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LibreOffice Logo Flat.svg
LibreOffice Writer 5.0.png
LibreOffice 5.0 Writer
Original author(s) StarDivision
Developer(s) The Document Foundation
Initial release 25 January 2011; 4 years ago (2011-01-25)
Stable release
  • "Fresh" version:
    5.0.2 (September 23, 2015; 15 days ago (2015-09-23)[1]) [±]
  • "Still" version:
    4.4.5 (July 30, 2015; 2 months ago (2015-07-30)[1]) [±]
Preview release
  • "Beta" version:
    5.0.2 RC2 (September 19, 2015; 19 days ago (2015-09-19)[2]) [±]
    4.4.6 RC1 (October 5, 2015; 3 days ago (2015-10-05)[3]) [±]
Development status Active
Written in C++, Java, and Python[4]
Operating system Linux, Windows, OS X,[5] FreeBSD, NetBSD, Android (Viewer)
Platform IA-32, x86-64, ARMel, ARMhf, MIPS, MIPSel, Sparc, S390, S390x, IA-64 (additional Debian platforms)[6]
Available in 110 languages[7]
Type Office suite
License GNU LGPLv3 with new contributions dual-licensed under MPLv2.0[8]

LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite, developed by The Document Foundation. It was forked from in 2010, which was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice. The LibreOffice suite comprises programs for word processing, the creation and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, working with databases, and composing mathematical formulae.

LibreOffice uses the international ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument file format as its native format to save documents for all of its applications (as do its cousins Apache OpenOffice and NeoOffice). The OpenDocument file format is now also supported by all major competing office suite applications (proprietary and open source). LibreOffice is also compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office,[9] through a variety of import/export filters. The file formats of Microsoft Office are well supported, though some layout features and formatting attributes are handled differently in the application or are not entirely supported in the filters.[10] LibreOffice is available in 110 languages[7] and for a variety of computing platforms,[5] including Microsoft Windows, OS X (10.8 or newer), and Linux (including a LibreOffice Viewer for Android[11]). It is the default office suite of most popular Linux distributions.[12][13][14][15]

Between January 2011 (the first stable release) and October 2011, LibreOffice was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times.[16] The project claims 120 million unique downloading addresses from May 2011 to May 2015, excluding Linux distributions, with 55 million of those being from May 2014 to May 2015.[17]


Included applications[edit]

Module Notes
LibreOffice 4.0 Writer Icon.svg Writer A word processor with similar functionality and file support to Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. It has extensive WYSIWYG word processing capabilities, but can also be used as a basic text editor.[9]
LibreOffice 4.0 Calc Icon.svg Calc A spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. It has a number of unique features, including a system which automatically defines series of graphs, based on information available to the user.[9][18]
LibreOffice 4.0 Impress Icon.svg Impress A presentation program resembling Microsoft PowerPoint. Presentations can be exported as SWF files, allowing them to be viewed on any computer with Adobe Flash installed.[9][19]
LibreOffice 4.0 Draw Icon.svg Draw A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It provides connectors between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It also includes features similar to desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher.[20]
LibreOffice 4.0 Math Icon.svg Math An application designed for creating and editing mathematical formulae. The application uses a variant of XML for creating formulas, as defined in the OpenDocument specification. These formulas can be incorporated into other documents in the LibreOffice suite, such as those created by Writer or Calc, by embedding the formulas into the document.[21]
LibreOffice 4.0 Base Icon.svg Base A database management program, similar to Microsoft Access. LibreOffice Base allows the creation and management of databases, preparation of forms and reports that provide end users easy access to data. Like Access, it can be used to create small embedded databases that are stored with the document files (using Java-based HSQLDB as its storage engine), and for more demanding tasks it can also be used as a front-end for various database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC/JDBC data sources, and MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access.[9][22]

Work is ongoing to transition the embedded storage engine from HSQLDB to the C++ based Firebird SQL backend. Firebird has been included in LibreOffice as an experimental option since LibreOffice 4.2.[23][24]

Operating systems[edit]

