4 Best MS Office Alternatives for Linux in 2021

MS Office runs on Windows and is popular among students, business professionals, and Windows users who need to create, edit and upload their documents in a fast and convenient way.

But there's a catch. MS Office runs perfectly only on Windows and Mac. Sure, you can install it on Linux using Wine, but the results are far from perfect. MS Office is proprietary and to enjoy all the features, you need to purchase it. The licensing fee is quite prohibitive for many and this may be a huge setback for those who cannot afford it.

Thankfully, there are other Linux MS Office alternatives that you can fall back on and still enjoy creating, editing, and sharing your documents. In this guide, we feature some of the best MS Office alternatives for Linux in 2021.

1. LibreOffice suite

LibreOffice suite hardly needs an introduction. It's a successor of OpenOffice which is a discontinued office suite. LibreOffice is an open-source productivity office suite that is used by millions of users around the globe. It's free to download and use - no need to worry about the licensing fee during installation - and comes pre-installed in major Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Mint, and other Debian derivatives.

LibreOffice bundles 6 powerful office applications that offer the same functionality as the Microsoft Office suite. These include Writer ( a word processor ), Impress ( For making presentations ), Calc ( For creating Spreadsheets ), Math ( For formula editing ), Base ( For databases ), and Draw ( For creating flowcharts and vector graphics ).

LibreOffice supports a wide range of document formats including Microsoft Office file formats such as Microsoft Word ( .doc, .docx ), Microsoft Excel (.xlsx, .xls), Microsoft PowerPoint(.pptx, .ppt) as well as ODT format. Given this compatibility, it's easy to open Microsoft Office documents in LibreOffice or create Microsoft Office files in LibreOffice and port them to MS Office suite.

LibreOffice is available in 119 languages and is available for download for Linux ( 64-bit ), macOS, and even Windows( both 32-bit and 64-bit). For Linux, you can install it using a Debian or RPM package or using snap and flatpak.

One major distinction between LibreOffice and MS Office is the absence of an email program in LibreOffice. Microsoft Office has the MS Outlook email client. Thankfully, you can easily install a third-party application such as Thunderbird and Evolution.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that despite LibreOffice being compatible with MS Office file formats, the documents won't always render the same in LibreOffice. There will be differences in appearance and this is mostly because of the differences in fonts. Microsoft Office has its own fonts. In addition, newer versions of MS Office are not compatible with their older releases. When you open a document edited in MS Office 2019 with an earlier version, you will get a notification that some features are unsupported.

With Microsoft Office, OneDrive is integrated into all the applications offered. However, in LibreOffice, there's no cloud storage integration option.

Pros

  • It's completely free and opensource.
  • Has a user-friendly interface which is ideal for beginners or learners.
  • It is cross-platform. Can be installed on Linux, Windows and macOS.
  • It is fully featured - It bundles all the applications that you might need to accomlish your tasks. You get Word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, Drawing, database and formula editing applications ensuite.
  • Resource-friendly - Does not take up much of the system's resources. It is quite lightweight.
  • It is compatible with all MS Office files.
  • No internet connection is required for you to fully enjoy using LibreOffice suite.

Cons

  • Lack of support for Excel macros.
  • LibreOffice does not support MS Office fonts. As such , it does not render documents exactly as they appear in MS Office.
  • The UI looks a bit old Not as polished as MS Office.
  • Does not include an online version or an equivalent to Office 365 which can sync files to the Cloud.

2. Apache OpenOffice

Written in Java and C++, Apache OpenOffice is yet another formidable Microsoft Office alternative. It's free and open-source and is a close cousin to LibreOffice. You will find the same applications in Apache OpenOffice as you would in LibreOffice. Additionally, Apache OpenOffice is cross-platform and is available for Linux ( both 32-bit and 64-bit), Windows, and OS-X.

