back to article Document Foundation starts charging €8.99 for 'free' LibreOffice

The Document Foundation, the organization that tends the open source productivity suite LibreOffice, has decided to start charging for one version of the software. LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice and is offered under the free/open source Mozilla Public License Version 2.0. A Monday missive from the Document Foundation …

  1. msknight

    Windows S store has been charging for some time

    I was asked to help someone out a while ago, and he'd bought the S version of Windows where everything has to be installed via the store, until you pay like £50 to remove the restrictions. Libre Office was in there at something like, £8. No clue where the cash went, ie. Microsoft or what, but it's not news to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

      Is switching from S-mode no longer free? According to

      https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/switching-out-of-s-mode-in-windows-4f56d9be-99ec-6983-119f-031bfb28a307

      'There's no charge to switch out of S mode.' It does specifically say that:

      'If you also see an "Upgrade your edition of Windows" section, be careful not to click the "Go to the Store" link that appears there.' So even their own help page notes that there is a trap there to snare the unwary. Thanks Microsoft.

      I'd like to know if this is out-of-date and you really do need to pay to get out of S-mode, so please correct me if this page is stale.

      1. msknight

        Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

        Thanks for the information.

        When I encountered this, and attempted to change his machine out of S mode a few years ago, it did want to charge. However, I'll speak with him again when I'm next called to give him a hand, and try this. He could do with a local word processor but without the subscription.

        It's possible that it might charge for a lower version of windows, like home, so I'll definitely chase this up.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

      Removing Windows S is free and takes a few minutes at most. I've done it.

      1. Trollslayer
        Pint

        Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

        Could provide a link to how you did it?

        Thanks.

        1. botfap

          Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

          Just go to Settings -> Windows Activation and there will be a link to "Switch to Windows 10 Home". It will open up the Microsoft App Store where you can buy the Windows 10 Home Upgrade license. This used to cost £49 but its now free

          I presume its the same for Windows 11 in S mode but having never used or had to support Windows 11 I have no idea really

        2. Greg 38

          Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

          Here you go:

          https://linuxmint.com/

      2. botfap

        Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

        Its free now but when Windows S first hit the OEM channel in 2017 it was different. S was initially considered a separate, cheaper release of 10 and if you wanted to "upgrade" from S to Home or Pro then you had to buy an appropriate upgrade license. An upgrade to Home from S was £49/$49/€49 and an upgrade to Pro was £119/$119/€119. It stayed this way until mid 2020 when Microsoft had a change of heart and folded the S edition into a mode of Windows Home. This was mainly because most OEMs were getting pissy about having to support Windows S which didnt behave in the ways their support teams were used to. OEMs didnt want S, they just wanted Windows

    3. Ilgaz

      Re: Windows S store has been charging for some time

      Libreoffice guys told me on Facebook that they are working on Windows Store version so it is definitely a leech taking advantage of Apache license. I suggested them to ship a Windows Store version just for that reason and an easy way to donate.

      If they post a version,leeches are automatically eliminated.

  2. stuartnz

    I'd pay

    I like LO precisely BECAUSE it's LOCAL Office, and would happily pay to support it. I'd rather pay them €10 p.a. if it helped development (especially of the moribund Base) than pay MS for the privilege of having them keep all my stuff

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I'd pay

      But you'd have to buy it from your local shop - you know, the one for local people.

    2. stungebag

      Re: I'd pay

      You do realise that Office has never lost the ability to keep your stuff local?

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: I'd pay

        For now.

        1. badflorist Bronze badge

          Re: I'd pay

          For now, Office doesn't have the option of keeping your stuff _ONLY_ local.

      2. 43300 Bronze badge

        Re: I'd pay

        They do make it as difficult as possible though, increasingly.

