Guide to Linux for Beginners

Introducing WordPerfect 8 for Linux


Introducing WordPerfect 8 for Linux


Corel no longer makes Wordperfect for Linux. This article is out of date and is maintained for historical reference only.

Obtaining WordPerfect

WordPerfect can be downloaded from the Internet without charge or purchased on CD-ROM from several Internet vendors. See Resources below for a list of sources. The downloaded version must be registered at Corel’s Linux Site to be functional after 30 days, but there is no charge for registration.

There are two ways to download WordPerfect, either as one big file (about 25MB) or as several pieces. If you chose the one big file method, you should end up with a file called GUILG00.GZ. This is the first problem you will run into (okay, the second, the first is completing a 25mb download!). The file should have been called guilg00.tar.gz, because it is tarred and then gzipped and Linux is case sensitive with the default being lower case. If you use the Linux version of Netscape to download it, the file naming scheme will be further aggravated by Netscape, which tries to be helpful by unzipping *.gz files when it downloads them, but neglects to remove the .gz file extension. So when the download is complete, you are left with a file called GUILG00.GZ that should have been called guilg00.tar.

If you choose the multiple segment download, you will end up with seven (I think) files, named GUI00.GZ, GUI01.GZ, etc. Again, the files are incorrectly named in upper case. As it happens, the WordPerfect installation script requires that the file names be lower case, so your install will fail if you don’t correct this! All the other warnings apply too, they are actually tar.gz files and Netscape might unzip them without telling you.

Note that the installation files will be altered during the setup process, so you should save these downloaded archives in case you need to reinstall WordPerfect in the future.


Ordinarily when installing new software you should be logged on as “root”, the system administrator account, so that you have access to system directories. At one time Corel had announced that there was a potential security hole in WordPerfect if it is installed by root. This problem has (I hope) long since been fixed, but it would be wise to check the Corel Linux Web site. For now, log on with your normal user account (see User and SuperUser). WordPerfect doesn’t need to write anything to your library directories, so this should not effect your install, but it will effect where you are allowed to install it, since as a regular user you probably do not have permission to write to the /usr directory tree. Since this edition of WordPerfect is for personal use only, it is not unreasonable to install it to your home directory. More on this later.

First, create an empty directory to store the setup files: mkdir corel Then, move the downloaded files to that directory and extract them. This is a good time to correct those upper case file names: mv GUI00.GZ corel/gui00.tar.gz #(Repeat for each file.) cd corel gunzip gui00.tar.gz #(Repeat for each file. If Netscape already unzipped the files, #this step will fail. Just move on to the next step.) tar xvf gui00.tar #(Repeat for each file.)

Once the setup files are extracted, you should find two important files named Readme and Runme. After reading the Readme (always read the readme file!), run the Runme script. It may ask you a few simple questions, like whether you have untarred the downloaded files and whether you are using X (you should be). Then kapow! A lovely setup wizard appears! I’m starting to like this! It asks for an installation directory, and I assign it to /usr/local/corel/. There is no indication of what the default might have otherwise been, so be sure to type something here so your files won’t get lost. If you are installing as a normal user (you should be), you may not be able to write to /usr/local/. Instead, you should give it a place to live in your home directory, for example: /home/vince/corel

The setup also offers to borrow information from a previous install of WordPerfect. If you don’t have one just tell it to continue. After agreeing to the license and a few other things, setup completes.

After install, you may want to give WordPerfect administration privileges to regular users. (If you installed as a user, you should already have admin permission). This will allow the named users to change printer drivers or global settings. Start WordPerfect with the command /usr/local/corel/wpbin/xwp -adm. Click Preferences, Admin and add your user name to the list (or you could create a WPAdmin group and give privileges to all its members). Don’t make any other changes while WordPerfect is in Admin mode. You want to keep the global settings at their defaults so that if you really screw something up you can just delete your own customization files (in $HOME/.xwprc) and get back to the installation defaults. Close WordPerfect down now and (if you’re not already) log on as yourself (that is, a regular user). Start WordPerfect with the command /usr/local/corel/wpbin/xwp (altering the path as appropriate to your install) and let’s begin!


The first thing you’ll want to do is personalize your copy of WordPerfect using the “Preferences” menu. There’s a place for your name and initials for times when it wants to insert those in documents. It defaults to your login name, so you may want to change this. The important thing for me was to hit Preferences, Files and point it to my default data directory. WordPerfect defaults to your $HOME directory, but mine is so cluttered with config files and automatically created junk that I have a subdirectory called “Data” where all my real files are stored. Setting the default folders for all kinds of files is easy, as is opening and saving files, thanks to WordPerfect’s nifty file manager. (Just press the browse button!) You can also change the color scheme, design your own custom status bar (called the “Application Bar”), and adjust various other visual properties from here. I’ll leave it to you to explore.


I don’t know how other people feel, but the first thing I like to do when I adopt a new word processor is to personalize my own style sheet. I must have spent a month or more (off and on) tweaking my document template for MS Word back when I still used Windows. I remember being impossibly frustrated because none of the options seemed to do what I expected, and they were all hidden behind menu after menu or buried under three dialogs. (Who says Windows doesn’t have a learning curve?) I’ve only been working with WordPerfect for a couple of hours and I’ve already got the styles figured out. I still think they could be easier to find and use, but at least it didn’t take me a month to be satisfied with the results.

