StarOffice deserves attention

It was encouraging to see a review of office software for Linux in 'Linux office software rivals Windows apps' [GCN, April 2, Page 38]. But I was surprised there was no mention of one of the most popular free office software suites available for Linux'Sun Microsystems StarOffice (www.sun.com/staroffice).

It comes bundled with a sophisticated word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, drawing package, Hypertext Markup Language browser and mail client. It imports and exports most popular file formats, including Microsoft Word and Excel.

People familiar with Microsoft Office will feel comfortable with the StarOffice user interface. Not including StarOffice in the review was analogous to an omission of Adobe Photoshop in a review of image-editing software.

The author mentioned that the Linux program called GIMP has sparse documentation. There is, however, a very elaborate user manual available for free at manual.gimp.org/download.

I also cannot help but comment on one of the remarks made by the author. He said, 'An odd thing about Linux software is that the name of a program often gives no clue about its function.' He mentioned GIMP as an example. I don't think the name GIMP is less correlated to the task of image editing than the name Excel is correlated to spreadsheets, PowerPoint to making presentations or QuickTime to animations.

Pranab Banerjee


Pasadena, Calif.

RIFs aren't an if in Army A-76

In 'Outsourcing: The heat is on,' Diane Shute of Grant Thornton LLP of Vienna, Va., may believe in her statement regarding OMB Circular A-76 studies: 'If it's going to end up in a work force reduction, the unions and employees are going to fight it' [GCN, May 7, Page 1].

Alas, every study done at my installation has resulted in a most efficient organization, or MEO, that is almost exactly 20 percent smaller than the organization that was studied.

In fact, one unit exempted from an A-76 review was told that it still had to cut 20 percent. A work force reduction is not an if in Army A-76 studies. It's a given.

When our directorate began its study, I asked the question, 'What if the MEO turns out to have more positions than we now have?' The answer was: 'It better not.'

Larry Girard


Depauville, N.Y.

Cartoon just doesn't compute

On Page 23 of your April 16 issue was a cartoon about dumb Senate Republicans who don't know a Palm from a palm.

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This is kind of funny. I would say it applies to a lot of managers, maybe to a lot of politicians. There is humor here.

I am just wondering why you would poke fun at the Republicans in particular. Why take political sides? Doesn't seem prudent to me. Your magazine is about computing, and some folks aren't up to speed with the latest advances in computing. Injecting politics into it doesn't seem wise.

Perhaps the idiot in the cartoon could have been labeled 'Senate politician.' It would be best to steer clear of getting into a political debate, I think.

Edmund Dems

Wichita, Kan.

Editor's note: The Senate GOP leadership is running the handheld pilot; the Senate Democrats are not part of the project.


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