Word Processing in Ubuntu in Korea

I used to have a lot of trouble opening files, as the two favorite formats among students are .docx (What do you mean you can’t open it? It’s MICROSOFT!) and .hwp, the propreitary file format for the word processing application most widely used among Koreans… but used by nobody else on earth. (What do you mean, you prefer formats used globally and accessible from multiple programs?)

I’m running Hangeul 2005, but there are instructions for the 2008 version here (or here, recommended at Marmot’s), and as for .docx files, a simple tweak should render your OpenOffice capable of opening those files, if you follow the instructions here.

(And for those of you who are naughty, some bad person has posted the workaround that renders the two month trial of HWP 2005 a permanent install. I’m of two minds with this, since (a) I’d rather not be thieving things, but (b) it’s ridiculous to pay full price for [bad] software that one almost never uses just to deal with the few people who insist on using a proprietary format, and (c) anyone who uses security that wimpy [in Linux of all systems!] is pretty much begging someone to just implement the workaround. But it’s wrong, bad, horrid, etc.)

Now if only someone could introduce a hack that could trick the Korean web into thinking I was running Windows and Internet Explorer — not just running it under Wine, but really using IE in Windows — life would be a lot easier. Maybe a few versions down the road?

13 thoughts on “Word Processing in Ubuntu in Korea

  1. I prefer it.

    That’s the short, simple answer. I answer at slightly greater length on my Bio page (but I’ll quote it here):

    I’ve used DOS, and several versions of Windows, Mac, and Linux, and Ubuntu Linux has been my favorite OS so far. I switched to Linux around the time all my old Window-user friends hurriedly migrated to Mac and started exlusively consuming technology with a lowercase “i” on the front of the product name. Me, I’m happier paying less for equal stability, even if I do occasionally have to go trawling webforums to figure out how to achieve that stability.

    My objections to Windows increased further with Vista — inefficiency coupled with insane amounts of DRM-friendliness? are you kidding me? — and I’m uneasy about Apple’s relationship to DRM (willing to implement crazy DRM if their arm is softly twisted) and their customers (the cost of migrating away from Apple is increasing with every passing gadget).

    Finally, it’s cost-efficient for me. The money I save on hardware (and that I will save on the OS, over time) is a savings, plus the hacking about I have to do with Linux is paying dividends as I learn more and more about computers and how they work under the hood. (I’m no expert, I’ll never be one, but I’m a fair bit more in tune with it than your average consumer, and that’s a useful thing for an SF writer. So for me, except on days when it’s really an emergency, the still-imperfect nature of Ubuntu is a boon to me as an education experience. Plus, I believe big groups of people can achieve cool things that better the world without being part of profit-driven companies. Linux is a daily reminder of this, and an inspiring one.)

  2. So, if I understand you correctly, you’re using Linux for conventional computer stuff like writing, searching the Internet, sending email, watching videos etc, and not things like running a server or doing development, right?

    Last question (sorry) – do you mostly rely on Ubuntu’s package repositories for new software, or do you compile any of it yourself?

  3. Rhesus,

    No, it’s okay. If my tone was vaguely hostile before, it’s just leeriness about OS bickering. (I HATE arguing about which OS is better.)

    Yeah, I just use it for my own stuff. I don’t do any development work, and I don’t run a server. If I was able-minded as a coder, I’d contribute to Ubuntu, though. (Or work on WordPress plugins.) But I’m not, so I don’t.

    And yeah, I usually use package repositories, though occasionally, when absolutely necessary, I will compile things myself. It’s good for me, once in a while, but occasionally such horrible things happen that one needs to reinstall the OS and all. (This happened to me when I tried to install the HWP app following outdated instructions, for example.)

    I take it you’re more technically knowledgeable than me, so I wonder — why? Do you work in development, run a server, or what? (And if you use Linux, do you compile much yourself?)

  4. I asked about what you did with Linux because your posts about it seemed somewhat smug, so I wanted to know if you used it for something besides the usual things. The right to smugness should be reserved for people like Torvalds or Don Knuth or Richard Stallman (in his rare lucid moments), not regular developers or users.

