"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun! "

Getting Up and Running on StarOffice 3.1

by Dwight William Johnson johnson@olympus.net

Copyright (c) 1996

Published in Issue 9 of the Linux Gazette

Happy as can be, I am composing this in Linux on StarWriter, the extremely capable word processor that is part of the StarOffice 3.1 suite of business applications. Below I will guide you through the labyrinth of tricks and fixes that you will need to get this first beta of StarOffice working on your Linux system.

Star Office 3.1 is a suite of office productivity applications containing StarWriter 3.1 (word processor), StarCalc 3.1 (spreadsheet), StarDraw 3.1 (graphics and presentation package), StarImage 3.1 (image manipulation) StarChart 3.1 (bar-, pie- and other charts) and StarMath 3.1 (formula design). StarOffice 3.1 makes heavy use of common code in shared libraries, therefore using relatively few resources for the level of functionality.

If you don't have the patience to fix things that aren't right, you should wait for the next beta release. But if, like me, you don't mind fixing a few things to get the immediate gratification of state-of-the-art business software on Linux that you would pay $400 for on Windows 95, read on.

To save you frustration and disappointment, I must also caution you that you will need about 200 megabyes on your hard drive to install StarOffice the way I outline below.

Like many Linux users, I was delighted when the German company StarDivision announced it would release an international Linux version of its major office suite StarOffice, which competes head to head with Microsoft Office in Europe. And still more pleased when I learned that for non-commercial use StarOffice would be free.

I am almost never, however, the first to jump into a new application. Let others find the bugs; let me find a productive application is my credo.

Nevertheless, the prospect of having a high-end WYSIWYG word processor to use in Linux was irresistible. When StarDivision was pressured into an early release of the first beta of StarOffice 3.1 for Linux on July 31, I rushed up to the StarDivision Home Page at http://www.stardivision.de/index.html and linked to one of a number of possible download sites which in my case was ftp://ftp.io.org/pub/mirrors/linux/sunsite/apps/staroffice.

What I saw stopped me. StarOffice3.1 is a more than a 40Mb download in 53 files, mostly diskette images. The installed product takes over 120 megabytes.

I decided to see what the feedback was on StarOffice before investing in that kind of bandwidth. I aimed my Netscape newsreader for a place I knew I could count on: comp.os.linux.development.apps.

The news was bad. Many users were having problems installing StarOffice and those who could were finding lots of bugs, mostly segmentation faults.

The worst news of all was being reminded that StarOffice 3.1 requires Motif 2.0. Even though StarOffice was free, it did not seem worth the $100-$200 investment in Motif 2.0 to bring up an application that might be useless because of segmentation and other faults.

As the days passed, however, the news began to come in that some were getting StarOffice installed and were quite thrilled with its look and feel.

Then on August 18 Peter Klein wrote in the Redhat-List:
"to run and even to install Star Office 3.1. you don't need Motif."
I found his tips and tricks irresistible. I decided to try StarOffice.

Below is step-by-step how I installed StarOffice 3.1 on my Red Hat 3.0.3 system with Metro-X server upgraded to the 2.0.10 kernel using Peter Klein's recipe garnished with a few additional tricks and fixes which I gleaned from the usenet and mailing lists.

  1. I went to my chosen ftp site, ftp.io.org/pub/mirrors/linux/sunsite/apps/staroffice, (Alternatively, you can go to any sunsite mirror. Sunsite is at sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/staroffice.) and downloaded the file 'staroffice.README'. Here I learned about the StarOffice for Linux license, StarDivision's plans for the product, how to connect with the StarOffice technical support and development system and valuable installation notes.

  2. My internet service provider has free hours from midnight to 7:30 A.M. So I waited till midnight, fired up xtftp, pointed it to the ftp site, created a ~/download/staroffice directory for the download, highlighted all 53 files, pressed 'copy' and 'ok' and went to bed.

    (The 'staroffice.README' mentions that you can install only part of StarOffice. So my first attempt, not recommended, was to install just the common files with StarWriter. Unfortunately, the install program comes to an error which has to be stepped past each time it finds a file from the complete package that is missing. After clicking 'ignore' with my mouse for the first hundred or so times, I abandoned this attempt.)

