Text From Words
Most times I use Emacs or just a plain text editor such as Leafpad. Occasionally I need to open a MS Word document or similar someone sent me.
There are a number of ways to deal with this.
If you have a gmail account you can open word docs in gmail. Then grab the contents and dump them in a text editor or save as plain text. You can also save in several other formats including html, openoffice, pdf, rtf, text, or word.
Only drawback is privacy. Google gets to see your docs. If you don't mind that, and there is nothing of a confidential nature, its okay.
You can find Gmail at: http://gmail.com
Catdoc reads a word doc and displays plain text on standard output. ie a terminal. Catdoc works similar to cat and you can redirect output to save as a file, pipe it to another prog or as input for another tool. Catdoc does not try to preserve word formatting.
You can find Catdoc at: http://directory.fsf.org/project/catdoc/
Antiword a free Word reader available for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OSX, and others. Antiword works on all but the most complex Word documents.
You can get Antiword at: http://www.winfield.demon.nl/
If you have OpenOffice installed you can use Writer to open MS Word docs. In the past, I found this to be a trouble free solution. Only problem is you need to install OpenOffice. I rarely use word processors, so I haven't bothered. OpenOffice is a great product if you have the need for a complete Office style package.
You can get it at: http://www.openoffice.org/
This works most times, and you don't need to install the full OpenOffice Application. AbiWord has tripped up on me a couple of times in the distant past. I guess it has improved since then. AbiWord is a good lightweight solution if all you need is a Word processor.
You can get it at: http://www.abisource.com/
6. Open In Windows
Ask a friend, neighbor or local librarian, if you can open the file on their machine and save as plain text or similar open format.
You can get it at: Library or Neighbour
7. Wipe Disk. Remove Linux. Install Windows Vista, Word.
Though, I heard Microsoft can't give Vista away and may even pay you to install it. Its their marketing department solution to increasing Vista user install base.
You can get it at: http://www.eBay.co.uk
Well enough for now. You have a few options for dealing with that troublesome Word document your aunt sent you.