Using MS Office via Anbox on Librem 5

Accept it or not, MS Office is still a “standard” (note the double quotes) when it comes to documentation. MS makes it harder by every passing day by making changes to the formatting structure within MS Office and it makes Libre Office playing a catch-up play. It is so unfair that the control lies with one company.
Librem 5 with Anbox bring up a interesting possibility. MS Office is free (although with limited functionality) on Android. When used in desktop mode, MS Office can be used for free with Librem 5. Just a thought …

Since so few people have a Librem 5 to try MS Office in Anbox, you might want to ask at if anyone has tried it on their PinePhone. Anbox is included in UBports’ Ubuntu Touch, postmarketOS, and probably some of the other distros as well.

Another possibility is to use Collabora Office for Android inside Anbox, which is based on LibreOffice and supports all the standard MS Office formats. I am going to try to use desktop LibreOffice inside the Librem 5 with a stylus. It probably will work if the screen is turned horizontally.

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Here is mine (if helps by trying out something else for those MS Office Compatibility Mode files), businesses and organizations might decide to purchase another closed-source 2021 Office suite for multiple computers. And single user have right or open option to install and use SoftMaker FreeOffice 2018, Revision 978 at the first place (here is path to Debian version), before subscribing to or buying standard/professional licensed (proprietary) software suite for five computers of the same household.

And if my approach is not understandable in terms of FOSS, Manjaro Linux one is explained here. Again, @buzzLightyear, might be this answers your question, helps to catch-up with, as I was just considering such approach for someone else, but didn’t have any need (not any more) to use SoftMaker Office programs extensively.

There won’t be any testing on our part of this possibility. If individual users want to do it, it is up to them.


I think you missed the point being made.

The vast majority of the world, rightly or wrongly, well ok wrongly :slight_smile: , uses Microsoft. If you have to interoperate with other people and those people use Microsoft then you care about Microsoft Office, even if you don’t want to.

The bigger picture question of exactly how compatible LibreOffice is with Microsoft Office, across different types of file but mostly Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, and across all features in all situations, has been discussed in this forum before.

The OP is highlighting if nothing else an interesting way that you might be able to run Microsoft Office for no cost for those times that you have no choice but to do so.

There’s no way that I would run Microsoft Office for personal documents or use any of the Microsoft Office formats for personal documents - and for times when I am the creator of the document and supplying it read-only to a Microsoft user, I will generally export as PDF (another proprietary format but there you go).

One problem that I have found is that for the situation where a document looks OK in Microsoft Office but looks “off” in LibreOffice, I wouldn’t necessarily either be legally permitted to or want to include that document in a problem report to the LibreOffice team. So I would have to spend the time cutting out parts of and changing the remaining text of the document, in order to demonstrate and isolate the problem without causing the problem to go away, time that I don’t have.

@buzzLightyear what do you mean by ‘standard’ in the context of THIS forum ? perhaps it’s a standard for some people but not for people in academia or the true scientific community …

vim/emacs + latex + a couple more tools that you probably didn’t hear about …

Not everyone has that luxury.

I understand.


also look at LibreOffice 7 … it’s integration with GPG is right there in the ‘Save-As’ GUI pop-up dialog …

I wanted to bring up a very interesting point as noted by @kieran. However good LibreOffice is it just needs to play a catch-up with MS Office. So per se, MS Office becomes a standard to “chase” even when you do not want to because majority of people use MS Office.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a GNU/Linux user, a distro hopper rather. Currently on Manjaro. I use Libre Office but often times struggle with documents when created by someone with MS Office.
And using FreeOffice offered by Manjaro Free-as-in-beer is going back to a proprietary, if that be the case then why not choose MS Office, which also would be free when used with Anbox and Librem 5 in desktop mode?

if ‘sheep-people’ are moving towards a deep-hole do i need to follow ?

