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Old 04-19-2004, 11:53 PM   #1
Registered: Jan 2004
Distribution: Kubuntu 10.04 (Dell Linux-preinstalled laptop + a desktop); Maemo 5 (N900 phone computer)
Posts: 116

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OpenOffice goes poof! Never starts

In Mandrake 9.2 (DL edition), configured with "high" security level, OpenOffice is installed, but I can't get it to start.

I run oowriter (or oocalc or whatever) at the console prompt, and get back the prompt almost immediately. Nothing else happens.

I go through the KDE menu and click on OpenOffice(.org). The little flashing indicator tells me to wait. It stays for 30 seconds and then disappears, and everything goes back to the way it is. (I know this is because KDE doesn't actually know when a program ends; it only knows that it still hasn't started 30 seconds later. It doesn't realize that 29 seconds ago, the program had already given up and aborted.)


I have a second computer with Mdk 9.2, configured with the standard security level, and it works. Maybe it has to do with the security level, maybe not.

I just hate it when programs go "poof" and just terminate (or fail to start) with no error messages.

Anyone else have the same problem?
Old 04-20-2004, 04:25 AM   #2
Registered: Jan 2004
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 686

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No. Have you tried running as root or reinstalling it?
Old 04-20-2004, 04:29 AM   #3
Senior Member
Registered: Dec 2002
Location: Mosquitoville
Distribution: RH 6.2, Gen2, Knoppix,arch, bodhi, studio, suse, mint
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openoffice 1.1.1 croaks on my box when i try to open a document.
openoffice 1.0.3 works fine. i don't feel like going to the trouble to figure out what it is.
just letting you know that you're not the only one open office doesn't work perfectly for.
Old 04-20-2004, 07:47 PM   #4
Registered: Jan 2004
Distribution: Kubuntu 10.04 (Dell Linux-preinstalled laptop + a desktop); Maemo 5 (N900 phone computer)
Posts: 116

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 21
My mistake; here's how I fixed it

Just in case someone else has similar problems or simply wants to know: "Where on earth do all these problems come from?" I will list the solution, how I found the solution, and tie up various loose ends.

The Solution
It turns out that I had copied my home directory from my other computer (Heathrow, where worked) to this computer (Monterey, where OOo did not work). After all, my home dir has lots of config info for various programs that I didn't want to redo by hand.

I had cleverly used the "rsync" command to copy from Heathrow to Monterey, but I didn't realize that such rsync'd files are made non-executable, unless I specify the "-p" flag (for "permissions"). One such directory copied was my ~/.openoffice directory.

In this directory is a script file that is run as part of OpenOffice. Presumably every user has a copy in his/her own ~/.openoffice directory, to set up a config that is specific to the user. But this script file simply wouldn't execute. (No error messages, either, you dimhead OOo programmers. Thanks a lot!)

You would have thought that I would "chmod u+x" the offending file, but I didn't even bother. I "erased" my ~/.openoffice directory (actually, I moved it somewhere else and renamed it) and ran OOo. The program found that I didn't have a ~/.openoffice directory set up yet, and proceeded to set one up automatically. Everything ran smoothly after that.

How I Found the Problem
I checked that there was indeed an OpenOffice program. Checking the KDE menu, I saw that the program was called "oowriter". Then, on a console, I typed "oowr" and then hit Tab. The Tab Completion function of "bash" (the program that runs in a console, or when you use text-only) checked what possible commands I could be typing and automatically filled in "iter", since "oowriter" was the only possible command. This confirmed there was a oowriter command. I hit Enter, but as before, I just got the prompt back with nothing happening.

I then typed "which oowriter", and it told me that when I ran "oowriter", it used the program from "/usr/bin/oowriter". I checked the /usr/bin directory, and found that "oowriter" was a link to the "ooffice" file; this was a Perl file.

I made a backup copy of "ooffice", and then, as root, edited the "ooffice" file, inserting 'print "## Here I am! 01";' commands all over the place. (You have to know a minimal amount of Perl to know this.) I gave them different numbers so I could see when the program got to which part. I put in the "##" so I could easily find and delete my added statements later. When I ran "oowriter" again (as a normal user), this time I saw:

## Here I am! 01
## Here I am! 02
## Here I am! 03
## Here I am! 04

... and so forth. Every single one of the "## Here I am!" statements showed up. So the entire program was executing, but something was simply making it exit as soon as it was started.

I recognized that the Perl file executed another file, this one in my home directory, called ~/.openoffice/soffice, so I edited that one too with statements.

Now, on a TV show, I would say: I discovered that "soffice" wasn't running, and located the problem. What really happened was that I was too sleepy because it was late, so I went to bed. The next morning, I woke up thinking, "Hey, waitaminnit, is that 'soffice' file even executable?" That's how I found the problem. Isn't the truth just so wonky sometimes?

To answer beejayzed: yes, I did try to run it as root, and it failed, but this time with an error message about "xhost". So I had to, as normal user, give permission for other users like "root" to use my X display. Then root could run OpenOffice, but it ran really slowly. And normal user still couldn't run OpenOffice.

So then I tried installing again with "urpmi openoffice", but it said, "Everything is already installed." Then I uninstalled with "rpm -e openoffice", and then reinstalled with "urpmi openoffice", and this time it installed again. But same problem.

Later on, I found the solution, as given above.

I hope this gives some newbies some ideas about how to go about solving problems. Not that I'm necessarily skilled at this, but I've always been frustrated: "If Linux is open source, then sooner or later I should be able to figure out what the heck is going on! So why is there an error?"


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