For our first magazine interview, we got some cheap flights and headed out to Kaufbeuren, an attractive Swabian city an hour’s train ride from Munich. This is where we met Florian Effenberger, Executive Director at The Document Foundation (he was chairman at the time of this interview), and Alexander Werner from the Foundation’s membership committee. This is the non-profit organisation at the heart of LibreOffice, the famous fork of OpenOffice.org now dominant in every Linux distribution. We were able to ask Florian about the split, about arguments over a new name and what wheat beer he’d recommend as a souvenir for our journey home.
A new minor release of the hugely popular open-source office suite LibreOffice has been made available for immediate download.
LibreOffice 4.3.3, the third minor update in the 4.3.x series and the first since the September release of 4.3.2, comes packed with plenty of stability and performance fixes, but no major new features to sing of.
Comparing LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice is like comparing identical twins. Even people who know them well have trouble distinguishing one from the other, and, when you find a difference, it is often trivial. All the same, the differences are growing, and LibreOffice has at least eleven advantages over OpenOffice – see the list below.
Both of these free office suites are descendants of OpenOffice.org (just don't ask in a crowd of Linux users which is true descendant of OpenOffice.org unless you're fond of flame wars). They have identical system requirements and feature sets. Both are supported by libraries of templates and extensions, and, if one acquires a new feature, the other frequently adds the feature in the next release.
Those who know me know that I am partial to OpenOffice, an open source project that I contribute to. So I am extremely pleased to see it continue to advance in all fronts. Since coming to Apache, OpenOffice’s name recognition has grown from 24% to 39% and the user share has grown from 11% to 18%, while keeping user satisfaction constant. This is a testament to the hard work of the many talented volunteers at Apache.
In the case of the Document Foundation, the LibreOffice project needed an independent, solid and meritocratic entity dedicated to support it. In other terms, the OpenOffice.org community wanted to be its own boss and stop relying on corporate – or even third party – good will. If you attend the Community Track on the 31st you will be able to learn more about the Document Foundation and the other entities, but my message here is that while there is no silver bullet in these matters, forcing a community be hosted or to bend to a software vendor never works. It bends if it wants to; it goes whereever it wishes to go. In the case of the Document Foundation, independence and community rule prevailed over convenience; today the results do not need to be proven anymore. But it does not mean we hold the truth more than anybody else: we just ensured the community was in charge.
In just three days, the Swiss open source community Wilhelm Tux reached its crowdfunding target of 10,000 CHF (about 8000 euro) to add support for digital signatures in PDF documents. The feature will be added to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity tools. The project is awarded to Collabora, an open source IT service provider, which will deliver the new functionality in April.
The Document Foundation has been able to attract contributions to LibreOffice from AMD and Intel as well as governments, including Saudi Arabia and France. Donations are the primary source of revenue for The Document Foundation and Vignoli said that the donations have been growing steadily over the years. That funding has enabled The Document Foundation to hire three full-time people and two part-time people, as well as supporting continuing developer efforts around LibreOffice.
One of the main areas of growth for LibreOffice is in competitive migrations away from other office suites, including Microsoft's Office. While The Document Foundation would like to see more people use LibreOffice, the plan is not for all users to totally abandon Microsoft Office.
"The objective is not to eradicate Microsoft Office from companies," Vignoli said. "The concept of migration is about giving an alternative to companies." - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/enterprise-apps/libreoffice-at-4-how-the-openoffice-fork-is-forging-ahead.html#sthash.Jp29EQC7.dpuf