Linux is growing in popularity more and more with every year that passes, in recent years this has been made ever more public with the Ubuntu distributions which are now real Windows alternatives for the average end user. Just as with Mac sofware, Ubuntu comes ‘out of the box’ with everything you could possibly need to go about your day to day business; best of all everything is essentially free thanks to its open source underpinnings. What is revolution to install Microsoft on Linux.
However there are drawbacks.
Ubuntu comes bundled with OpenOffice, a Microsoft Office alternative from Sun. It works really well; giving you all the features you have come to expect from using Office on Windows, but – and here’s the real killer – even though it has the same functionability, it looks different, acts different and has different native file formats. This alone is enough for a lot of people not to give Ubuntu or other Linux distributions a try, afterall, why would you want to switch to another OS when you have Windows installed already, do all of your work in Office and are familiar with both. Microsoft Office not being compatible with Ubuntu is a real problem.
As more and more Linux distributions have been developed and their popularity has increased, so has the need for a stable solution to using Office in a Linux environment, it’s been very ‘messy’ but a lot of people have had varying success using Wine. Wine let’s you run Windows software in a Linux environment which when it works, works great. However, Office had always been one of those annoyances that doesn’t seem to work under Wine as it should. Fortunately though, Wine has been improved over the years and now their is a solution.
For the purposes of this guide, I am using the latest version of Ubuntu, Wine and Microsoft Office; Ubuntu 9.10, Wine 1.1.32 beta and Microsoft Office 2007.
So, to get Office working on Ubuntu, read on.
Firstly, we need to make sure that all previous versions of Wine are uninstalled. Previous versions of Wine suffered from a regression issue and will not work with Office 2007 so:
- Click on System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager
- In Synaptic Package Manager, type Wine in the search field and highlight any existing instances of Wine which are installed on your system, making sure to choose Mark for Complete Removal and then Apply
- We now need to remove the exiting .wine folder by navigating to Places > Home Folder. You’ll need to press CTRL+H to unhide the .wine folder so that you can delete it
Next, we need to install the latest version of Wine, but before doing so it won’t hurt to give your machine a restart. Once you’ve done this, do the following:
- Download the latest version of Wine from http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/archive/index.html, I used v1.1.32 beta. When the popup box appears, choose to Open with Gdebi package Installer. Once the package begins installing, you will get a warning dialogue. Acknowledge this and continue through the install process
We can now install Microsoft Office 2007, so pop the installation disc into the drive and wait for the system to mount it:
- Navigate to the installer by going to Places > Office12 and right click setup.exe chosing Open with Wine Windows Program Loader
- Now follow the installation process as if it were a Windows installtion, but choosing a custom installation and choosing the program options you’ll need. Note: Unfortunately, not all of the office applications seem to work correctly under Ubuntu (or Linux generally) so I’d recommend just installing Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Access and Outlook have known issues.
Once Office has finished installing, we need to install winetricks which is a useful tool to use some common workarounds to some of the deficiencies in Wine:
- Open your Terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type:
sudo wget www.kegel.com/wine/winetricks
- Next, install cabextract in order to be able to extract the contents of Microsoft cabinet files. To do this, type the following:
sudo apt –get install cabextract
- Next we need to install MS core fonts, Visual C++, MS scripting and Jscript, type the following:
sh winetricks corefonts tahoma vcrun2005spl wsh56js
The next stage is to confgure Wine itself:
- As we already have a Terminal window open, type:
- On the Libraries tab, add 2 new variables:
- Once you have done this, highlight or click riched20 and click Edit, change to Native Windows then Apply and OK
Finally, we can now test Office, navigate to Word; Applications > Wine > Programs > Microsoft Office and click the launcher for Word. You may need to restart your machine in order for the Microsoft Office program group to appear in the menu. When Word launches, you’ll need to activate as normal and, importantly, choose not to use Microsoft updates (see note below).
Notes: There are some limitations, the most noteworthy of which is that this may not work correctly if you install using media with an SP already applied, Office under Wine will not work with any of the Microsoft Service Packs and/or Microsoft Update.
The ‘proof is in the pudding’ as they say. Enjoy!