Intel Joins The Document Foundation Advisory Board

Intel has recently joined The Document Foundation. The Document Foundation is a German organization that works for the promotion of open source software. It was specifically created by OpenOffice.org members to manage the LibreOffice fork. LibreOffice aimed to create a truly Open Source office suite, in contrast to OpenOffice.org, which required copyright assignment to Oracle.
libreoffice

LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs.

The Document Foundation was announced in September 2010, and its identity was laid down formally only recently, on February 17, after clearing all legal hurdles. One of the primary aims of TDF is

to eliminate the digital divide in society by giving everyone access to office productivity tools free of charge to enable them to participate as full citizens in the 21st century.

The Document Foundation (TDF) has an advisory board, which was formed back in June last year. The initial members of this foundation included Google, SUSE, Red Hat and the FSF. Although Canonical is missing from the advisory board, Intel will be a valuable addition to it. It is important to remember that although Advisory Board is not a formal body of the foundation, it helps the Board of Directors to further various TDF projects.

LibreOffice is Available for Download at this page.

LibreOffice Included In The Debian Squeeze Backports

libre_office_debian Almost all the major Linux distributions are using LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice. Today, it has been announced that Debian Squeeze too will get LibreOffice in the backports.

LibreOffice has been available in Debian Wheezy and Debian Sid for a while now. But in the stable release, Debian Squeeze, it is not available. As a Debian policy, new packages are never introduced in the core repository of a stable release. So, it is very unlikely that Debian Squeeze will ever get LibreOffice in its main repository.

So, users of Debian Squeeze who wanted LibreOffice will have to install it from either the unstable or testing archive. However, Debian Squeeze users will no longer have to do that as LibreOffice has been made available in the Squeeze Backports.

How to install LibreOffice in Debian Squeeze from backports

Note: Installing LibreOffice will remove OpenOffice.

To install LibreOffice from the Squeeze backports, you need to add the backports first. To do that open the Terminal and execute:

$ sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Now add the line given below and save the file.

# deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main

Now update the software list.

$ sudo apt-get update

Finally install LibreOffice with the command

$ apt-get t squeeze-backports install libreoffice

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Google, FSF, SUSE and Red Hat Joins The LibreOffice Advisory Board

A couple of days ago, The Document Foundation announced the formation of the LibreOffice Advisory Board. The function of the LibreOffice Advisory Board will be to provide The Document Foundation with advice, guidance and proposals. The board will also have a say in the future developments and projects of The Document Foundation.

When Oracle gave away OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation, I wrote that it did not matter as LibreOffice is where all the action is at. Well, that view has been reaffirmed by four big names joining the LibreOffice Advisory Board Google, FSF, Red Hat and SUSE.

This is what Jeremy Allison, member of Google’s Open Source Programs Office, said about Google joining the Advisory board:

The creation of The Document Foundation’s Advisory board is a great step forward for the organization. Google is pleased to be a supporter of The Document Foundation, and to provide funding and advice to advance their work.

The backing of SUSE and Red Hat, the companies behind major Linux distributions such as SUSE, openSUSE, Red Hat and Fedora, means that LibreOffice will continue to be the favored office suite for these Linux distributions. Although, Canonical did not join the board, they too have pledged their support for LibreOffice.

The fact that LibreOffice has got the support of the Free Software Foundation is a big advantage for LibreOffice over OpenOffice.org. Recently the FSF has gone on record saying that users should use LibreOffice over OpenOffice.org. This is what John Sullivan, Executive Director of the FSF said:

The Free Software Foundation is pleased to offer its advise to The Document Foundation. We applaud TDF’s demonstrated commitment to user freedom, and will do our best to help it achieve its free software goals going forward.

The other members of the LibreOffice Advisory Board are Freies Office Deutschland e.V. and Software in the Public Interest. Each of the members of the advisory board will have one representative and will serve for a term of one year.

The Free Software Foundation Recommends LibreOffice Over OpenOffice.org

After moving to the Apache Software Foundation, OpenOffice.org has changed its license from the GNU Lesser Public License to the Apache License. The ramification of changing the license from the copyleft license, LGPL, to the non-copyleft, the Apache License, will be that the corporations involved (Oracle and IBM, in this case) find it easier to distribute OpenOffice.org and its components as a non-free software.

According to the Free Software Foundation, freedom of the software cannot be guaranteed with the Apache License. Unlike the LGPL, the Apache License does not make it mandatory for the distributor to distribute the source code of the software.

All Apache projects are distributed under the terms of the Apache License. This is a non-copyleft free software license; anybody who receives the software can distribute it to others under nonfree terms. Such a licensing strategy represents a significant policy change for OpenOffice.org.