The Document Foundation developers target LibreOffice for Microsoft Windows (IA-32 and x86-64), Linux (IA-32 and x86-64) and OS X (x86-64).[25] Community ports for FreeBSD,[26] NetBSD,[27] and OpenBSD receive support from contributors to those projects, respectively.[28][29][30] A community port for OpenIndiana is in development.[31]

LibreOffice Online will allow for the use of LibreOffice through a web browser by using the canvas element of HTML5. Development was announced at the first LibreOffice Conference in October 2011 and is ongoing.[32] As of 2015 LibreOffice Online has not yet been released.[33]

A-EON Technology announced in 2012 that a port of LibreOffice is underway for their AmigaOne X1000 computer running the latest AmigaOS.[34]

In 2011 developers announced plans to port LibreOffice both to Android and to iOS.[33] A beta version of a document viewer for Android 4.0 or newer was released in January 2015.[11] In May 2015 a document viewer was released with basic editing capabilities.[35]

In January 2015 a LibreOffice Impress remote app was unveiled[36] for the Pebble smartwatch.[37]

Unique features of LibreOffice[edit]

A detailed 60-page report in June 2015 compared the progress of the LibreOffice project with its cousin project Apache OpenOffice. It showed that "OpenOffice received about 10% of the improvements LibreOffice did in the period of time studied."[38]

Supported file formats[edit]

Miscellaneous features[edit]

LibreOffice can use the GStreamer multimedia framework in Linux to render multimedia content such as videos in Impress and other programs.

Visually, LibreOffice uses the large "Tango style" icons that are used for the application shortcuts, quick launch icons, icons for associated files and for the icons found on the toolbar of the LibreOffice programs.[49][50] They are also used on the toolbars and menus by default.

LibreOffice also ships with a modified theme which looks native on GTK-based Linux distributions. It also renders fonts via Cairo on Linux distributions; this means that text in LibreOffice is rendered the same as the rest of the Linux desktop.[51]

LibreOffice has a feature similar to WordArt called Fontwork.[52]


The LibreOffice project uses a dual LGPLv3 (or later) / MPL 2.0 license for new contributions to allow the license to be upgraded.[53] Since the core of the codebase was donated to the Apache Software Foundation, there is an ongoing effort to get all the code rebased to ease future license updates. At the same time, there were complaints that IBM had not in fact released the Lotus Symphony code as open source, despite having claimed to. It was reported that some LibreOffice developers wanted to incorporate some code parts and bug fixes which IBM already fixed in their OpenOffice fork.[54]

Scripting and extensions[edit]

LibreOffice supports third-party extensions.[55] As of April 2015, the LibreOffice Extension Repository lists more than 280 extensions.[56] Another list is maintained by the Apache Software Foundation[57] and another one by the Free Software Foundation.[58] Extensions and scripts for LibreOffice can be written in C++, Java, CLI, Python, and LibreOffice Basic. Interpreters for the latter two are bundled with most LibreOffice installers, so no additional installation is needed. The application programming interface for LibreOffice is called "UNO" and is extensively documented.[59]

LibreOffice Basic[edit]

LibreOffice Basic is a programming language similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) but based on StarOffice Basic. It is available in Writer, Calc and Base. It is used to write small programs known as "macros", with each macro performing a different task, such as counting the words in a paragraph.[60]


A timeline of major derivatives of StarOffice and LibreOffice is in green.

ooo-build, Go-oo and Oracle[edit]

Members of the community who were not Sun Microsystems employees had wanted a more egalitarian form for the project for many years; Sun had stated in the original announcement in 2000 that the project would eventually be run by a neutral foundation,[61] and put forward a more detailed proposal in 2001.[62]

Ximian and then Novell had maintained the ooo-build patch set, a project led by Michael Meeks, to make the build easier on Linux and due to the difficulty of getting contributions accepted upstream by Sun, even from corporate partners. It tracked the main line of development and was not intended to constitute a fork.[63] It was also the standard build mechanism for in most Linux distributions[64] and was contributed to by said distributions.[65]

In 2007, ooo-build was made available by Novell as a software package called Go-oo (ooo-build had used the domain name as early as 2005[66]), which included many features not included in upstream Go-oo also encouraged outside contributions, with rules similar to those later adopted for LibreOffice.[67]

