Open Ballot: Should Apache abandon OpenOffice?


In 2010, Libre Office, a new fork of OpenOffice was created. The main goal was to return control of the premiere free office suite to the community and creating new processes that would reinvigorate its development. By all accounts, it succeeded. Developers are getting behind the project, as are companies, and it seems that there's something of a feature gap opening up between the two projects.

This would be a straight forward good news story if it wasn't for the fact that the Apache Foundation took on development of OpenOffice and have continued to develop and support it.

Is competition good, or is the split effort just silly and a waste of resources? Given that Libre Office now has so much momentum, should the projects be merged and all efforts focussed on creating one amazing free office suite?

Let us know what you think in the comments and we'll read out a selection in this week's podcast!

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Your comments

Yes of course they should be

Yes of course they should be merged! Why waste effort on the same code base for two versions of the same thing?

It might be better if there were fewer distros as well for exactly the same reasons, and all distros that are based on another should contribute to the donor base!

Apache "took on" development

Apache "took on" development only after Oracle donated the code and the trademark to the ASF. And due to licensing, it is easier for LibreOffice to use Apache OpenOffice code than the reverse (since Apache OpenOffice is under the Apache License).

Instead of painting this as "competition" why not look on this as cooperation. Having a core office suite available under the Apache License means that LibreOffice, NeoOffice and the other dozens of OpenOffice versions can focus on their own secret-sauce and distinguishing features, rather than boring stuff.

I agree with towy71 100%.

I agree with towy71 100%. They should be merged.

I personally think that there is too much fragmentation in open source world today. Choice is a good thing, but there is a certain line after which more choice means poorer quality.

They should continue on in

They should continue on in separate projects - innovate in their own ways. Sure, some may say it is duplication efforts, but there is an opportunity to completely re-imagine how an office suite can be. I hope one or both are up to the challenge.

Merge, merge, merge!

Multiple distros survive because they (mostly) take different approaches and satisfy different needs. If LibreOffice and OpenOffice are two teams treading the same path then it's just madness.


I would recommend merging, as duplication of near-identical office suites isn't productive. If the two projects are not merged, then certainly they could both benefit from shared code - assuming the Apache License is flexible enough to allow it.


Yes, they should merge. Apache should open discussions with the Document Foundation and work on a merge plan under the auspices of LibreOffice. It's a great suite, and with a little more focused collaboration could become the highly integrated office suite for the GNU/Linux world that Microsoft Office enjoys for its ecosystem.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Swallow

Yes. Yes. Yes. Swallow pride, merge the projects, make friends, get users.

Honestly at this point I don't see a legitimate reason for using OpenOffice in place of Libreoffice, but what do I know! I just mostly use Google Docs now....

Competition is good

Well obviously competition is good. I love cereals!

While I am not afraid of cereals...

...I do not think choice makes sense here. We do have competing office solutions - Abiword, gnumeric and however KOffice is called now. Libreoffice has made an incredible amount of progress since the split, and we can only imagine where it could go if everyone would develop on it.

This is an immensely important programme for us - a true flagship of open source that I see on many computers of friends who have no clue what "Open Source" is. It should have all possible resources, and I am not too happy with Apache allowing itself to be used by Oracle in this way.

Competition exists

Given that we already have some competition in the form of Abiword and Gnumeric, on the one hand, and KOff... err Calligra Suite on the other, then having competition between such similar projects as LibreOffice and OpenOfficeorg seems redundant.

Indeed, as I'm sure has been mentioned in the past, either in LXF or the podcasts, Abiword is a much quicker word processor and I have found its ability to use odf files to be very good. I seem to recall Gnumeric can open odf spreadsheet files as well, so we aren't left with the problem of incompatible document formats.

I can't say I've tried Calligra yet, perhaps someone else has.

Too late for Open Office

Libre Office made great improvements on application performance. And compiling (on Gentoo) without any problem. Besides the name I see no added value for Open Office any more. Sorry.

Having read the comments

Having read the comments thus far I have to say that I use Abiword and Gnumeric more than I use LibreOffice cos they fire up quickly and do what I need; but I still think OO and LO should merge

Openoffice is obsolete

Libreoffice has way more active development that OpenOffice has ever had. OpenOffice in contrast is fairly stagnant. Any useful additions and patches from Openoffice are already pulled into LibreOffice. That renders Openoffice redundant.

Redirect needs a redirect to job done!

The only thing I've found is people don't realise that OOo is essentially dead, Oracle and Sun destroyed the project, it's a waste of resources. OOo was never a good name but it does have brand recognition (sometimes in the negative sense ie. Oh that's the free MS Office that doesn't work properly), LO could use a bit of marketing. OOo has long been festering away.

