LibreOffice

LibreOffice [10][11] is a free and open-source office productivity software suite, a project of The Document Foundation (TDF). It was forked in 2010 from OpenOffice.org, which was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice. The LibreOffice suite consists of programs for word processing, creating and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, working with databases, and composing mathematical formulae. It is available in 115 languages.[8]

As its native file format to save documents for all of its applications, LibreOffice uses the Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF), or OpenDocument, an international standard developed jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). LibreOffice also supports the file formats of most other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, through a variety of import and export filters.[12][13]

LibreOffice is available for a variety of computing platforms, with official support for Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux[4] and community builds for many other platforms. It is also available as an online office suite called LibreOffice Online,[14][15] which includes the applications Writer, Calc and Impress. LibreOffice is the default office suite of most popular Linux distributions.[16][17][18][19] It is the most actively developed free and open-source office suite, with approximately 50 times the development activity of Apache OpenOffice, the other major descendant of OpenOffice.org.[20]

LibreOffice is offered in a free and open source "Community" version officially intended for personal use. This is the full suite, not a cut-down version. Enterprise-supported versions of LibreOffice can also be obtained from TDF's corporate partners.

The project was announced and a beta released on 28 September 2010. In the nine months between January 2011 (the first stable release) and October 2011, LibreOffice was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times.[21] The project claims 120 million unique downloading addresses over four years from May 2011 to May 2015, excluding Linux distributions, with 55 million of those being from May 2014 to May 2015.[22]

LibreOffice Impress and Math, version 7.1.2 (released in April 2021, running on Linux and GNOME with the default icon set)

LibreOffice is cross platform software. The Document Foundation developers target Microsoft Windows (IA-32 and x86-64), Linux (IA-32, x86-64 and ARM) and macOS (x86-64).[28][29] There are community ports for FreeBSD,[30] NetBSD,[31] OpenBSD and Mac OS X 10.5 PowerPC[32] receive support from contributors to those projects, respectively.[33][34][35] LibreOffice is also installable on OpenIndiana via SFE.[36]

Historically predecessors of LibreOffice, back to StarOffice 3, have run on Solaris with SPARC CPUs that Sun Microsystems (and later Oracle) made. Unofficial ports of LibreOffice, versions now obsolete, have supported SPARC. Current unofficial ports of LibreOffice 5.2.5 run only on Intel-compatible hardware, up to for Solaris 11.

In 2011, developers announced plans to port LibreOffice both to Android and to iOS.[37] A beta version of a document viewer for Android 4.0 or newer was released in January 2015;[38] In May 2015, LibreOffice Viewer for Android was released with basic editing capabilities.[39] In February 2020, Collabora released its first officially supported version of LibreOffice (branded as Collabora Office) for Android and iOS.[40] In July 2020 Collabora shipped an app for Chromebook (branded as Collabora Office).

The LibreOffice Impress Remote application for various mobile operating systems allows for remote control of LibreOffice Impress presentations.

LibreOffice Online is the online office suite edition of LibreOffice. It allows for the use of LibreOffice through a web browser by using the canvas element of HTML5. Development was announced at the first LibreOffice Conference in October 2011, and is ongoing.[43] The Document Foundation, IceWarp, and Collabora announced a collaboration to work on its implementation.[44][45] A version of the software was shown in a September 2015 conference,[46] and the UK Crown Commercial Service announced an interest in using the software.[47][48] On 15 December 2015, Collabora, in partnership with ownCloud, released a technical preview of LibreOffice Online branded as Collabora Online Development Edition (CODE).[49] In July 2016 the enterprise version Collabora Online 1.0 was released.[50] The same month, Nextcloud and Collabora partnered to bring CODE to Nextcloud users.[51][52] By October 2016, Collabora had released nine updates to CODE.[53] The first source code release of LibreOffice Online was done with LibreOffice version 5.3 in February 2017.[14] In June 2019, CIB software GmbH officially announced its contributions to LibreOffice Online and "LibreOffice Online powered by CIB".[54]

In October 2020 Collabora announced the move of its work on Collabora Online from The Document Foundation infrastructure to GitHub.[55]

A detailed 60-page report in June 2015 compared the progress of the LibreOffice project with the related project Apache OpenOffice. It showed that "OpenOffice received about 10% of the improvements LibreOffice did in the period of time studied."[56]

LibreOffice can use the GStreamer multimedia framework in Linux to render multimedia content such as videos in Impress and other programs.