Apache OpenOffice default file format is ODF ( Open Document Format ). We must also add that it supports neweer Microsoft Office file formats such as .doc, .docx and .xlsx, .xls, .ppt, and .pptx. It also supports diverse file formats including .xml, and .rtf

The downside with the Apache OpenOffice is its dull look and feel. The UI is less appealing compared to MS Office given the slow pace of development. Additionally, Excel documents in MS Office with complex macros might fail to open in Apache OpenOffice.

Overall, Apache OpenOffice is a great Office suite for beginners and those who need simplistic text formatting.

Pros

  • It is completely free.
  • It is fast and lightweight.
  • Occupies less disk space- only 200MB - and has a small memory footprint.
  • Apache Openoffice is crossplatform, thus it can be installed in Linux, Windows and macOS.
  • Supports a myriad of file types incuding .xml and .rf files.
  • Supports the newer versions of MS Office files.
  • It provides similar applications to those sound in MS Office suite.

Cons

  • The UI feels abit ourdated and not as polished as Microsoft Office suite.
  • incompatible with complex Excel macros.
  • It's a challenge to load MS Office files as they are due to font incompatibility.

3. WPS Office 2019

WPS Office is a highly competitive office suite platform that comes most recommended as an alternative for MS Office given the flexibility and the features it offers. It provides 3 main applications: WPS Writer, Spreadsheet, and Presentation. It also includes a PDF converter that lets you convert PDF documents to .doc and .docs formats.

WPS Office suite is cross-platform and can be installed on Linux, Windows, and macOS. It also provides mobile applications which can be installed on both Android and iOS. The fact that you can read documents from any device and any platform makes it flexible and provides a better user experience.

WPS provides customized templates for Word documents, presentation slides, and spreadsheets for learning institutions and businesses.

It's free to download and install, however, it comes with various pricing plans. WPS Premium starts at $29.99 per year. Special features for the premium version include, up to 20G of Cloud storage, PDF to Word conversion, ability to split and merge PDF documents, PDF editing and support for diverse file formats such as pdf, .doc, .docx, .xlsx, .xls, .ppt, .pptx, .csv, .dot, .dotx, .dps, .dpt, .rtf and xml.

Pros

  • It's easy to use.
  • A perfect alternative to the pricey Microsoft Office suite.
  • Supports diverse file formats.
  • Comes with a built-in PDF editor.
  • Numerous and awesome templates for WPS writer and spreadsheets.
  • Easily handles or supports files created in Microfost Office.

Cons

  • enahnced functions are only avaiable on Premium versions only.

4. OnlyOffice

Developed by Ascencio Systems, OnlyOffice is an online productivity Office suite that is a game-changer in terms of collaboration. It provides users with the ability to create and edit documents in the cloud which easily facilitates collaboration.

OnlyOffice is a really cool Cloud-based solution that offers everything under one roof. It combines the power of document editors such as word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations with other collaborative features which include calendar, email integrator, CRM and document management tools, and a project management platform.

With OnlyOffice, you get a unified and feature-rich platform that allows you to perform multiple tasks instead of jumping between multiple applications. By so doing, it optimizes your efficiency and boosts your productivity.

OnlyOffice is free for teams of up to 5 users with pricing plans for business and large enterprises ( VIP Cloud ).

Pros

  • Compatibility with several file formats.
  • Neat and user-friendly UI which provides an easy way to get around.
  • Can be deployed on Mac, Windows and Linux.
  • It is resource friendly , quite fast and robust to work with
  • Provides online collaboration and integrates with NextCloud.

Cons

  • May freeze a little while working.
  • Online support is characterized by some time lags.

Conclusion

We have highlighted some of the best alternatives to Microsoft Office in Linux, both open-source and proprietary options. Notably, you get more features with premium versions of these tools such as Cloud storage, PDF conversion, and support for numerous file extensions. Still, that pales in comparison with the high licensing fee that comes with installing and using the Microsoft Office suite. At the end of the day, you can easily create, edit and share your documents cost-effectively.

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