April 30, 2003

Getting rid of the OpenOffice splash screen

- By Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -
I am a heavy user of both StarOffice and OpenOffice in Linux because my work forces me to interact with many people who seem to think Microsoft Office's default file formats are the only ones there are. On the whole, I'm happy with StarOffice and OpenOffice except for one thing: The annoying splash screen that takes over your desktop when you start one of them. It's not hard to remove that splash screen, even if you're a "point and click" Linux user. Here's how you do it:

1. Open a terminal window.

2. Become "superuser" by typing "su" and then, upon request, your root password.

3. Type "kwrite" if you prefer KDE, "gedit" if you prefer Gnome. You now have a text editor ready to go, and since you started it as "superuser" you can use it to modify files that only root is allowed to touch.

4. Find where StarOffice and/or OpenOffice files are stashed on your computer. Red Hat puts them in /usr/lib/, and SuSE puts them in /opt. Other distributions may put them in other directories, but these are probably the two most common. You can reach the correct directory by using the "open file" dialog in KWrite or gedit and backspacing in the "directory selection" box at the top of the editor's "open file" window until you only have a single / showing, then selecting either usr (then lib) or opt.

5. Now you can click your way until you come to a directory named either OpenOffice or OpenOffice.org for OpenOffice or, for StarOffice, either StarOffice or StarOffice6.0. That will give you a list of other titles. One of them will be program. That's the one you want. Click on it.

(This is the same in either OpenOffice or StarOffice, in any Linux distribution. So are all steps that follow.)

6. Now you see a whole bunch of listings. The one you want is sofficerc. When you open this file, it should look like this:

[Bootstrap]
Logo=1
UNO_WRITERDB=$SYSUSERCONFIG/.user60.rdb

Change Logo=1 to Logo=0

Change nothing else. If you change something else by mistake, use Control-Z or your text editor's "Undo" feature in the "Edit" dropdown menu to undo your mistake.

7. Once you've made that one-digit change, and you are sure you haven't changed anything else by mistake, save the modified file.

A number of readers are sure to point out that you can skip all that clicking by just typing in the end file's path and name. That's true. You can. Others are sure to point out that you could use pico, vi, Emacs or another Unix-style text editor to accomplish the same results. Also true. But new Linux users may not be comfortable with non-GUI text editors. Those of you who are accustomed to a command line interface can easily make that little "one to zero" change without the clicking.

Either way, you only spend a minute or two finding and changing a file, and suddenly StarOffice or OpenOffice -- whichever you prefer -- will start up without throwing a giant, work-stopping logo on top of other windows you have open.