    If I misinterpreted your posts, then I’m wrong and obviously none of this applies, but it still seems a little strange to mention something like Wine when most readers aren’t going to know what it is, even though the subject itself isn’t significant.

    Anyway, to answer your questions, I use Linux (Slackware) for two reasons, neither of them related to work. The first is that I like coding in Common Lisp, but Lisps for Windows are either expensive (for me) or unstable, at least for now. The second is that I think libre software is actually a Good Thing, though I hate the evangelical attitude of a lot of its supporters.

    I should add that I’m running Vista right now. I’d heard so much criticism of it that I wanted to try it out. I can’t see any problem with Vista for regular tasks.

    That’s it!

  5. Rhesus,

    Really… where do you get “smug”? (Maybe too much rough-and-tumble at Robert’s site has turned you cynical? Because I was interpreting you as smugly trying to put me in my place as a mere user — your tone seemed quite disdainful to me, to be honest. I could be wrong. My hackles go up easily these days, for various reasons.)

    I could see where you’d have gotten “annoyed” because of how Windows-only Korea can be. (It annoys me constantly.)

    But “smug”? I posted some links to software tips, and whinged briefly about a still-unsolved problem I face as a Linux user in Korea. My last few posts have been about how quick and painless reinstallation is when you totally kill your system, about how I totally killed my system and would not be blogging till it was back up and running, about how campus internet security guys seem to think Linux can get the same viruses Windows can, and a list of what was and wasn’t working when I installed an older version of the OS onto my PC. Nowhere did I see a smug tone. I see a happy user who mentions his OS and computing experience a few times a year, much less often than he mentions his new pet cat, what he’s been writing, how his writing drafts are going, and so on. Seriously, I don’t see a shred of smug in my posts.

    And yeah, I’ve seen Linux evangelism — some friendly and some nasty. (Implying anyone who doesn’t use Ubuntu is a moron, for example. That’s sad. And then there’s the guys who imply that anyone who doesn;t use Gentoo and compile everything himself is a moron. There is apparently no end to the levels of geek hierarchy.) But seriously, I’m not even engaged in the friendly sort of free-software evangelism.

    (I mean, unless mentioning Linux in public is evangelism. But that’s a bit much!)

    By the way, I mention Wine assuming anyone who isn’t interested in Linux would skip the post entire, while those are — especially those arriving via Google or other search engines — will understand. Check out the Ubuntu boards: there are a number of anglophones who use Ubuntu in Korea, and we (average Ubuntu users) all Google around for solutions from time to time.

    Actually, over on the LJ mirror of this post, there was a certain degree of discussion, including alternate solutions to running IE under Wine. You see, I have a number of friends who know much more about Linux than me and read this site.

    (BTW I have a dual boot with Wine. I wouldn’t touch Vista just because I object to DRM on general grounds, but if you wanna use it, go ahead.)

    So… short version — yes, you’re wrong, I’m really not being smug, and I hope you’ll be a little more generous in your interpretations of my posts in future. (There’s no reason to interpret them in the worst possible light, is there? Again, this isn’t the Marmot’s comments section Flea Zone!) :D

  6. ‘k, I see. But I don’t think finding smugness in those posts is interpreting them “in the worst possible light.” There are far worse things than being smug. You weren’t writing about how you wished GNU would infect all the computers in Redmond, or how supremely happy you were because you paid extra for Vista Ultimate or whatever and got the DVDs with Gates’ signature on them and that’s better than having children. In that case, I would’ve interpreted the posts as being “stupid,” which wouldn’t apply to your actual writing.

    And I wouldn’t disdain you for being a mere user, just for (apparently) being smug. When I first started using Linux, around 2000, I encountered a lot of smugness from what amounted to hobbyists (fanboys, really) so maybe that made me cynical.

    Now that Linux is more common, there seems to be much less elitism about it, so maybe things are better now.

    Marmot’s – I stopped reading it regularly more than a year before I left Korea. The sole reason was the comments section, which began to make me unreasonably depressed. I was (and am) genuinely happier ignoring that stuff.