        Want to turn on that autosave slider at the top? Well you can't unless the file is on Sharepoint / Onedrive. Want to use the shared Excel sheets functionality which has been there for years? Piss around with the config to make the button appear (in the quick launch - not the main toolbar) then wade through all the attempts to get you to drop this old, crap, shite way of sharing and use the new, exciting, shiny method (which coincidentally only works with files on Sharepoint / Onedrive).

        Etc...

    3. TVU

      Re: I'd pay

      "and would happily pay to support it. I'd rather pay them €10 p.a. if it helped development"

      Therein lies the underlying issue.

      If everyone who used LibreOffice in a personal or business capacity, and who had the ability to pay, made an ongoing modest donation then LibreOffice would not have to go down the route of charging for this software in app stores.

      1. stuartnz

        Re: I'd pay

        You're right, and I have donated in the past, more than the amount mentioned in the article. But I still think that there may well be many users who, like me, can afford to pay a modest amount but would appreciate the comparative convenience of being 'billed' for it in one way or another over having to remember to 'throw something in the tip jar'

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: I'd pay

        And if the LibreOffice developers took an attitude to user requests which was not, almost always "Fuck off. We know better than you what you should want to do and how you should want to do it" I might feel inclined to lob 'em the occasional few quid.

        See also: GNOME.

        1. Noel Grandin

          Re: I'd pay

          Really, that is most unfortunate, and I apologise (as a libreoffice developer myself)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd pay

      I agree about paying and would add that as far as I can see you can use NextCloud to have 'clodiness' if that's what you want and of course that can be a 'cloud' fully under your control.

    5. Smirnov

      Re: I'd pay

      Every Mac comes with Apple’s Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheets) and Keynote (presentation), all working much better than their LibreOffice counterparts.

      Funny enough, Apple’s programs are also able to deal with MS formats much better than LO.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: I'd pay

        That may be, but the last time I was using Pages to edit a .docx file, I was going slowly mad because every time I pressed command+s to save, Pages put up a helpful box for saving in its proprietary format that nothing else reads. I could save to the original format, but only by using the export control and going through a manual process of choosing a file name and selecting to replace the old copy. I got used to computers which were less reliable, so I manually save somewhat frequently, and I'm used to software which doesn't put up any obstacles to doing what I asked.

        1. Smirnov

          Re: I'd pay

          Yes, Pages saves by default in .pages format (which is more robust than .doc/.docx) while leaving the original Word file unchanged. So what's the problem? You just make your changes, save in native format in between, and when you're done just export as Word file.

          The way Pages handles this much better than say LibreOffice Writer which happily opens a Word file, damages its layout and writes the damaged content back to the original file.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'd pay

            "The way Pages handles this much better than say LibreOffice Writer which happily opens a Word file, damages its layout and writes the damaged content back to the original file."

            My own casual interactions with Word and and trying to read its profusion of formats in other programs indicate that this is a design feature on Microsoft's part.

            Wordperfect did it better, you can open a WP document in pretty much any version you like, and it won't eat your formatting. Its only major wart IMO is embedding printer information in the document.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: I'd pay

            The problem is that people can always read .docx files, so I have a reason to want to open one of those, write something in it, save it, and have it in that format. I don't really like having to create an intermediate file with the admittedly low risk that I send an old copy by mistake. I don't know anything about the structure of the .pages format, but I haven't had any robustness problems with the .docx format, so I'm not motivated much by any benefits that may or may not exist.

      2. Ilgaz

        Re: I'd pay

        The web versions of these apps are also free if you have an icloud account. If you like cloud things, worth a try.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any comment from Collabora?

    As this appears to create competition for Collabora's offering it would be interesting to get a reaction from them.

    1. rg287

      Re: Any comment from Collabora?

      As this appears to create competition for Collabora's offering it would be interesting to get a reaction from them.

      Probably less than impressed given that The Document Foundation does not fund any sort of development, and as of 2020, Collabora were providing about 25 of the 40 full-time developers working on LibreOffice and complaining about the difficulties inherent in operating in this ecosystem.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Linux

    re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

    For many of us who prefer to live and work totally outside the MS world, this is a huge advantage and most certainly not a negative.

