​OpenOffice is dead. Long live LibreOffice

Yes, OpenOffice is dying. So what? Its successor, LibreOffice, is doing better than ever.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

If you read some stories about how OpenOffice is reaching the end of the road, you might think OpenOffice was becoming insecure. That's half true. OpenOffice doesn't have the programmers it needs to be safe. That's because all its good developers moved to its fork, LibreOffice, years ago. LibreOffice is as safe as any program can be.

OpenOffice Calc

OpenOffice has been dying for years now. We're just now arranging for the funeral.

Here's OpenOffice's recent story. In an email titled "What Would OpenOffice Retirement Involve?", Apache OpenOffice Vice President Dennis Hamilton wrote, "In the case of Apache OpenOffice, needing to disclose security vulnerabilities for which there is no mitigation in an update has become a serious issue."

Further, Hamilton said, "It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together."

That's no news to anyone who has followed the OpenOffice/LibreOffice saga. For example, LibreOffice saw 14 version updates last year, compared to one version update for OpenOffice in October 2015.

While, officially, OpenOffice isn't dead yet, for all practical purposes it's been a dead program running for years now.

It started when Oracle, then OpenOffice's sponsor, kicked out the LibreOffice programmers in 2010. With this move, Oracle not only got rid of the top OpenOffice developers, it helped build a wall between LibreOffice's code and OpenOffice.

Adding insult to injury, Oracle didn't invest in OpenOffice. Within a year, companies such as Canonical replaced OpenOffice with LibreOffice.

Then, Oracle finally gave up entirely on OpenOffice and dumped it on the Apache Software Foundation. Apache has fostered many great software programs. It's not an orphanage for abandonware, and by 2011, that's really what OpenOffice was.

Since then, OpenOffice has barely limped along. At the same time, The Document Foundation, has done excellent work with LibreOffice.

LibreOffice, which runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows, is a great desktop office suite. Besides open-source software fans, government agencies, such as the UK, France, and Italy, have moved to LibreOffice.

OpenOffice? It continued its slow death.

Last year, open-source supporters urged Apache to officially abandon OpenOffice. Christian Schaller, a Red Hat software engineering manager, said, "Letting users believe that OpenOffice is still alive and evolving is only damaging the general reputation of open source Office software among non-technical users." Therefore, "Apache should direct people who go to the openoffice.org website to the LibreOffice website instead."

Hamilton is only saying what people in the know already knew. OpenOffice is done. It's time for it to be put in the grave and to encourage everyone to use LibreOffice instead.

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