How to open Microsoft Word documents in Linux

Updated: 06/27/2017 by Computer Hope

Tux dreaming of using Microsoft Word in Linux.In an office or production environment, sharing documents between different applications and operating systems is a common issue. If you need to create, open, and edit Microsoft Word documents in Linux, you can use LibreOffice Writer or AbiWord. Both are robust word processing applications that can read and write files in Word .doc and .docx formats.

If you need command-line tools that extract the text from Word files, Antiword (.doc files) and docx2txt (.docx) are useful programs to have at your disposal.

In this tutorial, we'll look at these four applications and how you can use them. We'll walk through installing them on several of the most popular Linux distributions, including Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, CentOS, and Arch Linux. We'll also help with installing the core Microsoft TrueType fonts on your Linux system.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free, open source, actively maintained and frequently updated office productivity suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office applications, including Microsoft Word. You can save your LibreOffice Writer documents in .doc or .docx format, and then either opens correctly in Microsoft Word.

LibreOffice document view

Installing LibreOffice

LibreOffice can be installed using your package manager. To install it, open a terminal and use the following command appropriate for your operating system:

Debian 8, Ubuntu 15

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install libreoffice

Fedora 23

sudo dnf update && sudo dnf install libreoffice

OpenSUSE 10

sudo zypper refresh && sudo zypper install libreoffice

CentOS 7

sudo yum update && sudo yum install libreoffice

Arch Linux 2016

sudo pacman -Sy libreoffice-fresh

Once LibreOffice is installed, it should appear in the Applications menu of your GUI. You can also run it from a terminal with the command:

libreoffice

AbiWord

AbiWord is another free and open source word processor. It has a clean, simple interface and has been in development for almost twenty years. Like LibreOffice, it can open, edit, and save Microsoft Word .doc and .docx files. Unlike LibreOffice, Abiword is not a complete office suite, so it has a smaller footprint and consumes fewer system resources.

AbiWord document view

Installing AbiWord

Debian 8, Ubuntu 15

sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get install abiword

Fedora 23

sudo dnf update && sudo dnf install abiword

OpenSUSE 10

sudo zypper refresh && sudo zypper install abiword

CentOS 7

sudo yum update && sudo yum install abiword

Arch Linux 2016

pacman -Sy abiword

Antiword

Antiword is a command-line tool that can convert the contents of a .doc file to plain text.

Note: Antiword only converts .doc files. If you need to convert a .docx file, see docx2txt in the next section.

Using Antiword

Running antiword with the name of a Word .doc file will output the plain text of the file to standard output.

Output of antiword, converting a word document to plain text

Antiword does a great job of formatting tables. It also has options for including images as PostScript objects and outputting to PDF.

You can redirect the output to a text file:

antiword filename.doc > filename.txt

or, if you want to open it directly in a text editor, you can pipe the text to vim:

antiword filename.doc | vim -

or pico:

antiword filename.doc | pico -

Installing antiword

Debian 8, Ubuntu 15

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install antiword

Fedora 23

sudo dnf update && sudo dnf install antiword

OpenSUSE 10

sudo zypper refresh && sudo zypper install antiword

CentOS 7

sudo yum update && sudo yum install antiword

Docx2txt

sudo pacman -Sy antiword

Docx2txt is a command-line tool that converts .docx files to plain text. (It does not convert .doc files.)

To print the contents of a .docx file to the terminal screen, or to redirect the output to a file, call docx2txt and specify a dash as the output filename. In this example, notice the dash at the end of the command:

Docx2txt output, converting a .docx file to plain text

To convert a .docx file and output to a text file, use the command form:

docx2txt filename.docx filename.txt

or:

docx2txt filename.docx - > filename.txt

To open the .docx text in vim, use the command form:

docx2txt filename.docx - | vim -

To open it in nano:

docx2txt filename.docx - | nano -

To install doc2txt, follow the instructions for your version of Linux below:

Debian 8

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docx2txt

Ubuntu 15

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docx2txt

Fedora 23

Fedora's repositories do not offer a package for docx2txt, but you can install it manually:

Download the source from Sourceforge at https://sourceforge.net/projects/docx2txt/. Extract the archive:

tar xzvf docx2txt-1.4.tgz

You need to make sure that perl, unzip and make are installed on your system, so install or upgrade those packages now:

sudo dnf update && sudo dnf install perl unzip make

Then, run make as the root user to install:

sudo make

Docx2txt is now installed as docx2txt.sh. For instance, to convert the file word-document.docx to a text file, you can run:

docx2txt.sh word-document.docx

The converted text file will automatically be saved as word-document.txt.

OpenSUSE 10

SUSE repositories do not offer a package for docx2txt, but you can download it from Sourceforge at https://sourceforge.net/projects/docx2txt/. Extract the archive:

tar xzvf docx2txt-1.4.tgz

You need to make sure that perl, unzip and make are installed on your system, so install or upgrade those packages now:

sudo zypper update && sudo zypper install perl unzip make

Then, run make as root to install:

sudo make

Docx2txt is now installed as docx2txt.sh. For instance, to convert the file word-document.docx to a text file, you can run:

docx2txt.sh word-document.docx

The converted text file will automatically be saved as word-document.txt.

CentOS 7

CentOS repositories do not offer a package for docx2txt, but you can download it from Sourceforge at https://sourceforge.net/projects/docx2txt/. Extract the archive:

tar xzvf docx2txt-1.4.tgz

You need to make sure that perl, unzip and make are installed on your system, so install or upgrade those packages now:

sudo yum update && sudo yum install perl unzip make

Then, run make as root to install:

sudo make

Docx2txt is now installed as docx2txt.sh. For instance, to convert the file word-document.docx to a text file, you can run:

docx2txt.sh word-document.docx

The converted text file will automatically be saved as word-document.txt.

Arch Linux 2016

sudo pacman -Sy docx2txt

Installing Microsoft-Compatible Fonts

The core Microsoft fonts are available on Linux, and you should install them if you are going to be working with Microsoft Word files — especially if they were created on a Windows system. The core fonts include:

  • Andale Mono
  • Arial
  • Arial Black
  • Calabri
  • Cambria
  • Comic
  • Courier
  • Impact
  • Times
  • Trebuchet
  • Verdana
  • Webdings

To install them, follow these steps:

Debian 8, Ubuntu 15:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Fedora 23:

Download the msttcore installer RPM package from Sourceforge.

Install packages required for installation:

sudo dnf update && sudo dnf install curl cabextract xorg-x11-font-utils fontconfig

Then install the local RPM package:

sudo dnf install msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

OpenSUSE 10

Download the msttcore installer RPM package from Sourceforge.

Install packages required for installation:

sudo zypper update && sudo zypper install curl cabextract xorg-x11-font-utils fontconfig

Then install the local RPM package:

sudo zypper install msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

CentOS 7:

Download the msttcore installer RPM package from Sourceforge.

Install packages required for installation:

sudo yum update && sudo yum install curl cabextract xorg-x11-font-utils fontconfig

Then install the local RPM package:

sudo yum install msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

Arch Linux 2016:

Download the msttcore installer RPM package from Sourceforge.

Install packages required for installation:

pacman -Sy rpmextract x11-font-utils fontconfig

Extract the contents of the local RPM package:

rpmextract.sh msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

This command extracts the raw contents of the RPM file. It will create two directories, etc and usr, which correspond to your /etc and /usr directories. The font files themselves are located in usr/share/fonts/msttcore.