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AbiWord: A Scalpel, Not a Chain Saw

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A master carpenter would neither drive a finishing nail with a sledgehammer nor trim a tabletop with a chain saw.

Such a craftsperson needs tools that are small, versatile and cheap.

One such tool - for writers and anybody who needs to kick out anything from a short memo or letter to a full-length report - is AbiWord.

This free, open-source word processor is available for Windows, Macintosh and Unix computers of just about every variety.

AbiWord loads quickly on my 9-year-old, 233-megahertz Pentium II laptop and even quicker on a more recent 3-gigahertz Pentium 4 desktop.

And while the free, open-source OpenOffice program has a full-featured word-processing application called OpenOffice Writer, I feel an MS Word-like, sledge-hammery, chain-saw-esque weight dragging me down when all I need to do is write this weekly column, a business letter ... OK, I pretty much use AbiWord for everything that needs to look "formatted": bold and italic words, indented paragraphs and the like.

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