Re: [dev] Suckless word processing solution?

From: Don Harper <>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 12:58:30 -0500

Are you opposed to using the cloud? Google docs fits the bill, ie,
lightweight resources on the host, and you can do some disconnected
work, I think...


2009/9/22 <>:
> Hi,all!
> I am looking for a lightweight solution to create rich formatted content in
> any MS Word-editable format - I think RTF is more likely to happen, since it
> is an open format.
> Basically, what I am looking for is a lightweight, distractionless
> (preferably no menus or toolbars) word processor with support for all common
> formatting option. Basically, I don't need the word processor to be capable
> of doing things I wouldn't be able to do with a real piece of paper - which
> means that I just need common beautifiers, font styling, paragraph styling
> and footnotes/TOC support, tables and images, since I often need to write
> academic papers following a certain style. However, I don't need any math
> support.
> I was looking for something that would suit my needs for quite some time.
> AbiWord is bloated, slow and buggy and has numerous GNOME and other
> dependencies. Ted got updated recently, which means that it finally got
> UTF-8, gtk interface and proper font rendering, but at the moment is still
> buggy and it is uncertain, in which way will it improve. Other than that, it
> is a really nice word processor. WordGrinder has a nice interface concept,
> but CLI interface can show many style features of the text, which is why WG
> supports only a limited number of formatting capabilities. Besides, it can
> only export to troff and html. Finally, it wasn't updated since late 2008.
> Then I looked in the area of humane markup languages. txt2tags is nice (the
> syntax is really clean and easy), but doesn't support RTF and footnotes (not
> to mention the proper paragraph formatting). I tried MarkDown extensions,
> such as pandoc (which involves having a Haskell infrastructure installed)
> and multimarkdown. Both support RTF export, but still look more like an
> easier way to get HTML output than a word processing solution. The same is
> true with the other lightweight markup languages: they are either tools to
> get HTML source, or an easier way to produce man pages.
> Finally, i started looking at the full-blown typesetting systems. I admire
> LaTeX, but it's just too big for my needs. Besides, latex2rtf utility wasn't
> updated for quite some time and still doesn't work properly. Then I tried
> lout. Lout is nice, because it's small and has a pretty straightforward
> manual, but it only supports PS and PDF(?) output. Besides, I had some
> issues with producing texts in Russian (since it is my native language).
> Then I tried Groff. Groff look uber-geeky and traditional to me, it is
> smaller than LaTeX (bigger than lout, though), but there are still a lot of
> problems here. First, there is a huge lack of documentation - basically,
> there is only a Unix Text Processing textbook back from the late 80s (and
> it's not clear as to whether one could use it as a guide to contemporary
> troff). Second, groff devteam seems to be more focused on the needs of man
> writers (which is understandable). Which is why many issues specific for
> common word processing and desktop publishing are ignored or are being
> solved really slowly. Specifically, I couldn't solve the localization
> problem. Furthermore, troffcvt utility (a troff converter, supports RTF) is
> also deprecated and is of inferior quality - basically, it just ignores many
> formatting options. I also checked other implementations: Heirloom project
> might be nice (at least, it is said to support UTF-8 and modern fonts), but
> again it is unclear as to which documentation should I use. Besides, the
> project wasn't updated since April 2008. There is also a new C
> implementation called mdocml (designed by BSD people to replace groff), but
> it only supports man macros (although it is pretty active and should run on
> Linux too). Furthermore, there should be another flavour in MirOS BSD source
> tree (which is said to be an original AT&T version), but it is actually
> broken. Finally, I couldn't find any mention of Plan 9 version of troff
> being used outside of Plan 9 itself (but I suppose it should definitely
> support UTF-8).
> Currently, I am really desperate. IMHO, there were always two main problems
> for those, who wanted to build a lightweight Linux/BSD environment: there
> were no lightweight graphical web browsers and no lightweight word
> processors. The situation with web browsers gets improved by surf and uzbl
> developers. But what about word processing? Do you have any suggestions on
> the original problem?
> P.S.: Sorry for this post being so enormous, but I wanted to sum up my
> efforts for somebody who would like to solve the same problem.
> --
> wbr,

Don Harper, RHCE
Received on Tue Sep 22 2009 - 17:58:30 UTC

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