back to article Apache OpenOffice: We're OK with not being super cool... PS: Watch out for that Mac bug

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.4 finally shipped on October 19, five months later than intended, but the software is still a bit buggy. The resource-starved open-source project had been looking to release the update around Apache Con in mid-May, but missed the target, not altogether surprising given persistent concerns about a lack of …

  1. steelpillow Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    We all stand together

    It's great that AOO and LO are still both with us after all this time. Long live both communities and long may a friendly rivalry drive them to better things.

    Enjoy the choice, I know I will.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LO vs. AOO

      LO is installed with Mint, so its the one I know a bit. But in simple lay mans terms how do the two stack up. Any takers? (Strengths / Weaknesses - Pros / Cons etc) - Tks in advance!

      1. PhilDin

        Re: LO vs. AOO

        In summary, LO split off from OpenOffice a few years ago mostly over concerns around the development process. OpenOffice then became Apache OO but has it moved very slowly since then while LO has had many incremental improvements in terms of usability, stability and performance. RedHat, Suse, Google and a few others are actively contributing to LO and not to AOO. This is exacerbated by the different licenses which mean that if the LO team like the look of something in AOO, they can use it while the reverse in not necessarily possible.

        The net effect is that LO is basically AOO with a few years of polish and attention to detail applied to it and less obviously to the end user, with a much more active dev team so that security issues are much less likely to languish.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          'The net effect is'

          Thanks dude!

      2. Robert Moore

        Re: LO vs. AOO

        LO is installed with Mint, so its the one I know a bit. But in simple lay mans terms how do the two stack up.

        No idea how they stack up. but as a Mint/LO user. I would highly recommend downloading the latest version direct from LO. A lot of updates, and fixes have not made it into Mint yet.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    It's all well and good saying that, unlike other office suites, you'll support older platforms. But if you barely have enough people to run the project, surely the wise option is the opposite: Only support the current ones (and as few of them as possible)

    LWN article on the problems AOO is having.

    1. tiggity Silver badge


      Lots of us run "legacy" OSes e.g. old Mac kit, amount of RAM available limits what OS version you can upgarde to, but why bin a working machine just because it cannot run the latest OS? .. Yes, users could use Linux instead, but they might want to stay on a Mac OS because they like it

      One of the good points about open source is not just pandering to the latest & greatest software / hardware, but allowing older stuff to limp along a while longer (we don't all have cash to burn on buying new kit as other priorities come first, a bit of new shiny is low on Maslow's hierarchy of needs)

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge


    "Again, this is due to AOO trying to maintain backwards compatibility with very old versions of OS X (10.7!) and sometimes small variations in libraries can cause some weird interactions."

    It came out 6 years ago. It might not be new, but it's hardly ancient. Xcode does most of the heavy lifting for you.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Old?

      But updates to OSX are free, and as far as I'm aware, anything that Lion can run on, High Sierra can also run on. Certainly, my MacBook originally came with Lion, and apart from a couple of features not being available because it doesn't have the latest bluetooth hardware, everything works fine on High Sierra.

      1. Justin Clift

        Re: Old?

        > anything that Lion can run on, High Sierra can also run on.

        My old (ancient) MacBook - one of these - can't run anything later than Lion. Runs FreeBSD and Linux fine though. Weirdly, OpenBSD doesn't run on it as the installer reboots during start.

  4. m0rt

    Long term LO user here on mac and linux. Apart from the odd weird bug, like LO affecting video perfromance across the board for some bizarre reason, I prefer it over the MS offering, not for political reasons, but because it pretty much does what I expect it to. MS Excel is just plain difficult to work with. It tries to be helpful, and does weird things to longer numbers assuming it knows better what you want than you do yourself. *

    So here is a thing, if you make something so complicated that it starts to second guess you, then the argument goes stop making it that complicated in the first place.

    *Excel and phone numbers has long been a bane of my existance...and yes, I know about formatting etc.

  5. fnusnu


    Why would anyone be running an unsupported (yes, I know, Apple don't have formal EOL dates) OS with an Office suite on it?

