Libre and clothes

When I write, I live in Emacs (with the awesome Solorized theme) inside org-mode.

With time, I found that org-mode has already made me a more efficient writer and note-taker. I write notes in every meeting now, rather it’s my"turn" or not. I write notes as I work, on every solution and every problem I’m facing. I write first thing in the morning, usually about org-related thoughts I had as I wake up, over a cup of Sumatra coffee (little almond milk, one pack of sugar). Quite honestly, Org makes me feel good, because it’s transparent. It’s an extension of my thoughts, continuing on one long line, uninterrupted, before I stop to think a second and reflect on what I was thinking (X-q).

There’s no pretending in Org. No fancy text, fonts, or even images. Style is only applied to function. It’s a delicate balance which, with the Solirized theme, works extremely well (by the way, the story of the man who created Solorized is quite interesting and worth reading). There’s also an inviting segue here about Linux, which is the Org-writing mindset extended into an operating system. But I joyfully digress.

Alright then. But every now on then, you need to present stuff, and this means you need to “dress up” so other people can talk to you and relate. The “Normals,” so to speak, do not understand my org-mode dedication and often give me concerned looks when I type away, a single long line into a blank screen. The purity is empty, and the lack of buttons and distracting elements feels threatening without GUI guidance. Fine then, I can do fancy schmancy.

Most org-mode folk I’ve read and listened to talk about LaTex. In my case, that meant a full installation, which is huge. Over 2GB huge. Not worth it for concessional usage, especially since I work in a Microsoft environment at work, and most people I’ll share with will need .docx or .ppt format anyway. So for me, .odt seems like a better answer.

Two things are needed on my Emacs (version 25.2.1) for that:

  1. Download and install Libre Office. It comes built-in with many personal desktop-geared Ubuntu distros, but in my version (Mint) I chose to opt-out at start. OK, no biggie, full Libre office suite is only 100MB, and I can do that. I see myself editing the concessional Word file or producing a PDF.

  2. Add the following to .emacs to turn on .odt option in the export dispatcher:

    `(eval-after-load "org" '(require 'ox-odt nil t))`

Now I can create the .dot file, which I can open in Libre Writer I just downloaded. Ooof. Hello GUI word processing, with weird paper-screen restrictions look. And the white, the white! It burnsss usss! But anyway. Overall things look excellent, but if I want to change fonts, move around images,eye-candy etc, now I can in a more eye-candy format without leaving Linux. Then again, if I really need to produce a document, I might as well save my .odt in Writer to a .docx and remote into my work computer, where Microsoft reigns supreme. Options. We like having them, yes?

Even another option I was considering is to use Typora, which is a pretty markdown writer. It comes with Pandoc and can handle Word and PDF files. Typora does not exactly feel “Linux-free” to me and seems heavily inspired by different “minimalist” Mac world processing apps, if that’s your thing. It probably won’t show in your distro’s and require installation from a PPA. I used Typora for a while for markdown, but we’ve parted ways now.

I’m curious how this will stand out when I present my notes (since I’ve become the unofficial note-taker at work, for the reasons mentioned above).

✴️ Also on

The Art Of Not Asking Why @jtr