the top spot. 

Chrome (along with its open-source alternative Chromium) and Firefox bring Web access to most personal devices and operating systems on the market. Both can be installed on Windows and Mac OS. 

Firefox is the default and preinstalled Web browser on most Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Manjaro, Linux Mint, and Zorin. Most of these operating systems are designed to run on Intel and AMD processors, but a few of them have been built for ARM-devices, such as Raspberry Pi 4 and PineBook Pro. Firefox is the preinstalled browser on several of these systems. 

Google’s flagship product also runs natively on many Linux distros designed for Intel and AMD processors, and while it cannot be installed on ARM processor systems, Chromium has been made ready for these, as well as their Intel/AMD counterparts. 

Both distros are available for iPhone and iPad. Chrome is the default browser on most Android devices, and Firefox can be installed with a few clicks from the Google Play Store. 

Chrome is by far the more popular of the two. With Google’s list of Web-based products and marketing capabilities, Chrome has dominated the browser market.  

However, Web browsers are interchangeable, for the most part. Firefox can do most everything Chrome can and take users to just as many places. Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, has been able to make its browser better in a few ways. 

This article covers some advantages each has over the other. 

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OnlyOffice a collaboration tool for all users

Many Linux users may believe they only have one choice when it comes to an office suite. LibreOffice is the only one they know about. It also is an office suite that those who are new to Linux can try on Windows or Mac before switching.

OnlyOffice is another office suite that works equally on these operating systems. It consists of three application that are common to any office suite: word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation. Like LibreOffice, the applications work offline. They have the features to create and edit professional documents, but they are not as powerful as LibreOffice’s applications.

OnlyOffice also doesn’t work on 32-bit systems or ARM processors, like LibreOffice can.

OnlyOffice is an office suite that works on Windows, Mac OS, and just about every Linux distro. Here version 6.0.2 is shown on Linux Mint 20.

However, OnlyOffice is a much better tool for collaborating with others. Linux users can collaborate with colleagues using Mac or Windows computers through the editors, seeing changes as someone else types them. LibreOffice users can’t work on documents with other LibreOffice users like this.

The reason why is that it is more than a set of applications that can be installed on an operating system. The applications also have versions that can be accessed through the cloud. Individuals and organizations can access them by signing up for OnlyOffice accounts or by installing them on servers they control.

These server applications can be accessed through any Web browser, on any operating system. The online version of OnlyOffice offers more applications than the three that can be installed on desktops. Click here to learn more about OnlyOffice.

The office suite that can be installed on operating systems, known as desktop-editors, can connect to those OnlyOffice accounts. They also can connect to ownCloud and Nextcloud accounts. Users can access documents stored in these accounts and work on them with others inside the desktop editors.

OnlyOffice is only available on computers with Intel or AMD processors, but users can install it on just about any computer built in the past 20 years, with just about any operating systems. It also is available through the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Operating systems

There are multiple versions of the desktop editors. The current version is 6.0.2, and it works on most operating systems. Older versions are also available. Several of them can be downloaded from the desktop-editors download page.


The page has two downloads. One is for 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. There is also one for older versions of Windows.

Version 6.0.2 is available for Windows 7 and later. For those who still have Windows XP or Vista, OnlyOffice has an up-to-date version of the suite. Version 4.8.7 that was updated in November 2020 is available

Mac OS

Version 6.0.2 is available for 10.11 and later.


For Linux, there are several different ways to install OnlyOffice. The office suite can be installed on just about Linux distro that is running on a computer with an Intel or AMD processor that is 64-bit.

Snap and Flathub

Most Linux distros have access to the Snap Store or Flathub Store. One or both of them is preinstalled on several of them. It is also easy to install either one by entering a few commands in a Terminal application on distros that don’t come with them.

Ubuntu, Zorin, and several Ubuntu-based operating systems sponsored by Canonical, the organization behind Ubuntu, come with Snap as part of their software centers. Zorin, Linux Mint, and Elementary OS are a few distros with FlatHub preinstalled.

  • Click here to learn how to install Flathub on various operating systems. Most distros not on this list have pages explaining what commands will install Flathub. For example, here it is how to install it on Manjaro.
  • Click here to learn how to install the Snap Store.

The Snap and Flathub stores have the latest version of the desktop editors, currently version 6.0.2. The Snap store also contains version 5.4 that can be installed on servers.


In addition to these two stores, DEB and RPM packages can be downloaded and installed from the OnlyOffice desktop editor page. There are two versions for DEB, which what Debian and Ubuntu-based systems use. One version is for Debian 8 and Ubuntu 14.04 and later. The other is for Debian 7 and Ubuntu 12.04.

The third package is for CentOS 7 and other systems that use the RPM package manager.


OnlyOffice is also offered in the AppImage format. An AppImage is different from the other formats discussed above because it does not need to be installed to be run. There is no need to install a package or install an entire store before installing an application.

Version 5.6.4, an older version of the suite, is available as an AppImage.