The first thing I didn’t like was the font. It defaulted to Courier, and I don’t like to use a mono-spaced font unless I’m typing code or columnar data in a text file. What stumped me was that the Style box on the toolbar said “<None>”. How could I customize a style that didn’t exist? After poking through the help files and experimenting quite a bit, I discovered that <None> actually meant it was using a style called InitialStyle. This style corresponds to the or default document template in Word. You can use it to set not only the default font but also properties like page margins, page numbering, columns, etc. To edit this (or any other) style, click Format->Styles, select InitialStyle from the list and hit the Edit button. Make your changes in the Style Editor and click OK. Make sure to select the button “Use as Default”, otherwise your changes will effect only the current document. Once you’ve got the defaults set the way you want them, you can start building your own personal style sheet.

WordPerfect comes with a ton of built in paragraph styles, but they are all hidden by default. Weird, huh? To see them, choose Format->Styles->Options->Setup and select “System Styles” under Display. There are way too many styles there to work with on a daily basis, so I decided to copy a few to my personal style library. To do this, select the style from the list and choose Options->Copy. Pick your personal library, assign the style a new name when prompted, and you now have your own style library. Then I chose to display the styles from my personal library in the default list (Format->Styles->Options->Setup).


If you’re looking for compatibility with MS Office, look elsewhere. Although WordPerfect is able to import some documents saved in MS Word 97 format, its capacity is limited. It does not support the Word “fast save” format (which Word turns on by default), so many documents will not import. When I tried to import a password protected document, WordPerfect hung. (StarOffice was also unable to read the file, but correctly reported that the file was password protected and continued to operate.) I tried to import some large files with macros and WordPerfect crashed completely, while StarOffice was able to import the documents with little trouble. WordPerfect also crashed when I tried to import data from a “monthly budget” spreadsheet in Excel 97 format. When I tried to import a very simple spreadsheet the program did not crash, but I was informed that WordPerfect does not understand this file format. The only spreadsheets listed in the file import filters are various versions of Lotus 123. (It can’t even import Corel’s own Quattro Pro format?!)

WordPerfect is unable to import or export StarOffice format, and reciprocally StarOffice does not support WordPerfect format, so migrating between them is likely to be a bear of a problem. (A recent StarOffice 5 Filter Update added support for WordPerfect format, but you must purchase the CD-ROM edition to get the filter, it is not available in the free download edition). WordPerfect claims to understand Applix Words 4.0 format, but I was unable to test this since I don’t have a copy of Applix.

WordPerfect does a decent job of exporting WordPerfect documents to HTML. The resulting HTML code is much cleaner than many word processors, and is quite readable in a text editor. Oddly, WordPerfect for Linux saves HTML as DOS text rather than Unix text, so your text editor will show Control-M characters (carriage returns) at the end of every line. This has no effect on how the page displays in a web browser. If you use the built-in system styles it correctly translates them into their HTML counterparts (but styles you create will be approximated with <font> tags). It even generates <em> and <strong> tags to represent italic and bold text, and replaces mark-up characters like < with the proper entity references. Unfortunately, it won’t let you work natively in HTML; you have to save the document in WordPerfect format and then direct it to export a separate web page copy. This should suffice if you have some pre-existing documents that you need to publish on the web, but being forced to save every document twice would be a nightmare trying to build a full web site. If web design is your thing, you’ll need other tools.


WordPerfect provides a usable outline mode, but lacks an analogue to MS Word’s Document Map feature, making the outline feel somewhat featureless. Once in outline mode, I found it impossible to get out of outline mode. The button that claimed to exit outline mode just broke my outline styles at the cursor.

The optional correct-as-you-type feature is very powerful and effective, and doesn’t just call the spell-checker but also the grammar checker and thesaurus. Yes with one click of the mouse, you can retrieve a list of synonyms for whatever word is under the cursor, which I think is really cool!

WordPerfect is capable of importing jpg and (some) gif files, but does not support interlaced gifs, so many gif images will be inaccessible. Table support seems adequate, including simple formulae which should suffice for simple household budgets and the like, but for serious calculation you’ll need a real spreadsheet package.

The free download version includes only the barest minimum of fonts. To get the extended font package and clip art, you’ll need to buy the CD-ROM version. All the fonts are Adobe type 1, which means they look great on paper, and look readable but not so great on screen. This is not a WordPerfect problem, it’s true of just about all X software. (Oh, how I long for universal TrueType support!)


Corel WordPerfect 8 for Linux is a solid word processing program with a few kinks to be worked out. Although it does its word processing job very well if you use it alone, its weakness in interoperability with other software makes it hard to migrate from another word processor. Its HTML support is good, but not good enough to use it as a professional web development tool.

In my informal use, I found StarOffice from Star Division to be more capable for about the same price. (A new StarOffice release available for download appears to have corrected some stability problems and improved it’s import filters). Both programs are free for non-commercial use and can be downloaded from the Internet, so take them both for a test drive and decide for yourself.


Corel’s Linux Site

Download or register Corel WordPerfect 8 for Linux here. Also you can check out Corel’s WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux, and their new CorelDRAW! Graphics Suite for Linux.