Difference between LibreOffice and Open office

Here we will explain what difference between the two main open source office software suites LibreOffice and OpenOffice.

  1. LibreOffice: LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite, developed by The Document Foundation.
  2. OpenOffice: Apache OpenOffice (AOO) is an open source office productivity software suite. It is descended from OpenOffice.org and IBM Lotus Symphony, and is a close cousin to LibreOffice.

First, let’s make a clarification: The OpenOffice I’m talking about now is officially Apache OpenOffice. This was the same software that was once owned by Oracle and later purchased by Apache. All of these software titles (OpenOffice.org, Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice, and more) come from the original StarOffice (which was actually a proprietary office suite).

Both tools (LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice) are free cross-platform office suites that do an excellent job of office tasks. But … why would you choose one over the other? What I want is to expose what distinguishes each tool, so that you can decide which office package best suits your needs. I also want it to be known that, in my opinion, both tools are outstanding replacements for Microsoft Office. Both include everything you need for good productivity: word processing, spreadsheets, databases, formulas, and drawing tools.


UPGRADES  Difference between LibreOffice and Open office

To make this perfectly clear, Apache OpenOffice is behind LibreOffice in its updates. At the moment, Apache OpenOffice is at version 4.1.1 and LibreOffice is at version 4.3.1. LibreOffice makes the latest version available much faster and more frequently than Apache OpenOffice. Is that good or bad? For one thing, it means you’re making fixes and adding new features faster. On the other hand, it could introduce errors more easily (error that, in turn, is corrected quickly). LibreOffice updates tend to bring new features and changes in small increments, while Apache OpenOffice updates (due to infrequency) tend to be more dramatic.

CHARACTERISTICS  Difference between LibreOffice and Open office

This is where it gets interesting and confusing. The average user may not see much of a difference between these open source office suites. At most, if you were to look at them side by side, you would see that the Apache OpenOffice sidebar is on by default (Figure A), where LibreOffice requires you to enable this feature (via View | Sidebar). What is the sidebar? The Apache OpenOffice sidebar is based on the Symphony properties panel (a now defunct IBM office suite). This sidebar gives you instant access to all the properties of the document. With it, you can quickly change character, paragraph and page formatting.

You can enable / disable the sidebar in both LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. Only in Apache OpenOffice the sidebar is enabled by default.

There is a nifty Android remote control for presentations in LibreOffice but not in Apache OpenOffice. LibreOffice also includes an embedding font feature that you won’t find in Apache OpenOffice either. Outside of this, you’re seeing a pretty consistent feature set across the board.

However, there is a big difference, one that could possibly have a big impact on future releases. Due to licensing issues, major Apache OpenOffice enhancements or enhancements can be incorporated into LibreOffice, but LibreOffice major enhancements or enhancements cannot be incorporated into OpenOffice.

This is not a huge advantage at the moment, but if LibreOffice introduces a game-changing feature, Apache OpenOffice will not enjoy that feature.


Another big difference is the installation. This difference tends to affect only the Linux side. Most distributions ship with LibreOffice pre-installed. Otherwise, it can easily be found in the default repositories (so installation is just a matter of looking for LibreOffice in the software installer, such as the Ubuntu Software Center, and installing it). On the other hand Apache OpenOffice does not enjoy this same state. Instead, you must download the installer for your platform and install it manually. Generally speaking, this is not that difficult. But for users who just want to install an operating system and get started, LibreOffice has the advantage.

Beyond these differences, both options are almost the same. So which tool should you use? Personally, I prefer LibreOffice. I prefer the faster versions and the fact that it is there when I install Ubuntu Linux.

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