    Please take your 'MS is the only solution' blinkers off. We all know that their software is shite (all those horrific patch tuesday articles are pretty damming evidence) so why keep on perpetuating the myth that the only choice is to use MS shit.

    1. ChoHag Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

      Which part of "here is how you pay for it" provides the advantage on top of "here is a free thing"?

      1. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge

        Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

        One click installation.

        And on a company Mac you can keep the security setting of 'Allow apps downloaded from the App store' turned on.

        1. rg287

          Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

          And on a company Mac you can keep the security setting of 'Allow apps downloaded from the App store' turned on.

          Collabora Office, which is basically just re-skinned LO. As an added bonus, the money actually goes to a key contributor to LO and funds development, not TDF (who don't/can't fund any sort of development).

        2. Spanners Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

          company Mac you can keep the security setting of 'Allow apps downloaded from the App store' turned on.

          Any IT department that allowed that is not doing their job!

          Whether is is on iThings, Android or anything else, users should not be able to just install stuff.

        3. ChoHag Bronze badge

          Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

          So the advantage is that we get to be racketeered by Apple?

    2. andy gibson

      Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

      How many of those "horrific patch tuesday articles" are to do with Office?

      1. 43300 Bronze badge

        Re: re : Lack of cloudy tie-ins...

        Office isn't part of the Patch Tuesday batch these days - it silently installs updates at random and unpredioctable times and you may not even be aware that it's done it. This gives it just so much more scope to really bugger something up than it had when it was restricted to once a month!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

    MacOS (and I think iOS as well) has a handy system for entering accents which consists of holding down a key until a popu menu appears, allowing you to choose between the various accents available by number, i.e. è means hold won 'e' for a bit, then select '4' from the menu. If you write in English and need the occaional one it's perfect (if you need lots of them you either make a shortcut or get a keyboard in that language).

    The problem: LibreOffice does not use it, instead it has a very convoluted other-than-straight-ASCII entry that must stem from the days of WordPerfect and Wordstar. I think it's been repeatedly filed as a bug, but for some reason it never made it in, whereas derivatives such as NeoOffice (also available on the App Store) do, thus making those for more than just casual use the preferred option. If the Document Foundation has still not addressed this I suspect there will be plenty pressure to do so now they're charging for it as they're in principle breaking Apple's UI standards. The very fact that otherwise everything works the same on MacOS is one of the strong selling points of MacOS, so it'll be interesting to see what happens.

    1. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge

      Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

      Hmmm, a quick look in macos help reveals a way to enter accents using the 'option key'.

      For example option-i followed by a gives â

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

        That is not the same workflow. The OP is correct and you don't understand the issue.

        à á â ä æ ã å ā

        It took me seconds to type that using the Mac method. What am I supposed to do with LO? Remember 8 different key combinations?

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

          It's easy with Linux. AltGr+[ a = ä, for example.

          The Mac method sounds strangely familiar...

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

            That is still not the same workflow. I don't need to remember Alt-Gr + [. I just hold down the 'a' key and get the accented characters for a. The same for e: è é ê ë ē ė ę.

            1. Stork Silver badge

              Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

              I can see the use if it is something you use rarely. For diacritics and letters you use regularly, do yourself the favour and learn the key combinations.

              I have a Portuguese keyboard and know the ones for German and Danish.

            2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

              And I can type all the accented characters I need very nearly as fast as unaccented ones, without having to pause for the OS to prat about with pop-up boxes.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

                I can too, at least I can type all the unusual letters for languages I speak, because I've set up keyboard layouts and know them well (I also know where they moved all the punctuation marks, because there appears to be a rule that no keyboard layout can leave them all in the same place). If I want to type one that's not in a language I speak, then it's a bit trickier, so I can see why someone who uses them rarely would do it that way.

