LibreOffice gets milestone 3.3 release

LibreOffice 3.3, the fork of OpenOffice, has been released for download and promises additional features and cleaner code than its Oracle-backed counterpart
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

The first stable release of LibreOffice, which forked from OpenOffice four months ago, has been released for free download.

LibreOffice 3.3, announced on Tuesday, is the first milestone release of the open-source productivity suite from The Document Foundation since it split from the Oracle-led OpenOffice consortium in September. The release brings new features as well as popular options found in OpenOffice 3.3, according to the foundation.

LibreOffice 3.3 banner

The Document Foundation has made a full release of LibreOffice available for download. Photo credit: The Document Foundation

"We are excited: this is our very first stable release, and therefore we are eager to get user feedback, which will be integrated as soon as possible into the code, with the first enhancements being released in February," Caolan McNamara from Red Hat, one of the developer community leaders, said in a Document Foundation statement.

Among the new features in LibreOffice 3.3 are the ability to import and work with SVG graphics files, and easier formatting and navigation tools when using Writer, the word-processing component of the package. There are also bundled extensions for importing PDFs, making slide-show presentations and other tasks.

The Document Foundation said that as well as providing new features and cleaner code — redundant comments and features have been translated from German and stripped out — LibreOffice 3.3 will support all of the new features of OpenOffice 3.3.

The community-led LibreOffice project relies heavily on voluntary donations of time and coding expertise to drive development, which makes its launch ahead of schedule all the more surprising, according to the organisation. In future, the update arrival schedule will be more dependable, it promised.

Release schedule

"Starting from March, we will be moving to a real time-based, predictable, transparent and public release schedule, in accordance with [the] Engineering Steering Committee's goals and users' requests," McNamara said.

The project plans to put out major releases every six months and to eventually time these to coincide with the March/September rhythm typical of the free software community, it said in a scheduling post on its wiki. The next major version, 3.4.0, is set for May — though it may be renamed.

LibreOffice is available to download for free from The Document Foundation's website for Windows, Mac or Linux. The Windows installer now includes all supported languages in one package and is a 215MB download.

The Document Foundation was formed in September as an offshoot of the OpenOffice project and is comprised of members from Novell, Red Hat and Debian, among others.

Oracle, which bought Sun — the original developers of OpenOffice — in January 2009, was also invited to join the LibreOffice development effort, but has since shown lacklustre support.

Both Red Hat and Ubuntu have pledged to support LibreOffice, which is reportedly in alpha testing in Ubuntu. In addition, the Linux distribution Pardus 2011 includes LibreOffice as its office suite by default.

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