LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

Summary: OpenOffice goes to Apache? So what! The Document Foundation has just released LibreOffice 3.4.0.

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OK, so Oracle did give OpenOffice's intellectual property (IP) to The Apache Foundation. So what! The Document Foundation (TDF), which forked OpenOffice into LibreOffice, isn't waving the white flag. Instead, the group has released its next major LibreOffice version: LibreOffice 3.4.

TDF proudly boasts that the latest LibreOffice "incorporates the contributions of over 120 developers (six times as many as the first beta released on the launch date)." And, that, "The majority of these contributors have started to hack LibreOffice code less than eight months ago, and this is an incredible achievement if one recalls that the OOo [OpenOffice.org] project has attracted a lower number of contributors in ten years."

How does LibreOffice do it? In a statement, Italo Vignoli, a TDF Steering Committee member said, "We care for our developers, and it shows. Our core developers have invented the mechanism of the easy hacks, which makes it simple and enjoyable for volunteer contributors to get to know LibreOffice code challenging their development skills with basic or elementary tasks."

This is the same approach that the Linux Driver Project uses. By starting developers with simple problems and helping them work those out they learn how to create better software.

Michael Meeks, a senior SUSE Linux developer and leading LibreOffice programmer said, "Once they have completed the first easy hacks, contributors are ready to scale to more difficult tasks. We spend quite a lot of time mentoring new contributors, in order to increase the number of people working on bug fixing, patches and features. This is soon going to be reflected in the quality of the software and the number of new features of future releases."

So how have they improved LibreOffice this time and what new features have been added? Most of the work in this version seems to be improvements rather than standout features.

True, LibreOffice 3.4.0 Calc, its answer to Microsoft Excel, is much faster and has improved Excel import compatibility.

Most of the changes though are cosmetic or under the hood. For example, the user interfaces of Writer; Impress, LibreOffice's take on PowerPoint; and Draw have been improved and a lot of junk code has been trimmed away.

TDF also states that "LibreOffice 3.4 is targeted to community members and power users, and should not be implemented in a corporate environment."

I've been using LibreOffice 3.4 on Mint Linux and Windows XP for several days so far and I haven't seen any problems. That said there are known problems.

The biggest of these, as I see it, is that if you try to save a spreadsheet to XLS you can lose formatting. I avoid that by almost always working in Open Document Format (ODF) Spreadsheet (.ods). If you're using LibreOffice and Microsoft Office in your office on spreadsheets, I'd certainly avoid it for now.

Indeed, TDF recommends that offices don't use LibreOffice until 3.4.1 appears. That's actually pretty good advice for any software release of any sort. In any case, TDF will support LibreOffice 3.3.x until the end of 2011.

Ready to give it to try? You can download the latest LibreOffice from the site. Enjoy!

Related Stories:

Oracle gives OpenOffice to Apache

Novell will continue to support LibreOffice

First LibreOffice Release arrives

Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

Ubuntu opts for LibreOffice over Oracle's OpenOffice

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Oracle, Software Development

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43 comments
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  • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

    I love what LibreOffice is doing, but you need to pay attention to the fact that, for whatever reason, release 3.4.0 is not considered a stable release. This is some peculiarity of the time-driven release scheme where *.*.0 is not stable on purpose (but there were already 2 *.*.0 betas).

    The only recommended stable release is 3.3.2 (which is achievement enough) and there is a 3.3.3rc1 in the wings.
    orcmid
    • I'd say none of the releases are stable for corp work

      Where are the replacements for MS OneNote, Visio and SharePoint? These are the new power office programs.

      They make a big deal about "taking care of their developers" but they really should be listening to what customers want.