Visually, LibreOffice used the large "Tango style" icons that are used for the application shortcuts, quick launch icons, icons for associated files and for the icons found on the toolbar of the LibreOffice programs in the past.[77][78] They were also used on the toolbars and menus by default. Later LibreOffice integrated multiple icon themes to adapt the look and feel of specific desktop environment, such as Colibre for Windows, and Elementary for GNOME.[79]

LibreOffice also ships with a modified theme which looks native on GTK-based Linux distributions. It also renders fonts via Cairo on Linux distributions; this means that text in LibreOffice is rendered the same as the rest of the Linux desktop.[80]

With version 6.2, LibreOffice includes a toolbar-style GUI, called Notebookbar, including three different views.[81] This feature has formerly been included as an experimental feature in LibreOffice 6 (experimental features must be enabled from LibreOffice settings to make the option available in the View menu).[82]

LibreOffice uses HarfBuzz for complex text layout, it was first introduced in 4.1 for Linux and 5.3 for Windows and macOS.[84][76] Fonts with OpenType, Apple Advanced Typography or SIL Graphite features can be adjusted.[85]

LibreOffice supports a "hybrid PDF" format, a file in Portable Document Format (PDF) which can be read by any program supporting PDF, but also contains the source document in ODF format, editable in LibreOffice by dragging and dropping.[86]

The LibreOffice project uses a dual LGPLv3 (or later) / MPL 2.0 license for new contributions to allow the license to be upgraded.[87] Since the core of the OpenOffice.org codebase was donated to the Apache Software Foundation, there is an ongoing effort to get all the code rebased to ease future license updates. At the same time, there were complaints that IBM had not in fact released the Lotus Symphony code as open source, despite having claimed to. It was reported that some LibreOffice developers wanted to incorporate some code parts and bug fixes which IBM already fixed in their OpenOffice fork.[88]

LibreOffice supports third-party extensions.[89] As of July 2017, the LibreOffice Extension Repository lists more than 320 extensions.[90] Another list is maintained by the Apache Software Foundation[91] and another one by the Free Software Foundation.[92] Extensions and scripts for LibreOffice can be written in C++, Java, CLI, Python, and LibreOffice Basic. Interpreters for the latter two are bundled with most LibreOffice installers, so no additional installation is needed. The application programming interface for LibreOffice is called "UNO" and is extensively documented.[93]

LibreOffice Basic is a programming language similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) but based on StarOffice Basic. It is available in Writer, Calc and Base. It is used to write small programs known as "macros", with each macro performing a different task, such as counting the words in a paragraph.[94]

A timeline of major derivatives of StarOffice and OpenOffice.org with LibreOffice in green

Members of the OpenOffice.org community who were not Sun Microsystems employees had wanted a more egalitarian form for the OpenOffice.org project for many years; Sun had stated in the original OpenOffice.org announcement in 2000 that the project would eventually be run by a neutral foundation[95] and put forward a more detailed proposal in 2001.[96]

Ximian and then Novell had maintained the ooo-build patch set, a project led by Michael Meeks, to make the build easier on Linux and due to the difficulty of getting contributions accepted upstream by Sun, even from corporate partners. It tracked the main line of development and was not intended to constitute a fork.[97] It was also the standard build mechanism for OpenOffice.org in most Linux distributions[98] and was contributed to by said distributions.[99]

In 2007, ooo-build was made available by Novell as a software package called Go-oo (ooo-build had used the go-oo.org domain name as early as 2005[100]), which included many features not included in upstream OpenOffice.org. Go-oo also encouraged outside contributions, with rules similar to those later adopted for LibreOffice.[101]

Sun's contributions to OpenOffice.org had been declining for some time.[102] They remained reluctant to accept contributions[103] and contributors were upset at Sun releasing OpenOffice.org code to IBM for IBM Lotus Symphony under a proprietary contract, rather than under an open source licence.[104]

Sun was purchased by Oracle Corporation in early 2010. OpenOffice.org community members were concerned by Oracle's behaviour towards open source software, specifically the Java lawsuit against Google[105] and Oracle's withdrawal of developers,[106] and lack of activity on or visible commitment to OpenOffice.org, as had been noted by industry observers[107] – as Meeks put it in early September 2010, "The news from the Oracle OpenOffice conference was that there was no news."[108] Discussion of a fork started soon after.[109]

On 28 September 2010, The Document Foundation was announced as the host of LibreOffice, a new derivative of OpenOffice.org. The Document Foundation's initial announcement stated their concerns that Oracle would either discontinue OpenOffice.org, or place restrictions on it as an open source project, as it had on Sun's OpenSolaris.[110][111][112][113]

LibreOffice 3.3 beta used the ooo-build build infrastructure and the OpenOffice.org 3.3 beta code from Oracle, then adding selected patches from Go-oo.[114] Go-oo was discontinued in favour of LibreOffice. Since the office suite that was branded "OpenOffice.org" in most Linux distributions was in fact Go-oo, most moved immediately to LibreOffice.[115]

Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. However, Oracle demanded that all members of the OpenOffice.org Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the OOo Community Council, claiming a conflict of interest.[116]

The name "LibreOffice" was picked after researching trademark databases and social media, as well as after checks were made to see if it could be used for URLs in various countries.[117] Oracle rejected requests to donate the OpenOffice.org brand to the project.[118]