However, users and contributors should be aware that, as part of this transition, it will become easier for proprietary software developers to distribute OpenOffice.org as nonfree software.

The fact that the Apache License will make it possible for Oracle or other corporations to distribute OpenOffice.org and its derivatives as a non-free software is probably the only reason Oracle decided to give OpenOffice.org to the Apache Software Foundation and not The Document Foundation.

The fork of OpenOffice.org – LibreOffice – is now being recommended by the Free Software Foundation to both users and developers who want to contribute something. Unlike OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice is under The Document Foundation and they are committed to keeping LibreOffice under LGPL.

Fortunately, there’s a ready alternative for people who want to work with a productivity suite that does more to protect their freedom: LibreOffice. Anybody who’s comfortable with OpenOffice.org will find a familiar interface and feature set in LibreOffice, because it was originally based on the same source code. Since September 2010, numerous contributors have been working to improve the software, and the project’s legal steward, The Document Foundation, is committed to keeping it licensed under the LGPL.

Even though the Free Software Foundation is coming out with its support for LibreOffice over OpenOffice.org just now, OpenOffice.org has been practically dead for some time. After LibreOffice was released, all the major Linux distributions ditched it in favor of LibreOffice. Not only that, almost all of the OpenOffice.org contributors from the pre-Oracle era have already left it to contribute to LibreOffice. So, while LibreOffice has been releasing some very impressive applications, OpenOffice.org has been stagnating for some time now.

The Document Foundation Releases LibreOffice 3.4

Undaunted by OpenOffice.org going to the Apache Foundation, The Document Foundation has kept their promise by releasing a new version of LibreOffice. The new release – LibreOffice 3.4 – has a lot of improvements which easily makes it by far the best open-source office application suite available.

Features/Improvements

 

Unity integration in LibreOffice 3.4

Unity Integration: Users of Ubuntu 11.04 will be glad that LibreOffice 3.4 finally supports the global menu. In the earlier release, LibreOffice stood out glaringly as the only default application which does not follow the system settings.

 

Improvements in Calc: Calc, the spreadsheet application in LibreOffice, has recieved a major update in this release. Calc now has better compatibility with Microsoft Exel documents. It also supports unlimited numbers of fields and named range as data source now.

Faster startup: The LibreOffice codes has been cleaned up and the application data are read after the LibreOffice splash screen. These changes give this version of LibreOffice a faster and smoother startup.

Less memory consumption: An issue with the font cache which resulted in memory leaks has been fixed. Text encoding conversions which are not used frequently have also been moved to a separate library. This two changes will result in LibreOffice 3.4 consuming less than the earlier version.

User Interface updates: There are some updates in the user interface of LibreOffice. While, there are no drastic changes, LibreOffice now has tighter integration with the Gtk+ theme – making it look like a native application. The text rendering has also been improved to make the text appear like that in the rest of the system. For non-Ubuntu users, an option for hiding the toolbar has been added.

Download

LibreOffice is available for Linux (Debian & RPM), Windows and Mac OS X. To download, it click on the link given below.

Download LibreOffice 3.4

Ubuntu users who prefer to download from the repository should wait as it is not available yet. If you want to install it manually, you can follow the instructions given here.

Oracle “Donates” OpenOffice.org To The Apache Foundation

In a surprising announcement, Oracle has said that they are donating OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation. Luke Kowalski, Vice- President, Oracle Corporate Architecture Group, said that their decision to give away the OpenOffice.org code to The Apache Foundation is a part of their commitment to the open source communities.

OpenOffice.org and The Apache Foundation

While it is a good thing that the OpenOffice.org assets are in the hands of the open source community, questions will be asked as to why Oracle choose the Apache Foundation. Regarding that decision, Luke Kowalski had this to say:

Donating OpenOffice.org to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future. The Apache Software Foundation’s model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development.

Jim Jagielski, president, The Apache Software Foundation, has welcomed Oracle’s move to donate OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation:

We welcome highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing.

Jagielski also added that OpenOffice will be initially an Apache incubator project. Upon maturing into a Top Level Project, a committee will be formed to guide the project on its day-to-day working.

Why Apache Foundation and not The Document Foundation?

If you recall, after Oracle acquired OpenOffice.org, many of the leading OpenOffice.org contributors formed The Document Foundation. The Document Foundation requested Oracle to join them and donate the name “OpenOffice.org” to the community. Oracle snubbed them and asked them to leave OpenOffice.org instead.

