LibreOffice Wants Apache to Drop the Ailing OpenOffice and Support LibreOffice Instead

It is a no-brainer that Apache OpenOffice is still a relevant recommendation when we think about open source alternatives to Microsoft Office for Linux users. However, for the past several years, the development of OpenOffice is pretty much stale.

Of course, it is not a shocker, considering Abhishek wrote about the possibility of Apache OpenOffice shutting down back in 2016.

Now, in an open letter from The Document Foundation, they appeal Apache OpenOffice to recommend users to start using better alternatives like LibreOffice. In this article, I shall mention some highlights from the blog post by The Document Foundation and what it means to Apache OpenOffice.

LibreOffice OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice is History, LibreOffice is the Future?

Even though I didn’t use OpenOffice back in the day, it is safe to say that it is definitely not a modern open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. Not anymore, at least.

Yes, Apache OpenOffice is still something important for legacy users and was a great alternative a few years back.

Here’s the timeline of major releases for OpenOffice and LibreOffice:

Libre Office Open Office Derivatives

Now that there’s no significant development taking place for OpenOffice, what’s the future of Apache OpenOffice? A fairly active project with no major releases by the largest open source foundation?

It does not sound promising and that is exactly what The Document Foundation highlights in their open letter:

OpenOffice(.org) – the “father project” of LibreOffice – was a great office suite, and changed the world. It has a fascinating history, but since 2014, Apache OpenOffice (its current home) hasn’t had a single major release. That’s right – no significant new features or major updates have arrived in over six years. Very few minor releases have been made, and there have been issues with timely security updates too.

For an average user, if they don’t know about LibreOffice, I would definitely want them to know. But, should the Apache Foundation suggest OpenOffice users to try LibreOffice to experience a better or advanced office suite?

I don’t know, maybe yes, or no?

…many users don’t know that LibreOffice exists. The OpenOffice brand is still so strong, even though the software hasn’t had a significant release for over six years, and is barely being developed or supported

As mentioned in the open letter, The Document Foundation highlights the advantages/improvements of LibreOffice over OpenOffice and appeals to Apache OpenOffice that they start recommending their users to try something better (i.e. LibreOffice):

We appeal to Apache OpenOffice to do the right thing. Our goal should be to get powerful, up-to-date and well-maintained productivity tools into the hands of as many people as possible. Let’s work together on that!

What Should Apache OpenOffice Do?

If OpenOffice does the work, users may not need the effort to look for alternatives. So, is it a good idea to call out another project about their slow development and suggest them to embrace the future tools and recommend them instead?

In an argument, one might say it is only fair to promote your competition if you’re done and have no interest in improving OpenOffice. And, there’s nothing wrong in that, the open-source community should always work together to ensure that new users get the best options available.

On another side, one might say that The Document Foundation is frustrated about OpenOffice still being something relevant in 2020, even without any significant improvements.

I won’t judge, but I think these conflicting thoughts come to my mind when I take a look at the open letter.

Do you think it is time to put OpenOffice to rest and rely on LibreOffice?

Even though LibreOffice seems to be a superior choice and definitely deserves the limelight, what do you think should be done? Should Apache discontinue OpenOffice and redirect users to LibreOffice?

Your opinion is welcome.

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  • Rather than begging AOO to join them, LibreOffice should endeavour to approach the former exploring how Apache expertise can make LO more functional. Their aim should be on how to compete with MSOffice skill wise.

  • I enjoy testing apps and OS. so I have used both OO and LO. I am a fan of light, simple, stable and fast. The Libre Office Suite has too much going on in the window and I’m weary of hourly updates. Most of my friends just want a typewriter that plays music and plays well with a printer. I know that is asking a lot from programmers.

    • “too much going on in the window…”
      Agreed, and that’s in accord with my earlier comment in favour of an unchanging user interface, at least as an option.

      Different users of office suites want or need many different features. It ought to be possible to meet both requirements by offering a choice of UI, and by allowing the user to choose the features being presented.

      Setting up styles has been simplified in recent versions of LO Writer, but I still don’t think it meets the conceptual (not practical…) simplicity of LaTeX, where the user can start only by choosing a font and text-body font size, the harmony of what follows being left in the first instance to the typographer’s expertise.

      I’ve argued for a long time that user choices would better be presented in a tabular/spreadsheet format than with all those little windows with their numerous tabs. That way, the user can make changes starting at the top while visualising the appearance of a complete document.

    • Am trying to get both OO and LO on my Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon system. Have LO insalled and running but not able to get OO installation get pass the desktop integration. And also not getting the command to run OO from terminal as the command invokes libreoffice instead (soffice -calc).
      Any advise?

      • At least back in the day there were specific commands to open each program of the suite, like “oowriter”, “oocalc”, etc.

        In libreoffice they are “lowriter”, “localc” and so on. You can use this to open them from a terminal.

        • Thanks B,

          I removed Open Office altogether as it looked like 10 years behind in terms of user interface and other issues.

          Thanks for your time and help.

          Best Regards

  • OpenOffice can be anything like Long Term Support edition. Stable and not so modern, with minimum bugs.

    LibreOffice can be anything like frequently updated edition, with more modern inovations.