LyX

Linux distributions are generally full of packages that have specific uses that most people don’t need or maybe they just don’t know that they need. In my previous post I wrote about QPhotoRec which I had never used before my little accident that actually saved me a huge headache. I didn’t know that this application existed until I started researching how to undelete applications in Linux and I was pleasantly surprised that it was already included in OpenSUSE. The application below is one of many that I’ve found that make life easier for me and maybe it will for you too.

In the words of the developers, LyX is a WYSIWYM (what you see is what you mean) document processor. This is opposed to WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) word processors like LibreOffice Writer or Microsoft Word. What does that mean? It means that what you see on the screen is only an approximation of what will go into the document. Instead of giving you a 1 to 1 representation, LyX handles the typesetting elegantly to create beautiful professional documents that would require a lot of extra work to get right in a conventional word processor. Thre is an example of this blog post written in LyX with output as a PDF at the end of this article. I didn’t choose any special fonts or any special settings to impress you. I just chose the defaults and you can see the difference in quality.

LyX is based on LaTeX which was originally developed as a cross-platform language for publishing academic papers. With LyX it’s relatively easy to include a formula like:

However, anyone who has worked with writing papers on Microsoft Word or LibreOffice can attest to it being somewhat less friendly. It can be used to write papers of course, but also full books, screenplays, and scripts, in many different formats.

You can try out LyX by installing it with zypper using:

sudo zypper in lyx

Creating a simple beautiful document is actually quite easy. Input your text first, highlight the sections that need special attention such as title, author, section, chapter headings, etc., apply the format from the menu bar, and save and then preview your document by going to Document –> View [PDF (pdflatex)]. LyX will then save your file as a temporary PDF and open it in your local PDF Reader. When you do this, prepare to see a document that looks like it was professional typeset for a textbook.

Any application this powerful is undoubtedly complex. I won’t make you think that everything is very easy and there is no learning curve. There is, but it’s really not as steep as first appears. To get you started, here are a few resources to get started with LyX.

LyX Homepage: https://www.lyx.org/
LyX Tutorials: http://wiki.lyx.org/LyX/Tutorials

I hope to present you with more random yet useful applications in the future buried in the OpenSUSE repository.

This article via LyX.

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