1 Why Switch to Linux

2 Linux to the Rescue

3 Create Your Own Linux Computer

4 Set Up Linux Mint

5 Benefits of LibreOffice Writer

6 How to Use LibreOffice

7 Edit Images with Free Linux Tools

8 More Free Linux Tools

9 More Reasons to Switch to Linux

5 Benefits of LibreOffice Writer

5 Benefits of LibreOffice Writer

This chapter includes the following four sections:

5.1 Why Libre Office Writer is better than Microsoft Word
5.2 Simplify Libre Writer
5.3 Create Your Own Custom Template
5.4 Create Your Own Custom Styles
You can bring up the Styles Window by clicking on Format, Styles in the Main Menu. The top boxes in the Style Window are the five categories of styles on the left and style edit functions on the right:

If you plan on writing an E book, or posting your articles on a website, you should consider changing from the traditional way of formatting text (by manually specifying the font weight and size of each line) to using styles to format text. For example, you can have a style called Heading 2 for Section Titles which is defined to be font size 14 and font weight bold. Then instead of selecting the text for your title and selecting the font size and font weight, you simply select the style called Heading 2.

The benefit of using styles instead of manually changing text is that your Ebook will automatically create an outline or Table of Contents based on listing all of the style entries which have been defined as Headings. For example, chapter titles might use a style called heading 1 while sections in the chapter might use a smaller style called heading 2. Another benefit of using styles is that should you decide you want to change the section headings to a larger font - such as 16 - and you want to change the font color to blue, all you need to do is change the style definition and all of the Heading 2 styles will automatically be updated to the new style. A third benefit of getting in the habit of using styles is that your book will have a more consistent appearance and therefore be easier to read and understand. A fourth benefit of using styles is that they can be easily converted to CSS Style Statements for use in creating a CSS Style Sheet – which is the file that controls the appearance of your HTML based ebook or website pages.

Before Adding Styles you must first clear all Manual Styles
Manual styles and ebook styles do not mix well. Unfortunately, manual formatting, which is also called direct formatting, can not be over-ridden by applying a style to it. Therefore before applying any styles to your document, you first need to clear or remove all manual styles. To do this, open your document and click on SELECT ALL. Then in the top menu, click on Format, Clear Direct Formatting.

Alternately, you can go through your document and individually replace all direct formatting with style formatting. The problem with this is that it is difficult to tell if a particular set of bold text was formatted manually or with a style. After selecting text, you need to pay careful attention to the Style Box. If you have bold text and it still reads “Default Style” then it was manually formatted. If it reads “Heading” followed by a number then it has already been styled with that Heading Style.

Style Categories versus Style Groups
Libre Writer divides styles into five categories. These are page styles, paragraph styles, character styles, frame styles and list styles. Within a given category, styles can be further divided into style groups. Below is a brief description of each of the five style categories.

Create a Custom Page Style
Page styles control the appearance of an entire page. Libre Writer allows us to define different styles for different pages. For example, different sections of the book can have different page styles. The “default” page style is reached by going to Styles and Formatting. Then click on the Page Style Icon.

Then click on Default Style. Then right click. Then click Modify.


However, you can create a custom page style by clicking on the Page Styles Icon in the Styles window. Then right click on Default Styles and select New.


Type in the name of the new page style. Then click Apply. Then click OK. The new custom page style will show up in the list of page styles in the Style Window.

Create a Custom Paragraph Style
Paragraph styles are the most common type of style. They are styles which can be applied to an entire group of text such as a paragraph or a subject title. One of the most common usages of paragraph styles is to create and format a Table of Contents for your document. However, not all paragraph styles can be used for this purpose. Libre Writer uses “Levels” to structure the Table of Contents. The Title is the Top Level which may be the same of the entire book. This is followed by Level 1 which is likely to be used for the names of chapters. Level 2 is likely to be used for Section Titles. The following image shows a list of paragraph styles which can be selected and then applied to the Table of Contents Levels. In addition to the styles on this list, any custom styles which you create will also appear on the list. To insert a Table of Contents – or to simply see this list – go to Insert, Indexes and Tables. Then select Indexes and Tables. Then select the Styles tab.

In this section we will review how to create your own custom template – which can then be used as a model for creating all of your future documents.

A Look at the Default Template
Libre Office Writer comes with a predefined template which cannot be easily changed. It can be found by going to Tools, Options, LibreOffice Writer, Basic Fonts.

