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James, 16-10-2010 15:56:
  I use KDE.
I created a new text file and named it usage.ods.
I then tried to open it and LibreOffice crashed.

OK, it shouldn't crash.

I sometimes create new documents this way.
If I rename the file usage.txt and open it with Calc, it imports fine.

When using .txt or .csv (coma-separated values) LibO considers the file as a CSV file and imports as a chart.

If I rename it as usage.ods and open it with Calc, it crashes.

You would be telling a plain text file is a .ods file, which isn't.
A .ods file is, internally, a zipped file with some files inside it. Just like a .xls is an binary file. LibO shouldn't crash and can be modified to import the file, but your workflow requires LibO to ***delete*** the file and create another one with the same name, ignoring the content. This can cause data loss if someone renames a .csv to .ods and open on LibO. That could possible be the only copy of the data available and he would be upset.

Using Dolphin->Create New->Text File (name it *.ods).

Anyway, Dolphin can actually create a Lib Spreadsheet file for you!
At least with the packages on the repository listed here:

there is an liboasis3.3-kde-integration package. Just install that and you can do:
Dolphin->Create New->[any LibO file]
That works on Konqueror too.

That's the same package that makes the OOo integration with KDE, ported to LibO.

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