Ubuntu opts for LibreOffice over Oracle's OpenOffice

The popular Linux distribution has elected to go with the new LibreOffice office suite over Oracle's OpenOffice.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

The Ubuntu developers met last week in Dallas to make final design decisions about the popular Linux distribution’s features and decided to use LibreOffice for its office suite.

This comes as no surprise to Ubuntu watchers. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth told me back when LibreOffice developers were forking away from Oracle’s OpenOffice had told me that, “The Ubuntu Project will be pleased to ship LibreOffice from The Document Foundation in future releases of Ubuntu.” It wasn’t a sure thing though that Ubuntu 11.04, aka Natty Narwhal, due out on April 28th, would have LibreOffice. It is now.

First, Canonical started packing LibreOffice in the daily alpha releases of Ubuntu 11.04, but I decided to check further. So, I gave Canonical a call and Neil Levine, Canonical’s VP of corporate services told me that the Ubuntu developer team had indeed decided to make LibreOffice its default office suite over OpenOffice.

This decision means that Ubuntu will probably be the first major Linux distribution to release a Linux that uses LibreOffice. It won’t be the last. Red Hat’s community Linux distribution, Fedora has also decided to use LibreOffice. Fedora will release this in Fedora 15 due out on May 10th. According to the Fedora LibreOffice development documentation, the Fedora programmers are doing this because, “LibreOffice can continue without hampering from Oracle should it decide to kill the project like it did to OpenSolaris.”

Novell’s openSUSE has also decided to use LibreOffice. Since many Novell and openSUSE developers also work on LibreOffice that comes as no surprise. In theory, openSUSE should be the first Linux to arrive with LibreOffice since its release date was set for March 10th, but the acquisition of Novell by Attachmate seems to be slowing them down a bit.

There seems to be little chance that Oracle would do that to OpenOffice. Well, not any time soon anyway. The next version of Oracle OpenOffice, 3.3, should be out within the next month or two. On the other hand, Oracle has also announced a cloud-based office suite, Oracle Cloud Office. Will Oracle continue to support both? We just don’t know yet.

What we do know though is that first Ubuntu, then Red Hat and Fedora and Novell and openSUSE will be releasing Linux distributions without OpenOffice.

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