  7. LOL Okay, now I understand. Smugness is something I always hate to be accused of, like elitism. (It’s not my fault I like music most people think is “elitist” but it seems not to stop them from calling me that.)

    God, I hope there aren’t really DVDs with Gates’ signature on them. That’s too SFnal even for me at this point. (Oh Good Lord there are. Though collector’s value, maybe. That’s so… weird!)

    I only moved over to Linux in early 2006, mostly just because I was fed up with Windows — especially how it was running on my laptop — and I couldn’t get service here since I’d bought it in Canada. I haven’t encountered as much elitism around Linux, but maybe it’s just the people I know. Most Linux users I’ve hung with don’t bring it up until some problem crops up, or to ask for help from another Linux users.

    But online, you see some of them who are as annoying as the Marijuana Smokers’ Rights people. One cannot help but think they’re compensating for something. Probably being outcasts in high school, among other things.

    Yeah, I rarely drop by Marmot’s anymore. Whatever you think of the posts and coverage there, the comment sections are an absurd echo chamber of human dysfunctionality. You would think every foreigner, every kyopo, and every Korean in the country were ready to abuse every member of the other two groups at the drop of a hat, if they behaved that way in person. I actually find it kind of embarrassing, but I suspect to some degree that’s my Canadian upbringing. (I find Americans tend to be somewhat more comfortable with the idea of raucous disagreement and wrangling out in public; Canadians, generally, seem to find it more mortifying and to want everyone to behave in a more civil manner as they disagree with one anothers’ vile assertions. Or this is my impression.)

  8. > topic drift <

    I knew a lot of Canadians in Korea. Speaking as a fairly representative Texan, I think Canadians are generally more civilized than Americans. This is an objective assessment. I don’t know whether it’s a good, bad, or neutral thing, but it’s still true.

    @raucous public disagreement

    In Texas at least, in the normal course of things it’s rare to hear raised voices or arguments in public. Most people consider such things to be embarrassing at best and public disturbances at worst.

    Of course, it’s sometimes different in places where people are drinking or having “fun,” but that’s not what I mean by “in the normal course of things.”

    I saw far more public disturbances in Seoul than I ever saw in Austin, drunken or not. And I’m not talking about Itaewon, which sort of exists for drinking, fighting, and yeah.

  9. I swear I’ve heard of a workaround for this, a way to tell the little server-side gnomes “this is IE, really!” I mean, there’s probably just some silly bit of something they look at when they say “papers please” that you can modify. Maybe there’s a plugin. I assume you’re using some sort of Mozilla thingy?

  10. On the LJ mirror, Tina Connolly suggested I use the Firefox User Agent switcher, which is a good idea, but doesn’t address the insane number of ActiveX thingies that Korean websites use/require. And things still display whacked out in Firefox. And some stuff STILL doesn’t display right. There are parts of the Korean internet that seem to require you to be running a Korean-installation of Windows and Internet Explorer in order to function. One reason neither Mac or Linux has made comparable strides here to, well, anywhere else. (The other barrier is probably gaming, as computer games are incredibly popular here.) It’s frustrating.

  11. Using the tools MS provides, it’s relatively quick and easy to program a lot of the stuff you see on Korean websites. They’re not concerned about universal accessibility, just ease of use (which is perfectly understandable). MS-compliant things will never be fully compatible with non-MS systems, unless something really strange happens.

    If you haven’t already, you could try VMware. I’ve never used it, but it’s supposed to work very well.


  12. Well, it’s perfectly understandable when much of the local internet is locked up and unusable by non-citizens anyway, I’ll give you that. But it certainly isn’t much help to anyone else who’s interested in the country, society, culture, etc. One almost wishes that the Korean wave had continued to grow, just so that there’d be some incentive to de-ghettoize the Korean web.

    I should add, though, that nearly every webpage I used outside Korea is accessible using Linux, Mac, and any number of other webpages. It’s not *that* hard to do. I think part of the reason everything is only MS-compliant is simple laziness… plus, yeah, lack of demand.

    But anyway, thanks for the recommendation — I’ll make sure to check out VMware. I’ve heard it mentioned here and there, but I too have never used it. Maybe it’ll be the solution I need…

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