Merge if GPL

The Apache license is all well and good for what it is but I can't see many of the Libre Office folks being interested in having their work placed under it instead of the GPL.

Competition is good, but...

the main competition is microsoft office - open source has a hard enough job trying to maintain compatibility, and simultaneously provide a superior product. At the moment all effort needs to go into improving libreoffice, but if it gets beyond 50% market share, I'm happy for someone to fork it then. At the moment, just needs to be dumped.


They should merge coz Apache is not developing very much instead combine the resources so the community can benefit from the faster development of the office suite


Apache are unlikely to abandon OpenOffice, but OpenOffice may well abandon Apache. Open source projects largely survive on quality, with no significant marketing budgets the cream generally floats to the top. If LO is so superior to OOo, the latter will simply wither and die. Volunteer developers are not going to want to work on a second rate project when they can just as easily transfer their knowledge and skills to the competition, so this question will resolve itself in the not too distant future.

The comparative release cycles already show how this is working.

OOO should find a separate focus

OOO could stay but it should become a cloud solution or
a bunch of apache modules or something, not a Libre alternative.

Merge and keep Open Office name

Most non nerds have no idea what Libre Office is, but plenty know of Open Office. Surely they can sort out their differences and make a single product that can take out MS Office.

I do love the idea of Apache creating more server based cloud functionality for OOo as someone suggested, that would be awesome if you could have your own Google Docs style server or even work with Google to allow document interoperability.


The cloud is rapidly making stand alone word processors less relevant. Google's incorporation of Docs into a bigger cloud based storage system is an early (and rough around the edges) move towards a future where users don't notice or care whether they are doing 'word processing '. The future for libre office and open office is located in the cloud. If they don't achieve this then they will be marginalised allong with Microsoft office. Notice that ms already has a web based version of its office suite.


I don't care what they do, so long as one of them adds a live word count to the status bar. Thousands of students will flock to the package with that feature.

Apache are daft

Apache have been handed a useless project, so why not hand it back to the community? Give the Libre Office lot the merger they wanted before Oracle threw it's hissy fit and decided to stick it to the community?

Unless there are legal contracts preventing the handing back, Oracle seem daft hanging onto the sinking ship that is OOo.

Folks seemed to have

Folks seemed to have forgotten the "reasoning" that Oracle gave for handing OOo to Apache - namely that the Apache license allows commercial companies to build their products on OOo and keep their code to themselves. Apparently (according to Oracle/ASF and to a lesser extent IBM) Libre's GPL'd terms don't allow this.

Of course a cynic would argue that Oracle handed OOo to ASF merely to screw over Libre. ;) Which is why I removed OOo and installed Libre.

Personally, other than the "building block" reason above I can't see any justification for separate Libre and Open Office suites, and the unecessary duplication of effort is infuriating to me.

Open what?

In my humble opinion Open Office has been left in the dust of the LibreOffice development team. All they have going for them is the name and trademark icon. With time passing, even these assets are fading away.

Perhaps they (OpenOffice) should just give in, give up their remaining assets to the people at the Document Foundation and put their efforts into LibreOffice.

Merge ? hmmm... In the same

Merge ? hmmm... In the same way that KDE, GNOME, UNITY, LDM etc... should also merge and just become one desktop? after all they replicate the functionality of each other!

Come on, what every happened to the Linux community's obsession with the concept that choice is good, that we need to have twelve different email clients installed by a standard install of your distro so that you can truly have choice. Or are we now saying that there should be only one; one office suite, one browser, one desktop, one linux distro.

In fact why bother with Linux at all ? I mean the majority of users and developers in the world use Windows, why don't we all just focus our efforts on that ?!?!? Why bother with choice at all, support would be so much easier if everyone used exactly the same versions of exactly the same software.

If only Oracle could...

give Java a proper home that is independent of any manufacturer like Libre Office is now...

Merge the Offices together and make it better than Microsoft Office. That's when the fun starts!

@slightly annoyed

I dont think that is a fair stance to take. The only reason this is being discussed is because in basic fact, OO and LO perform exactly the same functions, as they are based on the same code base.
That is not comparable to desktop managers, and distros, because each one of them has their own ambitions and goals to what their project should be.
I do agree its a trademark licensing move that OO is still alive. I could see it happening that a commercial organisation takes the code from OO, builds their own product and somehow gets it on power with the same number of users as MS Office. Obviously, if this was to happen, money would have to come from somewhere, but to be honest, as much as being in a free and open source world is important to me, being a student, I can't not have a copy of MS office, because of the sheer volume of docx files that get sent my way. If a new standard was to appear, free or not free, the mass market would move to that instead, but until that exists the document world is owned by MS no matter how good LO and OO are currently.


