Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

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taxedserf
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Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by taxedserf » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:59 pm

Well, in spite of some significant effort to try to have Linux Mint replace Windows, it seems that I have failed, because LibreOffice Calc cannot do the basic functionality of Microsoft Excel (specifically, linked workbooks).

The full test data, complete with methodology and screenshots, was sent to AskLibreOffice, and the initial signs - one false answer and only 35 views as at tonight - are not encouraging.

The major headline - the show-stopper - is that Calc cannot process linked workbooks reliably. It therefore cannot fill the shoes of Excel, leaving Excel as the only show in town. This kills off any possibility that Calc could have had to be a member of a cross-platform/multi-platform office environment (e.g. a bring-your-own-device 'open' corporate network), or a single-user transitional environment (e.g. migrating from Windows to Linux over time, to de-risk the migration process).

There is little else I can do but wait until either:
  • LibreOffice has fixed the problem; or
  • Linux Mint has swapped Calc in Mint's repository for something better/workable/functional; or
  • Linux Mint has strongly pressured LibreOffice to fix Calc before Calc's lack of matching Excel's basic functionality becomes a derivative drag on the adoption of Linux Mint; or
  • Microsoft buys out Linux Mint; or
  • Microsoft vexatiously sues LibreOffice for intellectual property theft.
I've blogged the progress of my project to migrate to Linux Mint from Windows. From the index and project dashboard, you can see what I've done so far, and what I have left to do, to complete my migration planning.

It is really important to emphasise that Linux Mint is a fantastic product. I've loved using it. Mint really deserves success and to grow its retail/non-tech/non-geek userbase. But, for me, without a usable spreadsheet package, my sole use for Linux Mint is web-browsing. And that is a really poor reward to the thousands of hours that Mint's developers have poured into developing a top-notch graphical user desktop environment.
Martin the Taxed Serf, an English Accountant

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by Pjotr » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:14 pm

Have you considered using Excel in a Windows Virtual Machine, within Linux? That should give you the functionality that you need, while still giving you almost all the advantages of running Linux. :)

Personally, I still maintain such a Windows VM (Windows 7) for the sole purpose of being able to update my TomTom navigation device from time to time. That is, and has been for almost a decade, the only purpose for which I still use Windows.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by rui no onna » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:34 pm

taxedserf wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:59 pm
  • Linux Mint has strongly pressured LibreOffice to fix Calc before Calc's lack of matching Excel's basic functionality becomes a derivative drag on the adoption of Linux Mint; or
I expect Microsoft Office support is a barrier to desktop Linux adoption not just for Mint but other distros, too. Alas, what's the likelihood of Microsoft playing nice and sharing?

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by trytip » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:38 pm

maybe WPS Office will suit your needs. it's not open source but you can try it and keep it for free. http://wps-community.org/downloads
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by Joe2Shoe » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:02 pm

That's exactly why I use SoftMaker FreeOffice 2018 for Linux on most of my rigs, and the retail version on 2 others. Works great. And, it's FREE, as in free beer.
Also, I don't use or recommend M$haft products, period. Even though I have 2 laptops in the house with Win7 Pro 64-bit. After all, a leopard cannot change his spots (Benjamin Franklin).
Last edited by Joe2Shoe on Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by KBD47 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:03 pm

Try Softmaker Office. It is known to be very good with Windows files:
https://www.softmaker.com/en/
The above link is for the paid version with 7 day free trial.
This link is for the completely free version with fewer features:
http://www.freeoffice.com/en/

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by KBD47 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:04 pm

Joe2Shoe wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:02 pm
That's exactly why I use SoftMaker FreeOffice 2018 for Linux on most of my rigs, and the retail version on 2 others. Works great. And, it's FREE, as in free beer.
Ha! Great minds think alike ;)

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by BenTrabetere » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:35 pm

taxedserf wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:59 pm
This kills off any possibility that Calc could have had to be a member of a cross-platform/multi-platform office environment (e.g. a bring-your-own-device 'open' corporate network), or a single-user transitional environment (e.g. migrating from Windows to Linux over time, to de-risk the migration process).
Who claimed that Excel was a cross-platform/multi-platform application? Are the same erroneous claims being made for the rest of MS-Office?

I downloaded the ZIP file from the Google Drive link referenced in the link you provided. I read the "documentation" file to try to figure out what you were trying to do.

documentation Excel v Calc linked books named ranges test.odt
An explicit assumption behind this test is that the user has gigabytes of spreadsheet data, created over decades of regular use, to convert reliably as part of the transition from Windows to Linux. Therefore, manually re-keying or re-programming a workbook in Calc is not viable: Calc must be able to import, operate and export data from XLSX to ODS and back to XLSX without loss of any data and comparable functionality by either Calc or Excel.
IMO, this is an unreasonable expectation, and you are setting yourself (and Calc) up for failure. I would be surprised if another Windows spreadsheet or even another version of Excel could offer this level of compatibility. Would the transition be seamless if you stuck with Excel but were moving from Win10 to macOS?

And if the LO developers were to provide the features you seek, there is no guarantee it will be a permanent solution - Microsoft will break stuff in order to maintain and manage its users.

An example this is the screen capture of an Excel message I find particularly annoying - "*.ods may contain features that are not compatible with...." You will get this error when there is only one empty sheet in the workbook.

Just curious.... What happens when, instead of using .ODS in Calc, you save the files as .XLSX?

