Using Zoho Web Service as an Alternative to Open Office in Ubuntu

When it comes to alternative to Microsoft Office, most people will think of Open Office. But if you are just doing simple word processing or spreadsheet calculation, Open Office can also be an overkill, especially if you are using a netbook. Personally, I have a netbook running Ubuntu Lucid with Open Office pre-installed. Whenever I wanted to edit a word document, Open Office will take a long time to load. Several times, it even brings the whole system to a standstill.

Google Docs could become a good alternative since it is web based and does not require any installation at all. The problems: you have to login everytime and you can’t set it as the default word processing application.

The solution? Zoho Webservice.

Zoho web service is a project developed by Canonical (the team behind Ubuntu) that integrate the Zoho Web office suites to Ubuntu. Once installed, you can easily run Zoho applications in your browser.


You can search for “zoho webservice” in Ubuntu Software Center or simply type the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install webservice-office-zoho

Users of older version of Ubuntu can grab the package here.

Once installed, you can access Zoho via Applications -> Office -> Zoho Web Service. You can even right-click at a word document and open it in Zoho.



What Zoho webservices can do at the moment include:

  • Open, read, edit and save email document attachments.
  • Open, read, edit and save local documents.
  • Open, read, edit and save remote documents linked to with a url.
  • Launch the required application, Writer, Show or Sheet (Word Processor, Presentations, Spreadsheets) which will present the user with an empty document of that type ready to edit.

Zoho Webservice Word Processor

The Word processor comes with a ribbon-like menu bar where you can click on each tab to see the options. Basic text-editing tools are available, but you won’t find any advanced features (such as annotation) here.


File format that you can export your document to include: doc, docx, odt, pdf, sxw, rtf, html, txt and latex.

Zoho Webservice Spreadsheet

The Spreadsheet only comes with a single row of toolbar with simple text editing and cell management ability.


File format that you can export your document to include: xls, xlsx, ods, sxc, gnumeric, csv, tsv, html and pdf.

Zoho Webservice Presentation

The Presentation supports all the tools/features that you need to create great slides, but don’t ever compare it to the latest Microsoft Office 2010 Powerpoint. It will have no where to hide.


File format that you can export your document to include: html, ppt, pps, odp and pdf.

Some Tips and Tricks

1. Zoho Webservice does not have any dependencies and can run in most browser. I found that it runs well in Google Chrome, but can be lagging in Firefox. You might want to consider making Google Chrome the default browser so Zoho Webservice can run smoothly.

2. Enable cookie in your browser to allow Zoho webservice to save your document automatically

3. To make Zoho Word the default application for opening .doc file, right click on any .doc file and select Open with. Scroll down all the way to the end and highlight Zoho Word Processor. Check the box “Remember this application for Word document files”.


4. When exporting files, you can save your documents to your Ubuntu One folder so that it get synced across all your Ubuntu machines.

Have you tried Zoho Webservice? Is it good enough to replace your Open Office?


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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