The Phoenix rises….Hello LibreOffice!

♫ Finally the King is Dead, we cried off with his head
Everything must change (Everything must change), everything must change…♫

Music, Lyrics and Recorded by The Herd.




For those who were fans of the office suite: NeoOffice (for the Mac) or OpenOffice (for Windows), being free open source office productivity suites originally created by Sun Microsystems, you may be downhearted to hear that OpenOffice (and NeoOffice) are now officially dead. Sigh!

However, this is truly a case of “The King is Dead – Long Live the King!”. OpenOffice and NeoOffice live on – being open source software – in a new incarnation. LibreOffice.

For one, those of us who were fans can now refer to this new suite by one name – rather than two!

Secondly, this new suite will run under Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, …). It is also is available in more than 30 languages.

Third, it offers a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation application, a drawing application, a database and more. The only thing that it does not offer is an email/calendar application similar to MS Outlook.

I can attest to the stated benefits of LibreOffice:

LibreOffice is user-friendly:

  • You get a simple-to-use yet powerful interface that is easy to personalize – Microsoft Office users will find the switch easy and painless, with a familiar look and feel.
  • Compatible with all major competitors’ file formats. You can easily import files from Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and many other formats, and can easily save to Microsoft Office and other formats when needed.
  • LibreOffice is supported by a big worldwide community: volunteers help newcomers, and advanced users and developers can collaborate with you to find solutions to complex issues.

What are the features of LibreOffice?

Writer is the word processor inside LibreOffice. Use it for everything, from dashing off a quick letter to producing an entire book with tables of contents, embedded illustrations, bibliographies and diagrams. The while-you-type auto-completion, auto-formatting and automatic spelling checking make difficult tasks easy (but are easy to disable if you prefer). Writer is powerful enough to tackle desktop publishing tasks such as creating multi-column newsletters and brochures. The only limit is your imagination.

Calc tames your numbers and helps with difficult decisions when you’re weighing the alternatives. Analyze your data with Calc and then use it to present your final output. Charts and analysis tools help bring transparency to your conclusions. A fully-integrated help system makes easier work of entering complex formulas. Add data from external databases such as SQL or Oracle, then sort and filter them to produce statistical analyses. Use the graphing functions to display large number of 2D and 3D graphics from 13 categories, including line, area, bar, pie, X-Y, and net – with the dozens of variations available, you’re sure to find one that suits your project.

Impress is the fastest and easiest way to create effective multimedia presentations. Stunning animation and sensational special effects help you convince your audience. Create presentations that look even more professional than the standard presentations you commonly see at work. Get your collegues’ and bosses’ attention by creating something a little bit different.

Draw lets you build diagrams and sketches from scratch. A picture is worth a thousand words, so why not try something simple with box and line diagrams? Or else go further and easily build dynamic 3D illustrations and special effects. It’s as simple or as powerful as you want it to be.

Base is the database front-end of the LibreOffice suite. With Base, you can seamlessly integrate your existing database structures into the other components of LibreOffice, or create an interface to use and administer your data as a stand-alone application. You can use imported and linked tables and queries from MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access and many other data sources, or design your own with Base, to build powerful front-ends with sophisticated forms, reports and views. Support is built-in or easily addable for a very wide range of database products, notably the standardly-provided HSQL, MySQL, Adabas D, Microsoft Access and PostgreSQL.

Math is a simple equation editor that lets you lay-out and display your mathematical, chemical, electrical or scientific equations quickly in standard written notation. Even the most-complex calculations can be understandable when displayed correctly. E=mc2.

LibreOffice also comes configured with a PDF file creator, meaning you can distribute documents that you’re sure can be opened and read by users of almost any computing device or operating system.


I *loved* NeoOffice and I am sure that LibreOffice will continue in its fine footsteps. While everything must change, it is indeed reassuring that a phoenix has risen from the ashes of OpenOffice to carry on..


  1. As a NeoOffice user, that just installed a recent update to the software, I’m surprised to hear of its demise.

    NeoOffice wasn’t created by Sun, nor is it dead. Like LibreOffice it is based on the source code. The developers of NeoOffice were always independent from Sun (now Oracle).

    NeoOffice recently released a new version to ensure compatibility with the upcoming OS X “Lion” which contain features for Mac users that neither LibreOffice not OpenOffice had.

    What has changed is that NeoOffice is no longer as “free” as it used to be. A a “donation” is now required in order to download the application suite. However, if you have the know-how, you can still download the source code for free and compile it yourself.