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by AndyMH » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:51 am

I'm running office 2013 under mint 18.3 via crossover and used to run office 2007 under wine. Also have office 2016 running in a vm. What's the problem? I earn my living with excel.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by lsemmens » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:30 pm

I can see the problems if you use a lot of automation in excel i.e. VBA. It was one of the reasons I stayed in the M$ camp for so long, but that was not the deal breaker as was a valid and viable alternative to Access. Base just could not cut it. I have also found that, even though, Writer has some excellent auto-formatting features, some would not work if i used any format other than odt. Portability between essentially competing products is always going to be an issue. It all boils down to - are you willing to make the change? YES! There will be new things to learn, and different ways to do things, but isn't that what life is about? I eventually bit the bullet and ditched M$ Office all together. I had to re-develop some of my critical documents (a word doc that runs to 500 pages), spreadsheets (lots of VBA) and I did find an alternative to Access that I can live with. What I found in all this is that I now have a far more stable system than I ever did with Windoze My Database now "just works" whereas I was forever tweaking code because of unintended consequences. My excel spreadsheets were actually the easiest to convert.

In your case, as has been suggested, look at the alternatives or run Orifice in a VM.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by aes2011 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:43 am

lsemmens wrote:
Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:30 pm
and I did find an alternative to Access that I can live with.
Please share some information on that :)

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by lsemmens » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:27 am

The program is called GCstar, however, be warned. There is little in the way of support. It is not suitable as a true Access replacement. Base would be closer. There are no reporting tools or front end for customising. Data is stored in a text file along the lines of dBase, but without the same header and data structure. I said that it was an alternative that I could live with, but it certainly is NOT a replacement. It is written using Perl and other tools but does not appear to be actively maintained. (Have a look here for some more information about it.

My project was a database to catalogue my stamp collection. As they had one that sort of fit my bill, I used that as a model to adapt and develop my own.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by mediclaser » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:09 pm

Instead of trying to find compatibility, why not just move to Calc (or other spreadsheet apps for Linux) and change the way you link your workbook files? Once you are with Calc I don't think you would have to drastically change things in your files. You would always experience issues moving from one version of MS Office to another anyways. Imagine you had similar complex workbooks in Excel 2003 with VBA automation, and you tried to switch to Office 2010.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by phd21 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:46 pm

Hi taxedserf,

I just read your post and the good replies to it. Here are my thoughts on this as well.

- You can use MS Office online or "Office 365" using your browsers on any operating system.

- Google Sheets part of Google Docs may work for you too.

- Some versions of MS Office can be installed using Linux "Wine".

+1 for installing Virtualbox and a version of MS Windows in that where anyone can install and run any MS Windows applications in that while still in Linux Mint.

- Try converting, exporting, or "save as" the Excel (spreadsheets) into an open document format before using LibreOffice or another Linux spreadsheet application.

- Make sure you are using a current version of LibreOffice by using their PPA. There are many LibreOffice add-ons in the "Synaptic Package Manager (SPM)" that may need to be installed.

- Anyone can use "Kexi" for MS Access databases. This is part of the Calligra office suite but can be installed separately even an Appimage option. There is also a LibreOffice add-on called "ucanaccess" for accessing MS Access databases.

- Search for "spreadsheet" in the Synaptic Package Manager (SPM), try other spreadsheet applications like "gnumeric" (install all related and recommended and suggested packages).


Best free and open source Microsoft Excel alternatives | Gallery | Computerworld UK
https://www.computerworlduk.com/galleri ... 6-3641314/

From VisiCalc to Google Sheets: The 12 Best Spreadsheet Apps
https://zapier.com/blog/best-spreadshee ... ternative/

11 Best office suites for Linux as of 2018 - Slant
https://www.slant.co/topics/739/~best-o ... -for-linux


Hope this helps ...
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by Rocky Bennett » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:14 pm

The other option is to sell your stamp collection.





























HA! HA! HA!

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by lsemmens » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:41 pm

It might solve my financial problems........













































for a moment! :D
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by lsemmens » Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:44 pm

Anyone can use "Kexi" for MS Access databases. This is part of the Calligra office suite but can be installed separately even an Appimage option. There is also a LibreOffice add-on called "ucanaccess" for accessing MS Access databases.
Kexi, sadly, has the same limitations as Base, both are good, but not quite there as a valid Access alternative. Their relational model still needs a lot of work, IIRC. It's been some months since I've looked at them.
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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by taxedserf » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:25 pm

Thanks all for your responses and suggestions for further testing. This proves the merit of going to a community and/or the open-source world, and again underlines why Linux Mint is a great destination to which to travel.

Many of your suggestions are all good to add to the (already long and now growing) list of things to test on Linux Mint.

All I now need is the time in which to test the additional things that need testing. All to retain current functionality in Windows/Excel (specifically, in this case, =SUMIF() in two linked spreadsheets).

In the meantime, I have no choice but to carry on using Windows/Excel!
Martin the Taxed Serf, an English Accountant

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by taxedserf » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:51 am

Pjotr wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:14 pm
Have you considered using Excel in a Windows Virtual Machine, within Linux?
Yes.

At this stage of the project's roadmap, I aim to eliminate Microsoft from my life. So I have deferred the use of virtual machines/translation layers to enable Microsoft apps to run within Linux.

What are the Microsoft licencing requirements of Excel's deployment within a Windows virtual machine in Linux?
Martin the Taxed Serf, an English Accountant

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Re: Calc has stopped me migrating from Windows to Linux Mint

Post by taxedserf » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:56 am

rui no onna wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:34 pm
Alas, what's the likelihood of Microsoft playing nice and sharing?
With no evidence to the contrary, I would assume a zero likelihood.

My expectation of LibreOffice - and all other competitors to Microsoft Office - is that they read, re-read, re-re-read Microsoft documentation to find out what the functions are and reverse-engineer them.

LibreOffice have clearly recognised =SUMIF(), but inexplicably failed to make to it operate reliably with linked spreadsheets.
Martin the Taxed Serf, an English Accountant

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