Dutch Gemini's Weblog Pages

April 14, 2008

Open Office not working because of Acrobat?

Filed under: Acrobat,Open Office,Windows — dutchgemini @ 10:36 am

Some time ago I decided to install and run Open Office on my home PC mainly because it was free, although I was entitled through my employer to install Microsoft Office.

During the last update from release 2.3.0 to 2.4.0 (unfortunately OOo does still not use incremental updates so the installation required me to download the entire 137Mb package – when will it be possible to use incremental updates like in Firefox or Thunderbird?), I discovered that on the other (non-administrator) accounts that I have on the box, all of the file associations in Windows’ Explorer were gone, making it impossible to start OOo applications from the Recent documents or by double-clicking on the file. Starting OOo first and then opening a file using the menus worked, luckily.

Frustrating to mention that on my own account (administrator equivalent) everything was working fine.

Initially I thought of a problem with the installation, so I repaired it but without success. Even a total un-install, using CCleaner to remove the garbage from the registry, and a re-install did not work. I reverted the installation to release 2.3.1 but also without success.

After some investigation, it turned out to be a registry problem. In fact, the HKCR\.odt key did not have the required permissions set for the non-administrator accounts. Usually, most keys include the ‘Users’ group with read permissions, and on my install the group was missing.

Being convinced that the problem was related to the installation of OOo (the HKCR\.pdf was fine), I filed a problem report on the Issue Tracker.

At first I tried to add the missing entries manually but it simply didn’t work out (probably because the association to OOo is not just the .odt key).

Waiting for a reply from OOo, in the mean time I installed a YouTube Flash Video downloader and a FLV Player because my wife wanted to show her mother some funny clips. Both applications came without installer, so I created a new folder under Program Files where I copied them and I created shortcuts which I placed in a new folder under the Start menu.

Bizarre enough, I had again quite some problems creating the file association for the .FLV extension to the player. Aware of the problem I had with OOo, I went back into the registry and found wrong permission settings again.

At that point, I wanted to tackle the problem for good and went looking on the Internet for some answers. Many pages, forums and tips & tricks later – not to speak about the time spent, I bumped into a page where someone made a reference to Acrobat Reader 8.1 and messing up the root of the HKCR key. The solution was within reach!

By searching again with a new set of criteria in Google, finally the problem was explained and the solution given. Acrobat Reader 8.1, which I had installed in the mean time, had messed up my registry with deep impact on the root and the entire branch of the HKCR key.

The permissions of my root HKCR key all I got was:

  • ‘Everyone’ with ‘Full Control’ on the key and on all its sub-keys

According to the same page, I should have had:

  • ‘Administrators’ as well as ‘SYSTEM’ with ‘Full Control’ on the key and on all its sub-keys
  • ‘CREATOR OWNER’ with ‘Full Control’ on the sub-keys only
  • ‘Users’ with only ‘Read control’ on the key and all its sub-keys

I did not have ‘Power Users’ since I was running XP Home but if you do, then google for it since it has some special permissions on the root of  HKCR. Taking a look at the permissions on a healthy XP Pro may also help.

I set the permissions as indicated, and as a miracle my OOo installation, as well as my FLV downloader and player worked like hell on all the accounts!

Problem solved.

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