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Oct 24

LibreOffice… OpenOffice, in a new coat…

If you don’t want to buy Microsoft Office for your computer (or, if you’re running Linux or another operating system, where Microsoft Office isn’t available), what do you for a word processor or a spreadsheet? Or a presentation module? Or even a desktop database? Well, for about ten years, the prime option has been OpenOffice. Sponsored by Sun Microsystems, when Oracle took Sun over a separate foundation span off to continue its development as a self-sufficient, self-supporting foundation, similar to the Mozilla foundation, which acts as custodian for Firefox, Thunderbird and other projects.

LibreOffice is great – it feels (according to my completely unscientific measurements) just a little bit faster and more stable than OpenOffice. The Word Processor is still very usable – the navigator function really is a step ahead of Word, allowing you to bring up a list of headings in the document and navigate around them with ease. You can also bring up a list of styles, and I dock both of these at the right hand side of the document, meaning that LibreOffice writer as a productivity tool is great – if you’re not used to Office 2007’s ribbon yet (something on which opinion is still divided), Libre Office’s familiar toolbars will provide you some comfort.

Calc, the spreadsheet module, handles most of what you will ever need to do in Excel. Even Visual Basic modules written in Excel can be converted – although with a little effort, and the presentation module supports most of what people use from PowerPoint, even if doesn’t have as many templates available.

The database module is a pretty handy little tool. While it doesn’t have a built-in database engine, and therefore can’t be considered a direct replacement for Access in that regard, it does allow the creation of forms, and connection to databases via industry-standard methods such as ODBC or JDBC.

Whether the split was due to politics, due to continuing to pursue the agenda laid down ten years ago by Sun, or simply due to different ideas among the board members, the split has provided something interesting. For years, Sun have required that contributors donate any copyright in changes that they make to the suite back to the company (a practice that Oracle are continuing), so that they can incorporate them into the commercial product, Oracle Open Office (formerly called “Star Office”). While this makes sense from a commercial viewpoint, it’s not the usual practice for open source projects.

LibreOffice, the Document Foundation’s “fork” (as in “fork in the road”) of OpenOffice, is intended to be completely free and open, and copyright in contributions remains with the contributors, meaning that open source developers feel more comfortable contributing to the project.

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  1. avatar
    Backlinks

    I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

    1. avatar
      simon

      No, hand-built the way we wanted it. Not finished yet, actually, but getting there :)

  2. avatar
    Phlebotomy Certification

    My partner and I really enjoyed reading this blog post, I was just itching to know do you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find someone to make trades with and merely thought I would ask.

    1. avatar
      simon

      We haven’t yet. What exactly we could contribute to a phlebotomy site regarding free stuff I don’t know… Drop us an email at webmaster@emudir.com if you want to discuss it :)

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