By: Roger Whitehead, Director, Office Futures
Published: 28th February 2012
Copyright Office Futures © 2012
Intel Corporation has become a member of the advisory board for The Document Foundation (TDF), the body behind the LibreOffice project. A TDF announcement on 23 February 2012 gave some details. Intel joins Google, Red Hat, SUSE (these days part of the Attachmate Group) and over 140 other corporate supporters of this open source software.
Also, Intel will distribute LibreOffice through its AppUp application software depot. The software is on there, despite some rumours otherwise in the press, but there’s no mention of the deal with TDF on Intel’s American or German (see below) Web sites.
A few days earlier, The Document Foundation announced that it has become a rechtsfähige Stiftung des bürgerlichen Rechts trust, established in Berlin. This roughly translates as “independent foundation under civil law” and should give the Foundation stability and freedom from unwanted interference. Both are, of course, important to the future of the project and to its standing with customers and partners. The TDF press release is here, with some background on the TDF blog.
The third piece of news, in what has been a busy month for TDF, is the launch of version 3.5 of LibreOffice. There’s a page on its new features here. None of them is major but, in concert, the changes help make the software more suited to modern demands. Cloud and mobile versions are on their way.
ZDNet UK has reviewed the Windows version of LibreOffice 3.5 but wasn’t impressed. That’s inevitable if you view it only as a replacement for Microsoft Office. Even then, as one commenter says: “LibreOffice would be a good alternative for the 90% of people that use 10% of MS Office's features.” I think it also scores higher when looked at as an office suite for Linux machines.
The software is available from here. It is, of course, free. (You might, as I did, enjoy the irony that the "built-in" help for the Windows version is a separate download.) I found no problems with downloading (200 Mbytes) or installing the Windows version but have not had time to test the new release.
In June 2011, I mentioned that Oracle had passed control of the OpenOffice.org code to the Apache Software Foundation Incubator project. Making the move compelled changes not only to administrative arrangements but also to the licensing method and the way code is hosted. This absorbed effort that would otherwise have gone on development but seems to have been managed successfully.
Juergen Schmidt was one of the StarOffice team and is still working on OpenOffice. At the end of 2011, he posted some thoughts on the changeover to Apache on the Foundation’s blog. See “OpenOffice Grandfather's Private Thoughts”. (The blog software doesn’t seem to offer permalinks.) He clearly regrets the split with LibreOffice.
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