There are several way in which you can view and manipulate Microsoft Office documents on our Unix systems. Some are only installed on Linux systems, some only on Solaris, some on both ... just try them out.

Viewing Documents

If you only need to view the contents of the document, you can use :
  • the wvWare, antiword, word2x, catdoc and wordview commands. These commands process and show a (more or less) formatted view of a Microsoft Word document. The wordview command uses catdoc to process the file and then presents it in a window, whereas catdoc gives the result on standard output.
  • the xls2csv command. This command reads Microsoft Excel files and puts the contents as comma-separated data on standard output.
  • the Sun PC-file-viewer that is installed on all Solaris systems. You activate this viewer program with the /opt/SUNWdtpcv/bin/sdtpcv command and you can give the documents to view as arguments on the command line. You can view other Office documents besides Word as well (e.g. Excel, Powerpoint).

The results are not perfect, but usually good enough.
See also the page describing how to configure your .mailcap file to use these tools to view documents from within your E-Mail reader automatically.

There can be problems however, when the documents were saved using the Fast Save option. The viewer will warn you about this. If this is the case, you should ask the author of the document to save it without this option, since there is a possibility you are not seeing what or how he intended it to be seen.

These problems with the Fast Save option also occur when using different versions of Microsoft Office on Windows or Mac, so it is always best not to use that option, not just for viewing them on Solaris/Unix.

Changing Documents

If you need to change the document, you still have some other options:
  • On all Debian Linux workstations and on all Sun Solaris systems you can use Open/StarOffice. This is a collection of programs very much like Microsoft Office. You can read more about Open/StarOffice on this page.
  • Also on Debian Linux workstations you can use AbiWord Word Processor (abiword) and/or the KOffice suite. For more information, consult the manual page(s).
  • Or you can use WinCenter, the multi-user version of Windows NT. You can find more info about what it is and how to use it on this page. Because there is only one WinCenter server and only a limited number of licenses to use it, you should only consider this option as a last resort.