Sun's contributions to had been declining for some time,[68] they remained reluctant to accept contributions[69] and contributors were upset at Sun releasing code to IBM for IBM Lotus Symphony under a proprietary contract, rather than under an open source licence.[70]

Sun was purchased by Oracle Corporation in early 2010. community members were concerned at Oracle's behaviour towards open source software,[71] the Java lawsuit against Google[72] and Oracle's withdrawal of developers[73] and lack of activity on or visible commitment to, as had been noted by industry observers[74] – as Meeks put it in early September 2010, "The news from the Oracle OpenOffice conference was that there was no news."[75] Discussion of a fork started soon after.[76]

The Document Foundation and LibreOffice[edit]

A timeline of LibreOffice history with major versions shown

On 28 September 2010, The Document Foundation was announced as the host of LibreOffice, a new derivative of The Document Foundation's initial announcement stated their concerns that Oracle would either discontinue, or place restrictions on it as an open source project, as it had on Sun's OpenSolaris.[77][78][79][80]

LibreOffice 3.3 beta used the ooo-build build infrastructure and the 3.3 beta code from Oracle, then adding selected patches from Go-oo.[81] Go-oo was discontinued in favour of LibreOffice. Since the office suite that was branded "" in most Linux distributions was in fact Go-oo, most moved immediately to LibreOffice.[82]

Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. However, Oracle demanded that all members of the Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the OOo Community Council, claiming a conflict of interest.[83]


The name "LibreOffice" was picked after researching trademark databases, social media and if it could be used for URLs in various countries.[84]

It was originally hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional, as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. However, Oracle rejected requests to donate the brand to the project.[85]

LibreOffice was initially named BrOffice in Brazil. was distributed as by the BrOffice Centre of Excellence for Free Software because of a trademark issue.[86]

End of and beginning of Apache OpenOffice[edit]

Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was ending its development of and would lay off the majority of its paid developers.[87] In June 2011, Oracle announced[88] that it would donate the code and trademark to the Apache Software Foundation, where the project was accepted for a project incubation process within the foundation, thus becoming Apache OpenOffice. In an interview with LWN, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth in 2011 blamed The Document Foundation for destroying because it did not license code under Oracle's Contributor License Agreement.[89] But former Sun executive Simon Phipps denies this is the case:

The act of creating The Document Foundation and its LibreOffice project did no demonstrable harm to Oracle's business. There is no new commercial competition to Oracle Open Office (their commercial edition of OO.o) arising from LibreOffice. No contributions that Oracle valued were ended by its creation. Oracle's ability to continue development of the code was in no way impaired. Oracle's decision appears to be simply that, after a year of evaluation, the profit to be made from developing Oracle Open Office and Oracle Cloud Office did not justify the salaries of over 100 senior developers working on them both. Suggesting that TDF was in some way to blame for a hard-headed business decision that seemed inevitable from the day Oracle's acquisition of Sun was announced is at best disingenuous.[90]

In March 2015, an comparison of LibreOffice with its cousin project Apache OpenOffice concluded that "LibreOffice has won the battle for developer participation".[91]

Release history[edit]


Two different major released versions of LibreOffice, in addition to development versions (numbered release candidates and dated nightly builds), are available at any time. The versions are designated to signal their appropriateness for differing user requirements. Releases are designated by three numbers separated by dots. The first number is the major version (branch) number, the second one usually indicates small changes, and the final one bugfixes.[118] LibreOffice designates the two release versions as:

  • "Fresh" – the most recent bugfix release of the current major version (branch), which contains the latest enhancements but may have bugs not present in the "still" release.
  • "Still" (formerly "Stable") – the final bugfix of the previous major version, which has had several months of bug fixing and is recommended for users for whom stability is more important than enhancements. For example, in September 2015, 5.0.2 was the fresh release, 4.4.5 the still release.

Release schedule[edit]

LibreOffice uses a time-based release schedule for predictability, rather than a "when it's ready" schedule. There has been a major release approximately every four to eight months, with the intention to do so every six months (eventually in March and September, with the intention of aligning it with other free software projects).[119] A minor bugfix version of the current and previous release branches is released each month.

