LibreOffice uses the international ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument file format as its native format to save documents for all of its applications (as do its OpenOffice.org cousins Apache OpenOffice and NeoOffice). The OpenDocument file format is now also supported by all major competing office suite applications (proprietary and open source). LibreOffice is also compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, through a variety of import/export filters. The file formats of Microsoft Office are well supported, though some layout features and formatting attributes are handled differently in the application or are not entirely supported in the filters. LibreOffice is available in over 110 languages and for a variety of computing platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or newer, and Linux. It is the default office suite of most popular Linux distributions.
Between January 2011 (the first stable release) and October 2011, LibreOffice was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times. During 2012, the office suite was downloaded about 15 million times and in 2013 it was downloaded 25 million times.
Math: An application designed for creating and editing mathematical formulae. The application uses a variant of XML for creating formulas, as defined in the OpenDocument specification. These formulas can be incorporated into other documents in the LibreOffice suite, such as those created by Writer or Calc, by embedding the formulas into the document.
A database management program, similar to Microsoft Access. LibreOffice Base allows the creation and management of databases, preparation of forms and reports that provide end users easy access to data. Like Access, it can be used to create small embedded databases that are stored with the document files (using Java-based HSQLDB as its storage engine), and for more demanding tasks it can also be used as a front-end for various database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC/JDBC data sources, and MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access.
LibreOffice is officially developed for Microsoft Windows (IA-32), Linux (IA-32 and x86-64) and OS X (IA-32). Community ports for FreeBSD,NetBSD, and OpenBSD are maintained by contributors to those projects, respectively. A community port for OpenIndiana is in development.
In 2011, plans were announced to port LibreOffice to both Android and iOS. A-EON Technology announced in 2012 that a port of LibreOffice is underway for their AmigaOne X1000 computer running the latest AmigaOS.
LibreOffice Online will allow for the use of LibreOffice through a web browser by using the canvas element of HTML5. Development was announced in October 2011 and is ongoing. It has not yet been released.
LibreOffice can use the GStreamer multimedia framework in Linux to render multimedia content such as videos in Impress and other programs.
Visually, LibreOffice uses 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. They are also used on the toolbars and menus by default.
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.
LibreOffice has a feature similar to WordArt called Fontwork.
The LibreOffice project uses a dual LGPLv3 (or later) / MPL 2.0 license for new contributions to allow the license to be upgraded. 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.
LibreOffice supports third-party extensions. As of June 2013[update], the LibreOffice Extension Repository lists more than 190 extensions. Another list is maintained by Apache OpenOffice and one by the Free Software Foundation.
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, and put forward a more detailed proposal in 2001.
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. It was also the standard build mechanism for OpenOffice.org in most Linux distributions and was contributed to by said distributions.
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), 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.
Sun's contributions to OpenOffice.org had been declining for some time, they remained reluctant to accept contributions 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.
Sun was purchased by Oracle Corporation in early 2010. OpenOffice.org community members were concerned at Oracle's behaviour towards open source software, the Java lawsuit against Google and Oracle's lack of activity on or visible commitment to OpenOffice.org, as had been noted by industry observers — as Meeks put it in early September 2010, "The news from the Oracle OpenOffice conference was that there was no news." Discussion of a fork started soon after.
The Document Foundation and LibreOffice
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.
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. 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.
It was originally hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional, as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. Oracle rejected requests to donate the OpenOffice.org brand to the project and demanded that all members of the OpenOffice.org Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the OOo Community Council, citing a conflict of interest.
LibreOffice was initially named BrOffice in Brazil. OpenOffice.org was distributed as BrOffice.org by the BrOffice Centre of Excellence for Free Software because of a trademark issue.
End of OpenOffice.org
Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was ending its development of OpenOffice.org and would lay off the majority of its paid developers. In June 2011, Oracle announced 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, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth blamed The Document Foundation for destroying OpenOffice.org because it did not license code under Oracle's Contributor License Agreement. 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.
Timeline of major derivatives of StarOffice and OpenOffice.org. LibreOffice is in green.
History after the establishment of The Document Foundation
Two different major versions of LibreOffice are available at any time. LibreOffice designates the two release branches as:
"Fresh" (containing the latest enhancements)
"Still", formerly "Stable" (catering to users who prefer stability) to signal their appropriateness for differing user profiles.
LibreOffice uses a time-based release schedule for predictability, rather than a "when it's ready" schedule. There has been a major release approximately every four to eight months, with the intention to do so every six months (eventually in March and September, with the intention of aligning it with other free software projects). A minor bugfix version of the current and some previous release branches is released each month.
LibreOffice 4.4 adds the libre-licensed Caladea and Carlito fonts (Huerta Tipográfica). Caladea and Carlito have the same metrics and proportions as Microsoft’s Cambria and Calibri, respectively, so they can be used as drop-in replacements.
Images are now scaled proportionally by default in Calc and Impress/Draw as they were already in Writer
New Color Selector:
Shows recently used document colours
Support for different color palettes and for .gpl GIMP palette format
Allows to directly open the color picker and choose another colour
Added the ability to import files from MacDraw, MacDraw II and RagTime for Mac (v. 2-3) in Draw and Writer
Users and deployments
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 Mac 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. In September 2013, after two years, the estimated number of LibreOffice users was 75 million. A million new unique IP addresses check for downloads each week.
The Document Foundation has set a target of 200 million users worldwide before the end of 2020.
LibreOffice has seen various mass deployments since its inception:
In 2003-2004, the Brazilian corporation Serpro started migrating its software to BrOffice (the local version of LibreOffice at the time), with estimated value of BRL 3.5 billion (approximately US$1.2 billion at the time), and became a case study for similar initiatives in Brazil, particularly in e-government.
In 2005, the French Military Police announced its migration to OpenOffice.org. It is currently migrating to a customised version of Ubuntu with LibreOffice (target for 2015: 72,000 desktop machines).
In 2010, the Irish city of Limerick gradually started migrating to open-source solutions to free itself from vendor lock-in and improve its purchase negotiation power. One of the key aspects of this move has been the use of LibreOffice.
In 2011, the administrative authority of the Île-de-France region (which includes the city of Paris) included LibreOffice in a USB flash drive given to students which contains free open source software. The USB flash drive is given to approximately 800,000 students.
In 2011, it was announced that thirteen hospitals of the Copenhagen region would gradually switch to LibreOffice, affecting "almost all of the 25,000 workers".
In July 2012, the Spanish city of Las Palmas switched its 1200 PCs to using LibreOffice, citing cost savings of €400,000.
In 2012, the administration of Umbria, Italy, started a project to migrate an initial group of 5000 civil workers to LibreOffice.
The city of Largo, Florida, US has been a long-time user of open-source software using Linux thin clients. Originally using OpenOffice.org, the city of Largo switched to LibreOffice in 2013.
In June 2013 the government of the Italian province of South Tyrol will be switching 7000 PCs in administration and "many more thousands" of PCs in health services using LibreOffice and ODF.
In August 2013, the administration of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia has completed the migration of all 120,000 PCs of the administration, including schools and courts, to LibreOffice.
In 2013, the German city of Munich announced that it would transition from OpenOffice to LibreOffice in the near future. This is in line with Munich's long term commitment to using open source software. Munich uses LiMux, an Ubuntu Linux derivative, on nearly all of the city's 15,000 computers.
In 2014, the French city of Toulouse announced it saved 1 million euro by migrating thousands of workstations to LibreOffice.