Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Introducing LibreOffice!

Those who have followed my blog for a long while are aware of my advocacy for the ODF (Open Document Format) and for OpenOffice.org. The support for ODF remains, but I'm switching my office software allegiance to LibreOffice.

I started using StarOffice on Linux 12 years ago. In 2001, having bought StarOffice, Sun Microsystems released a free version called OpenOffice.org. I've used that since the first day of its release. Though OpenOffice.org is excellent software, improvements have been slow in coming. Recently, Sun Microsystems was bought by Oracle, and it's been increasingly clear that the community developers who are best positioned to improve the software and fix bugs won't have the kind of freedom they would like to make those much-needed improvements.

Now, this is the beauty of Open Source. When you frustrated, you fork. If the road ahead is blocked, you simply build a new road around the obstruction. And this is a very good thing. At this moment, Oracle is the obstruction. LibreOffice starts as an unbranded version of OpenOffice.org 3, using the same code. But then it adds the support of The Free Software Foundation, Google, Novell, Red Hat, Canonical (Ubuntu). In addition, some of the leading developers of OpenOffice.org have moved to LibreOffice (People like Charles H. Schultz, Christoph Noack, and Cour Nouws)

Right now, LibreOffice looks a lot like OpenOffice.org. But as developers exercise their new-found freedom that won't remain the case for long. I'm very happy to support LibreOffice.