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back to article On its first birthday, LibreOffice has reason to celebrate

The Document Foundation, which produces the LibreOffice open source office-software suite, is celebrating the first anniversary of the code’s release. LibreOffice was born out of disgruntlement at the way Oracle handled the OpenOffice project after it took ownership of Sun. This time last year, key open source developers left …

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Does anyone have a decent breakdown of the differences between OpenOffice and LibreOffice? I tried hunting one down a few months ago and found very little that gave any clue to an end user why they should switch. I'd be happy to consider it, but am not sure why I should or shouldn't (other than if I wanted to support a particular side in the dispute).

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I guess the main reason to switch from Openoffice to Libreoffice is that there are now probably more developers working on Libreoffice than on openoffice so in theory bugs should get fixed quicker and new features implemented sooner. So within a couple of years they may be very different products

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Haven't got a list of the differences, but my personal experience is that Libreoffice is faster, more robust, and imports work better.

But I'm only a casual user - YMMV.

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Don't look for differences ...

There is no difference in the sense that LibreOffice is just the continued development of OpenOffice - only faster than the depleted OO team themselves. It has also consolidated some of the development done by parallel groups.

So if you use OpenOffice then updating to LO is the natural way to go. Just as you may routinely update your other apps.

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Linux

It's not too hard to find out

for example...

http://www.unixmen.com/software/1898-libreoffice-and-openoffice-reach-the-crossroads-differ-by-77-million-new-code-lines

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Not perfect...

but you could try this article:

http://www.infoworld.com/d/applications/open-office-dilemma-openofficeorg-vs-libreoffice-716

HTH

AD1.1

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Differences

The main difference is OpenOffice is dead, LibreOffice is in active development. LibreOffice has 2 point differences worth of bug fixes and enhancements in it - mainly improved usability, improved export / import filters, and improved Linux & OS X support.

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The changes are mainly a myriad tiny bugfixes, patches, etc that were queued for OpenOffice and never made it. Quite a lot of stuff is in there but nothing "killer" - they haven't added Exchange functionality or anything that you'd go "Oh, wow", it's just a million tiny fixes that fix a lot of bugbears. Import filters are better. Export filters are better. Help is better. The changelogs themselves are pretty verbose:

http://www.softpedia.com/progChangelog/LibreOffice-Changelog-171618.html

Basically, it's just what OpenOffice should have committed but never did, and a myriad bug fixes and minor tweaks that remove annoying stuff (e.g. the default "Save As" format can be set as Word, etc. which is more telling about their import/export filter compatibility than any political decision)

The main change, of course, is that LibreOffice is installed all over my network, and OpenOffice never really got a look in. That, in itself, speaks volumes to anyone that knows me.

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Happy

Don't bother comparing

LO is being actively worked on, quite aggressively as they wish to speed away from the mess that OO got into after going through Larry's mangle! I wouldn't bother hedging your bets, just get LO and leave OO as footnote in the history of FOSS.

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Off the top of my head, LO supports SVG out of the box both in Draw and Writer, it has more filters for weird and wonderful data formats and a lot less cobwebs inside as the developers have been hard at work cleaning the code and removing old legacy stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Spreadsheet problem - LibreOffice and OpenOffice

If you use a background colour in the LibreOffice spreadsheet the gridlines disappear.

They do not disappear in OpenOffice, nor did they in the original Star Office.

I need to colour code spreadsheet periods by using background colours, but having all the gridlines disappear makes them almost impossible to read.

The Libre Office developers say this is a feature copied from Excel. That is why I never used it in Excel!

Complaints about the missing gridlines have been registered as bug reports - 30800 & 34518

An outline solution, that would satisfy me is proposed here, with illustrations that demonstrate what happens, :

http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/User:Andreschnab/Spec_Calc_grid_lines_on_colored_background

A developers discussion about it is here:

http://lists.freedesktop.org/archives/libreoffice-ux-advise/2011-July/000124.html

In theory bugs may get fixed quicker - but apparently not in this case, which means that I have to continue to use Open Office.

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Thanks to all for the replies - seems there may be some mileage in me switching after all. Ta.

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Works for me!

Until last year I really thought that nothing could replace MS Office for me - LibreOffice has done it. Somehow it seems to be just what OpenOffice never quite managed to be.

Admittedly I'm not doing anything overly complex, but for my Word processing and Spreadsheet uses Libreoffice works great - and thus far has imported all of my MS Office docs with no problems - something that Open office could never do.

