LibreOffice may be the most popular open-source Office Suite around, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other good open source office suite that you can use. If you are looking for a simpler, yet equally powerful office suite for your Linux system, Calligra might be a good alternative to LibreOffice (or is it?) Let’s check it out.
Calligra Suite is a graphic art and office suite by KDE created from KOffice in 2010. It is available for the Linux and FreeBSD system and there are preliminary support for Mac OSX and Windows as well. It contains applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, databases, vector graphics, and digital painting.
Calligra is mainly created for the KDE desktop manager, but it will work in Gnome and all other DEs as well. However, for non-KDE system, you will have to install a bunch of KDE files for it to work.
In Ubuntu, you can install it via the command:
sudo apt-get install calligra
Other Linux distro can check out the Calligra Installer page for the relevant packages.
Like LibreOffice, Calligra comes with a series of applications that you can use. There is the Calligra Words for word processing, Calligra Sheets for spreadsheet and Calligra Stage for presentation. There is also the Calligra Flow for flowchart creation and Plan for project management.
Opening the Calligra Word, it will first prompt you to select a template. Once in the document area, you will notice that the interface is different from LibreOffice and any other office suite. Instead of displaying several rows of toolbar at the top, you now have a Ms-Word ribbon like interface at the side of the document. Clicking on each tab displays the relevant area. Overall, the whole interface is cleaner and allows you to focus more on your work.
After using Calligra for a while, I actually prefer its interface to LibreOffice. Most of the tools are well-organized into its respective section and searching for the functions you need is often an easy task.
One thing though, it doesn’t support saving to Ms-Word .doc and .docx format. It only supports the Open Document Format (ODF). You can open, view and edit .doc and .docx file, but you can only save to .odf format.
Calligra also has support for Google document, so you can link to and open Google document for editing on your desktop.
The project management app – Plan in the Calligra suite is also a useful app that allows you to set project range, add tasks, set date, allocate resources, and even view reports. In Microsoft Office suite, you will have to purchase the Microsoft Project to have these features, but in Calligra, you get it for free.
I haven’t used Calligra long enough to be able to say that it has everything LibreOffice or Microsoft Office have, but for the few documents and spreadsheets I have created in Calligra, it has all the tools I need. As mentioned above, the biggest limitation is the inability to save documents in doc or docx format.
Calligra also includes Kexi (a database management program similar to Microsoft Access), Karbon (A vector graphics editor), Krita (an image editor) and Braindump (a notetaking and mindmapping application) which I didn’t review in the article. If you add up all these application together, Calligra is actually more useful and versatile than LibreOffice.
If you have no issue with the limitation (unable to save in .doc and.docx format) and doesn’t require any LibreOffice-only or MS Office-only features, then Calligra is definitely a good alternative, particularly if you are using the KDE desktop manager. What do you think?