Ubuntu Linux is committed to retaining as much free open source software as possible within its operating system framework. Ubuntu developers may need to decide whether the next release of Ubuntu will drop Open Office as its default word processor with the release of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. In a recent e-mail Ubuntu developers have traded posts on how to best accomplish the change over to the forked word processor known as LibreOffice.
At issue was how the packages of LibreOffice and OpenOffice were conflicting with each other. Since LibreOffice now being offered as the more “free” version of a word processor over OpenOffice, it appears the Ubuntu may make the move to LibreOffice. If it does not occur in April 2011 with the release of Ubuntu 11.04, look for the follow-on version of Ubuntu 11.10 to carry the forked word processor.
Why is Ubuntu Switching to LibreOffice?
The movement for Ubuntu to drop the use of Open Office as its word processor started back in late September 2010 when key members of the OpenOffice development team left the OpenOffice project to create their own version of the popular free word processor. The reason they left was because Oracle had just acquired the OpenOffice project when it acquired Sun Microsystems. Oracle quickly shut down the Sun Solaris Operating System after the acquisition.
Oracle then started charging for a plug-in that allowed better document integration between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice file formats. Oracle also made a move to place copyright restrictions on certain file formats that are produced by OpenOffice. This is in direct conflict with many of the ideas that have been carrying the Free Open Source Software movement over the past couple of decades. Thus, many of the OpenOffice.org developers have left the OpenOffice Project in favor the LibreOffice Project.
A release candidate for LibreOffice 3.3 has already been released and is ready for testing. The interface for the release candidate of LibreOffice looks nearly the same as the one that is used for OpenOffice. Many of the same features are available. However, the developers stress that this is only a release candidate and should not be used for production or important work, as there are still some bugs to work out. The word processor may crash at times, or may become unstable when handling certain document formats.
There are versions of LibreOffice that are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. The release candidate version of LibreOffice does not have a complete language package. Ubuntu developers are hoping to incorporate this new version of LibreOffice by the April 2011 release of Ubuntu 11.04. Since Ubuntu is one the main players that use OpenOffice, the move to LibreOffice could lead to a significant loss OpenOffice users in favor of LibreOffice.
Wiki Entry for LibreOffice