back to article OpenOffice project 'all but dead upstream' argues prominent user

A prominent LibreOffice user has called for the Apache Foundation to retire OpenOffice. Christian Schaller, a Red Hat Software Engineering Manager and GNOME developer, wrote an open letter to Apache saying that “the OpenOffice project is all but dead upstream since IBM pulled their developers off the project almost a year ago …

  1. Innocent-Bystander*

    That Weird Sound You Hear

    Is Microsoft laughing maniacally in the other corner.

    1. Mage

      Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

      Did MS bribe Oracle to annoy the Devs and fork before it was given to Apache?

      No, Oracle messed this up as they have messed up Java, Hudson (or whatever it was) and a lot of other stuff. Obviously worse people than Oracle could have bought Sun, but not many.

      1. Innocent-Bystander*

        Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

        They didn't have to bribe anyone. You can laugh just the same while your competition self-detonates. Or at least slows itself down with a ridiculous duplication of effort.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

          "They didn't have to bribe anyone. "

          But as we will discover years later, they probably did.

    2. Old Handle

      Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

      While I'm sure they love to see infighting in the open source world, I don't think MS has much to laugh about on this one. LibreOffice is has been one of the most successful open source projects in terms of replacing proprietary software on ordinary users' desktops. Second only to Firefox, I would guess.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

        Agreed - We did it just a couple of weeks ago.. Microsoft was not impressed when we refused to renew our Office Pro Plus OVS subscription, they even went as far as threatening to send in their "SAM" Team.

        I'd say this was more a case of the lower-end account managers at M$ chucking their toys out of the pram as they would lose commission. Once I kicked it a bit higher up, they were actually really accommodating.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

          That threat should be enough to convince anyone to come off the MS drug, server by server, desktop by desktop.

          1. P. Lee

            Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

            >That threat should be enough to convince anyone to come off the MS drug, server by server, desktop by desktop.

            Herein lies the problem. Whatever you think of their software, MS licensing dept knows what its doing in that its pretty much impossible to link a gradual reduction in use of MS software with increased savings. It's an all-or-nothing affair. With the network effect created by Excel, Sharepoint, Visio and Lync, MS costs are really hard to dislodge.

        2. keithpeter Silver badge

          Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

          "Agreed - We did it just a couple of weeks ago.."

          You are posting AC for obvious reasons. Any ballpark figure for number of users and how they feel about the change over (de-Ribboning for instance)?

          I'm assuming the online collaboration features of MS Office were not in use and that the Intranet is not sharepoint based &c.

          In return: 500+ desktops in a college with MS Office/Sharepoint but also OpenOffice available as virtualised app. so available to students and staff if wished.

          1. K

            Re: That Weird Sound You Hear


            We're 120 staff strong, most of our staff are telesales and customer service, so their usage of Microsoft was pretty much limited to basic word and excel documents and Outlook.

            We couldn't completely rip out Office, but we settled on Libre Office and Outlook, saying that, I'm considering also ditching Outlook from next year, as Mail that comes with Windows 10 is fairly decent and connects to Exchange!

            1. keithpeter Silver badge

              Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

              @k aka ac

              Excellent. I sort of guessed it would be outlook that kept clinging on by its (virtual) fingertips. Good luck with the de-ribbonising

    3. mi1400

      Re: That Weird Sound You Hear

      Just on different but not irrelevant note... ppl all here bashing thrashing oracle and never talks against Intel .. who is also maintaining an OpenOffice type handicapped child just to show off and fend of anticompetitive courts slapped away. yes i am talking about AMD ... Intel's intentionally brewed Anticompetitiveness Manipulation Decoy.

      An excerpt from my Dec 2, 2007 post...

