Mar 292013

Article from Tcat Houser editor-in-chief of

Certainly I ignited a small fire regarding the Open Source Office Suites Versus Microsoft Office. Let me state several things for the record.

  • I applaud open source efforts
  • I enjoy playing with different versions of Linux
  • I NEED to use Microsoft Windows

Further, sometimes I NEED to use Microsoft Office.

I am creating this article in LibreOffice Version, in a RTF format. And yes, I am using Windows 8 64-bit edition. The reason I NEED Windows can be summed up in two words: Speech Recognition (SR).

I have been a self-employed technical person for the past 38 years. I my living based solely on my output. Since 1998 a major secret weapon has been the use of SR. Certainly, you can get speech recognition from the Debian pool. While some good folks over in Japan have made some major advancements over the years, it is still a toy. This is inherent in the complexity of speech recognition software.

In 1998 IBM had a Linux version of SR known as ViaVoice. It worked about as well as any other SR offering of the day. IBM dropped the product. At a conference I asked an IBM executive, Why? The answer was: “We did not get enough gross revenue to cover the cost of the box manufacturing to put the CD in it.”

In my experience the Open Source community is its own worst enemy. Putting on the rose-colored glasses, and disappointing those who just want to ‘get something done’. Let’s look at a real world example.

I had received a DOCX file for editing. I opened it in LibreOffice. I believe the graphic speaks for itself.


Now let’s look at what the DOCX file looks like in Microsoft Office 2010.


The ultimate output needed to be a PDF at

Let’s look at what the PDF would have looked like if I had made my edits and said export as PDF.


As I get paid for results I think this demonstrates I would not have been paid for this job. Continuing to insist on using an Open Source office suite would be both financially and career limiting.

Certainly, I would prefer that LibreOffice handled the not that complex document. I invite you to try it for yourself. As the work is now published as a PDF, as well as now an MP3 on Google Play, and as a video I invite everyone to try to improve Open Source Office alternatives by fixing things so a document such as this works. I would not have to send it back to the author to convert to PDF.

This case is a classic example of what I referred to in my previous entry. I have to collaborate with others, dealing with their output. I have to produce results as efficiently and professionally as possible. I don’t work at some major company and there are any number of sharp young men and women living in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, etc. willing to do the work. Certainly they do not have the same overhead costs as I do. Many of them don’t have to pay taxes, the rent is far less and food cost less. They can also get away with pirating MS office. I do not have any of these luxuries and yet I must live with the fact I am competing on an uneven playing field.

Certainly I would love to see Open Source software do everything I need. Rose-colored glasses do not pay for my ISP and is not put basic food on the table.

The Open Source community has not gotten the market acceptance certainly I would like to see because an office worker just trying to keep their bills paid cannot afford putzing around attempting to make work flow.

Certainly I do my best to break the stranglehold. LibreOffice could not let me edit the file and make a PDF. I’m not going to contribute unnecessarily to the status quo by purchasing Adobe Acrobat. I don’t see in my lifetime being able to get real SR on anything but Windows. I’ll accept that. Can I at least have an Office Suite that will let me make the PDF without the help of Microsoft or Adobe?

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  19 Responses to “The Biggest Failure in Open Source Is…”

  1. facciamo due considerazioni punto per punto.

    Speech Recognition: è vero che attualmente non ci sono alternative, ma dei un occhio a questo progetto che potrebbe interessarti parecchio

    e per completezza, ecco l’elenco degli speech recognition disponibili per linux
    anche close source, dovrebbero funzionare sicuro.

    Docx: il problema non è tanto il fatto che libreoffice non abbia ben importato il documento, quanto il fatto che sia stato fatto in docx.
    Il problema dell’open source non è se stesso, è il close source: se avessero fatto il documento in odt, non avresti avuto problemi.
    Se la microsoft avesse soluto che la gente usasse formati liberi, non ci sarebbe stato motivo di usare Office.
    L’open source funziona benissimo….se lavora in open source.
    Esattamente come un’auto a benzina funziona benissimo….se ci metti la benzina; se ci metti la marmellata perchè gli altri nella loro ci mettono la marmellata per questioni di chiusura….capisci il problema.

    senza considerare il fatto che quel tipo di documento non dovrebbe essere fatto con word…

    • Thanks for the round out on SR! 🙂

      I agree with you that if the world worked in ODT, no issues.
      And it isn’t that way. I cannot make the mountain come to me 🙁

  2. If you have any suggestions then please leave them at the appropriated place in future, that would be with the Libre Office development team suggestions My suggestion is you stick with winddows and Office,2010/13 and 365 and pay through the nose for the privilege. For that write up MS should give you a free copy of all their office software,

    • It was with a heavy heart I bought MS-Office. As I stated before, I bought
      Star Office and promoted it. Posted articles about Open Office V1.

      Just because I’m a MCSE does it mean I ‘like’ MS. It does mean I know
      ‘know your enemy’, and put out a considerable amount of measured effort to that end.

  3. I know exactly what you mean. I was looking at a Porche the other day. While it looked good on the outside, it simply wasn’t what everyone in my neighborhood was driving. Shoot, do you know that the Porche won’t really work with General Motors parts… which btw, everyone know is the most prevalent automobile out there. Can you believe it!? Sure, they tried to sell me on the features, the speed, the reliability… but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work with GM parts…. what’s the point? The dealer even wanted to show me how superior the parts were… I said, “Can I use the Porche parts on my GM car?” And of course, he said, “no”. What an idiot. And people wonder why Porche is such a failure.