The problem with this is that it is not a real template. A real template would allow us to set the page margins, footers, headers, image properties and dozens other formatting decisions. In order to control all of these settings, we need to create our own custom template.

Create your own custom template
A template is a special document which is used as a pattern for creating other documents. To create a new blank template, click on File, New, Text Document to open a new blank page. We can turn any document into a template by clicking on File, Templates, Save as Template.


This brings up the Template Manager. By default, there are 8 categories of templates. However, three of the categories do not have any templates in them. Click on My Templates to place our new custom template in this category. Then click Save.
Give your new template a name and click OK. So far, our template is the same as the default template in Tools, Options, Libre Writer Fonts. To further define our new custom template, click on File, Templates, Manage. This brings up the Template Manager again - only now our new template is shown:


Click on My Template to select it.

This brings up a series of options. We will edit this template in a minute First, to make it the default template for all of our new documents, click on Set as default. Then click on Edit.

While Libre Writer works better than MS Word even with no changes, there are many steps you can take to improve the appearance and performance of Libre Writer. In this article, we will show you how to get the most out of Libre Writer. Just as we made several changes to improve the appearance and performance of Linux Mint, we will review simple steps you can take to make Libre Writer even easier to use.

Simplify the Libre Office Writer Main Menu
The first step in simplifying Libre Writer is to edit the main menu. Below is the default menu of Libre Writer. It looks very plain and intimidating. Before we begin changing the top menu, we should first outline the four rows in the top menu.

Title Bar, Main Menu, Standard Toolbar and Formatting Toolbar
The blue top row is the title bar. The second row with words is the menu bar. The third row is the standard tool bar and the fourth row is the formatting tool bar.
In a previous article, we changed the color of Title bar by clicking on Menu, Control Center, Appearances, Themes.
Simplify the Main Menu
The second row is the Main Menu. It has nine menu items which work in almost the same way as Word 2003. We can eliminate any of the items in the drop down menus if we feel we do not need them. For example, the File Menu item has a huge submenu.

Microsoft Word tends to treat all documents as if they were simple documents. It is like trying to build a house with only a hammer and a saw. Libre Office also includes the hammer and saw. But it also provides you with a set of blueprints for organizing the construction process and a whole team of specialists for doing the foundation, framing, drywall, plumbing and electrical tasks.

No matter what type of document you are writing, Libre Writer is better than Microsoft Word. Even if MS Office were free, you would still be better off using Libre Office. But the truth is that MS Office is not free. In fact, it is very expensive. The complete version, with Publisher costs nearly $600. In this section, we will first review several different categories of documents and then describe specific benefits of using Libre Writer over Microsoft Word.

LibreOffice Writer is similar to MS Word 2003
On first impression, the Libre Office Writer menu looks very similar to the MS Word 2003 menu. This is in itself a benefit because hundreds of millions of people around the world use the Windows XP operating system with MS Word 2003 to create and edit their documents. You should install and learn Libre Office because, on April 8 2014, Microsoft ended support for both Windows XP and MS Office 2003. Microsoft is hoping that killing the Windows XP computers will force XP users to shell out hundreds of dollars for Windows 8.1 and MS Office – programs that are vastly different from Windows XP and MS Office 2003. Thankfully, there is another option. Just install the free program Linux Mint Mate – which comes with Libre Office already installed. Problem solved!

LibreOffice Writer also has Better Tools for creating complex documents
While LibreOffice Writer looks similar to MS Word 2003, there is much more to it! In fact, LibreOffice Writer offers a whole range of tools to create complex documents that are not present on any version of MS Word. To understand how Libre Writer is better than MS Word, we will first cover four different types of documents and then describe several benefits to show how Libre Writer is much better than Word for creating complex documents like 400 page books.

Four Types of Documents
Microsoft Word treats pretty much all documents the same. But LibreOffice comes with different levels of tools for different kinds of documents. Although there is some overlap, documents can be divided into roughly four categories:

Simple Documents like articles under 10 pages in length.
Complex Documents like chapters under 50 pages in length.
Multilevel Books like Print on Demand books under 400 pages in length.
Websites and Ebooks – which are the same length as a multilevel book but which have several additional characteristics.

Different Types of Documents require Different Kinds of Tools
When writing a complex four hundred page book, one of the biggest problems any prospective author runs into is trying to keep their book organized. It is important to understand that different types of documents require different kinds of organizational strategies and different kinds of tools. Below is a table outlining four different types of documents and strategies for creating and organizing each of them. This is followed by a brief discussion of each type of document.

