why would he not have lomanager installed? lomanager is installed by default on any official iso. That and the fact that "Synaptic just closes when I try to install it" makes me think that this is a borked system.
In some cases I have noticed Synaptic can crash. A few examples of possible circumstances : the information was not reloaded (Reload button) therefore the program ends when trying to install a package for which it does not have the information (not sure of this one though) ; the repos is unavailable and errors appear in the reload window. (Solution is to restart Synaptic, change mirror, reload and retry). A distro not up to date maybe ?
Of course the possibility of a failed install also exists : bad md5sum on iso or on CD, a lens in the CD reader which needs cleaning... cosmic rays...
ianw, I might have a solution for you. Install to a machine with resources, good cpu and enough memory, at least 2 GB, don't try anything special but install an older pclinuxos in virtualbox, then the openoffice packages you need in the virtual machine. I found an old repos as of 2010 here
. Don't install and use it directly because you will not have updates for this one. But with Virtualbox you can configure shared folders between the host and the client, so it's easy enough to deal with the file exchanges between both.
Any other solution using Virtualbox can also fit in your needs. (Have PCLinuxOS, a OOo in a system in vb and no reboot needed to use OOo).
I hope it helps.