LibreOffice and the road to Independence

They created a different-branded version of the open source office suite, LibreOffice, aimed at putting the entire project out of the reach of Oracle’s influence and allowing them to build an organization that no, one company could distrupt.

There are now two entities: The Document Foundation is the name of the community of developers while LibreOffice is the name of the software productivity suite.

While there has been some discussion about replacing’s productivity software with LibreOffice in the upcoming version of Ubuntu, Alpha versions of the “Natty Narwhal” version of Ubuntu continue to bundle the (OOo)-branded version of the software while LO continues in full development/breakaway mode. Ubuntu developers have said, though, that they intend on bundling LibreOffice when the next, stable version of Ubuntu launches in April.

With all the discussion (and some might say drama), it’s time to take a good look at LibreOffice to see – if it’s the future of open source productivity software – what gives. Simply put: Not a lot that we haven’t seen before.

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Beta versions of LibreOffice are missing a full assortment of language packs, an issue developers say they are working on. But the installation and the interface are consistent with 3.3, the version from which LibreOffice is derived.

In fact, if you just hide the name from the software, you really can’t tell the difference between LibreOffice's suite and's.

The good news is that LibreOffice maintains the usability and compatibility with earlier versions, support of multiple operating systems and essential stability we’ve come to expect from The developers on LibreOffice are developers who helped bring into maturity.

Oracle now spearheads the original, and separate, organization that Sun Microsystems brought into the world, and has committed to having its own developers contribute to the code base under that brand. They’ve also been accused of slamming the door in the face of developers who have broken off to build LibreOffice.

Politics aside, LibreOffice won’t be much of a technical difference from OOo. It will support ODF, provide PDF support, support Microsoft Office extensions and, basically, get the job done. And it will be free, as in “free beer,” and free (if you couldn’t tell by its name) as in “libre.”