HOWTO: Microsoft documents

We know that Microsoft Office is the defacto standard, so it is something we have to cope with. The most common problem is Word documents -- many business people will type a document using Word and then attach it to an email and expect the recipients to be able to view it. So, let's consider Word...

MS Word .doc files

Microsoft uses a proprietory and poorly documented format for Word files, and to make matters worse, a document prepared with Word2000 (say) may not be viewable by someone with Word97. This puts customers into Microsoft's infamous upgrade cycle.

Anyway, let's focus on the situation with Puppy.

Up to and including version 0.9.4, Puppy had a program called Antiword, that converts MS Word DOC files to Postscript and they can then be viewed, but not edited.

However, as from version 0.9.5, Puppy has Abiword wordprocessor, which has wv builtin to it. This allows Abiword to import and export MS DOC files.

The Abiword help page: /usr/share/doc/abiword.htm

Note also that Rox file manager, Sylpheed mail client and other applications are setup to invoke Abiword. Left-click on a DOC file in Rox, and it will open in Abiword.

The configuration files for ROX-Filer are in /root/Choices/
The configuration file for Sylpheed is /root/.sylpheed/sylpheedrc
MIME types and external applications for Sylpheed attachments are obtained from /etc/mimetypes and /etc/mailcap
Seamonkey also reads /etc/mimetypes and /etc/mailcap, to offer a player/viewer for a file that you are about to download.

MS Word .rtf files

RTF means Rich Text Format, and is a file format for wordprocessors. The RTF standard is fully documented and all major wordprocessors can open and save in it, including MS Word. Thus, users of MS Word should be encouraged to save documents in RTF format before sending them off to other people.

Up to version 0.9.4, Puppy had the Ted wordprocessor, which uses RTF as its native format.

From 0.9.5, Abiword can import and export RTF.

Once again, ROX-Filer and Sylpheed have been setup to recognise files with ".rtf" extension. In the case of ROX, just left-click.

MS Excel spreadsheet files

The Excel spreadsheet program is a part of the Office suite.

Puppy up to version 0.9.7 has ABS, which is a spreadsheet application. ABS is still available as a PET package. The native file format of ABS can be converted to Excel format, and vice versa, by means of a macro. The documentation can be found in the external package.

Puppy version 0.9.8+ has Planmaker Free Edition, which is a free release of a Planmaker, a commercial product. The Free Edition is not crippled and has no restrictions on usage, except that there is a limitation on maximum number of rows and columns that can be edited. The really good news is that it can open, edit and save Excel-format spreadsheet files. Planmaker is still available as a PET package.

The documentation is a PDF file: planmaker.pdf (only if Planmaker package installed)
Here is the licence document: license.txt (only if Planmaker package installed)

Puppy version 1.0.4 and later has Gnumeric, with a full set of plugins, including Excel import and export. Gnumeric is open source, free, and is superb.

Finally, if you want the ultimate, OpenOffice is available for Puppy, not in the live-CD but available either as a PET package or an SFS file. The latter is recommended. If you don't know what a SFS file is, please go to

MS Fonts

Yes, MS TrueType fonts can easily be used in Puppy -- it is just a matter of copying them across (or, if that is a legal problem, a symbolic link can be made from the Puppy partition to the fonts in the Windows partition).

The Abiword help page explains how: /usr/share/doc/abiword.htm

Open Document Format

I mention this here as ODF is becoming the international standard document file format. Abiword can now import and export ODF files.

Yeah, but what about MS Office? Microsoft has been strongly opposed to ODF, and still snipe at it. It is in Microsoft's interest not to have open document standards, as by having closed (secret) file formats they can always stay a step ahead of the competition. So, MS does not offer ODF import and export for Office, however the good news is that a company has developed a plugin that does just that, and it's free.

I don't yet have details on where to obtain the ODF plugin for MS Office.

Note: You can find a collection of example files at /usr/share/examples, including .xls (Excel) and .doc (Word) files.