Setting Up LibreOffice on the Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy SIn Linux Turns Galaxy S Into A ‘Good’ Jekyll & Hyde, I discussed how readers can run Ubuntu Linux, using the Linux-On-Android application, and switch back and forth between that and Android apps. It works well and seems pretty stable, so I’d definitely recommend that readers give it a try.

At the end of the story, I mentioned that maybe I would try LibreOffice and report on the results. Is there a practical reason to do that? Perhaps not right now. As we continue to move from desktops and notebooks to the cloud and mobile devices, productively using a word processor on one of these little machines might make sense.

Let’s see where it takes us.

Load and Run LibreOffice

The first thing to do is use apt-get, on the command line, to install LibreOffice on the Galaxy. In a terminal window, on the phone, type the following.

smartphone/# apt-get install libreoffice

A bunch of text will scroll by and the program will ask if you want to install LibreOffice. Type a “y” for yes. More text will scroll by and you’ll eventually end up back at the command line.

Next, move over onto a Linux notebook and ssh (using the -X option) into the phone. Open a terminal and use the following.

notebook/$ ssh -X root@

Naturally, you’ll need to replace the IP address with whatever one your phone is using. On the phone, enter the following command to display its current IP address:

smartphone/# ifconfig

Your address will be the “inet addr:” value under the eth0 entry.

Finally, on the notebook, in the terminal, start LibreOffice with the following:

notebook/$ libreoffice

On my phone along with my Asus Linux notebook, LibreOffice was up and running in about 20 seconds. I ran top (system status application) in a terminal on the smart phone as LibreOffice loaded and found that CPU utilization hit a peak of about 30 percent.

After everything settled down, the phone ran at a steady 5-10 percent.

I cut and pasted this story into LibreOffice on the phone, and all the functions seemed to work properly. The text could be edited without problems, but had predictable lags when doing heavy lifting, like moving big blocks of text. I thought it was usable and not too frustrating. I was also able to insert a graphical image and save the file without issues.

I’m sad to say that power consumption while running LibreOffice was abysmal. Running any big app like LibreOffice will certainly drain the Galaxy battery in less than an hour from a full charge. The solution is to plug the phone into its charger while running LibreOffice to keep the battery charged up. Bear in mind that I have a rooted phone and run it constantly at the 1-GHz maximum clock speed.

The other problem I had was that the LibreOffice window on the notebook didn’t have the usual minimize/maximize/close buttons, making those functions un-reachable. I was able to drag a corner or side to resize, but couldn’t move the window around the screen with the mouse. Maybe there are some settings to fix these problems, and I’ll have to investigate that further.

What’s Next

I’m sure some readers must be asking the question, “Why put LibreOffice on your Linux/Android smart phone?”

I wanted to show that even first-generation Galaxy S smartphones are pretty darned powerful. It wasn’t so many years ago when desktops barely had this much horsepower. Imagine trying to run a current version of LibreOffice (this one was on an old 486 with 128 MB of RAM and a clunky old 4-GB hard disk. We had that level of performance just 10 years ago.

In the not too distant future, I’m thinking that our smartphones and tablets will become our word processing machines. They’ll replace the desktops, both in capability and portability, as well as convenience. I’m not sure whether the user input interface will be a traditional touch-type-style keyboard, some kind of soft keyboard, or keys that appear in holographic space. Maybe I’ll squint at a VNC session on my Galaxy S smart phone while navigating around the screen with one of those crazy little Bluetooth thumb keyboard/touchpad things. If I can ever get my Asus Transformer Prime tablet (TF-201) rooted, I think it would make a good LibreOffice test candidate.

The larger point is that our smartphones and tablets are getting so capable and powerful that we will definitely will be using them in ways we never could have imagined just a year or two ago.

Let’s not forget that Linux people tend to regularly tackle challenges with considerable bravado and a disarming lack of modesty. So if somebody asks “Why did you do that?”an appropriate answer is: “Because I can.”

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4 Responses to “Setting Up LibreOffice on the Galaxy S”

    • BMichaelsen,

      I was so inspired by your video that I just looked at a Nexus 7 at CompUSA. For $199, there might be one in my future. Apparently, rooting an N7 is much easier than my old Asus Transformer Prime (TF-201) with the latest OTA Android version.

      Dice Mobile Development and Linux Community Guide

  1. hopper writer

    “As we continue to move from desktops and notebooks to the cloud and mobile devices..”

    I’m a little puzzled by that phrase. Shouldn’t “mobile devices” be grouped with “desktops and notebooks” in that they are all local platforms, for hosting applications, while “the cloud” is a remote platform/application that can be accessed by a desktop, notebook or mobile device, via the internet?

    • Hopper Writer,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think of desktops and notebooks as kind of the old paradigm. Mobile devices often depend on the cloud heavily and are the “new” idea of platform/applications, to me.

      Certainly the cloud can be accessed by notebooks, desktops, AND mobile devices. Just on old way vs. new way distinction.

      Dice Mobile Development and Linux Community Guide