Saturday, July 23, 2011

LibreOffice, a free and Open Source productivity suite

Many people equate taking the plunge into Open Source as going to Linux and moving to a new operating system. With Microsoft Offering lower and lower prices on Windows software these days, mainly in developing countries, the incentive to make this move is getting less and less. 

But you may want to keep Windows and try an Open Source Office Suite,  LibreOffice.

LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a free software office suite developed by The Document Foundation as a fork of originated as StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free and open alternative. was an open-source version of the StarOffice suite, with development sponsored primarily by Sun Microsystems. Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, and available Linux, Mindows and the Mac operating systems.

LibreOffice is a complete productivity suite, which you can use to prepare documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The LibreOffice word processor is called Wirter, and the learning curve from other word processors is fairly easy. There is a bit more of a learning curve for the spreadsheet application called Calc, but a few days and you should feel right at home. LibreOffice also has a presentation creator. I do not use presentation creation applications so I cannot comment on that. The most confusing part for a new user will be that it saves in its own *.odt (documents) and *.ods (spreadsheets) format than the more common *.doc/*.rtf or *.xls format.

But this can be changed easily by going to Tools ---> Options ---> Load/Save ---> General.

There is one big advantage to using LibreOffice. I have been using OpenOffice and LibreOffice for collectively nine years now. Since it is compatible with Linux, Windows and the Mac operating systems, I can easily move from one operating system to another. By moving to applications which are compatible across platforms, I can easily move across platforms. That is save money is a bonus.

My desktop replacement laptop runs Fedora Linux, and my everyday carry machine is a MacBook Air. When it is time to replace the MacBook I will probably try a Windows laptop again. In my office we use a combination of Linux, Windows and Mac powered machines. It gets to the point that you are OS neutral. Absence of dependence on any platform gives me a sense of freedom which I like.

It is always good to have choices. LibreOffice is a viable alternative to proprietary Office Suites. 

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