        2. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

          Remember 8 different option-key combos?

          why yes.

          you can remember cmd-c for copy, cmd-v for paste and cmd-s for save etc so why not?

          shift-cmd-5 opens screenshot menu, etc

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

            Those are standard across other apps. I am not learning or having to remember anything new. Can you tell me now without looking it up the key combinations necessary to type ā è ï ö ú? I can on a Mac. I just hold down the letter I want.

            1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

              Can you tell me now without looking it up …

              … the key combinations necessary to type ā è ï ö ú? I can on a Mac.

              Yup. On my Mac, without the diacritic menu (I prefer press-and-hold to repeat the held character), using the U.S. Extended input source (which was renamed to ABC Extended some releases ago) — ā is ⌥A a, è is ⌥` e, ï and ö are ⌥U i and ⌥U o respectively, and ú is ⌥E u. The ⌥ keystrokes for the grave, trema, and acute diacritics (but not the macron) are probably already available in your default input source. (I use my cobbled-together Compose function on the Caps Lock key to type characters like “⌥”.)

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

              Holding down a letter to get an accents pop-up? Are you saying Macs don't have auto-repeat on key-press?

              1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

                Are you saying Macs don’t have auto-repeat on key-press?

                By default, they haven’t since Mac OS X 10.7, but they can made to do so by a single command (see the link in my comment above). That comes at the cost of access to the diacritic menu, though.

        3. nowster

          Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

          Good luck in trying to type Welsh. Neither ŵ or ŷ are available on the standard UK keyboard settings via the "hold down a key" method in MacOS.

          On most Linux, it's "Compose ^ w" and "Compose ^ y". I have CapsLk mapped as Compose, but the default is usually Shift-AltGr.

          1. VoiceOfTruth

            Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

            -> Good luck in trying to type Welsh. Neither ŵ or ŷ are available on the standard UK keyboard settings via the "hold down a key" method in MacOS.

            If you add the Welsh keyboard input type they are available.

        4. ChoHag Bronze badge

          Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

          You misunderstand.

          You had a problem with a piece of open sores. You were given a solution to that problem. Open sores solves problems!

          Quit whining.

          1. ChoHag Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

            Apple *and* open sores fanbois out in force for this one. Keep it up lads! Every downvote is a tear of anguish. Delicious.

            1. mdubash

              Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

              Goodness, that's so helpful.

              1. ChoHag Bronze badge

                Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

                Dessert too? Oh I shouldn't...

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

        If you have to do it frequently, then the best way is to remember those keystrokes.

        If you don't, then the other way is quicker than looking up what the keystrokes are.

        1. SImon Hobson

          Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

          And don't forget that from the keyboard menu (Turn on "Show Input menu in menubar" ) from keyboard settings if it isn't there) you can select "Show Keyboard Viewer" to SEE in real-time what is available.

          If I hold down Option/Alt/that character I'm not going to try and reproduce - then the accents are highlighted in red. So it's easy to see that if I type Option-n, that'll give me the "~", then then it'll show me the characters it can be placed over (ã, ñ, and õ).

          Been a standard feature on Macs for ... must be decades now.

          For more control, or if you need some of those not easily had direct from the keyboard, you can also choose Show Emoji & Symbols to search for any character by name.

    2. andrewj

      Re: Does that mean there's will be a version with proper accent entry?

      Had no idea that was there on my Mac. Cheers for saving me an occasional frustrated fumble around Word menus.

  6. midgepad Bronze badge

    You know better than the scare quotes.

    French has libre and gratuit, English conflates them as free.

    Libre Office is, perhaps surprisingly, libre. Free as in speech.

    The FSF and other FLOSS licence writers make it perfectly clear that charging for media, convenience, configuration, support is fine.

    That many do all or some of those things gratuit is just an indication of the size of actual costs involved. Too cheap to meter.

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: You know better than the scare quotes.

