The Future of Free Office Suites: LibreOffice or OpenOffice

Joe Purcell By Joe Purcell
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Oracle has turned over ownership of its OpenOffice productivity suite to Apache. Meanwhile, LibreOffice run by the Document Foundation has released the 3.4.0 upgrade. As the Linux Journal points out, “LibreOffice development has been happening at an unprecedented pace while OpenOffice lagged behind and lost many of its previous users.” Perhaps this is because of the very different approaches the communities have, but the tides may turn.

The release statement of LibreOffice 3.4.0 notes that changes have been contributed by over 120 developers. It commits 20 changes every day. OpenOffice on the other hand has largely stalled in development, yet many believe the transition to new ownership will boost its development.

The process for a project to become part of the Apache Software Foundation is called incubation. Rob Weir at IBM comments on this process and the “Apache Way” explaining that projects go through a “meritocratic development process, a tried and tested governance model, strong shared technical infrastructure, a pragmatic, commercially-friendly open source license and a set of social conventions.” This arduous process has gained Apache a great reputation; five of the top 10 open source downloads are Apache projects.

As Bob Sutor, another IBM employee, writes, “[a]n Apache implementation of a standard immediately increases the value of the standard.” This, combined with IBM’s support of the OpenOffice project, time will tell if LibreOffice is the future of the open source office suite.

About Joe Purcell
Joe Purcell is a technology virtuoso, cyberspace frontiersman, and connoisseur of Linux, Mac, and Windows alike.

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