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Downgrading of the project: Calc has a fatal bug - it cannot reliably link workbooks

The project is to build a Linux Mint machine to have the identical functionality and ergonomics as the existing Windows 10 machine.

This stage relates to on-going work to make LibreOffice Calc workable.

Unfortunately, it turns out that LibreOffice isn't fit for purpose.  Specifically, it cannot reliably link workbooks, even in its own native workbooks.

As a consequence, the project is now downgraded.  My time is now better spent doing other, more productive things, with a greater chance of success.

Background

On 29Jul2018, I complied a detailed test using fresh, sample data created specifically for the purpose, in Excel on Windows 10, then had a virtual machine running LibreCalc on Linux Mint to import it. The basic spreadsheet functionality of linked workbooks failed haphazardly.

I logged the test results on 29Jul2018 on AskLibreOffice and, to date, have yet to see any evidence of anybody taking ownership of recognising the issue and thus fixing it.

The sole response was a false-answer by m.a.riosv, who suggested that it might possibly be related to a bug which appears to be something only vaguely related and substantially less than my findings logged.

Decision: a failure of Calc is, in turn, a failure of Linux Mint

Ultimately, a computer is a complex environment.

It is only as good as its weakest component, and the user determines what that weakest component might be based upon whether the computer delivers the functional requirements.

Being unable to perform the same basic functionality as Excel is a pretty fundamental fault for any spreadsheet package.  Especially when the user's primary app on the computer is a spreadsheet package!

There is no excuse for the basic functionality of linked workbooks to fail.  There are no viable alternatives to linked workbooks.  Especially when there are more than 10 years of Excel data to convert to ODS to be fully functional as-is without the need to manually re-type it just to work in Calc.

But with Calc choosing to perform basic functionality of Excel haphazardly (and badly in other respects!), it means that Calc isn't fit for purpose.

And if Calc isn't fit for purpose, it means that there is a severe limitation in the use of the Linux Mint environment.  Which in turn questions whether the Linux Mint has a viable capacity to replace Windows.

On the face of it, without a viable replacement for Excel, Linux Mint has no viable capacity to replace Windows.  Windows is the only show in town because it hosts the only spreadsheet package - Excel - that is fit for purpose.

Alternatives?

The alternatives are:

  • to abandon the project and stay with Microsoft Windows 10, because at least Excel works as required on Windows.
  • to apply a translation layer in Linux Mint, to allow it to run Microsoft Office.
  • re-engineer current and future spreadsheets to avoid all forms of workbook linking.
  • use Google Docs.
On reflection, only the first of these alternatives is viable:
  • to use Linux Mint except for Excel is pointless; the Windows environment is slow, clunky and risky, but at least Excel works in it.
  • a translation layer in Linux compromises:
    • the whole point of abandoning Windows in the first place (might as well stick with Windows);
    • Linux, because the translation layer introduces an attack vector onto a Linux machine that, ordinarily, a Linux environment would not permit.  Linux doesn't really need Windows-style anti-malware software, unless it is compromised either by a translation layer.... or Windows-style anti-malware software.
  • re-engineering current and future spreadsheets would make them less efficient, more risky and result in the effective deletion of an archive of over 10 years.
  • linking workbooks in Google Docs is more reliable than in Calc, but is a wholly different method and thus will be unable to open as-is the archive of over 10 years.

Conclusion

The project is now downgraded.  My time is now better spent doing other, more productive things, with a greater chance of success.


End of post.
Completed 14Aug2018.

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