      LibreOffice started from software which they did not themselves pay for. It was given away for free by Sun.

      LibreOffice did not need to call itself LibreOffice to confuse the issue. They could have called themselves "NotFreeOffice", or taken a leaf out of the more-obscure-is-better naming scheme in use by some Linux distros (Iceweasel? hahaha). How about MeteorOffice or MoonOffice?

      But no. To confound the issue which just causes the occasional explanation from people like yourself that Libre does not mean free or gratis. And we all get bored as a result. Because we have heard it so many times.

  7. Downeaster

    LibreOffice Support

    I use LibreOffice and support them financially. I figure if an Office 365 subscription is $10 a month, I can give the same money to LibreOffice. Charging for LibreOffice may get the Document Foundation some revenue as long as the money is put back into improving LibreOffice. Also it would be nice if they said something to the effect that the suite is available is a download free on their site. I also like LibreOffice because it isn't cloud based. Maybe someday there will be a cloud version and if so okay. At least LibreOffice will not be nagging us like Microsoft does to set up a Microsoft Account and subscribe to all of their service. Softmaker Office is also a great alternative to MS Office.

    1. rg287

      Re: LibreOffice Support

      Charging for LibreOffice may get the Document Foundation some revenue as long as the money is put back into improving LibreOffice.

      It isn't. The Document Foundation hosts the project but they don't fund any development.

      Companies toiling away the most on LibreOffice code complain ecosystem is 'beyond utterly broken', El Reg, 2020

      Alongside Collabora, there were 15 developers from SUSE, five from Red Hat, one from Canonical, seven from the city of Munich (part of its embrace of open source), and some 40 others from various companies. Many of those have now dropped out, or reduced their commitment, leaving around 40 paid developers in total – of whom Collabora provides 25 and CIB, a Munich-based specialist in document management, seven.

      Meeks believes "LibreOffice is at serious risk," though the matter is complex. TDF has around €1.5m in the bank, Meeks said, but something that may surprise outsiders is that the foundation cannot and does not use that money to employ developers.

      Thorsten Behrens, IT lead for LibreOffice at CIB, told The Register he was "99 per cent in agreement" with Meeks, adding: "The TDF is a charity; it's not in the business of developing software and actually cannot, because that would put it in competition with the commercial ecosystem," as well as threatening its charitable status.

      Most donations go to TDF so if the commercial providers of developers reduce their commitment, TDF remains but the development effort diminishes. This also means that contributing to LibreOffice by paying for support is currently more effective than donating money to TDF.

      Ironically, the best way to support Libre Office development is probably to buy the Collabora Office re-skin version from (Cambridge-based) Collabora.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: LibreOffice Support

        "The TDF is a charity ...

        Which uses PIN numbers in ATM machines, I presume.

  8. leppy232

    Didn't Netscape cost $300 for businesses?

    I don't mind this, it's still free for personal use and should help at least a little with fundraising. $9 for LibreOffice is a price I'd be willing to pay. Hell, even if it's $9 a computer and I have 300 of them -- Microsoft Office is what, a few hundred per computer? And it's not as standards-respecting.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Didn't Netscape cost $300 for businesses?

      IIRC Netscape was $30 for business, not $300. And it was commercial software at the time, not open source.

      I think they believed making it free for personal use was enough for adoption, but Microsoft making IE free immediately made it the standard for business and killed Netscape's revenue model. The later bundling with Windows 98 completed Netscape's demise by taking away most of their consumer share too.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Didn't Netscape cost $300 for businesses?

      I don't mind this at all, given that nothing prevents you from getting the free version if you don't want to pay (or if you do but don't want to have some of it go to Apple). I'm glad I read about it here though, because otherwise I'd have assumed that someone else just took their binary, put it on the store, and were waiting to see how much they could pull in from people who didn't know.