Here are the steps for setting up the OnlyOffice AppImage:

  1. Download OnlyOffice by clicking the download for the AppImage on this page.
  2. After it is downloaded, go to the folder where it is stored.
  3. Right-click on the application icon.
  4. Click Properties.
  5. In the window that appears, click the Permissions tab.
  6. In the Permissions tab, click all the Access drop-down menus and select Read and Write in the menus that appear.
  7. Put a check in the Execute checkbox.
  8. Close the window.
  9. Double-click the icon to launch the application.

This is one of the easiest ways to run OnlyOffice. The application works best when it is installed directly on the drive the operating system is installed on. It is more difficult to change the permissions when the application is downloaded to a USB stick or other external drive.


OnlyOffice comes preinstalled on several different distros:


While OnlyOffice doesn’t have as many features as LibreOffice, one of the most popular cross-platform suites on the market, it does collaboration much better. It gives Linux users, Mac users, and Windows users the capability to collaborate with each other on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Users can’t do this in LibreOffice.

OnlyOffice works offline as well. It is available on just about any operating system that can run on a 64-bit Inter or AMD processor.

Why these four?

OS-College’s Website has videos and Web pages about office suites and a few other applications that work equally on Windows, Mac, and Linux distributions (distros). Its social media pages and other media also focus on these applications.

However, it also publishes information about several Linux distros because one of its purposes is to help people interested in using Linux on their personal computers get started. Visitors to the Website and social media platforms will find videos, articles, and posts about Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Zorin, and Manjaro.

These operating systems currently are installed on millions of laptops and desktops worldwide. They are some of the most popular.

There are other choices, however. Many Linux users would not put these four at the top of their lists. There are other distros that occupy the hard drives of millions of personal computers. In fact there are well over 100 official distros from which to choose.

Why focus on these four, then? Why does OS-College give them all the attention and ignore the others?

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Turn a document into an e-book

Many authors self publish and only release their works in digital formats. E-books are also popular formats for publishing houses and booksellers who work with authors to release books in. One of the key formats is EPUB.

LibreOffice Writer can export an EPUB through its versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux distros without the need of additional software. This is a capability that other word processors do not have.

Microsoft Word doesn’t have the capability without a plugin. Google Docs has the option in the download sub-menu in the File menu of a document, but it doesn’t have the same settings as Writer. Corel WordPerfect has the capability to publish EPUB documents, but the office suite is not available to Mac and Linux users. Apple Pages can create EPUB documents specifically for Apple Books. Books on Apple Books are in a proprietary format based on EPUB.

What is EPUB

EPUB is not the format for Kindle books, and Kindle Fire and e-readers can’t read the format. However, other Android devices, Apple devices, and most e-reader applications for desktop computers can read the format. It is an industry standard.

It is a file that combines XHTML documents that contain the content, XML and cascading style sheet documents with metadata, and images that have been inserted in the EPUB file. The file can be opened and its different parts can be rendered by e-book applications. Archive applications allows users to access the XHTML and other document type of documents that compose an EPUB file.

WindowsMacLinux distros
Zip ExtractorUnarchiverArchive Manager
*This is already installed
or in the software manager
Examples of archive applications in different operating system. These are either already installed or can be acquired through the system’s store.

Writer exports EPUB

Writer has two ways to create an EPUB document: directly or through a dialog. Both can be accessed through the File menu.

The Export As sub-menu is in the File menu. It contains
Export as EPUB and Export Directly as EPUB.
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Move the cursor tp highlight the Export As drop-down menu.

Export as EPUB and Export Directly as EPUB are in the menu.

Direct Method

The direct method skips this dialog and a special export dialog for the EPUB is launched. The same dialog is launched when the OK button is clicked in the EPUB Export dialog.

This is the same dialog that is launched when you click the Export item in the File menu, or it launches when you click the Export item in the menu associated with the Save icon in the toolbar.

One difference between this dialog and the traditional dialog is that the only choice in the File type drop-down is EPUB Document drop-down button.ß The traditional one has several choices, including EPUB Document.

Click here to go to the page that has more information about the Export dialog for Writer and Calc.

Export settings

Writer allows users to control the exportation of an e-book with an EPUB Export dialog. Users, who don’t want to change settings on the EPUB document, can bypass the dialog and directly export it. The EPUB Export dialog has three section: General, Customize, and Metadata. The general section has three drop-down menus. Each menu has two choices.

  • Version
    • EPUB 3.0
    • EPUB 2.0
  • Split method
    • Page break
    • Headings
  • Layout method
    • Reflowable
    • Fixed

The Customize section has two browse buttons. The first one allows you to choose an image stored in your hard drive and connected drives. The images can be in standard formats, such as PNG and JPG.

The second one allows you to add a directory of metadata and links to your EPUB document. The metadata in the document will override the metadata that LibreOffice Writer creates for the document that is about to be exported.

The Metadata section has five fields of metadata that are common in most metadata schema, so LibreOffice Writer can create an EPUB document that is ready to be uploaded to a digital library or bookstore and read by e-book applications.

However, many authors and publishers may use it as a starting point and edit the composing documents to make the book better fit into the desired system.