    If OO is struggling for Devs the priority should be on delivering builds for supported OSs, not obsolete rubbish used by a tiny minority of their dwindling userbase.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: OSX10.7?

      OS X Lion is the last OS X which runs on Intel machines with a 32-bit EFI. The machine still works and shouldn't go to landfill but it probably will if there's no office suite which runs on it.

      Apple should push out an EFI update so a later OS X will run, but that's not going to happen.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: OSX10.7?

      I, personally, wouldn't run 10.7 if Apple paid me, which they won't. Lion (better known around here as House Cat) stunk up the place. 10.8, Mountain Lion, fixed most of the problems and is much better. I have several older systems running 10.8. The only reason to run 10.7 would be that your hardware can't handle 10.8 or later; that'll be fairly old hardware, or hardware limited by some quirk to 32-bitness, or both.

      I was on the OS X 10.7 AppleSeed beta test. The screams you might have heard were when I encountered one or more of the more idiotic bugs. For some reason, possibly including the way I threatened to visit Cupertino with a machete, I was not invited in for 10.8, though I did get back to AppleSeed later.

      Any machine limited to 10.7 at max can also run 10.6, IMHO the pinnacle of OS X development. (Yeah, I pointed that out during the 10.7 beta. This was unpopular. If you have a really good microscope you might be able to detect how much I cared.) I'd use 10.6 until the last available software for it finally dies. I have a few 10.7-capable systems running 10.6, 'cause they can't go to Mountain Lion for some reason, usually RAM, and there is no way on God's green Earth that House Cat is going to get its claws into them.

  6. Pen-y-gors


    There's a lot to be said for providing simple software that does basic tasks for the IT equivalent of the just-about-managing people. Write a letter, do a simple powerpoint for the WI meeting.

    I've used Word since 2.0, and, to be honest, I suspect I could still do 90% odd of my work on that, if it was still available (and that came on a bundle of 3.5" floppies)

    What happened to MS Works? OK, it was a pain to use and transfer docs to people using the grown-up Word etc, but it was a great idea. Be nice if AOO can satisfy the needs of the many in a simple way, while still be compatible with the mega stuff.

    1. PNGuinn
      Thumb Up

      MS Works?

      I phart in it's general direction.

      I had that POS on a 1995 WFWG 3.11 machine. A msword addict got a new 'puter and gave me the 2 (really 1 1/2) floppies that came with it with Claris Works 1. A full integrated basic office suite, wp, db basic drawing package, spreadsheet, spell checker, super easy to use, lightening fast in 4 MB of ram .... an it'll do things that LO still cant. AND the instructions came on a couple of dead trees ....

      I've managed to get Claris Works 3 (all of 5 floppies) working in wine, but no luck so far with v1 beyond the splash screen. Another retirement project.

    2. davidp231

      Re: Just-about-managing?

      What happened to MS Works? It became Office 2010 Starter Edition, which later got binned upon the birth of Office 2013+Windows 8. Nowadays you get a 6/12 month trial of Office 365 on new OEM machines.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just-about-managing?

      Overall you made excellent points - but I have no choice but to downvote as you've forced me to remember MS Works.

  7. JakeMS


    Personally, I prefer LibreOffice. However having said that I used before Oracle tried to wreck it.

    Personally I hope that survives and keeps going. Why? Simple having more than one option is always a good thing.

    You can transfer docs between the two without compatibility issues which is always good. It means you'll never be vendor locked.

    Should LO fail or get locked down for whatever reason there would be has a supported option (or visa versa) which can open/edit your old documents.

    This is why Open Source matters. To avoid lock ins and provide a means to continue should something happen to the original project.

    (If MS drop all office software tomorrow, it would be a PITA to move to a new software due to the proprietary formats used. Where as if OO or LO fail you can move on easily due to open formats)

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: LibreOffice

      To have TWO alternatives to that monstrosity available from MS is great.

      Long may they continue to develop.

      Proudly Microsoft free for more than a year.

  8. elgarak1

    "Despite being the subject of a deathwatch – perhaps mainly by fans of rival LibreOffice[..]"

