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WordPerfect for Unix under Linux and Windows

WordPerfect 8c in brief | WPUnix under Linux | WPUnix under Windows | WPUnix on a Mac | Printing | Keyboards and macros | Spell-checking | Manual | Home page

This page is about the character-based version of WordPerfect for Unix (version 8c, similar to WPDOS 5.1+) running on modern Linux systems, or on Windows 10 or 11 using the Windows Linux Subsystem, or on Intel Macs using lima. This page does not include any information about graphic-based Unix or Linux versions of WP, which you may be able to install on modern Linux systems by searching for information on WordPerfect 8.1 for Linux.

Everything on this page builds on the superb work of Tavis Ormandy, as reported on his web site.

Before you use this, keep in mind that the native file format of WP 8c for Unix is the WordPerfect 5.x format, although the program can export to and open files in the format used by all other WP versions starting with WP6.x. Also, WP 8c supports long Unix-style filenames, as WPDOS does not.

If you have a copy of WordPefect Office for Unix (any version starting with version 3), please let me know.

WordPerfect 8c in brief

WordPerfect 8c for Unix (essentially the same as WordPerfect 5.2+ for Unix) looks and acts much like WordPerfect 5.1+ for DOS, and uses the same printer drivers. Like WP 5.1+ for DOS, it can open documents created in WP6 (or later) format. It has these essential differences:

As I learn of other differences, I will include them here.

You can find the original installation disk, with pictures of the box, at archive.org.

Keyboard: Most keyboard assignments match those in WPDOS 5.1, except that you must use Ctrl-Shift-Fkey instead of Alt-Fkey. For example, Ctrl-Shift-F3 toggles Reveal Codes; Ctrl-Shift-F10 runs a macro, etc.

Install and run WordPerferfect for Unix under Linux

These instructions assume that you know the basics of Linux; they assume that you are working with a Debian-based distribution, and have been tested under Ubuntu and Ubuntu Mate.

Visit Tavis Ormandy's GitHub page for this project, and download wordperfect8.0_i386.deb to your home directory.

Install the .deb file:

sudo apt install ./wordperfect8.0_i386.deb

If you have an AMD-based system (or the Windows Subsystem for Linux), you will get an error message; if so, enter this before installing:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Ignore other error messages.

If you later want to remove the installation, use: sudo apt remove wordperfect

You can now simply enter wp in a terminal, and WordPerfect should open in character mode. Alternatively, if for any reason this does not work, use a command in this form (you can set columns and rows as environment variables $COLUMNS and $ROWS and use variables instead of numbers in the command):

 /usr/bin/wp -c 80 -r 50 -t xterm

Select a printer in the usual way; if you have a PostScript-compatible printer, start with Ghostscript (a printer driver created for this system); for the Destination, either choose a PostScript-compatible printer that you have installed in Linux (leave the Spool options blank unless you know what you are doing - I don't), or choose Disk to write the output to a file (change the disk filename to <doc>.ps for PostScript output, and add a path so that you can find the file easily). See elsewhere on this page for further details on printing.

In Shift-F1/Display, start by setting the Graphics Screen Type to text. You can also modify Colors/Fonts/Attributes in the usual way.

For better-looking results, and (possibly) for a graphic screen preview, install xterm on your system if it is not already installed. Then install x11-xserver-utils which you will use later.

This command will open xterm and WordPerfect:

xterm -fa "Monospace:size=12" -ti vt340 wp

You can also add the -maximized flag to the command in order to run WordPerfect full-screen. And, if necessary, use this command instead of simply "wp": /opt/wp7/wpbin/wp -c 80 -r 50 -t xterm

To avoid typing the xterm paramaters shown above, set defaults for xterm. If you do not already have an ~/.Xresources file, create one, and add the following lines that make the font and terminal settings permanent (and of course change the foreground and background colors as you prefer):

xterm*faceName: Monospace Regular
xterm*faceSize: 12
xterm*decTerminalID: vt340
xterm*foreground: black
xterm*background: white
xterm*geometry: 80x40  <or any combination of columns and rows>
xterm*metaSendsEscape: true
xterm*omitTranslation: fullscreen

Then immediately run this command (installed with x11-xserver-utils):

xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources

If you forget to run this command, your settings will have no effect.

Note: I know very little about Linux, but I believe you may need to add the xrdb command shown above to the foot of your .profile file, in order to avoid running the command each time you log in.

Grahic previewDepending on your distribution and environment, you may now be able to use "sixel" graphics for Print Preview, equations, or inserted graphics. Use Shift-F1, and, in display settings, set the Graphics Screen Type to vt340hi_sixel (on my VMware-based setup, this works correctly only when I run VMware full-screen).

Graphics will display only after you have selected a printer.

You can create a desktop shortcut for WP; consult the documentation for your distribution. For Ubuntu, using sudo, create a file named WordPerfect.desktop in /usr/share/applications and use these contents:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=xterm -e wp

The last line (optional) refers to this Corel-style graphic file, which you can upload and copy (using sudo) to the path shown in the line.

