Now that you are up and running on your Linux installation (I hope!), I’ll be introducing you to another tool very useful for people going the open source way. It is something ubiquitous, in fact; everyone needs it at some time or the other. It’s an office suite. And not just any office suite. It’s the flagship office suite of the open source community. It has a long history and a large list of the who’s who of the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) community are actively working on it. The piece of code I’m talking about is, of course, LibreOffice.
For those of you who have the money to purchase Windows, but not Microsoft Office, don’t worry. LibreOffice works on Windows too.
Right, so down to business! What, when, where, why and the least (or depending on your perspective, most) important, how.
What, when and where
LibreOffice. The premier office suite of the open source community. A relatively new name, this project was known by the name Openoffice.org earlier. Openoffice.org was originally called StarOffice and developed by a company called StarDivision in 1999. StarDivision was acquired by Sun Microsystems, which decided to build an open source alternative to Microsoft’s MS Office. This happened in 2000. From then on, Openoffice.org prospered. Under the guidance of the best and brightest of the FOSS community, the office suite matured into a group of applications with serious firepower.
In 2010, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and with it, Openoffice.org. Several developers, concerned with the direction Oracle might take Openoffice.org, decided to create a body known as “The Document Foundation” and forked the code to create LibreOffice.
The first couple of releases of LibreOffice were simply bug-fixes and rewrites. The Original Openoffice.org had a lot of vestigial code which served no purpose. Most comments explaining the code were in German, which was a problem for many programmers. They focussed on bringing the software out of the buggy state it was in. Fast-forward two years, and you have a stable, good piece of code which executes flawlessly, even managing to beat Microsoft office in a couple of areas.