Last month a new update of SIAG Office, version 3.6.1 was released. It’s a minor update, mainly bugfixes. Still, it was an update I was very glad to see since it had been nearly a year since the previous release.
Why is this release important? In addition to fixing a few bugs and unbundling antiword it showed that SIAG is still being maintained and developed. OK, so you’re probably asking why SIAG is important at all. It’s feature poor when compared to OpenOffice or even AbiWord and Gnumeric.
Where SIAG scores over it’s more capable competition is in size and speed. The SIAG spreadsheet is included in a number of lightweight Linux distributions including Damn Small Linux. Granted the support for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets is limited but for stand alone use it has a very decent feature set that includes the functions that are most used in popular spreadsheet software. The suite’s word processor, PW, short for Pathetic Writer, is anything but pathetic. It’s certainly has a nice interface and is at least as capable as other lightweight word processors like Ted and FLWriter. I haven’t used Egon Animator so I really can’t comment on that piece.
Lightweight apps aren’t just for the sort of Atticware (old systems) I’ve written about from time to time. Keeping things small is also critical for embedded devices. It’s important for systems using compact flash cards and other RAM devices in lieu of hard drives where it’s highly desirable to cache the OS and as much of the applications as possible in traditional RAM to reduce read-write I/O and extend the lifespan of the storage device. One company I consulted for wanted truly silent point of sale systems with no moving parts. They wanted the OS, lightweight apps including a word processor and spreadsheet, and store data all on a single CF card. At the time in 2005 the spec called for 512MB cards. SIAG Office is perfect for their application. Something huge like OpenOffice simply wouldn’t do.
SIAG Office clearly has a place. It’s fits a growing and increasingly important niche in the Linux world. Seeing it continue to improve is important. By unbundling antiword version 3.6.1 offers those deploying SIAG Office the possibility of an even smaller footprint. Thanks to Ulric Eriksson and anyone else involved in the development of SIAG Office for your ongoing work. It is appreciated.