AbiWord: spell checking in Fluxbuntu, save as another file format by default

I’ve been setting up a few old ThinkPads (a 240 and an iSeries model from the same era) with Fluxbuntu to give them new life and replace the ever aging and useless Windows 98 they were running. I looked into Damn Small Linux and other such distributions optimized for minimal performance, but I found that some of them were not really suitable as a desktop distribution. Fluxbuntu, on the other hand, has a beautiful theme, is easy to use and gives you access to the Ubuntu repositories.

One of the machines is for a novice computer user, so I’ve made a few changes. Kazehakase – the default browser – seems to have some sort of bug that cancels out the speed improvements it’s supposed to deliver, so I switched to Firefox (which the user is already familiar with). I also changed the ‘Editor’ icon on the desktop to open AbiWord, instead of the Leafpad text editor.

AbiWord needed some setup to get the spell check working. First of all, I had to install the aspell dictionary. I found out how to do that using this tutorial:
sudo apt-get install aspell-en

Then, I wanted to set the default language to Canadian English, as opposed to US English. To do that, I found out I had to modify the language attribute in two places in the default AbiWord document template.

  1. Open up /usr/share/AbiSuite-2.4/templates/normal.awt in your favourite text editor
  2. Change ‘en-US’ to the language of your choice (in my case, ‘en-CA’). Note that you need to change this in two places!

Lastly, this user doesn’t need to deal with multiple file formats. Even a more experienced user might wish to change the default file format. AbiWord doesn’t offer a way to do this through the GUI, but you can modify your AbiWord.Profile file to do this. I’d recommend Open Document (.odt) over Microsoft Word (.doc), but I found these instructions for changing the default file format.

  1. Open ~/.AbiSuite/AbiWord.Profile in your favourite text editor
  2. Add an attribute to the second Scheme tag: DefaultSaveFormat=".odt" (or whatever extension you prefer)

Hope that helps!

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