      I am personally an AMD Fanatic but AMD's lately Apple like reasoning have made me so disappointed, like ... Intel-like-Quadsicore approach is not an "Angelic" approach (recently Intel has spoken out on record that it was near impossible for AMD to solder two X2 like Intel beacuse of integrated HyperTransport etc) ... then AMD's stance that Phenom is also not an Angelic-way to empower notebook. I usyually say AMD has developed taste for eating bread crums from the floor. and perhaps Intel-AMD's 1999 secret agrement is hint/factor of why SSE4a lags SSE4.1 hence keeping AMD walking leaning-head behind Intel and still thrusting ancient 4000+ X2 bases notebooks on Enthusiasts, this also confirmed their TDP charm is broken and was a myth. Intel has silently opened a new front in notebooks and AMD is still not getting out of Angel-ic/Apple-ic phobia. Rememebr when AMD had upper hand in Opetron Vs Xeon they put a patetion (Opteron Xeon Duel) on thier site for fans to sign in convincing Intel to show up with its Xeon to get humiliated infront of whole world and the Flash video on did just that, now when the tables are turned Intel has not posted such patetion thing to call for it fans join the AMD-humiliation competition. I think we should abandon fanfare and become wise-customers thinking from brain not heart.


      Does anyone remember the AMD's MegaHertzigovinia (MegaHz-igovinia) pun to Intel too ... anyone share an article on secret enslavement agreement where by AMD is bound to keep its SSE throttled behind Intel's SSE or was it related to floating point calculation throttling !?! ... anyway it is the truw face of AMD and just an Intel's Decoy to keep anti-competitive monitoring courts shut up .. saying look we have shared the patents staisfying FRAND clauses and see AMD where camera focusing n corner of court AMD eating something from floor with diaper all filled with pee and feases .. looking toward Intel with all the gratitude to help AMD live no matter in this condition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Patetion" was one of AMD's less successful processors

        @ mi1400; You already re-posted this eight year old semi-literate rambling to a Register thread several days ago.

        Now you're reposting it here *again* under a spurious "different but not irrelevant" rationale?!

  2. Hollerith 1

    Like both

    I like LibreOffice for everything but writing. For that, I use my elderly OpenOffice 3.0. LibreOffice's writing bit is very frustrating: I can't do a lot of things I prefer in OpenOffice, such as viewing margins in documents. I just wish they could take the best of both.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: Like both

      As far as writing, in any volume, goes, I switched to Scrivener, but for smaller documents, such as letters, there isn't so much to choose between Word, Open Office, and Libre Office.

      The publishing industry uses Word a lot. Microsoft got a lock-in there with the edit-tracking. That's something that many people don't seem to realise. Books have a lot of small changes after the manuscript is submitted, and keeping track matters.

      As with your example, fine details can matter. Mostly-compatible change-tracking isn't going to be good enough, if you need that.

      Of course, Open Office and Libre Office have the big advantage of not being tied to Windows. And they don't use Microsoft's weird file-system "standard".

      But Scrivener is cool.

  3. PNGuinn
    Black Helicopters

    "Red Hat Software Engineering Manager and GNOME developer"

    Is that black helicopters bearing systemd I hear in the distance?

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: "Red Hat Software Engineering Manager and GNOME developer"

      I can't hear the helicopters but the Gnome Gang could perhaps NOT try to improve the interface please. Yes, I had noticed the affiliation!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Red Hat Software Engineering Manager and GNOME developer"

      Who needs POSIX when Red Hat can reinvent everything better (hahahahaha) and become the new standard?

  4. Salts

    Although I use LibreOffice...

    I would not like OpenOffice to fold, even in open source we need a bit of competition, but I have to say LibreOffice has raced ahead these last few years. I see it being used in many place that just a few years ago only MS Office would be accepted and if they deliver on the touch/mobile/tablet and self hosted SAS they have in the roadmap, well guess that's why Red Hat would like the extra devs, they(Red Hat) can support a cloud version of an office suite that is on customers premises for those customers which don't want all their docs in an MS cloud, can maybe see a few takers for that, much better security is only one benefit.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Although I use LibreOffice...

      I came here to say just this. Competition is good. At the moment LibreOffice is probably a better product than OpenOffice, but that might change over time.

  5. ysth

    As a comment to almost four years ago said:

    "You can put a fork in it. It was done when Oracle killed it. Putting it under the "less restrictive" Apache license encourages developers to work on LibreOffice, which they've done. LibreOffice has accomplished more positive change since the fork than OpenOffice has done in the two years since... or after. Sorry, Apache. You were handed a steaming carcass. Sure, it was warm. But it's not good to eat. Time to stop the suckup status reports and face the reality. OpenOffice is done. Put a fork in it."