  9. MacroRodent

    Nothing new

    Charging for open-source programs in app stores is nothing new. It is Good that LibreOffice gets a share directly in this way. you can still get LibreOffice gratis for Windows, Linux and probably also for the Mac if "side-loaded" (? I have no idea if Macs still permit it, for me the Apple universe is alien).

    I do occasionally send a donation to Document Foundation, as should anyone who wants to ensure there remains at least one full-featured office suite that works locally, and does not make your documents hostage to the whims of some Corporation.

  10. Fursty Ferret

    and arguably be superior to the App Store offering, because that version will include Java.

    Some us would would argue the exact opposite...

  11. nagyeger

    Linux downloads

    Not surprised that there aren't many Linux downloads. I expect most people just run apt-get / rpm / yum / whatever and use whatever their distro includes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux downloads

      I agree, also because that tends to automagically integrate any updates. LO (at least on MacOS) lacks an integral 'update me' opton, instead you have to (a) keep an eye on updates (which is a problem as point updates are not even shown until you download the actual installer), (b) download the main program and (c) run a language pack over it.

      I have no idea what they do with the money, but development doesn't seem to be part of it.

    2. TVU

      Re: Linux downloads

      "Not surprised that there aren't many Linux downloads"

      This doesn't surprise me because LibreOffice seems to pretty much be the default office suite that's already included in the majority of Linux distributions.

  12. Karlis 1

    Oh, hell no!

    "LibreOfice is a very decent suite" - that's stretching the credibility of English language. Dysfunctional, idiosyncratic, broken are adjectives that are more appropriate. Somebody to have sheer guts to charge for it is smelling of another company about to go under.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Dysfunctional, idiosyncratic, broken are adjectives that are more appropriate. Somebody to have sheer guts to charge for it is smelling of another company about to go under."

      Seems a fair enough description of Office. Though I doubt M$ is about to go under any time soon, more's the pity.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      "Dysfunctional, idiosyncratic, broken"

      Can you give a concrete example of something that you were trying to do in LO that you could not do?

      I've been using StarOffice, OpenOffice and LibreOffice for decades without issue, but it might be that my needs are simple.

      1. bpfh Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Yes

        Import a csv file into Base without it having a conniption fit and multiple forums providing code to make your own import macros as ther was no way to import a file and have it create a table for you. After 3 man days of frustration, back to MS Access where the files were processed in under 3 minutes, and then just plain DB Browser for SQLite when the data got over the Access 2gb limit, no difference in time. Also, none of them flip their sh*t because they can’t find Java, or the correct flavour or version of Java.

        LO, I’m sorry but in my experience it’s a pile of horse manure. Always has been, probably always will. And I do really want to like it!

        I tried once rolling it out to a new company to avoid paying the Microsoft tax when out IT budget stretched enough to buy a kebab for an all night install, but no overtime - or new hardware and out racked servers were recycled desktops, but people loathed it so much that senior managers were expensing copies of Office Home edition of whatever the cheapest was in 2006 that their employees were buying just to get their job done.

        I’ve checked back every 2 to 3 years, and always disappointed. From the tacky interface that looks toyish compared to the way earlier Lotus SmartSuite, to it’s relative lack of compatibility with Excel and Word (ok maybe Microsoft’s fault), to the aforementioned Database app that’s simply not fit for purpose. I want to be impressed. I really do, I’d love a full featured replacement to Office… but LO/OO is so far away it’s not even in the same universe.

        By the way, is StarOffice even a thing today? I remember when Scott McNealy purchased “Star Operations” IIRC that made SO, and lambasting Oracle for wanting to take our money”. That turned out well…

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Yes

          By the way, is StarOffice even a thing today?

          The LibreOffice executable under linux is soffice.bin.

        2. VoiceOfTruth

          Re: Yes

          Like you I have had bad experiences with Base such that I don't even try to use it. I went through the "find the right version of Java which works and does not crash" process several times. Base doesn't seem to receive much attention from the programmers. And, again like you, I have looked at it every few years and found that nothing has changed.