  4. Have you ever wonder why you were not able to open it? It’s what the M$ people call “innovation”. It works this way, there is a ISO standard that outlines exactly how the document format is layout, but the people at M$ knows that keep it the same as everybody else will make easy to others vendors to open the document like my product, so what I do?, I become an “innovator” and do a “little” twist to the standard. That is going to give the result you see in the first screen? …. yeah … but who cares? …Users are like lambs we take to the slaugther, they will prefer to pay the price for my “innovation” because the hurdle and cost to pay for my unfair action will always take them to the “wise” decision of buying it. Checkmate!

    • And MS Office cannot open Word For Windows Doc files. I did 1 page weekly pieces called Hot Off The Fax.
      It was faxed (via early ISA based FAX board to business that did an OPT IN. Very popular because it did 20-30 word IT summaries.
      Only The open source can open the early Word for Windows files….

  5. One mans trash is another mans treasure, as they say. Thank goodness Microsoft never hooked me on Office. You probably started out using MS Office to begin with right? If you had started out using something else you probably wouldn’t be in the current situation you are in. And maybe your version doesn’t work, but I read that Office works great in Wine.

    • Actually, I stared with MS on a language called BASIC in the 70’s. DOS (from Tim Patterson) would come later. I bought MS-Office recently to handle work.
      I was living happy in LLO land.

  6. Certainly Tcat Houser, editor-in-chief of, knows how to proof a document and run a spelling/grammar check for multiple office suites. After reading the above article, looking over the text “work product”, and reflecting for a moment it is apparent that Tcat Houser just can’t seem to make Microsoft Office work correctly for his business needs. Perhaps he should give LibreOffice another try 🙂 .

    • “Give it another try’ ? What? I live Libre Office. I was one PiS*ed Man when my work required me to get MS Office. Someone gave me (required) work to do that would not fit LLO.

  7. Try to send a bug report to Italo Vignoli if you are in google plus or to the libreoffice foundation; i know they want to improve stuff even more than now;

    • Hey Simone!

      I don’t want to sound like a s*ithead. I have worked with this site and feel this entry is as detailed a bug report as one will get. I simply cannot afford to be chasing every weed/bug I see. The original DOCX, and pix are here. As is the clients required output. It is here for several reasons. Mostly to tell the avg. end user they are not crazy. The Open Source Community over promises the person that just needs to get stuff done. 🙁

      I’m not anti-Open Source. I AM anti-Over Promise. I use Ubuntu and Mepis Linux. Mac OSX Mtn. Lion. Win 8 64-bit, all every day.

      If someone needs more data, I’m here. I *want* Open Source (free and paid) to win. Meanwhile, I’m just an old fart from paper tape and punch card days still looking to earn my keep while young folks from 3rd world countries don’t have a problem stealing commercial code while I have to pay for it.

      • “If someone needs more data, I’m here. I *want* Open Source (free and paid) to win. Meanwhile, I’m just an old fart from paper tape and punch card days still looking to earn my keep while young folks from 3rd world countries don’t have a problem stealing commercial code while I have to pay for it.”

        WHAT THE F

        Are you comparing yourself to 3rd world people? Me cago en la hostia!

  8. I am not a young ‘un from the 3rd woild but a, almost sextuagenarian 🙂 from there. I learnt to use a computer when I turned 40, ’96. Turned to GNU/Linux at the turn of the century. Decided then that no matter what the struggle will try to stick with the free stuff and promote the same too. Yes it has mostly been a struggle but have stuck with it and even make a living out of it. I too do consort with the evil empire since they have a stranglehold on the average joe’s computin’ needs. But I try my best to wean away those willing to make the leap. But the vast majority still sing the song you sing. ‘I have work to do and it has gotta be done without having to jump through hoops’. As if the free stuff is to blame for the jumpin’ thru tha hoops stuff 🙁

    • I agree with you. Certainly I promote the lower cost alternatives. I was successful at avoiding MS Office for about 10 years. And one of my best clients hired Jobin to do the research and writing for the white papers at (not my area of expertise). I got stuck with the edit, and had to acquire MS Office…

  9. You work way too hard. I can screw up Libre Office’s ability to read Word Documents with one (1), yes ONE, well placed period. I can do it every time. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Word Document from 97 or 2013.

    One (1) period.

    Here’s how: Go to Word, use the Vertically Center Text feature in Word (or WordPerfect or Softmaker Office or any other Word Processor from the 19th, 20th or 21rst century for that matter) and type:


    Without quotes. That’s all. Libre Office will barf. Guaranteed. And, yes, Libre has known about this bug for a couple of years now. Instead, they twiddle and twaddle over personas.

  10. Hi Joe, did you read my dot file?
    Oh, no, what was it about?
    A dot!
    Oh, couldn’t open it, need to install ms office to read your dot!
    Okay, do it fast, remember it’s an important dot!
    Okay, Geeye 😉

  11. Hi!

    In the Open Source world it works like this: If you need a feature in a program, fix it yourself and be thankful for all the code that you didn’t have to code in the first place. And share the feature/fix when you’re done.

    In this way the software is improved by a lot of people bit by bit, resulting in a great program in the end.

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