LibreOffice was initially named BrOffice in Brazil. OpenOffice.org had been distributed as BrOffice.org by the BrOffice Centre of Excellence for Free Software because of a trademark issue.[119]

Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was ending its development of OpenOffice.org and would lay off the majority of its paid developers.[120] In June 2011, Oracle announced[121] that it would donate the OpenOffice.org code and trademark to the Apache Software Foundation, where the project was accepted for a project incubation process within the foundation, thus becoming Apache OpenOffice. In an interview with LWN in May 2011, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth blamed The Document Foundation for destroying OpenOffice.org because it did not license code under Oracle's Contributor License Agreement.[122] But former Sun executive Simon Phipps denies this is the case:

The act of creating The Document Foundation and its LibreOffice project did no demonstrable harm to Oracle's business. There is no new commercial competition to Oracle Open Office (their commercial edition of OO.o) arising from LibreOffice. No contributions that Oracle valued were ended by its creation. Oracle's ability to continue development of the code was in no way impaired. Oracle's decision appears to be simply that, after a year of evaluation, the profit to be made from developing Oracle Open Office and Oracle Cloud Office did not justify the salaries of over 100 senior developers working on them both. Suggesting that TDF was in some way to blame for a hard-headed business decision that seemed inevitable from the day Oracle's acquisition of Sun was announced is at best disingenuous.[123]

In March 2015, an LWN.net comparison of LibreOffice with its cousin project Apache OpenOffice concluded that "LibreOffice has won the battle for developer participation".[124]

In late 2017 The Document Foundation held a competition for the new mascot of LibreOffice. The mascot was to be used primarily by the community, and was not intended to supersede existing logos for the project. Over 300 concepts were submitted before the first evaluation phase.[168]

The mascot contest was cancelled soon after new submissions stopped being accepted. The Document Foundation cited their lack of clear rules and arguments among community members as their reasoning for cancelling the contest.[169]

Since March 2014 and version 4.2.2, two different major "released" versions of LibreOffice are available at any time in addition to development versions (numbered release candidates and dated nightly builds).[170] The versions are designated to signal their appropriateness for differing user requirements.[171] Releases are designated by three numbers separated by dots. The first two numbers represent the major version (branch) number, and the final number indicates the bugfix releases made in that series. LibreOffice designates the two release versions as:

LibreOffice uses a time-based release schedule for predictability, rather than a "when it's ready" schedule. New major versions are released around every six months, in January or February and July or August of each year. The initial intention was to release in March and September, to align with the schedule of other free software projects.[172] Minor bugfix versions of the "fresh" and "still" release branches are released frequently.

Commercially-supported distributions for LibreOffice with service-level agreements are available via partners such as Collabora (marketed as Collabora Office and Collabora Online), CIB (marketed as LibreOffice powered by CIB on the Microsoft Store for Windows 10), and Red Hat.[173][174] The three vendors are major corporate contributors to the LibreOffice project.[174]

As of version 7.1, the open source release of LibreOffice is officially branded as "LibreOffice Community", in order to emphasize that the releases are intended primarily for personal individual use, and are "not targeted at enterprises, and not optimized for their support needs". The Document Foundation states that usage of the enterprise versions in such settings "has had a two-fold negative consequence for the project: a poor use of volunteers' time, as they have to spend their time to solve problems for business that provide nothing in return to the community, and a net loss for ecosystem companies."[174]

Worldwide number of LibreOffice users from 2011 to 2018 in millions. References are in the text.

The figure shows the worldwide number of LibreOffice users from 2011 to 2018 in millions. References are in the text.

2011: The Document Foundation estimated in September 2011, that there were 10 million users worldwide who had obtained LibreOffice via downloads or CD-ROMs. Over 90% of those were on Windows, with another 5% on OS X. LibreOffice is the default office suite for most Linux distributions, and is installed when the operating system is installed or updated. Based on International Data Corporation reckonings for new or updated Linux installations in 2011, The Document Foundation estimated a subtotal of 15 million Linux users. This gave a total estimated user base of 25 million users in 2011.[175] In 2011, the Document Foundation set a target of 200 million users worldwide before the end of 2020.[175]

2013: In September 2013, after two years, the estimated number of LibreOffice users was 75 million.[176] A million new unique IP addresses check for downloads each week.[177]

2015: In 2015, LibreOffice was used by 100 million users and 18 governments.[178]

2016: In August 2016, the number of LibreOffice users was estimated at 120 million.[179]

2018: The Document Foundation estimated in 2018 that there are 200 million active LibreOffice users worldwide. About 25% of them are students and 10% Linux users (who often automatically receive LibreOffice through their distribution).[180] In comparison, Microsoft Office was used in 2018 by 1.2 billion users.[181]

Starting in 2011, The Document Foundation has organized the annual LibreOffice Conference, as follows: