LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice; it was created from OpenOffice’s source code. For the past 15 years, this code has been the foundation one of the most robust set of productivity applications available. Millions worldwide use them, and many operating systems include them as part of their installations. The rest of this article will focus on LibreOffice.

The contents are as follows:

The applications
Open Source
Download and Install
Comparing to Microsoft Office
File Formats
History
Links to other LibreOffice links

The applications

LibreOffice has six applications: Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentation), Draw (drawing), Base (database), and Math (formula editor).

Writer allows users to easily write basic papers and letters, but it also has the tools and features to create books with contents, diagrams, and indexes and interactive forms. Calc can perform the complex functions that most professional number crunchers need, but it is also an easy application to learn.

Impress has many animation and drawing tools for creating presentations. Base is a graphical front end that can connect to SQL and other types of databases as well as create its own HSQL databases. Draw is good for quick sketches, complex technical drawings, and everything in between. Math can allows users to write mathematical formulas to insert into text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings. It can run as a stand-alone program or be launched from one of the other applications.

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Open source

The Document Foundation, a German non-profit organization that forked LibreOffice, wanted to share an office suite with the world at no cost. It believes that users should also be free:

  • Free to run the program as they wish, for any purpose.
  • Free to study how the program works and change it.
  • Free to redistribute copies of the software.
  • Free to distribute copies of the versions they modified.

The type of software is known as open source, or free. TDF states that they believe free software “better-quality, higher-reliability, increased-security, and greater-flexibility than proprietary alternatives.” For this reason it has a manifesto of values to guide its developers. It values giving everyone access to its office productivity software at no charge; translating the software and its supporting documentation in many different languages; using open formats and standards so users can retain intellectual property rights of the documents they create; and an open and peer-reviewed process for creating software. This has guided TDF to make LibreOffice with all of its applications look and run equally on many different operating systems.

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Downloading and Installing

LibreOffice can be downloaded from its Website, The Windows and Mac versions of the software can only be obtained through the Website. Windows users who are still running XP can download the latest version of the operating system, and the software is also ready for those who are running 7, 8, or 10.

Mac users need to be more up-to-date, using an Intel-Mac. The latest version of the software requires at least 10.8. However, versions 4.3 can be installed on 10.6. Both Windows and Mac users need to make sure they have Java installed on their computers. Certain functions require Java.

Another way to obtain the office suite is through an operating system’s package manager. Most Linux distributions come with LibreOffice pre-installed. If they do not, they will typically have the applications in their package manager, a software program used to install and uninstall other software applications.

However, the latest version of LibreOffice may not be available through one of these. The latest versions may need to be installed by using the Terminal in Linux, a program that allows users to use the Linux distro’s command line. This TDF Web page shows how to install it.

In addition to Windows, Intel-Mac, and Linux operating systems, LibreOffice can also be installed on other operating systems. They include Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), Solaris, and PowerPC Macs. There is a reader that runs on Android as well. This Web page has more information.

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Comparing to Microsoft Office

LibreOffice has features that Microsoft Office doesn’t have (of course the opposite is also true). One of the main advantages it has over Office is that all of its applications and all of their features are available on all the desktop operating systems that they can be installed on. The Mac versions of Office have never have had the same number of applications or the same features as the Windows versions.

There are other key advantages as well. LibreOffice supports more languages for free. This includes spell-check dictionaries and other writing aids, as well languages for the user interface. The open-source suite also supports more file formats than Office. This Website gives an extensive comparison of the two suites.

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File formats

OpenDocument file formats are what LibreOffice saves documents as by default. However, it can save documents in standard Office documents, including .docx, xlsx, and pptx. The applications can also save documents in numerous other formats.

LibreOffice applications can also open almost any file format that has been created for their application type. For example, Writer can open Corel WordPerfect, Microsoft Works, and Apple Pages. Calc can open Apple Numbers, Lotus 1-2-3, and Microsoft Excel 4 file formats.

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History

OpenOffice was developed from StarOffice – created by StarDivision, a German corporation. StarOffice was released in 1985.Sun Microsystems acquired the company in 1999. The corporation that developed Java, made the application open source in 2000 and released version 1.0 two years lateri.OpenOffice.org 1.0 was released in May 2002.

Sun Microsystems controlled the project until 2010, when it was bought out by Oracle. In September 2010, several members, who who were part of the committee that developed OpenOffice, announced a fork (using source code from one application to make a new, similar one) of OpenOffice because they thought the Oracle, would not allow the office suite development to be as open as they thought it should and thought that a non-profit organization would serve the project betterii.

Those who had been key OpenOffice.org developers left Oracle to form The Document Foundation. It was first announced in September 2010 and incorporated in February 2012. LibreOffice was first released in January 2011iii, several months after The Document Foundation was announced. It was based on OpenOffice 3.3 and patches and build software from Novell Go-oo.

Since starting with version OpenOffice 3.3.0, The Document Foundation has released several updates and versions of the office suite. The organization’s goal is to release a new version every six months. A release has around nine months until it is no longer developediv.

Sun was acquired by Oracle in January 2010v. Oracle decided it no longer wanted to develop the suite. In June 2011, Oracle gave it to the Apache Foundation, even though giving it to The Document Foundation was consideredvi.

The move to donate suite, now called Apache OpenOffice, was supported by IBM, who had been a contributor to OpenOffice’s development since its Sun Microsystems days and used the source code for one of its products, Lotus Symphony. IBM discontinued Symphony and donated its code to Apache shortly after Oracle gave the foundation OpenOfficevii.

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Click one of the links below to jump to that page in this Website.

LibreOffice suite | Introduction to LibreOffice Start Center | Saving document in LibreOffice | Creating new document in LibreOffice | LibreOffice remote server introduction | Connecting LibreOffice to Google Drive | Connecting LibreOffice to FTP

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i – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/05/01/openoffice_suite_goes/
ii – http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2010/09/document-foundation-forks-openofficeorg-to-liberate-it-from-oracle/
iii – https://blog.documentfoundation.org/2011/01/25/the-document-foundation-launches-libreoffice-3-3/
iv – https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleasePlan
v – http://www.javaworld.com/article/2078711/enterprise-java/three-years-later–has-oracle-s-sun-buy-paid-off-.html
vi – http://web.archive.org/web/20131208074036/http://www.h-online.com/open/features/OpenOffice-splits-and-pirouettes-1270296.html?page=2
vii – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/14/ibm_symphony_goes_to_asf/