      I know everybody here is just ga-ga about sticking it to Oracle, but the real world wants real alternatives free from political in-fighting. And so MS Office is the only product that delivers. The rest are late to the party and have lots of catching up to do!
      otaddy
      • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

        @otaddy Agreed. As one poster previously mentioned on another ZDNet blog, try listing LibreOffice on your resume and see if you get hired.
        statuskwo5
      • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

        @otaddy <br><br>BasKet is a good alternative for onenote. But it's not available for Windows. Instead of sharepoint, you can just as good use a FOSS CMS or if you want an easier solution, use DropBox. And for Visio, Draw will do for the major part of the users.<br><br>Anyway, I don't use any office programs any more. For documents and presentations I use LaTeX and pdf (which is the de facto standard if you want to spread documents), that's a lot easier to use if you want to write math. Instead of excel, I write my own little scripts. And access, well, that's not a real database management tool. Something like MySQL + php is a lot more powerfull.<br><br>But Open/Libreoffice does a good job in bringing a free alternative for Office. After all, you have the choice: if you want to pay for Office, I won't stop you, if you think LO is good enough for all your work, I won't stop you either. My choice is made and I don't think that I will change it quick.
        sanderd17
  • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

    Is there an update feature now, or do we still have to download the whole shebang for updates past 3.4.0?
    joeschmo1of3
    • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

      @joeschmo1of3
      If you are running Windows version yes you do need to down load the complete file, if running Linux version will be updated according to that Linux distro.
      daikon
  • I really don't see a point to use this,

    when the much better MS Office is just as free to use.
    If you're paying money to use any mass adopted MS products, then obviously you suck at IT in general.
    cym104
    • Sure .... it is free

      @cym104 .... and totally ILLEGAL.
      wackoae
      • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

        @wackoae

        So my posts keep being removed. But, if you know where to look, Microsoft software can be obtained for cheap, however, I'm not sure you can go about those means for corporate wide adoption.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

      @cym104 stealing MS products

      Yeah, that's a great idea if you want to lose your job and cost your office a whole lot of money. I pity your boss.
      boomchuck1
      • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

        @boomchuck1
        No need to worry here in China though ;-)
        cym104
  • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

    Wait for that idiot Linux Geek to come and troll
    shellcodes_coder
    • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

      @shellcodes_coder <br><br>Here is that idiot Linux Geek (seriously, I'm to stupid to use Windows) and I say: The choice is yours. use Office if you want to, use LO when you want to. That's what freedom is about.
      sanderd17
      • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

        @sanderd17 Obviously you must be new to ZDNet and have never met Linux Geek.
        statuskwo5
  • LO compatibility still sucks

    "The biggest of these, as I see it, is that if you try to save a spreadsheet to XLS you can lose formatting. I avoid that by almost always working in Open Document Format (ODF) Spreadsheet (.ods)."

    This has been the problem with OpenOffice/LibreOffice ever since I started using it (and I only used it when I must). Also, what's the point of saving it in .ods when we all know .xls/.xlsx is the "standard". Especially in business and school environments.
    statuskwo5
    • No kidding !!!

      @statuskwo5 I tried using LO last night ... it SUCKS!!!

      I used OpenOffice before and although not perfect, it doesn't suck as much as LibreOffice. I could not believe how bad the fork turned out to be.

      I think the Apache devs will do a hell of a lot better job when they assign a group to the OOo source. But for now, LO is no longer a free option I would suggest to anybody. I think that when someone needs an office suite for basic stuff (and don't have the money to get a LEGAL license of MSO), I will just tell them to download IBM Lotus Symphony.
      wackoae
      • It's about time!

        @wackoae

        I was beginning to think the trolls and shills had taken the day off!

        And those of us who have been using it successfully must be doing something wrong.
        zdnet@...
    • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

      @statuskwo5 ... Wow! You're just parroting without any real data behinid you, aren't you? That's definitely not what I see around this area!
      tomaaaaaa1
      • RE: LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

        @tom@... It's personal experience, plain and simple. What I don't see is OpenOffice/Libre Office being used in school or business environments. I never said one can't use it (I used it plenty of times), but there is a compatibility cost associated with it.
        statuskwo5
  • Keep your post count up Vaughan-Nichols

    Love the hyphenated name almost as much as I love the continued forks and splintering of all things Open Source...LOL.<br><br>I mean sure, I use Apache, Perl, PHP, MySQL, have used Python, thought about Ruby, Postgre is on my Radar... you get my drift. So other than server, db and scripting technologies what open source products/initiatives are widely accepted by any demographic?
    Raid6