by Swapnil Bhartiya

LibreOffice celebrates its 6th anniversary with bug fixes and minor improvements

News Analysis
Sep 29, 2016
Office SuitesOpen SourceProductivity Software

What started as an OpenOffice fork has become a major open source project.

LibreOffice is a free and open source suite of office applications that’s available for many different operating systems including BSD, Linux Desktop, macOS and Windows. LibreOffice seems to be the only open source productivity software that’s available across all of these platforms.

A very brief history of LibreOffice

When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems there were concerns about the future of major open source projects like MySQL and “Monty” Widenius, the founder of MySQL forked the project the day Oracle announced acquisition and created MariaDB. The community set-up The Document Foundation (TDF) to ensure continued development of OpenOffice. However, friction between The Document Foundation and Oracle led to the fork of that was named LibreOffice. A majority of developers and community members joined The Document Foundation and started working on LibreOffice.

LibreOffice was announced on September 28, 2010. I was one of the first two journalists that covered the LibreOffice announcement. According to the official Wiki of the Document foundation

The Document Foundation started on 28 September 2010. Ben Woods and Swapnil Bhartiya were the first to publisharticles about LibreOffice, far in advance of other writers.

Later, Oracle shut down and donated the codebase and trademark to the Apache Software Foundation. However, since a majority of the community joined LibreOffice, the future of Apache OpenOffice was bleak. On September 1, 2016, Apache OpenOffice Vice President Dennis Hamilton sent out an email expressing the possibility of retiring the project. Hamilton wrote, “I cannot make a prediction how this will all work out. It is remiss of me not to point out that retirement of the project is a serious possibility.”

A star open source project

LibreOffice has come a long way in the past six years. After forking the project, the primary concern of TDF was the codebase. In my initial interviews, Italo Vignoli, one of the co-founders of the Document Foundation, said that their priority was to clean up the LibreOffice codebase that they inherited from Once the codebase was cleaned up and modernized, developers started polishing the interface and porting it to mobile platforms like Android and iOS.

But TDF’s achievements go beyond just the codebase of LibreOffice. In these six years LibreOffice has gained significant mindshare. Many European governments have adopted LibreOffice.

[Q&A: Italo Vignoli on the Italian Ministry of Defense’s move to LibreOffice ]

[The Dutch government is determined to speed up ODF adoption]

LibreOffice celebrated their 6th anniversary with the release of LibreOffice 5.2.2. It’s a minor release but comes with many bug fixes and improvements. They have already started working on the next major release of LibreOffice. “Starting from tomorrow, we will be focusing on the next major release – LibreOffice 5.3 – which will be launched at the end of January 2017, just before FOSDEM in Brussels,” wrote Vignoli on the Document Foundation blog.