Libreoffice vs Apache OpenOffice: how to choose the free office package for you


When it comes to free office software, there are two main options: LibreOffice and OpenOffice (or, to give you your own name, Apache OpenOffice). The two are remarkably similar, so how can you choose the right one for you?

First, it pays to think carefully if you need an office software. As long as you have an Internet connection, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can provide everything you need, without the need to install anything, and with the extra bonus that everything you create will be saved automatically in the cloud. No more lost documents or having to send an email to yourself.

However, if you write, create worksheets, or make presentations regularly, you may find that you need some of the more advanced features you only get in desktop software. If you are in this field, LibreOffice and OpenOffice are two of the best options. Both are free to download and use, even professionally, and are open source, which means that the code is publicly available.

In fact, they are so similar that you may have difficulty choosing between them, but there are some important differences.

Why are they so alike?

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice share a common ancestor: This open source office suite was originally developed by software giant Sun Microsystems, but not all of its developers were satisfied with the direction of the project after Sun was acquired by Oracle.

As a result, a group of developers broke up and created a new fork. This has become LibreOffice, which has been hosted by The Document Foundation since then.

In 2011, Oracle announced that it was finalizing the development of and donated the code for Apache

LibreOffice Calc and Apache OpenOffice

LibreOffice Calc and Apache OpenOffice Calc (Image credit: Document Foundation; Apache)

What are the diferences?

Frequency of launches

One of the biggest differences between Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice is the launch frequency. LibreOffice is updated much more frequently than Apache OpenOffice, which means you will receive new features and bug fixes faster.

The frequency of updates means that there are also more possibilities for bugs in LibreOffice, but anyone who appears will probably be resolved quickly.

Tool selection

Both LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice offer essentially the same set of applications (Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base and Math), but LibreOffice also includes a tool called Charts. As its name implies, this is a small application specifically for creating charts and tables, ready to be imported into other documents. Practical for presentations.

Language Support

If you're multilingual, it's worth noting that Apache OpenOffice offers more in terms of flexibility when it comes to languages, allowing you to download additional language patches as plugins. If you choose LibreOffice, you will need to choose a language at the beginning and continue with it.

Slide Show

Presentation templates in LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice (Image credit: The Document Foundation; Apache)

Pre-installed models

If you often need to make presentations, LibreOffice has the advantage in terms of the number (and quality) of available slide templates. Both software packages offer many user-designed designs for download, but the selection of pre-installed LibreOffice options is far superior to OpenOffice's.

to draw

As you can see in screengrabs, LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are almost identical. The functional differences are very small; For example, the sidebar in OpenOffice Writer opens by default, while in LibreOffice it is closed.

LibreOffice looks a bit more modern, thanks to its larger icons and leaning towards subtle pastel shades, but nothing to affect your daily work.

Supported File Types

This is probably the biggest deciding factor for many people. While both LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice can open and edit native Microsoft DOCX and XLSX formats, only LibreOffice can save in these formats.

If you are going to share documents with people who use Microsoft Office, LibreOffice may be the best choice.


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