Users and deployments[edit]

The Document Foundation estimated in September 2011 that there were 10 million users worldwide who had obtained LibreOffice via downloads or CD-ROMs. Over 90% of those were on Windows, with another 5% on Mac OS X. LibreOffice is the default office suite for most Linux distributions, and is installed when the operating system is installed or updated. Based on International Data Corporation reckonings for new or updated Linux installations in 2011, The Document Foundation estimated a subtotal of 15 million Linux users. This gave a total estimated user base of 25 million users in 2011.[120] In September 2013, after two years, the estimated number of LibreOffice users was 75 million.[121] A million new unique IP addresses check for downloads each week.[122]

The Document Foundation has set a target of 200 million users worldwide before the end of 2020.[120]

LibreOffice has seen various mass deployments since its inception:

  • In 2003–2004, the Brazilian corporation Serpro started migrating its software to BrOffice (the local version of LibreOffice at the time), with estimated value of BRL 3.5 million (approximately US$1.2 million at the time), and became a case study for similar initiatives in Brazil, particularly in e-government.[123]
  • In 2005, the French Gendarmerie announced its migration to[124] It is currently migrating to a customised version of Ubuntu with LibreOffice (target for 2015: 72,000 desktop machines).[125]
  • In 2010, the Irish city of Limerick gradually started migrating to open-source solutions to free itself from vendor lock-in and improve its purchase negotiation power. One of the key aspects of this move has been the use of LibreOffice.[126]
  • In 2011, the administrative authority of the Île-de-France region (which includes the city of Paris) included LibreOffice in a USB flash drive given to students which contains free open source software. The USB flash drive is given to approximately 800,000 students.[33][127]
  • In 2011, it was announced that thirteen hospitals of the Copenhagen region would gradually switch to LibreOffice, affecting "almost all of the 25,000 workers".[128]
  • In 2012, the Greek city of Pylaia-Chortiatis migrated its PCs to use LibreOffice. The local Linux User Group estimated cost savings to be at least 70,000 euros.[129]
  • In July 2012, the Spanish city of Las Palmas switched its 1200 PCs to using LibreOffice, citing cost savings of €400,000.[130]
  • In 2012, the administration of Umbria, Italy, started a project to migrate an initial group of 5000 civil workers to LibreOffice.[131]
  • The city of Largo, Florida, US has been a long-time user[132] of open-source software using Linux thin clients. Originally using, the city of Largo switched to LibreOffice in 2013.[133]
  • In June 2013 the government of the Italian province of South Tyrol will be switching 7000 PCs in administration and "many more thousands" of PCs in health services using LibreOffice and ODF.[134]
  • In August 2013, the administration of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia has completed the migration of all 120,000 PCs of the administration, including schools and courts, to LibreOffice.[135]
  • In 2013, the German city of Munich announced that it would transition from OpenOffice to LibreOffice in the near future. This is in line with Munich's long term commitment to using open source software. Munich uses LiMux, an Ubuntu Linux derivative, on nearly all of the city's 15,000 computers.[136][137]
  • In 2014, the French city of Toulouse announced it saved 1 million euro by migrating thousands of workstations to LibreOffice.[138][139]
  • In 2015, the Italian Ministry of Defence announced that it would install LibreOffice on 150,000 PCs.[140]
  • In 2015 the Italian city of Bari replaced Microsoft Office with LibreOffice on its 1,700 PCs.[141]

The LibreOffice Conference[edit]

Starting in 2011, The Document Foundation has organized the annual LibreOffice Conference as follows:

  • 2011 – Paris, France – 12–15 October[142]
  • 2012 – Berlin, Germany – 17–19 October[143]
  • 2013 – Milano, Italy – 24–27 September[144]
  • 2014 – Bern, Switzerland – 3–5 September[145]
  • 2015 – Aarhus, Denmark – 23–25 September[146]

The next LibreOffice Conference will take place in Brno, Czech Republic.[147]


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External links[edit]