I still miss the elegance of Wordperfect 5.1, but am very, very happy with LibreOffice.

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In -not so much- unrelated news:

Wow, the fork is already one year old?

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LibreOffice is to XOrg as OpenOffice is to XFree86

Look at what happened with gcc v2, OpenOffice, XFree86. In each case the developers were getting frustrated by the direction of development, a backlog of patches which were being rejected or ignored for no rational reason, and an aloof / uncaring maintainer.

The best thing that happened in each case was a fork. In the case of gcc, the egcs fork became so popular it ended up being the "official" product again under new leadership. For XFree86 and OpenOffice, the fork was renamed and the original was totally abandoned. In all cases it kickstarted a dead project back into life.

So I'm happy to see LibreOffice doing so well. I just wish they picked a better name. LibreOffice is a stupid name. I wonder how Apache feels to have taken ownership of OpenOffice and what their objections or legal restrictions would be to prevent them from trying to reunify everything back under the old moniker.

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«LibreOffice is a stupid name.»

Please do explain - what's wrong with «LibreOffice» ? I neither find the name stupid nor a hinder in using this excellent office suite. As at the time of the fork, using «OpenOffice» wasn't an option due to copyright/trademark issues, a new name was required, but «LibreOffice» has much the same connotations, aside from the fact that the LibreOffice licence doesn't require developers to hand over copyright to The Document Foundation (TDF), so the project is not only open but «libre» (free). Let us hope that the bureaucratic procedures which have delayed establishing TDF as a voluntary association (eingetragener Verein - e.V.) under German law are soon behind us and that all efforts can be devoted to maintaining and updating the code. That Apache would be willing to relinquish the OpenOffice.org name to the TDF, I regard as a pipe dream....

Henri

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Headmaster

Stupid because

All camel-case product names are a bit stupid. But the main problem with LibreOffice is how to pronounce it.

"office" is English, but "libre" could be any one of several other languages.

"leebruh-office" or "leebray-office" seem likely pronunciations, but in both cases the vowel-vowel transition in the middle is awkward - to an English speaker, at least. Some languages elide the final vowel to avoid the awkward transition, so should it be "leebroffice"? And it's not clear how the first syllable sounds "lib" or "leeb"?

None of this is really very important, but manufacturers of retail goods usually go to great lengths to avoid ambiguous and hard-to-pronounce names. LibreOffice is free, so the case is slightly different, but they still want to be popular.

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Whats wrong with the name LibreOffice?

For me its because it doesn't roll easily off the tongue when spoken aloud. There is a distinct break between Libre and Office that causes a discord which is never a good thing when marketing something. Also, in my mind, it conjures up images of Citizen Smith and Rick from the Young Ones - Freedom! Free Office, man! Yeah! That's probably just subjective though.

That said, the program is great and I use it all the time. And it still opens some old docs of mine that MS Office no longer does.

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Happy

Wait!

Pronounce it as leeber-office and it rolls off the tongue very nicely, and I think you'll find that is the common European pronunciation too!

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The Great Vowel Shift

If it's "leeber-office", why is the "r" before the "e"?

Dunno about "the common European pronunciation". I'm a European myself, but I struggle to imagine a set of pronunciation rules that apply all the way from the west of Ireland to the Dardanelles.

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I'm European and I can't imagine anyone pronouncing it anything other than "leebra".

When I say LibreOffice, it generally comes out something like "Leebroffice".

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Happy

For the same reason as...

Hare

Fire

Share

Lyre

Handle

Table

Feeble

Fibre

I'll concede that it should maybe pronounced 'lyber' but that doesn't sound so nice (sounds a bit American actually).

Oh what fun we had...

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I love it

Yeah, I can't believe its been a year. LibreOffice is better than OO was and is far more compatible with MS Office (I often use it to repair busted Word and Excel files in fact).

I never use anything else and don't remotely miss MS Office -- I only occasionally fire it up to check that things are compatible. They always are.

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Anonymous Coward

One year on, LibreOffice is still a crappy name.

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Should have called it Star Office. And rebuilt the desktop too.

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Works for me too!

Been using it for over six months. Dont use it hard, just basic Word and Excel docs, but then why pay M$ for their package if that is all I'm doing. It also imports and updates my CV from Word without messing with the formatting, something that OOo couldnt handle. My favourite functionality is the direct PDF export. Stops anyone messing with my docs once they are published.