          I don't mind the interface. Start up time for LO is slow compared to Smartsuite from 2 decades ago. Why is that?

        3. keithpeter Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Yes

          Thanks for replying with something more specific than the original post. To summarise...

          a) Importing csv files into the database component is complex

          b) The version of Java required by the database component is not well documented

          c) You don't like the user interface

          A quick search on import csv gave me this...

          https://dominoc925.blogspot.com/2013/05/import-csv-file-into-libreoffice-base.html

          which does not seem to involve authoring macros. I'm guessing that your files were far more complex than the example in the blog post above.

          https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Documentation/HowTo/Install_the_correct_JRE_-_LibreOffice_on_Windows_10#Examples_under_Windows

          The java version wiki page does look a bit vague, no clear listing of a JRE minimum version for each version of LO which is what I was expecting.

          I had a a look at the release notes for the Base component of LO from 7.4 back to 6.0. I think the Base component is not getting a lot of attention compared to the other applications, so if desktop style database functionality is really important, you are probably better off with MS Office.

          Response to the UI depends on the kind of work people do so generalising is hard. I personally don't get on with the ribbon style interface that recent versions of MS Office use so I prefer the LO interface.

          I don't use desktop application style databases myself, so I have learned a bit, thanks.

  13. mutt13y

    Why

    why would you pay for or even install Libre office on macos where you have pages, Numbers and Keynote included as standard.

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Why

      I grant that Keynote has some rather pleasant templates for making presentations, though I only use them about once a year.

      Pages is horrible. Its native format is horrible. To prove it I just created a single page document with the words "This is a page." What size is that in .pages format? 84kb. It can't open odt documents from LibreOffice. It doesn't import rtf documents correctly. Etc. It's madness that only Apple can get away with. It's suitable for latte-drinking pseuds who want to send Pages documents to other latte-drinking pseuds.

      Numbers is cumbersome to use. I gave it a try. Not good.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Why

        Pages is excellent. I have only recently been sent a MacBook and I’m really impressed with Pages. I’ve just done a big old documents saved the chapter files in .docx format.

        The reason I save them as docx is because the formatting has to be checked in a real version of MS Word on Windows so the final document is done on word. I didn’t have to fix any formatting in 12600 words.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why

      I would agree with Keynote - from a quality perspective, Keynote beats even Powerpoint by some distance (exactly because of the absence of the many bells and whistles that distract from content). However, both Pages and Numbers are more format focused. Oldies like me immediately recognise what they do as DTP focused, and that tends to get in the way as you normally start with content before you format, it makes things confusing and time consuming. That gap, LO fills to perfection. Or NeoOffice. Or Collabra.

      That doesn't mean Pages and Numbers are not usable, but LO is closer to what people are used to.

      1. Smirnov

        Re: Why

        Not sure what you mean with Pages/Numbers being more “format focused”, and as someone who regularly uses all three packages (MS Office, LibreOffice and Apple Pages/Numbers/Keynote) for work I can tell you that typing content before formatting works with Apple’s programs as good/bad as with the two other office packages (i.e., they are all WYSIWYG editors which always show formatted text). There’s nothing fundamentally different with what Apple’s programs do.

    3. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Why

      I use LO on Mac, that’s mainly spreadsheets and a few simple documents. Having used MS office I found it an improvement, interface reminded me of earlier MSO versions and it got less in my way.

      I tried Apple’s offerings, but there was more learning curve and it wasn’t worth the time.

  14. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Tax deductible

    I suppose if a small business buys software from the App Store, it’s easily tax deductible. With a donation it might be a lot more difficult.

    And there is the “if it doesn’t cost then it’s no good” brigade. You should have a “reassuringly expensive” £119.99 version for them.

  15. aerogems Silver badge

    Seems fine

    Libre just means free in the sense of freedom, not gratis as in no charge. As long as they use the money to further the development of the suite, I don't see a particular problem with it.