  3. If you are fortunate to have Motif 2.0 installed on your system, you can skip down to step 6.

  4. Peter Klein: "You have to install the SO libraries before you can start the install program."

  5. Not recommended because of the large number of failures reported, but still worth checking out for an install approach, is the 'StarInst' Perl script by Steffen Winterfeldt which can be downloaded at:
    This script is alleged to work with installed versions of Motif 1.2.

  6. I next ran StarOffice Install which must be executed from root. Install is very easy to use. Just make sure you have enough disk space (about 125 Mb) and follow the simple prompts that Install presents in its dialog boxes. If you have Red Hat and you are executing Install from its own directory, you will need to remember to enter './Install'. I installed StarOffice into /usr/local/StarOffice3.1.

    At the end of Install, I was given directions for proceeding with the second part, the user installation. During the user installation, a user-specified directory and configuration files are created for each user. I found it very easy to just follow the directions in the dialog boxes. I answered 'yes' to the prompt to copy the templates and demo documents to my directory tree because I had been informed that if I answered 'no', I would not be able to modify these documents, although I could still access them as read-only master copies.

  7. It is now necessary to fix a couple of things that StarDivision didn't think of in order to actually use StarOffice. I had to glean these fixes from posters to comp.os.linux.development.apps and the Redhat-List after finding that my installation of StarOffice didn't work.

    Logged in users must get permission to use StarOffice's fonts and other files. Log ('su') into root, and

    chgrp -R users /usr/local/StarOffice3.1/Xp3.
    J. Maynard Gelinas proposed the alternate
    chmod -R a+r /usr/local/StarOffice3.1/Xp3
    for this fix on the Red-Hat List.

  8. Printing is impossible without this next fix. While logged as root,
    mkdir /tmp/XpSp_ 
    mkdir /tmp/Xp_
    mkdir /tmp/XpSp_/tmp 
    mkdir /tmp/Xp_/tmp
    chgrp -R users /tmp/XpSp_
    chgrp -R users /tmp/Xp_

  9. To get the on-line help system (unfortunately only in German in this release), you will need to start the two daemons, 'svdaemon' and 'svportmap' before starting StarOffice. This is how I did it.

    While logged as root, I added the lines:

    /usr/local/StarOffice3.1/linux-x86/bin/svdaemon &
    /usr/local/StarOffice3.1/linux-x86/bin/svportmap &
    to my /etc/rc.d/rc.local.

  10. Finally, as directed by the StarOffice user installation, I edited my ~/.bashrc file to contain the line:
    . ~/.sd.sh
    and rebooted my computer.

And, if you followed along with me -- you are finished! All the download and intermediate directories can now be deleted. (Wait a few days, in case you find you have to redo something.)

Log into your user account, 'startx' and open an 'xterm'. The StarOffice applications start at the command line with:

You will find bugs in this release of StarOffice. But by experimenting, you will also find work-arounds.

For example, I found that exiting the search and replace dialog in StarWriter would generate a fatal segmentation fault. But by activating the cursor in the search area and pressing I can close the dialog box and continue working.

Also, when you use the scroll bar, StarWriter loses its blinking cursor. I just go to the menu bar and activate a pull-down menu and then click my mouse in the document area. Wherever the mouse touches down places the blinking cursor.

For printing on my Postscript printer I have found that I need to set the printer to 'NULL' and the default options to 'lpr'.

There is a neat little button bar, 'soffice3', that is designed to coordinate all these applications. Unfortunately, bugs make it unfunctional. So look, but don't touch until the next release.

Tip of the day for enjoying StarOffice beta one: save your work often.

StarDivision operates a news server with StarOffice newsgroups at:
where users share their experiences. Be sure to connect during German business hours -- no nights or weekends. The same goes for their Web site.

StarDivision is eager to get your bug reports at:
I am still getting my feet on the ground in StarOffice. But I found composing this article in StarWriter quite easy and fun. I used a lot of cut and paste between multiple windows, formatting, changing fonts, printing, search and replace -- all the basic things you do in word processing. But I didn't even scratch the surface of the capabilities of just StarWriter. And I haven't even looked at the other applications yet. I am looking forward to exploring StarOffice in the coming months.

I congratulate the vision of StarDivision to recognize that Linux is an important platform for major application development.

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