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The licence a typical side issue. Oracle's handling of OpenOffice and Hudson was more than ham-fisted and it's not surprising that people thought that "bad things" might happen to the projects. Changing the licence of LibreOffice was not the solution and has probably lent to a permanent fork: many companies will not permit their employees to contribute to (L)GPL projects.

      LibreOffice has indeed added lots in features but I've always found it less stable than OpenOffice and OpenOffice got the UX right.

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge


    I still miss WordPerfect. Sentinel (the UK arm of the company) were so supportive to people such as myself who used to support, train and otherwise add value to what was a very well engineered program.

    That was in the days when updates were rare, when you could get to grips with the most advanced features of a program, and not worry about having to re-learn it all when a new version came out.

  7. Phuq Witt


    "...You can laugh just the same while your competition self-detonates. Or at least slows itself down with a ridiculous duplication of effort...."

    Yup. that's the Linux/FOSS world in a nutshell. It's reminiscent of the 'Peoples Popular Front of Judea' scene in Monty Python's The Life of Brian. Massive egos on every side, convinced theirs is the right way and everyone else is an apostate. Unable even to swallow their pride enough to unite against the common enemy.

    And then the apologists come after, pointing out how it's all about choice and trying to convince everyone the constant in-fighting is all part of the master plan for world domination, sometime before the heat death of the universe. Because having 27 different crappy apps that try do do the same thing [badly] is so much better than compromising on one or two collaborative efforts that do it well.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Splitters!

      @ Phuq Witt

      I understand your frustration but this fork is really about the license and the extent to which improvements get contributed back.

      Some other forks do not stem from this concern of course.

    2. m4r35n357

      Re: Splitters!

      You forgot to mention cancer, Mr gates. Nice handle, BTW

    3. Roo

      Re: Splitters!

      "And then the apologists come after, pointing out how it's all about choice and trying to convince everyone the constant in-fighting is all part of the master plan for world domination, sometime before the heat death of the universe."

      That is exactly what it's like working in a large multinational. Even Microsoft seems to suffer from constant in-fighting judging by the schizoid mess that is otherwise known as the Win 8.1 UI (can't comment on 10 because I haven't dared "upgrade" yet).

    4. bep

      Re: Splitters!

      Reductio ad absurdum much? Two does not equal 27 around these parts. Meanwhile I find I get by fine with Libre Office on my home computer and have no real need for MS Office. It seems that plenty of other people are having the same experience. I don't think Microsoft is laughing that hard.

      1. midcapwarrior

        Re: Splitters!

        You are fighting the last war.

        Real fight for MS is google docs and the likes.

        The cloud is the new battle ground.

        Glad you like your desktop choice but no MS isn't loosing sleep over your choice.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Splitters!

          Yeeaaahhh... how's that cloud security these days?

          1. midcapwarrior

            Re: Splitters!

            Apparently good enough for most folks.

            Cloud/mobile is the active battleground not desktop.

            Glad you like your alternatives but the desktop is fairly settled.

            They should be working on foss cloud alternatives or risk ending up in the same place they are now.

            At best a stagnant share of a declining market.

  8. x 7

    So whats the status of IBM Symphony now? Are IBM supporting ANY of the OpenOffice / LibreOffice family now? As I understood they were fairly key to the development

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even IBM employees aren't forced to use Symphony any more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Symphony (and openoffice) is dead

      I think that is the whole point. Nobody is paid to work on apache office anymore, all paid developers are now working for libreoffice. IBM abandoned their Symphony work and canceled the whole project.

      At first they appeared to put some work into apache office, but a year ago they withdrew all their developers.

      "Software withdrawal and support discontinuance: IBM Lotus Symphony"

      "End of support and migration options for IBM Lotus Symphony"

  9. John Tserkezis

    "A member of the Apache OpenOffice team was quick to respond: “We think Apache OpenOffice as released has been a huge success,” he said. “Most of us don’t really like the direction LibreOffice is heading to."

    Oh the irony. They've forgotten that LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice for exactly that reason...

  10. jonnycando

    Microsoft laughing?

