Enterprise Linux Log

Oct 11 2011   1:53PM GMT

Open source office suites: LibreOffice takes on OpenOffice

Nick Martin Nick Martin Profile: Nick Martin

It has now been one year since The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the LibreOffice project, and by all counts, the open source software suite is flourishing. After just one year, TDF estimates that there are now 25 million LibreOffice users worldwide.

The project has also seemed to generate a lot of interest from developers. Just last week version 3.4.3 debuted with some significant security fixes –- a reminder that the project is still young, but also evidence that it is continuing to evolve.

All this attention on LibreOffice now raises the question of what will become of another popular open source software project.

“Thanks to a very welcoming attitude to newcomers, to the copyleft license, and to the fact that it is not requesting any copyright assignment, The Document Foundation has attracted more developers with commits in the first year than the OpenOffice.org project in the first decade,” said Norbert Thiebaud, a member of TDF Engineering Steering Committee.

In Sept. 2010, developers who were critical of Oracle Corp.’s perceived lack of commitment to OpenOffice decided to split and create LibreOffice. Oracle handed off the OpenOffice project to the Apache Software Foundation earlier this year, leaving some concerned that it would languish as many developers joined LibreOffice instead.

Now, it looks like much of that concern was justified. Just as LibreOffice is celebrating its first birthday and releasing major upgrades, OpenOffice –- apparently hurting for money after being dumped by Oracle – is planning a major fundraising campaign for this month.

Obviously, it’s too early to say that OpenOffice is in decline, and the project will almost certainly generate large donations. But, now that it’s clear LibreOffice isn’t going away anytime soon, many users and developers could start turning away from OpenOffice.

What do you think? Will OpenOffice be revived by the Apache Foundation? Is having multiple open source office suite products good for end-users? If you switched from OpenOffice to LibreOffice, why? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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