  16. teebie

    'ideal for "end users who want to get all of their desktop software from Apple's proprietary sales channel."'

    They could have just said 'dimwits'

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure that count is right

    "Just 4.75 million were for the Linux version of the suite – well behind the 298 million Windows downloads"

    Yes, but I don't think that counts the Linux users who install it via their distro's package manager, instead of going upstream to LibreOffice's own servers.

    Some Linux distros even come with libreoffice installed out of the box. Anyone using that is not going to be counted, because they didn't have to download it.

    Yes I expect Windows would still win, but to be fair Linux is not as low as that.

  18. jfw25

    The superior version

    "Free downloads of LibreOffice for macOS from the foundation's site will remain available and arguably be superior to the App Store offering, because that version will include Java."

    Arguably the App Store offering will be superior to the free download, because that version will _not_ include Java...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can get the far superior real thing from Microsoft for less than that.

    1. Stork Silver badge
  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I was going to ask about WIndows app store but got beat to it

    I was going to ask about Windows app store but got beat to it.

    Anyway, I think charging for Mac version at least is totally fair -- I have an Apple Developer account, but nothing on the App store and as far as I know there's no way to put anything on the app store without paying Apple some massive fee (well not that massive) to get signing keys and so on. I could see doing the same in Windows app store too (which per the above they are in fact already doing.) I could see having a model where you can still download it for free, but if you're getting it through an app store go ahead and pay up.

  21. captain veg Silver badge

    I'm on Linux...

    ... and I think MS Office is a pile of shit.

    Nevertheless if I want to do something quickly with data I fire up Excel in a Windows VM, because I know how to make it do the (rudimentary) things that I want.

    It annoys the fuck out of me. I fail to understand why I have to tell it that, when importing from a text file, it should treat everything as text until and unless I tell it otherwise.

    And yet... simply removing duplicates from a list. In Excel it's a command in the Data menu. In Calc, well, I have to look it up every time. Strangely I can never remember the arcane incantation.

    I suspect that this is because the authors of Calc are trying to produce a spreadsheet, whereas the Excel guys realised a long time ago that it's mostly a way of managing tabular data.

    -A.

  22. Blackjack Silver badge

    So... the Register really should make an article about all the "Little annoyances" Mac users have got over the years, because it is really getting ridiculous.

  23. DrReD

    Fair enough.

    All I have to say is: fair enough.

  24. RoyGBiv

    Hamstrung

    It is a hamstrung version that is made available on the app store, in essence almost identical to LibreOffice Vanilla, once promoted and distributed by Collabora.

    What that means is:

    - no Java support anywhere (wizards, DB stuff, etc)

    - no database reports with the report builder (because it requires Java)

    - limited extension installation possibilities (e.g. anything that requires Java will cause it to crash) - language tool extension ? Forget it.

    - no ODBC support

    - currently no way of creating a new database container file that connects to a mysql/mariadb instance.

    The excuse for not including Java is that Apple bans apps that call on outside frameworks, or the requirement to install an outside-the-app framework.

    The version of LibreOffice available from the project website does this, and yes, it can be a pain to find the right JDK version, but it does work.

    The problem as I see it currently, is that you can install extensions which call out to outside-the-app frameworks, and normally, this isn't allowed, under the app store rules. Take Collabora Productivity, for example, they simply deactivated any external extension installations.

    We'll see how long this situation lasts. Maybe Apple will get fed up of receiving crash reports from users installing extensions that cause LO to barf because the extensions call out to out-of-app frameworks.

    8.99€ for a crippled version of something you can get for absolutely free with a more capable functionality seems like a poor trade-off. That was always the problem with both LibreOffice Vanilla, and the Collabora Productivity offering (which cost significantly more). Additionally, almost none of the bugs raised against these products with regard to the macOS version were ever addressed, so the alleged "support for business" was non-existent.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like