[update] OpenOffice 3.0 has been released. See this post on installing it in Ubuntu.

OpenOffice 3 Beta has been released. Some of the new features that caught my eye include: support for new features in the ODF file format, support for opening (but not saving) Microsoft’s new Office file formats, charting enhancements, a cool-looking start center, improved notes in writer, and better picture cropping. Mac users will be glad to hear that OpenOffice now has a native UI on the Mac.

The final version should be out in September, in time for Ubuntu 8.10.

OpenOffice 3 Beta

You can try out the Beta in Ubuntu 8.04 without disturbing your existing version of OpenOffice. There are a lot of packages to install, so the easiest way is using the terminal. Here are the instructions:

  1. Head to the download page and select the Linux (deb) download. (I’d provide a command to do this from the terminal, but OpenOffice’s page will automatically select the fastest server for you.) The rest of these commands will assume the download is on your desktop.
  2. Extract the tar.gz archive:
    tar xzf ~/Desktop/OOo_3.0.0beta_20080429_LinuxIntel_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz -C ~/Desktop/
  3. Install all of the packages in the DEBS subdirectory:
    sudo dpkg -i ~/Desktop/BEA300_m2_native_packed-2_en-US.9301/DEBS/*.deb
  4. Clean up the downloaded files:
    rm -r ~/Desktop/BEA300_m2_native_packed-2_en-US.9301/rm -r ~/Desktop/OOo_3.0.0beta_20080429_LinuxIntel_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz

OpenOffice 3 doesn’t add any menu items to the Applications menu. You can create one yourself using the menu editor (System->Preferences->Main Menu). Launch OpenOffice with this command:

The first time it’s launched, OpenOffice will ask you to register. Clicking Cancel will exit the application, so you’ll need to go through the steps. You’ll be greeted by the new welcome area:
OpenOffice.org 3 Beta start center

Inside the writing component, it looks and works much like 2.4, in this screenshot I am testing the new notes feature:
OpenOffice.org 3 Beta notes

I wouldn’t yet do any serious work with this beta release, but I haven’t had any issues with it so far. OpenOffice 3 is looking good!

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