  2. David J. Bilinsky


    Well Wikipedia states:

    “ was originally released by Sun under both the LGPL and SISSL; it is now released solely under the LGPL.”

    and further states:

    “NeoOffice is an office suite for Mac OS X. It is a fork of the free/open source that implements nearly all of the features of the corresponding version, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, and graphics program. It is ported by Planamesa Software, and uses Java technology to integrate — originally developed for Solaris and Linux — with the Aqua interface of Mac OS X.”

    SO yes – technically NeoOffice wasn’t created by Sun but it was based on OpenOffice which was…

    And here is the donation page info for NeoOffice:

    Special services for our donors

    The NeoOffice project is funded entirely by donations from our users. Since most of our donations come from a small percentage of our users, the following special services are a way for us to thank our most generous donors.

    * Access to the newest versions of NeoOffice

    Users who have donated US$10 (or €7 or £6 or CA$10 or AU$10 or ¥834) or more within the last year can download NeoOffice 3.2.

    *NeoOffice new feature requests

    Users who have donated US$25 (or €18 or £15 or CA$25 or AU$25 or ¥2084) or more within the last year can propose new features for NeoOffice and can vote for other users’ proposed new features in our NeoOffice New Feature Requests forum.

    *Priority NeoOffice support

    Users who have donated US$100 (or €70 or £60 or CA$100 or AU$100 or ¥8334) or more within the last year can post in any of our NeoOffice forums.

    *Access to the complete set of NeoOffice Mobile features

    Users who have donated US$10 (or €7 or £6 or CA$10 or AU$10 or ¥834) or more within the last 90 days or US$25 (or €18 or £15 or CA$25 or AU$25 or ¥2084) or more within the last year.

    Thanks for the info Eli. I have made the switch to LibreOffice…interesting to see what the future holds.

  3. The OpenOffice site gives no indication of its mortality. It just offers the newest version, OpenOffice 3.3. I downloaded the update last week. No hint of anything called LibreOffice. So that may be an offshoot of OO rather than an evolution of it. Or maybe it’s just about systems for Macs.

  4. David J. Bilinsky


    I was mistaken regarding the death of OpenOffice. You are right – this is a branch in the development of this software. The Document Foundation has developed LibreOffice:

    The Document Foundation

    Our Mission

    Our mission is to facilitate the evolution of the Community into a new open, independent, and meritocratic organizational structure within the next few months. An independent Foundation is a better match to the values of our contributors, users, and supporters, and will enable a more effective, efficient, transparent, and inclusive Community. We will protect past investments by building on the solid achievements of our first decade, encourage wide participation in the Community, and co-ordinate activity across the Community.

    Your can read more at:

    Wikipedia states regarding the ‘History’ of LibraOffice:


    On 28 September 2010 several members of the project formed a new group called “The Document Foundation” and made available a rebranded fork of, which they dubbed LibreOffice. The fork was created over fears that Oracle Corporation, after having recently purchased the suite’s creator and main developer, Sun Microsystems, would either discontinue, as it had OpenSolaris, or more likely take a generally authoritarian and less “open” approach in its development.
    It was originally hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional, as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation, and was asked to donate the brand to the project.[7] Oracle rejected the project and demanded that all members of the Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the Council, citing a conflict of interest.[8]

    The Go-oo project was discontinued in favour of LibreOffice.[9] Improvements made by the project are being merged into LibreOffice. Improvements made in other forks are also expected to be incorporated into LibreOffice.[10][11]

    As a result of the fork of into LibreOffice, and the resulting loss of developers, Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was terminating the commercial development of[12]

    It was the termination by Oracle of the commercial development of OpenOffice that I interpreted as the death of OpenOffice.

    But it looks like the two versions will least for now…



  5. David B. wrote:
    “The only thing that it does not offer is an email/calendar application similar to MS Outlook.”

    How soon we forget … we do not have to go to Microsoft software for the comparison … “similar to Sun’s StarOffice5.2” would be accurate, as well. Similar, but not quite there, yet …

    We have lost features that were never in MS Outlook, or MS Office, for that matter. For example, we have lost: built-in multiple virtual Desktops, accessible from within the office suite; comment fields for Tasks and Events with a special area (the Also Refer To: boxes, next to Description) that accept hyperlinks to anything on the user’s system or on the Internet, showing the plain-text name of the link (not a cryptic URL); the suite’s own Explorer, that includes FTP sites, so files may be dragged back and forth from the Internet, to the office suite, and vice-versa.

    If LibreOffice ever brings back, from its predecessor, the missing Mail and Schedule modles, I should hope the developers have a copy of ‘5.2’ running, so they don’t miss anything else in the rewrite.