LibreOffice introduction

LibreOffice is an open-source office suite with six office applications and a central organizing one that work equally well on just about every desktop operating system.

This page has sections on the following:

The applications

  • StartCenter: This application contains the most recently opened documents, as well makes it easy to create a new blank document or one based on a template. It is launched when the all-white icon is clicked.
  • Writer: The flexible application can create just about any type of document, simple letters to complex books. It also has the ability to open Word documents and many that are in legacy formats.
  • Calc: Tools for laying out data and crunching numbers make this application versatile. Wizards and other features assist you in analyzing data. It has several chart choices for displaying data. Macros can be written in Python and JavaScript.
  • Impress: Impress users can create presentations with images, artwork, and videos. Slide transitions can be three-dimensional. Presentations can be exported to PDF, SVG, and other standard formats.
  • Draw: The application can easily augment a report, book, presentation, or other type of document with vector graphics. The graphics can easily be inserted in non-LibreOffice documents as well.
  • Base: Base is used as a GUI front-end for some of the most powerful platforms, including MySQL/MariaDB, Adabas D, MS Access and PostgreSQL. It also has drivers to connect to just about any other type of database.
  • Math: This helps you to develop well-formatted formulas to insert into another document. The application can stand alone, but it is integrated with the other applications.

Articles/videos in this section

The LibreOffice applications are integrated, and they share many menus and items in those menus.

Many of the menus that the applications have in common have unique items for each application and items that are applied differently from app to app.

The File and Help menu-items are different. They operate the same regardless of whether these menus are open in Writer, Calc, or any of the other applications. Articles and videos is this section will cover these items.

Installing LibreOffice

Windows and Mac

LibreOffice can be downloaded from its Website. The Windows and Mac versions of the software can only be obtained through the Website. Windows users, who are still running XP, can download 5.4 or earlier. The latest version of the LibreOffice is available for 7, 8, or 10.

The latest version requires Mac OS 10.9 or later.

Linux distros

Another way to obtain the office suite is through an operating system’s package manager. Most Linux distributions come with LibreOffice pre-installed. If they do not, they will typically have the applications in their package manager, a software program used to install and uninstall other software applications. However, the latest version of LibreOffice may not be available through one of these.

The latest versions may need to be installed by using the Terminal in Linux, a program that allows users to use the Linux distro’s command line. This Web page shows how to install it.

Other platforms

In addition to Windows, Intel-Mac, and Linux operating systems, LibreOffice can also be installed on other operating systems. They include Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), Solaris, and PowerPC Macs. This Web page has more information.

LibreOffice history

OpenOffice was developed from StarOffice – created by StarDivision, a German corporation that released StarWriter, as its first application, in 1985. Sun Microsystems acquired the company in 1999 and released the source code in 2000, calling it 1.0 was released in May 2002. Sun Microsystems controlled the project until 2010, when it was bought out by Oracle.

In September 2010, developers and supporters of, announced a fork (using source code from one application to make a new, similar one) of OpenOffice because they thought the Oracle, would not allow the office suite development to be as open as they thought it should and thought that a non-profit organization would serve the project better.

Those who had been key developers left Oracle to form The Document Foundation. It was first announced in September 2010 and incorporated in February 2012. LibreOffice was first released in January 2011, several months after The Document Foundation was announced. It was based on OpenOffice 3.3 and patches and build software from Novell Go-oo.

Since starting with version OpenOffice 3.3.0, The Document Foundation has released several updates and versions of the office suite. The organization’s goal is to release a new version every six months.

Sun was acquired by Oracle in January 2010. Oracle decided it no longer wanted to develop the suite. In June 2011, Oracle gave it to the Apache Foundation.

The move to donate suite, now called Apache OpenOffice, was supported by IBM, who had been a contributor to OpenOffice’s development since its Sun Microsystems days and used the source code for one of its products, Lotus Symphony. IBM discontinued Symphony and donated its code to Apache shortly after Oracle gave the foundation OpenOffice.

Open source

The Document Foundation wanted to share an office suite with the world at no cost. It believes that users should also be free:
  • Free to run the program as they wish, for any purpose.
  • Free to study how the program works and change it.
  • Free to redistribute copies of the software.
  • Free to distribute copies of the versions they modified.

The type of software is known as open source, or free. TDF states that they believe free software “better-quality, higher-reliability, increased-security, and greater-flexibility than proprietary alternatives.”

For this reason it has a manifesto of values to guide its developers. Its values are giving everyone access to its office productivity software at no charge; translating the software and its supporting documentation in many different languages; using open formats and standards so users can retain intellectual property rights of the documents they create; and an open and peer-reviewed process for creating software.

This has guided TDF to make LibreOffice with all of its applications look and run equally on many different operating systems.