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Excellent

I switched to LibreOffice straight away as it was clear OpenOffice was going nowhere. There are still a couple of issues (in-app templates still link to a site that doesn't exist) but it is well on the way. I was a bit surprised last week to find, when I opened a relatively simple Excel spreadsheet in LO that some of the formulae had errors in them. The fact that I was surprised is a good sign that they are nearly there but companies are not going to switch to a product if they cannot rely on fairly basic format conversions.

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Can someone enlighten me?

I do like LO and it has replaced OO wherever I had it. However, ever since work upgraded to Office 2010 and that dreaded .docx format nothing opens properly and the formatting as seen in LO is all over the place.

The guys at LO even admitted as much on their homepage when I last looked at it.

So, how are they going to lure win users and enterprises when the (unfortunately ubiquitous) Office is incompatible with LO?

And what about inetgration and seamless working with Sharepoint (where you can edit/save things directly on the sharepoint without "checking out" the relevant files)?

My thinking is that unless the presentation and layout is identical and seamless between LO and MSO adoption will lag.

Which is a great shame as I cant see why the world should rely on payware for such fundamental tools purely because of inertia.

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"So, how are they going to lure win users and enterprises when the (unfortunately ubiquitous) Office is incompatible with LO?"

By fixing the bugs? You can help them get there quicker by providing simple test case documents that exhibit specific bugs. One bug per test case document and keep it as lightweight as possible. If you can also provide screen shots to explain why the LO behaviour is not the expected one.

By doing that, it will help the developers gather the information they need to fix the bugs and will also enable them to write unit tests that ensure those bugs don't creep back in a later release.

You don't need to be a developer to help you favourite FLOSS project!

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I was tempted to downvote this post because it was intelligent, concise and most of all, positive. ElReg comentators have certain standards you know!

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@Bruno

To be honest, I thought that providing them with such bugs (which I'd gladly do) would serve to overload what precious little time they have, and end up being a hindrance rather than help.

I've beta testing for u and kubuntu and have sent countless bug reports but i was under the impression that LO guys has their hands full as it is.

Thanks for the tip.

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Pint

@Bruno

While I agree with the substance of your post I think it is (slightly) unfair to call docx rendering problems in LO "bugs".

Considering that the existing implementation of docx in MS Office 2010 is closed and undocumented, the LO devs can only make educated guesses as to how to open those documents and those guesses don't always work in every case.

This is, of course, a deliberate strategy on the part of MS to make it as difficult as possible for people to open documents that were created in MS Office without paying MS for a copy of MS Office.

Providing sample docs as you suggest helps them fine tune their reverse engineered code rather than squash bugs.

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Devil

Shame about the name

really...

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"We all know how conservative Windows users can be"

We all know that most Windows users use the excellent MS Office and are perfectly fine with that. Otherwise they'd all have been using alternatives for years.

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They're perfectly fine with that...

...because someone else pays the enormous price for it: their employers. Or they use it illegally. Otherwise they'd all have been using alternatives for years.

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It's not expensive. I got a 64bit dual core, 4Gb, 15.6" laptop with starter editions of word and excel for £300 (needless to say, it's not a Mac). I've still got LibreOffice installed though.

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

“We all know how conservative Windows users can be, thus we have more Linux users,”

While I do use Libre Office and MS office on my machines at home and work, I can't let this comment go... Every install of desktop Linux that I've done in the last year has had Libre Office installed by default, so one has to imagine that there are a lot of Linux users out there who don't even know that they've got Libre Office installed - The first time that I used a Linux with Libre office on, I was looking for Open office and spent ages trying to work out why it wasn't available on the repos, only to find out that Libre Office had already been installed.

Oh and from what I've seen Linux and Windows "IT guys" are just as conservative as each other, in their own ways.

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OpenOffice.org Web Site Down

Last night, I tried to download OpenOffice from their website. No cigar. So I guess the biggest difference between the two is that you can actually download and install LibreOffice.

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Anonymous Coward

LibreOffice

As Alfie said, I don't use it for much, but why should I pay Microsoft if I'm not going to be using all the nifty features?

That said, I'd love to see a suite like LibreOffice stand up a variant of Draw or Impress that actually competes well with Visio as a network diagramming and documentation tool.

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File compatibility

Hello All

Been using oOo since version 1 and now LibreOffice. Perhaps a key consideration is any differences in the way comparable major versions of oOo and LO render the documents saved in .od* format. I've not had any issues yet.

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