This FAQ addresses common questions about Linux i386-binary releases of the discontinued but enduringly popular, proprietary WordPerfect word processor.
Some FAQs aim to present only impartial fact. Others summarise diverse answers typically given by members of the sponsoring community. This FAQ does neither: It's one author's attempt to paint a coherent picture of WordPerfect for Linux's place in the 21st Century open-source world, from a Linux-centric perspective. Some others' views will undoubtedly differ.
I'd like to gratefully acknowledge the HOWTO documents at http://linux-sxs.org/edit.html, which should be consulted for detailed installation instructions for WP on current Linux distributions. Also, the news://news.astcomm.net/linux.astcomm.net and news://cnews.corel.com/corel.wpoffice.wordperfect8-linux newsgroups' comments have been invaluable.
I would also like to thank Leon A. Goldstein and Valentijn Sessink specifically for their valuable feedback, and Bob Tennent for information on the libsafe problem.
Several things. In an era when leading word processors gobble dozens of megs of RAM just launching, WP (v. 8.x) is thrifty -- about 6 MB. By comparison, OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 or Star Office 6.0 takes 73 MB to launch. (On the other hand, AbiWord 1.02 also uses only 6 MB, and KWord 1.1.1 a moderate 17 MB.) It's a stable, fast, polished, full-featured product. It has "reveal codes". It has a nearly unique "shrink to fit" printing feature that quickly becomes indispensable once you've experienced it. WP's print module uses the MS-DOS version's time-tested, robust printer drivers by default, expanding greatly the range of compatible printers. (WP can alternatively hand off to standard Unix printing subsystems -- lpr/lprng/gnulpr/cups/pdq/etc. -- in "Passthru Postscript" mode.) It has excellent built-in mathematical, financial, logical, and string-handling functions. It has excellent table support and a useful speed-table-formatting feature. It has a robust built-in database engine for table sorting and searching.
It's still the best tool available on Linux for reading WordPerfect .wpd files created elsewhere. (AbiWord, Anyware Office, and wp2latex also qualify.)
It's a discontinued product (on Linux). The most-long-term-available version, WP 8.0 Download Personal Edition (WP 8.0 DPE), has deliberately crippled font handling and limited multi-language support, and won't function without fairly antique support libraries. The best version, WP 8.1, comes only bundled with the Corel Linux OS (CLOS) Deluxe and Standard Edition boxed sets, v. 1.0 or 1.2 -- likewise discontinued.
WP used to be the best tool on Linux for reading MS-Word files, but always faltered on some, especially those Fast Saved in MS-Word. But now, Star Office, OpenOffice.org, and AbiWord reportedly do better.
All 8.x versions ship with a broken MS-Word import/export module: This third-party code ("Filtrix") fails with the message "Filtrix unable to convert this file" if the local system clock is set to later than September 9, 2001, because an internal time counter overflowed when Linux system time in seconds since January 1, 1970 passed 10^9 seconds. The problem can be fixed using a wrapper by Valentijn Sessink of the Netherlands firm Open Office, http://www.openoffice.nl/ (not to be confused with Sun Microsystems's OpenOffice.org project), available at http://olivier.pk.wau.nl/~valentyn/wp8fix/.
Last, though the point may be obvious, WP is proprietary (not open source). Open-source projects die only when nobody cares to maintain them, can be fixed/improved by any motivated party, and can be easily implemented on newer CPU architectures (IA64, PPC). By contrast, supplies of all but one WP version are vanishing, the sole exception occupies a legal grey area, and the difficulty of keeping it running on evolving Linux systems (which can be i386 only) can only increase over time.
It's a measure of just how good WP for Linux is/was that many people consider it still the best word processor for Linux, despite the above.
Old-timers may recall that WordPerfect originally emerged from Software Development Corporation (SD Corp) of Orem, Utah, which later renamed itself to WordPerfect Corporation. That firm eventually sold WordPerfect's codebase to Novell, Inc., which then sold it to Corel Corporation Limited of Ottawa, Canada. Corel then hired the first firm (renamed back to SD Corp) to port WP versions 6, 7, 8.0, and 8.1 to both Linux and several proprietary Unix platforms.
The latest and seemingly final WP version for Linux was v. 9, better known as WordPerfect Office 2000 (which was technically WordPerfect joined at the hip to several other Corel programs -- Quattro Pro, Paradox, Corel Presentations, Corel Central), was produced by Corel Corporation Limited, alone. (Paradox was included only in the Deluxe Edition, and omitted from Standard Edition.)