There are several technical issues to getting Microsoft Office to run on a Librem 5. These can all be overcome. But until one can overcome each and all of these issues satisfactorily, Ms-Office won’t run on a Librem 5: 1.) Anbox only allows one to run Android applications in Linux. Ms-Office is not an Android application. 2.) The Librem 5 uses an ARM processor whereas Microsoft Office was compiled to run under an x86 architecture. No good ARM to x86 compatability layer for Linux exists, that I am aware of after Exagear quit selling theirs. 3.) Ms-Office is written to run under Windows and not Linux. The best hack of Ms-Office in to Linux is probably from Codeweavers. The last full port is of Office 2010. Office 2016 and 365 only get a rating of two stars out of five stars possible for the Codeweavers version (a paid version) of Wine. 4.) Ms-Office can only be installed live to a Windows PC. I don’t know if a download of the Ms-Office program is even available for download anymore. To hack-in a live installation of Ms-Office to your Linux device may not be possible given all of the other challenges that exist as well. I am sure that the live install is designed by Microsoft to be another stumbling block for Linux users.

I have worked with all of these issues myself. I have gotten a few Windows x86 programs running on a rooted Android phone. I have had Ms-Office running well in several different Linux distros. I have used virtual machines in several configurations, including a Windows VM running under a Linux host. Having done all of this myself, I think that in the current state of available software development out there, that running Ms-Office on an L5 would be next to impossible now. I use the words “next to impossible”, because theoretically it should be possible, given enough time and development work. Even Codeweavers who once had a stake of its main purpose as getting Ms-Office to run under Linux, now fails to keep up with the current and previous Ms-Office releases, and that’s before addressing the ARM to x86 architectural issues. The best path might be to find or write an x86 compatability layer for ARM Linux, and then install a whole Windows 10 OS to your L5 in a virtual machine. Then do a live install of Ms-office in to that virtual Windows 10 machine. After arriving at this destination, you’ll be lucky if your L5 has enough resources left to even make a phone call.

Given this situation, the only remaining choice might be to do a remote login from your L5 to a Windows 10 PC and then save your Office work back to your L5.

At some point, one has to say “I need a change in paradigms”. At work where my employer pays for everything, I am a Microsoft user all the way. At home where I get to choose, I use Linux and Libre Office. On my new L5… we’ll see. Since it’ll be ARM Linux, I am not even going to attempt to shoehorn-in anything from Microsoft to my L5. If Microsoft decides to cater to L5 users, I’ll consider their offering then. But until then, the heavy use of networking and remote logins looks like the best bet at merging my personal Linux technology with the tools I use at work. It is entirely possible that Purism’s offering might start forcing changes in the market that result in more Linux/ARM compatible-friendly options from Microsoft. But I am not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. I like the idea of getting the professional world to move more toward Linux.

The OP refers to a Microsoft Office app for Android. This seemingly is produced by Microsoft and specifically to run in the Android environment. Noone should have to worry about x86 emulation, or ARM architecture.

So, from the perspective of getting it working, the real question is how well that app runs under Anbox, and even more specifically, how well that app runs under Anbox on the Librem 5.

Another question is … how well does the app run under Anbox on the L5 when in desktop mode?

I don’t think that any L5 user would do this by choice - but for the times that it is needed, it would be good to have that option.

(Those vs. these.)

Because your employer said you have to work with “those” people or else. (Muaa, ha, ha, haaaa. :smiling_imp: ) By the same token, my employer issues me a Windows computer to work with “those” people. (And when I leave employment, I give that computer back.)

But I use my personal linux computer to work with “these” people.

The problem then citizen, is when big brother says everyone has to use our approved programs, like in Russia.


This is a qualification that isn’t made often enough, IMHO. As a long time user of first OpenOffice and then LibreOffice, I have always had the feeling that word processing and spreadsheets are the priority applications and formats, both in terms of development, bug squashing and compatibility testing. I am a bit of an outlier, in that most of my use of office applications is for presentations. Cross-application compatibility still feels like a bad joke to me (and yes, I have tried Softmaker to open LibreOffice/Impress presentations - the last time I did, it wasn’t a particularly rewarding experience, to say the least).


Oh, I didn’t know that there is an Android version of Ms-Office. It should be able to run in Anbox then.

I heard that Microsoft is also planning to start selling Microsoft Office on ARM tablets and Laptops also, a deal that Intel isn’t happy about. But I don’t think any of those are on the market yet and who knows if that will ever happen. The Microsoft/Intel relationship goes way back. It seems that Intel is finding it difficult to compete with low-power-consumption ARM processors.