AbiWord - Frequently Asked Questions
What is Open Source software?
Open Source software differs from traditional proprietary software in
that the source code (the underlying instructions which make
the software function) is available as well as the application itself.
For most users, the availability of source code is of no immediate
benefit; however everyone benefits from higher quality software
produced as a result of many individuals making improvements to the
original software. For more information about the concept of Open
Why is it free?
We want everyone to use our product.
AbiSource is not shareware. You are not obligated, morally, legally
or otherwise, to pay for using our products, ever. Please use our
software, and please pass copies to everyone you know so that they can
use it as well.
We have no hidden agenda.
What's the catch?
No catch. You don't have to make any compromises. Our products are
always being improved. Initial releases may come out with only the
essentials, but as Open Source software matures, it becomes as
full-featured as the offerings from the leading proprietary vendors.
Releasing our software as Open Source allows us to attain a higher
level of quality than our closed source counterparts.
Will it work on my computer?
AbiWord works on several different kinds of computers. Versions are
available for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT. Versions for
Linux work with Intel, Alpha, and LinuxPPC architectures. There are
also versions available for BeOS, Solaris and FreeBSD. Currently,
AbiWord does not work on a Macintosh.
Is there support?
In the future, AbiSource will provide official technical support for
all of our products. Currently, support is available by signing up for
the AbiWord user mailing list. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
with "subscribe" in the message body. To reduce spam traffic
to this list, only its members can submit messages; you need to
subscribe to it to send mail. We also host archives
of this list.
The AbiWord user mailing list is designed to facilitate discussion
among users of AbiWord. The list is monitored by various AbiSource
project members. You may use this list to:
- post questions,
- suggest features, or
- carry on nearly any discussion which is directly related to
Please remember that this mailing list is a public forum and your
postings may be read by many people.
What features are available in AbiWord?
Currently, there is quick list of features on the products
page. For an extensive look at AbiWord features, you can check out
feature matrix. We also have a similar document cross-referenced
by operating system
Try AbiWord and see for yourself. It's a fast download, and the
software is very easy to use.
Some menu items say to add code at a certain line. How do I do
This message is an indication that the dialog in question has not been
added yet. As an Open Source project, everyone is encouraged to join
in the development effort. This message is a reminder to those
knowledgeable in programming languages such as C that their
contributions are wanted. If you don't understand the specific
instructions in this message, don't worry about it; be patient and
these features will continue to appear with each successive release.
How do I change languages in AbiWord?
AbiWord can work with menus and strings translated into many different
languages by changing an option. As there is no options dialog yet,
changing languages requires hand-editing of the options file. For
Linux and FreeBSD, this file is in your home directory in a hidden
directory named .AbiSuite. For Windows, the file is usually in the
Windows directory in a directory named AbiSuite. The file itself is
named AbiWord.profile. Modify this file as follows:
Currently supported languages are
- Find all occurences of the word _builtin_ and change it
- Find three lines that typicall end with values="En-US".
These three lines begin with MenuLabelSet, StringSet, and
ToolbarLabelSet. Change each of these three lines to a
different value, such as Fr-FR for french.
- Save the document, and relaunch AbiWord. All menus and strings
should now be in your language of choice.
- Ca-ES: Catalan
- Cs-CZ: Czech
- Da-DK: Danish
- Du-NL: Dutch
- Fi-FI: Finnish
- Fr-FR: French
- De-DE: German
- Hu-HU: Hungarian
- Id-ID: Indonesian
- It-IT: Italian
- Nb-NO: Norwegian Bokmål
- Nn-NO: Norwegian Nynorsk
- Pl-PL: Polish
- Pt-PT: Portuguese
- Sv-SV: Swedish
I like using AbiWord in my native language. Why do I still see
some English in the product?
Translations for AbiWord are provided by conscientious individuals all
over the world who enjoy using AbiWord in their native language, just
as you. As AbiWord continues to develop new features, occasionally
there is a small time lag between when a new dialog or menu appears,
and when all the new translated words can be submitted. You can help
the translation effort by contacting the person responsible for your
particular translation. To do so, look in your AbiWord directory for a
folder named "strings". Find the file associated with your
language in that directory, and open it with an editor such as vi or
notepad. At the top of that page, you will find the name and email of
the person who is maintaining the translation.
If I type in another language, how do I have spell check work
for that language?
Your AbiWord distribution contains a file called american.hash. This
is a dictionary of English words. By replacing this dictionary with
one from your language of choice, spell check will then mark only
those words misspelled for the language you choose. A comprehensive
list of available dictionaries is at http://fmg-www.cs.ucla.edu/geoff/ispell-dictionaries.html
When I try to install AbiWord on Windows, I get an error about
COMCTL32.DLL is a Windows library AbiWord needs to run. Some older
versions of Windows did not have this library. You can get it free
from Microsoft at http://www.microsoft.com/msdownload/ieplatform/ie/comctrlx86.asp.
How do I use True Type fonts for AbiWord on Linux?