The good news about changing our operating system from Chrome to Linux Mint is that the amount of free space on our SSD rose from 202 GB to 220 GB. The bad news is that our touchpad might no longer work and some of the function keys on our keyboard might not work. There also might be a problem with the cursor jumping around making it difficult to type. In this article, we will explain how to fix all of these problems.

Take a Screenshot with Linux Mint
To take a screenshot of your entire screen with a Chromebook, press the Ctrl key and the Box key at the same time:


To take a screen shot of part of the screen with a Chromebook, we need to also press the Shift key.


The Box function key no longer works after switching to Linux Mint. There is a better alternative to this key that only take a few minutes to set up. Since we want to take screen shots of how to set up Linux Mint, we will begin by adding a free screen capture tool called Shutter. Here is the initial desktop for Linux Mint:


Click on the Mint Menu in the lower left corner of the Mint desktop. There are two versions of the Mint Menu. The first version is called Favorites:


Click on All Applications in the upper right corner to see a list of all of the default applications that come with Linux Mint.


Linux Mint comes with a screen capture tool called Take Screenshot. This is not a very versatile screen capture tool. We will add a much better screen capture tool called Shutter. To add this free tool, click on the Software Manager in the first column of the Mint Menu. Enter your password. Assuming you have Internet access, the following screen will come up:


There are more than 73,000 free programs in the Mint Software Manager. Type the word shutter into the search box. Then press Enter on your keyboard.


Click on Shutter to reach the Shutter installation screen:


It will say that Shutter is not installed. Click install to install it. Then close the Software Manager and open the Mint Menu.


Right click on Shutter. Then click Add to Panel.

This will add the blue Shutter icon to the bottom panel. Click on Shutter to open it.


You can use Selection to capture a portion of your desktop, Desktop to capture the whole screen, Window to capture a window or the Menu icon to capture a menu. Click on Edit Preferences to bring up the Shutter Preferences screen:


Change the Image format to Jpeg. You can also define the folder you want to send the image to and the delay before the screen shot is taken. To capture an area of your desktop, click on the word Preferences. Then drag the cursor from the upper left corner of the area you want to capture to the lower right corner. The image will then be captured after the delay and placed in the clipboard. To capture a complex dropdown menu, click on the Menu Item. Below is an example of shutter capturing a complex menu.


You can also edit captured images by clicking on Edit. This is what the image looks like after adding some arrows and text to clarify where a person should click to open the Template Manager.


The one problem of images captured by Shutter is that the image will have a very large file size. After pasting the image in a Libre Writer document, right click on the image and click on Compress, then click Okay to reduce the file size.

Install the Update Manager
In the lower right corner of our Mint desktop bottom panel is an icon for the Update Manager. To install the new update manager, click on this blue shield.


Click Install Updates. Then enter your password. When done, there will be a screen with more updates:


Click Install Updates again. It will end by saying your system is up to date.

Fix the Screen Saver

Another nagging problem is that if you stop working on your Chromebook for even 5 minutes, it will log you out and require that you log yourself back in. To fix this problem, click on the Mint Menu, then click on the Control Center, then click on Screensaver.

Change the theme to Cosmos. Change the idle to 2 hours. Then uncheck Lock Screen
Then click Power Management.

Change Lid Closed to Shutdown. Change Inactive to Never. Change brightness to 70%.
Then click the Battery Power tab.


Change lid closed to shutdown. Change battery low to shutdown. Change sleep to 1 hour. Then click Close. Change Desktop Settings.. uncheck computer.

Change your Desktop Theme

To change the “theme” used to display open Windows. Click on the Appearance Preferences Theme tab:


Click Customize.

Change Controls tab to Mint X Blue. Change Window border toWin Me and Icons Blue folder.


Add a Custom Desktop Background Image
Our next task is to install a custom desktop background image. One of the most important ways to personalize your computer is to install your favorite images to see when your computer first turns on. This can be an image of your family or anything else you like. With Windows XP and Windows 7, it was very easy to change the background image. However, with Windows 8, it is very difficult. Luckily, Linux Mint Mate has a wonderful system for adding any of thousands of background images to your desktop – including your own personal images. To install a new background image, click on Control Center in the main menu.

Click on Appearance. Then click on the Background tab. Wait one minute for the background options to load.