 Running WordPerfect for Unix under Windows

You can run WP under Windows using the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Under Windows 11, install WSL from the Microsoft Store (search for "Windows Subsystem for Linux"); do not use any other method that you see recommended on the Internet. For Windows 10, search for intructions.

After installing WSL, install Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store. I strongly recommend that you accept the default options, including the mount point. When Ubuntu starts, update your system before contining.

Enter this command:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

Then install WP Unix according to the instructions above.

Windows desktop shortcut for WP: You can create a Windows desktop shortcut that launches WordPerfect for Unix in xterm under WSL. Create a new shortcut on the desktop, and enter this command in the field that prompts you for the location of the item (replace Ubuntu with the name of your distribution if necessary):

C:\Windows\System32\wslg.exe --distribution Ubuntu xterm -e wp

Alternately, if you want the fastest possible performance, using plain terminal output, use this command line instead, and modify the Layout tab in the shortcut after you create it, to set the rows/columns that you want (and notice that the command uses wsl.exe, not wslg.exe):

C:\Windows\System32\wsl.exe --distribution Ubuntu wp

You can use this Corel-style icon as an icon for the shortcut.

Windows Start menu shortcut for WP: You can add the desktop shortcut to the Start menu, or you automatically create a Start menu item from inside Linux. In the directory /usr/share/applications use sudo to create a text file named WordPerfect.desktop with these contents:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=xterm -e wp

After a second or two, a WordPerfect shortcut will appear in the Windows Start menu. If you delete the WordPerfect.desktop file, the Start menu shortcut will be deleted automatically. You may add an icon following the model of the desktop shortcut described above for Ubuntu.

Troubleshoot WSL Linux installation: On some systems, but not all, WSL Linux can be difficult to get started. If, at the end of the installation, you see a blank white window, close the window; Linux will appear in another window, but you will be logged in as root. Use adduser to add yourself as a user, and use sudoers to give yourself sudo rights. Then, in a command window with administrative rights, enter wsl -t ubuntu to shut down Ubuntu, then ubuntu.exe config --default-user yourusername to set yourself as the default user. Then enter wsl to restart Linux.

Troubleshoot WSL Linux printing: In the same systems that have trouble installing WSL Linux, you may not be able to create a printer using sudo lpadmin as described elsewhere on this page. You may be able to fix this by following the precedure above to switch the default user to root, run the lpadin command (no sudo needed when you're logged in as root), and then switch the default user back to yourself. This worked for me, anyway.

Running WordPerfect for Unix on a Mac

WordPerfect for Unix can be run in character mode on an Intel Mac somewhat in the same way that it runs under WSL in Windows; however, the keyboard seems mostly unusable and it may not be worth the trouble. If you want to try, here is a summary that assumes that you have Homebrew installed on your Mac:

You can also print to a real networked printer (I have not tried a USB printer):

sudo apt install cups
sudo service cups start
sudo lpadmin -p GiveYourPrinterSomeName -E -v ipp:// -m everywhere
lpstat -p

To set a printer as the default (if you have more than one), use:

sudo lpadmin -d TheNameOfSomePrinter

Then follow the instructions elsewhere on this page for creating a printing destination with the wpdest program.

On an Intel Mac, using lima, It is probably impossible to run WP in xterm without installing Xquartz, which I'm not willing to do.

You may be able to run WP Unix on an Apple Silicon Mac, using lima, through the qemu-user package, but, again, it may not be worth the trouble. If anyone wants to try this, please get in touch with me for instructions.


You can easily print to a networked printer, or create a PDF file, from WordPerfect for Unix. I have not tried to print to a USB printer, but it should be possible if the printer supports PostScript or PCL.

Depending on your distribution, you may need to install lpr.

The easiest way to print to a PostScript-compatible printer, or create a PDF file, select the PassThru PostScript printer definition. The destination can either be a printer on your system, or, if you select "Disk", a file on disk. The default filename is <doc>.dsk; change .dsk to .ps and, optionally, add a path before <doc>. If you do not add a path, the output file will be created in your home folder.

For best results, when selecting a printer in WP, choose GhostScript. This driver, created by Tavis Ormandy supports all 35 standard PostScript fonts with an extensive character set (around 800+ WP characters).

If you have not installed a physical printer in your Linux system, and you are using WSL or lima, with no GUI for installing printers, you can use this command-line method; the fourth line displays installed printers.

sudo apt install cups
sudo service cups start
sudo lpadmin -p GiveYourPrinterSomeName -E -v ipp:// -m everywhere
lpstat -p

You can set a default printer with:

sudo lpadmin -d YourPrinterName

Important: Depending on your distribution (and required for WSL), you may or may not be able to select an installed printer in the Destination screen when setting up your printer defintion. If you cannot select an installed printer, then you may able to correct the problem by entering these two commands (the first may not be needed, as the file it removes may not actually exist):

sudo rm /etc/printcap
sudo ln -s /var/run/cups/printcap /etc/printcap

If you still cannot select an already-installed system printer in the Destination screen, you will need to create a WP destination using the wpdest program as described below.