AbiWord supports TrueType fonts in GNU/Linux. However your system must already
have a properly configured TrueType font server. To find out how to configure
your font server to use TrueType fonts, or how to install a separate TrueType
font server, please read the
LDP Font HOWTO.
In particular the section Making Fonts Available to X.
Please also refer to the "Customizing Fonts for Unix in AbiWord" Document.
Be aware that fonts will only appear in AbiWord if they exist in or are
symlinked to the AbiWord fonts directory:
Certain font names are critical to the operation of AbiWord, notably "Times New
Roman". If you want to use Microsoft's core fonts in AbiWord and the
core fonts are already properly installed in a separate directory,
such as (this is just an example): /usr/share/fonts/MSCoreFonts
Then to make those fonts available to AbiWord, delete or move the current fonts
in /usr/share/AbiSuite/fonts and type (as root):
ln -s /usr/share/fonts/MSCoreFonts/* /usr/share/AbiSuite/fonts
If the fonts are already properly installed it doesn't appear necessary
to update the fonts.dir and fonts.scale files (i.e. they can be left as
symlinks). AbiWord should now detect the Microsoft core fonts.
If you want to know how to install Microsoft's core fonts, which are freely
available and redistributable with certain restrictions, download them from
Microsoft stipulates you can only distribute the fonts as Windows
executables. It is fortunate that decoding these executables is possible
Once all the TrueType fonts are extracted into a (separate) directory of your
choosing you just (this explanation may be Redhat 6.2+ specific):
(a) execute ttmkfdir (the True Type make font directory)
(b) execute "chkfontpath --add (directory of the fonts)", or edit /etc/X11/fs/config manually.
(c) Optional: Put the Microsoft core fonts at the top of the directories list
Then restart the font server:
The Microsoft core fonts will now be properly installed and you can make the
fonts available to AbiWord by symlinking as explained above.
I get an error message "AbiWord could not
load [-*-Times New Roman-regular-r-*-*-*-0-*-*-*-*-*-*]"
If you recieve the message "AbiWord could not load the following
font or fontset from the X Window System display server, [-*-Times New
Roman-regular-r-*-*-*-0-*-*-*-*-*-*]" or something similar try the
following, add the line Load "type1" to your /etc/X11/XF86Config
or XF86Config-4 file.You will need to do this as root.
You may also want to try the following command if you still have problems
/usr/sbin/chkfontpath -a /usr/share/AbiSuite/fonts. Again,
you will need to do this as root.
How do I enable vi and Emacs key bindings in
For the hardcore computer geeks out there, AbiWord is built with the
ability to select arbitrary keybindings. First, you must enable this
feature, which is currently awkward. You will need to edit the file
~/.AbiSuite/AbiWord.Profile. If there is a line in the Select tag
reading scheme="_builtin_", you should change the _builtin_
to _custom_. If the file does not have a Scheme tag with the line
name="_custom_", you should add <Scheme name="_custom_" />
to the file. Now, add a line reading KeyBindingsCycle="1"
to this tag before the closing /. You can switch between these
different modes by pressing F12. The status bar will indicate the
current keybinding mode is in use. Please note that not all vi or
emacs keys are implemented, but most are. If there is a particular vi
or emacs keybinding that you find is missing, remember that everyone
is encouraged to join in the development process, and this might be a
chance for you to make a contribution.
What features are planned for future versions of Abiword?
We are planning to release a 1.0 version soon, and that will have several more features that users are eagerly awaiting.
For a more complete view, see our roadmap.
Abiword has crashed! What can I do?
If you are using the Linux version, then it will have automatically made a backup of your
file prior to crashing. To use the backup, open another Abiword, and open the back file. Please
also submit details of your crash to
Bugzilla. Be sure to follow the
Bug Writing Guidelines, at the very least, tell us what you were last doing when AbiWord crashed,
and, after you file the bug, attach an AbiWord document we can use to reproduce the crash if applicable.
My imported Microsoft Word(TM) document has some formating errors. Whats wrong?
We try very hard to make our import filters perfect, but they can sometimes make errors, as this type of document is remarkably difficult to import flawlessly.
Please contact us on our website so that we can try and resolve the problem. You also might want to check to see if
there is a new version of Abiword available, as we are improving our import filters all the time. It is recommended that unless you really need to save in the *.doc format, that
you save or request the file as *.rtf format, as this is much more portable. Saving as a *.doc is planned for a future release.
Now that StarOffice is going to be GPLed, how does that affect you?
We will try to work with them as closely as possible, in order to get a oommon file format. However, we will keep working, in order to provide a small and functional word processor.
Is it possible to import KWord documents?
Not yet. This is planned for a future release. We hope to use a file format compatable with Abiword, KWord and StarWord.
Is it possible to compile AbiWord on Windows?
Yes. If you want to try out the latest and greatest features or bug fixes the devolopers are working on, or would like to
help with AbiWord for Windows development, compiling on Windows is possible. You must have Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 or
greater and the Cygwin Tools. For detailed instructions see the
Building AbiWord on Windows HOWTO. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
Questions not in the FAQ
If there are any questions which are not answered in this FAQ, please visit the AbiSource site.