Document Foundation Delivers First Release Of Free Office App Suite

A group of developers who split away from the Oracle-owned OpenOffice project has debuted their first release of its LibreOffice application suite.

Tuesday the group known as The Document Foundation said that LibreOffice 3.3, which it described as the "first stable release" of the free office suite, was available for download.

The Document Foundation also said it has grown from fewer than 20 developers in September 2010 when the group was formed to more than 100. "This has allowed us to release ahead of the aggressive schedule set by the project," the organization said in a statement posted on its Web site.

OpenOffice is one of the most widely used open-source software products and is seen as a leading alternative to Microsoft Office. Owned by Sun Microsystems since 1999 when it acquired StarDivision, the assets were acquired by Oracle when it bought Sun in January 2010 for $7.3 billion.

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Oracle has since completed new releases of OpenOffice. But OpenOffice backers and developers, disenchanted with having the open-source product controlled by a major commercial vendor, decided in September to split off and form the independent Document Foundation to continue developing the application set under the LibreOffice product name.

The Document Foundation's backers include Red Hat, Google, Novell and Canonical, among other vendors.

Although the group invited Oracle to join and donate the OpenOffice name, Oracle has done neither and the development of LibreOffice has raised the potential for a fork in the OpenOffice line of open-source applications.

Next: What LibreOffice 3.3 Offers

The Document Foundation touted the speed at which it built it's own development process and its efforts to run the source code through "a major cleanup to provide a better foundation for future development," the organization said in a statement.

As for the new release itself, the Windows installer in LibreOffice 3.3 has been integrated into a single build containing all language versions, reducing its size from 75 GB to 11 GB. The Document Foundation said that would make it easier to deploy new versions more rapidly.

Other enhancements include an easy way to format title pages and page numbers in Writer, the ability to work with SVG (scalable vector graphics) files, Microsoft Works and Lotus Word Pro document import filters, and what the organization described as "a more helpful Navigator Tool for Writer."

CRN Managing Editor Ed Moltzen recently took a first look at the new LibreOffice release.

The organization is seeking feedback on the new release, which will be integrated into the code as soon as next month. "Starting from March, we will be moving to a real-time-based, predictable, transparent and public release schedule, in accordance with Engineering Steering Committee's goals and users' requests," said Caolan McNamara, one of the development community leaders and a senior software engineer at Red Hat, in a statement.

A development roadmap for LibreOffice is available at