There are about one dozen background images here. But there are thousands more you can get by clicking on the link: Get more backgrounds online: https://gnome-look.org/


There are 139 pages of backgrounds or over 1400 choices. You can also create your own images 1920 pixels wide by 1080 high. Be sure to optimize the file size to keep it under 100KB. Then upload it to your Downloads folder. When selecting a new desktop image, make sure that there are not a lot of graphics on the left side of the image as this is where we will be placing our desktop quick link icons. To get an image, click on GO. Then right click on the image and choice Save Image As. This brings up your Mint Mate Downloads folder. Change the name of the image to something more descriptive and click Save.
After downloading all of the images you want to the Mate Downloads folder, exit Firefox browser to go back to the Appearances Preferences Background screen and click Add. By default, Mate looks in your Pictures folder to see if there are any images. Click on Backgrounds in the left column above. This is where the default background images are kept. You can also use one of your own images by clicking on Add. Here is what our desktop looks like after changing the background to a College in the Clouds image.


Screen brightness control tool
By default, Linux Mint comes with the screen brightness set for 100%. Reducing screen brightness can reduce eye strain and increase battery life. Sadly, the Chrome keyboard screen brightness keys do not work with Mint – and the Mint screen brightness tool in the Mint Control Panel may not work. We will therefore add a screen brightness control tool to the bottom panel. Place your cursor in the bottom panel and right click. Then click Add to Panel. This will bring up a list of tools we can add to the bottom panel.


Select the Brightness applet. Then click Add. This will add a sun icon to the bottom panel. Click on it to open it. A slider will appear allowing you to set the brightness of the screen for whatever is most comfortable for your eyes.

Fix Keyboard Mouse Cursor Jumping

Turning on the touch pad can cause the mouse to jump unexpectedly while typing. A nagging problem in writing articles with Libre Writer is that the pointer and screen and scroll bar all tend to jump around if you have a sensitive touch pad. This is not the fault of Libre Writer. Instead, it is an issue with how Linux Mint handles the touch pad on your keyboard.We want the touch pad to be completely off to keep the pointer from accidentally jumping. If you use a mouse like I do, you have two options. The easiest way to stabilize your pointer is to open the Control Center in your Mint Menu and click on the Mouses Icon which is in the Hardware section.


This brings up the Mouse Preferences window.


Click on the Touchpad tab and then check “Disable touchpad while typing.” This will keep the touch pad off while you are typing and about two seconds after you stop typing.

Add a Free Touch Pad Control Tool
Unfortunately, for many of us, this is not good enough. We need the touch pad to be completely off to keep the pointer from accidentally jumping. To get a better tool to control the touchpad, click on the Software Center which is also in the Mint Menu. Then type in “gpointing-device-settings” in the Search Box. This will bring up two results. The i386 version is for 32 bit computers and the unmarked version is for x64 bit computers.
Select the x64 bit version.


Click install. This adds a new entry to the Control Center called Pointing Devices. First click on Mouse Preferences and turn off “Disable Touchpad while typing” as the Mouse settings override the Pointer settings.


Then click on the Pointer icon to bring up the Gpointing Device Settings Window.
Click Elan Touchpad. Then click Disable while other devices are connected.”


Then click OK. Your touch pad will now stay off for as long as your computer is turned on.

Change the time from 24 hours to 12 hours
In the lower right corner of your Chromebook is a digital clock. Unfortunately, the time is set for 24 hours. To change it to 12 hour (AM/PM), right click on the time. Then click on Preferences. Then change the format to 12 hours.

Set Libre Office as Default Editor
The default text editor for Linux Mint, which is called Pluma, does not have very many editing options. If you open the Mint File manager and right click in the workspace to create a new document, Linux Mint will open a text Editor called Pluma:

We would rather have the Mint file manager open Libre Writer because this is the world's best text editor.To make this change, go to Control Center, Personal, Preferred Applications, System tab, set Text Editor for Libre Office.


Now open the file manager and right click on the workspace and select Create Document, Empty File. Then click on the new file to open it. It should now open in Libre Writer.

Add your printer to Linux Mint
To install your printer on Linux Mint is usually a pretty simple matter. First connect your printer to the USB port on your Chromebook. Then go to Control Center, Printers.
Then click on Printers.


Then click ADD. Select the printer you want to use.


Click Forward. Linux Mint will search for a driver for this printer Click Forward again. Then click Apply. Then print a test page. Then click OK. Congratulations! You now have your printer hooked up to your Chromebook thanks to Linux Mint.