Having recently converted from windows to Linux (purposely left out eh gnu/ bit) I must admit I'm finding the shear number of different programs that do the same thing bit brilliant and annoying. I think that one of the main things stopping people coming over to the Linux side is the dominance of MS office on windows, and although Libre office is very good it is still not as feature rich as ms office. Therefor i think that they should merge the projects and use both dev teams to create a killer office suite that makes it even easier for office users to migrate to.

Openoffice vs Libreoffice

I think the only way Openoffice can be a separate and have a valid prescence is for the developers to look at it and see what they can do different from LibreOffice.

It really needs to be stripped down and made to be as fast as Abiword.

Just one more thing...

... is it just me, or does the Writer part of LO seem to get all the "developer love"? Any time there's a new LO release it seems, to me at least, that it's Writer that gets all the coverage.

That said, I'll admit that while I'll happily use Writer instead of MS-Word, Calc is not a fit replacement for MS-Excel unless you're doing simple stuff. And with Google Docs getting more features each release, that's a dangerous place to be.

Not sure about Impress v's Powerpoint. Oh, and if someone could do a LibreOffice-Diagram to go up against Visio - even Visio of 5+ years ago - then I'd probably be willing to PAY for it. :o


Visio would be great to have on linux, if only to import some files. Dia is good, but not very friendly. maybe some Freemind interface would help a bit.

Discussion over!

I Know the discussion is technically over because the latest podcast featuring this is out now but...

Although I have no real idea how many developers are working on these various projects, I would guess that there is not the same kind of limitation that a normal company would have. In other words there are potentially hundreds of developers that could, if they are willing work on either of these projects.

That to me is a good thing, far from it being a waste of duplicated effort, it is a great training ground and experience for anyone that wants to get involved. Those same developers may then gain the skills to go on and write great code else where and the community becomes stronger and more diverse as a result.

So long live OO and LO and lets see many more!!

OO/LO are going to diverge

OpenOffice and LibreOffice are not going to merge again and there is no reason why they should.

LibreOffice has demonstrated a web-based version this year. This might indicate where development is going here.

OpenOffice is preparing to merge Lotus Symphony code, a huge undertaking and one of the reasons that not much development has been done besides purging the codebase of copyleft.

A better idea...

We go on about how Open Office / Libre Office is a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office.

Neither are.

They are drop in replacements for Word, Excel, Access, and Power Point.

MS Office's most useful tools are none of these for the SOHO /organization. But rather One Note, Publisher, and Outlook are what you actually run a small business with.

I have a whopping 6 spreadsheets, no databases, and 4 versions of a contract that is a word processing document with an embedded spreadsheet. That is all I need from these "Core" applications. Libre Office works perfectly for that, and while I am a huge fan of Evolution, it does not have an integrated counterpart in Libre/Open Office.

Publisher simply has no counterpart on any platform, not even Windows. It is one of the few programs that MS really nails and gets right, and is eminently useful to a small-buisness owner. Evernote covers all the bases (and a few more) of one note, and Evolution is great, but not fully integrated.

Less than 1% of people need all of the tools in most word processors and spreadsheets. Google Docs or Abiword/gnumeric is more than adequate for those needs.

The best office oriented piece of software on any platform is glabels. It turns an otherwise maddening task into sheer simplicity, and usefulness.

THAT is the definition of good software.

I suppose the point here is that there needs to be something apart from Inkscape or Scribus for easy creation
of documents used in small business and churches /schools /organizations that is a counterpart to publisher, and I would like to see it as part of Libre Office.

OO and LO are both stuck in the past

Although I understand the licensing issues around OO will continue to slow its development, I am disappointed that LO is fundamentally no different to what it was over a year ago.

Both LO and OO products are inferior compared to MS Office counterparts. Until a step change takes place, each remains moribund.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think the MS Office experience is pleasant at all. I want something better, but LO/OO are even clunkier. Two thumbs down to the both of them.


Cause they were the same thing at the beginning. I hate the things such as qt vs. gtk+,kde vs. gnome,LO vs. OO,gentoo vs. arch ,ubuntu vs. fedora etc. My really wishes are: linux vs. windows,linux vs. OSX, linux desktop UI vs. windows UI or osx UI, linux Office vs MS Office.

Open Office Obsolete ?

The likely scenario is that users will migrate to LibreOffice and abandon OpenOffice. OpenOffice will then just fade away. There is no real need to merge.

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