Depending on your distribution (and required for WSL), you will need to modify the printing options in WP if you want to print to a printer installed in Linux. If, when selecting a destination, you can see your printer on the list, select it, and, when prompted for Spool command options, enter:

-P NameOfYourPrinter 

Use wpdest to create a printing "destination" for WP:

This method also makes it possible to print to a networked PCL printer using one of WordPerfect's HP LaserJet (PCL) drivers.

Depending on your distrbution, you may be able to create PDF files easily by installing your distribution's version of cups-pdf and choosing PDF as the destination for a PostScript or Ghostscript WP printer driver. This does not seem to work in WSL Linux, but you can still use cups-pdf by choosing one of the sample destinations below.

Sample printer destinations for PostScript and PCL output: I have put together a set of destinations that may or may not work in your system, and that may require you to installl additional software. Using sudo, copy the wpdest.def file in this wpdest.zip archive to /opt/wp80/shlib10 and then run WordPerfect. Select an Additional Printer (using the guidelines) below, and specify one of these destinations for it:

Under Windows 11 with WSL, you will probably need to start the cups service automatically on startup. Using sudo, create or edit the the file /etc/wsl.conf with the following (the command runs as root and does not produce output):

command="service cups start"

Create PDF files from PCL (LaserJet) drivers: Details will be provided later on using gpcl6 to create a PDF file from output from a PCL (LaserJet) driver. Meanwhile, you may want to download gpcl6 for Linux in this zip archive. Use sudo to move it either to /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin depending on which one is used by your distribution. Briefly, the command is this:

gpcl6 -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=<filename>.pdf <filename>.pcl

The WP Printer Definition Program (ptr) is not installed with this system, and may not have been available in the original version. Use the ptr.exe program supplied with WPDOS 5.1 to edit WP printer files.

WP Print Management manual for system administrators: The system administrator manuals for WP Unix are stored in /opt/wp80/wplib/sysadmin.tar. They are in the form of multiple WP 5.x files. I have combined the print-management help files into a single PDF.

Keyboards and macros

The default location for keyboards and macros is /opt/wp80/wpmacros - but files in this folder are not writable by non-sudo users. Create a folder named wpmacros in your home directory or any writable directory. Copy all the files from the default location into the new folder. In WP, in Location of Files, specify the newly created folder instead of the default one.

Alternatively, run wp as sudo to edit macros and keyboard in the default folder.

I strongly recommend that you modify an existing keyboard layout, or create a new one, with a single shortcut key to the menu bar. I assign Ctrl-N to this key, and, in the keyboard layout editor, delete the existing assignment ({Ctrl-N}), then press Ctrl-V, then Esc followed by the equals sign. The code {Menu Bar} should appear in the Action window. Save the keyboard file and select it. Note that keyboard names are limited to eight characters, presumably because the underlying code was ported from the DOS version, which had the same limit.

The macro editor program (equivalent to ed.exe for DOS) does not seem to be available. For advanced macro editing, run ed.exe under DOS.

How to use Ctrl-S: Peter Stone reports:  WP 8c cannot normally use {Ctrl-S} in a keyboard assignment because that keystroke is pre-empted by the xon/xoff flow control function in Unix and Linux. Thus it freezes the screen until you press {Ctrl-Q} to release the flow control. Peter Stone's solution is go "Go to Unix" and give the command:

stty -ixon

This switches off the flow control, and lets you set {Ctrl-S} in a keyboard definition, for example to use "Save As". In a later session, the key setting {Ctrl-S} will be shown int he keyboard editor as unavailable, but it will be identifable from the description that you gave it when assigning it, and will continue to work as you intended.

Peter Stone created this xoff.wpm macro that you can use on loading WP by adding -m xoff.wpm to the command line.


To add words to the default dictionary, use Setup->Location of Files, and under 3 - Thesaurus, etc., specify this folder next to "Supplementary" (not "Main"):


Notice the dot before .wprc. You should now be able to add words to the dictionary.

Reference manual and system administrator help

Corel mistakenly included a reference manual for character-based WP 8c on a CD that included the graphic version of the program. It oddly includes details about the Printer Definition Program that was not in fact shipped with terminal-based WP Unix. The manual also claims that Quick Correct and Make It Fit are supported by WP 8c, but this does not seem to be the case.

The system-administrator manuals for WP 8c are stored in /opt/wp80/wplib/sysadmin.tar. They are in the form of multiple WP 5.x files, and they mostly refer to WP 5.2+, but 8c should work in essentially the same way described in the files. You may download them here, combined into single WP files and then exported to PDF format:

Much of the content is no longer relevant, but some of it will be useful.

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