    They may well, but Libre Office is living large and ain't going anywhere! Microsoft for its part fades steadily into irrelevance right along maybe with OpenOffice. Keep calm and carry on, there is something right in the world after all!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trolling time

    You do know right for probably most Linux non power users Abiword and Gnumeric can replace *Office and don't require hundreds of megs of binaries and libraries to be installed? Yes disk space is cheap but bloat is bloat. Flame on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trolling time

      And yes KDE users you can use Words and Sheets instead and not have to bring in all the gtk stuff because heavens knows KDE comes with enough of its own bloat.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Trolling time

      For someone starting a document or spreadsheet from scratch you may be right. But I upgraded my definitely non power user cousin's PCs to Linux a few weeks ago and they had non-compatibilities with Abiword opening Word documents. LibreOffice gave no problems.

    3. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Trolling time

      "You do know right for probably most Linux non power users Abiword and Gnumeric can replace *Office and don't require hundreds of megs of binaries and libraries to be installed? Yes disk space is cheap but bloat is bloat. Flame on."

      Gnumeric is fun to have in addition to [libre|open]office. The way charts can be built up is really useful. And boxplots straight out of the -er- box. I could probably live with Gnumeric for sheeting except for the pass rates (pivot table like analysis needed). Abiword is trickier - no drawing package so you are doing drawings in another package and copying in. Maths formulas depend on a LaTeX installation and can be trickly to configure. Oddly enough I don't see that much speed or responsiveness gain or particularly low memory use with Abiword or Gnumeric over [libre|open]office.

      It all depends on the tasks at the end of the day.

      Coat icon: it IS the end of the day.

  12. ssharwood

    OpenOffice good

    I use OpenOffice on Mac pretty much all day, but for light text editing and spreadsheets. It is utterly fit for that purpose and I do hope it continues. I imagine Libre Office doesn't have a massive learning curve, but do hope OpenOffice sticks around. It just works and makes me happy. It's stable too. Years of using MS Word taught me to expect the after-lunch snooze as it hung on something. OpenOffice never crashes.

  13. phil dude


    And in case anyone missed it, AMD added OpenCL patch to llibreoffice, so you can now use chunky video cards to do super fast maths!

    For fun, maybe I'll write a simple spreadsheet version MD code, just so we can have a real comparison with other software.

    Surely LINPACK runs on Excel?


    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: supercomputing....

      I have seen a book "Scientific Computing with Excel". No, I am not making this up.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: supercomputing....

      Excel can do quite large iterative models - like 3 million rows worth - on a modest older laptop. Same laptop and LibreOffice 4.early and oOo 3.sommat are struggling. The OpenCL patch helps restore balance rather than giving [open|libre]office any kind of edge.

      Have a look at

      Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight by John Foreman for giggles. He gives out a free chapter on his book site. You can work through the chapter using either Excel or Calc (latter v4.5 or later as Pivot Tables look similar)

  14. WibbleMe

    I was comparing these two the other week, a bug in libreoffice spread sheet stopped me from adding up columns, a well know bug apparently so I had to switch to OpenOffice, that was not installed by default on by Ubuntu Desktop OS, I got OpenOffice working but could only run the app from root/terminal as the icon refused run with an error (a well know bug apparently).

    So quite frankly both of these two projects both need some love and TLC

    1. Uncle Slacky

      Gnumeric would probably have been a better bet in that situation.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    We need more clones of Win98-era MS Office

    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: Pity!

      The "what you see is not even remotely what you get and what you get depends on the type of printer and day of the week", that's what you are missing?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Pity!

      Better than clones of contemporary MS Office.

      Though, to be honest, I'd be happy to see the lot gone.

  16. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Yup. that's the Linux/FOSS world in a nutshell. It's reminiscent of the 'Peoples Popular Front of Judea' scene in Monty Python's The Life of Brian."

    It's not really. This happens pretty regularly... a project splits, one branch becomes much more active than the other, but the less active branch keeps going at least for a while. It's not "27 crappy apps", and it doesn't end up with a bunch of people wasting time on an inactive project... it's inactive, most of the development effort goes into the active one. Simple as that.

    Does anyone know, at this point, what are the big differences between Libreoffice and OpenOffice anyway? I mean, a few years ago they looked exactly the same to me (other than LibreOffice having a box that says "LibreOffice" instead of "OpenOffice" when it starts up 8-)

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