Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

IBM Lotus Symphony Office Suite

Not so long ago, IBM teamed up with Canonical to create an application which contains an office suite featuring word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications based on IBM Lotus Symphony, an e-mail client that is based on IBM Lotus Notes, the social networking and collaboration cloud-based tools provided by LotusLive.com and the underlying Ubuntu operating system. Alternatively, companies can opt to use the cloud-based LotusLive iNotes application instead of IBM Lotus Notes.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical CEO, said that:

"Canonical is proud to partner with IBM to help open up the American corporate desktop through Ubuntu. [...] IBM's smart client package running on Ubuntu will allow U.S. organizations the financial freedom to redistribute the costs of expensive software licenses into IT projects that will innovate and drive critical growth."

[via softpedia]

Because of this, I decided to test the IBM office suite called Lotus Symphony. From what I've understood, Symphony is available in Ubuntu Jaunty repositories, but I couldn't find it in Karmic so I downloaded a copy (comes in Ubuntu .deb package) from the IBM website. You can, however, search for in in Synaptic Package Manager if you use Jaunty or older Ubuntu versions.

Download IBM Lotus Symphony [works on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX]

Please note that although the application is free, it does require an account to be able to download it (which is also free). Also, there are no packages available for 64bit.

The package available on the website (version 1.3) was released on September 10, 2009, yet the Ubuntu .deb package name point out that it would be for Ubuntu Hardy Heroen. Don't worry about this, it does work on other Ubuntu versions, as I've just installed it in Ubuntu Karmic Koala (due to be released tomorrow).

After installing IBM Lotus Symphony, you can find it in Application > Office (for Gnome). Upon opening the application, we are presented with an interface which allows us to choose the type of document we want to create: Presentations, Spreadsheet or text Document:

IBM lotus symphony ubuntu

All of these open in tabs, Firefox-style - even if the document types are different. This seems pretty straight forward and intuitive, even useful I might say. But unfortunately, this is where the useful part ends. The Spreadsheet, Presentation and Document interface seems like an old version of Microsoft Office:
ibm lotus symphonylotus symphonylotus symphony office suite

But don't get me wrong, competition is always good and OpenOffice will have to prove itself better with something other than the ribbon interface they will offer in version 3.2.

One really strong point of IBM Lotus Symphony office suite is that it opened all the documents created with MS Office I could find on my computer (although I didn't have too many). This includes word processor documents and Power Point presentations.

I do not have a final verdict for IBM Lotus Symphony, but like I said, it does have some pros and cons. I'll test it for a couple of days to see exactly what it can an cannot do.

Note: this post is only my view on things, others might see things differently. What do you think of IBM Lotus Symphony? Have you tried it?

Credits for the idea of this post: ubuntizando el planeta