    As a LibreOffice user, I kinda object to the language here. I have no death-wish towards OpenOffice. In fact, I wish for them more commitment to the project so that they can survive on a different path. I do not see LibreOffice as a rival. Diversity is good, and stabilizes the whole environment.

    it's the same with Microsoft. I am currently working with a Microsoft-free (as much as I can) machine, but I am explicitly not a Microsoft-hater, or wish them to die. I would want to have more options in everything... Operating systems, standard applications, you name it. But Microsoft doesn't make it easy, because they are making bad software, insisting on less interoperability and proprietary formats (the Mac version of Office cannot handle ODF files, for Chrissakes!), and has cleared Windows of proper alternatives to Office (the only full-fledged word processor alternative on Windows I know of is WordPerfect... all the rest, including OpenOffice and LibreOffice, are, pretty much, Word clones as far as workflow and UI are concerned. At least on the Mac we have Nisus Writer or Mellel, among others, which are essentially Word-as-it-should-be. Made me realize how shitty Word is, and I do not use the expletive lightly.)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backward compatibility with free software?

    Support the versions for a year, then force the users to upgrade...

    It’s free. There is no excuse no to have the latest version (or stable version).

    If you want support/compatibility with ooold versions buy something (MS Office).

    Sounds like they are wasting resources trying to be “nice” to everyone...

    I use LibreOffice it works fine for the basics, but use MS for work....

  10. keithpeter Silver badge

    The old bugs are the best bugs

    "Our research shows that a 'basic,' functional office suite, which is streamlined with a 'simple' and uncluttered, uncomplicated UI, serves an incredib[ly] under-represented community."

    I use oOo on my stable Slackware 14.2 install. Just works, and I know where the bugs are. I can get stuff done.

    I know and appreciate LO on my test machine - some whizzy stuff and some changes to UI and the detailed behaviour of some of the functions (e.g. drawing tools). This is inevitable when you refactor code that is decades old I suppose.

    I seriously hope the compatibility of files between the two versions is maintained.

    As others have said, pints to all involved.

  11. Archivist


    What is this "math" you speak of? Me thinks the article was written by a foreigner with an imperfect grasp of the language of England.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Math?

      For you good Sir -->

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: Math?

        Math - short for Mathematics, a noun that is singular even though plural in form. Sorry, but this time those of us on the left side of the Atlantic are correct. Just kidding, not sorry at al. Neener, neener, etc, etc...

  12. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Cheap and cheerful

    There is also Abiword, there for free.

    You can prepare a Word document if you are not too fussed about themes and styles. Then the real weirdos can export it to Latex or Docbook. Its Docbook output is much more reliable that that of OO/LO.

    1. elgarak1

      Re: Cheap and cheerful

      AbiWord is currently abandonware for Windows. The remaining Linux-version is, as far as I tried it, quite buggy, and does not handle conversion from .doc, RTF or ODT as well as other software.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hmmm, wonder if DeathWatch affects NeoOffice, which is a pretty decent Mac port of OpenOffice. I've been using it for years.

    1. elgarak1

      Re: NeoOffice

      It's commercial, not free, though. And has developed further apart from OpenOffice than LibreOffice. Neo-, Open-, Libre- are three different branches from the same root, with some cross-seeding. At some point they'll be three different products.

      Which is not necessarily bad, as long as they keep the ODF standard. That's how it should be, anyway. Keep the file format as a standard, and not tied to a specific software package, and let users choose whatever software they like. As far as I observe, it works with binary image formats (pictures), and there's a wide variety of graphics software available that can interoperate quite easily. But not in the infinitely more primitive world of texts ... which still revolves around .doc, which is one of worst file formats for text file exchange imaginable.

  14. sitta_europea Silver badge


    "I believe the 4.1.4 shows us, that we have to do a better job in QA," observed AOO contributor Raphael Bircher ...


    I believe this shows us that the observer knows nothing about QA.

  15. YTC#1

    You moan about MacOS

    Think about how us Solaris users feel.

    We can thank SFE, , for keeping us going.

  16. jbuk1

    Is 10.7 really considered “very old”?

    It was released in 2011.

    Windows 7 was in 2009 and 8 in 2012.

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