They left OpenOffice.org, along with most of the other contributors, and went on to fork OpenOffice.org to form another office suite LibreOffice. LibreOffice has been very successful and most of the major Linux distributions have switched over to LibreOffice as the default office application suite.

So, considering the history between The Document Foundation and Oracle, it is not surprising that Oracle decided to ignore The Document Foundation and gave OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation.

Licensing Issues

A problem with OpenOffice.org becoming an Apache project will be the licensing issue. Apache projects uses the Apache Public License while OpenOffice.org uses the GNU Lesser Public License (LGPL) version 3. The LGPL and Apache Public License are not compatible with each other in matters regarding distribution with software under other license and distribution of derivatives.

The GNU Lesser Public License version 3 allows for the distribution of the software under LGPL with software under other license with certain restrictions. The distributor has to provide the source code of the software under LGPL along with the modifications made to it. The Apache Public License allows the distribution of the software without any such restrictions.

Regarding the derivative works, the LGPL allows their distribution only if the derivative is also under LGPL or GPL. Under the Apache Public License, the derivatives are free to choose any license as long as ‘Apache’ is not included in its name.

It will be interesting to see how this gets sorted out.

 

The Document Foundation Releases LibreOffice 3.3

Four months after leaving OpenOffice.org, The Document Foundation has finally released the first stable version of LibreOffice. Although this is the first stable release, the release is given a version number 3.3 in continuation of the version number of OpenOffice.org.

Although The Document Foundation was started by less than twenty developers, the number has now grown to more than a hundred. This has allowed them to release LibreOffice ahead of schedule.

LibreOffice includes a number of original features which includes:

  • Ability to import SVG files in Draw and edit them interactively
  • Import filters for MS Works and Lotus Word Pro documents
  • Easy to use dialog box for title pages and page number in Writer
  • New tree view in Navigator Tool for Writer
  • Better import of WordPerfect files

Beside these new features, LibreOffice 3.3 also brings a number of extensions such as PDF importer, Presenter View in Impress, report builder etc. LibreOffice 3.3 also has all of the new features in OpenOffice.org 3.3.

Caolán McNamara, one of the lead developers of LibreOffice, has this to say about the release

We are excited: this is our very first stable release, and therefore we are eager to get user feedback, which will be integrated as soon as possible into the code, with the first enhancements being released in February. Starting from March, we will be moving to a real time-based, predictable, transparent and public release schedule, in accordance with Engineering Steering Committee’s goals and users’ requests.

LibreOffice already has very strong backings in the open-source community. LibreOffice 3.3 is already  the default office suite in Ubuntu 11.04 and it seems likely that other Linux distributions will follow suite as well.

LibreOffice 3.3 is available for Linux (both .deb and .rpm), Mac OS X and Windows. You can download it from here.

If you  followed our instruction and installed LibreOffice 3.3 RC 4 in Ubuntu, there is no need to download and install the .deb file again. The final release is exactly the same as the fourth release candidate.

LibreOffice Finally Lands As Default In Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal

After what Oracle has been doing recently, it is no surprise that most of the open-source projects want to distance  themselves  from Oracle. So, when LibreOffice was announced as an alternative to the Oracle controlled Open Office, many Linux distributions offered their support for it. In fact, Mark Shuttleworth even  announced that LibreOffice will be shipped in the place of Open Office in a future Ubuntu release.

Today, Canonical has finally done it by replacing OpenOffice with LibreOffice in the daily build of Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narhwal”. This follows the earlier announcement that Canonical is planning to give LibreOffice a run in Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 to see if it can replace OpenOffice in the final release.

The second alpha of Ubuntu 11.04 is to be released 3rd February. LibreOffice will remain as the default office suite throughout the second alpha phase. There is no confirmation that LibreOffice will remain the default office suite in the final release – that decision will be taken later. However, in all likelihood it will remain as the default – unless something very bad happen in between.

The replacement of Open Office with LibreOffice will create a lot of noise, no doubt. But for an Ubuntu user, there will not be that much of a difference. Both LibreOffice and Open Office has almost the same UI right now. And regarding features, at this point most of what LibreOffice has done is import the patches from Go-oo. Ubuntu has always shipped Open Office with the Go-oo patches. So, there also users will not see much difference. However a big difference will be in the speed because LibreOffice uses a larger memory cache than Open Office.

If you cannot wait for Natty and want to try LibreOffice now, here is an easy way to install it easily.

LibreOffice Gets A PPA – Makes Installation In Ubuntu Super Easy!

LibreOffice is a fork of the popular OpenOffice. The fork was done due to differences between the OpenOffice community and Oracle.

Development for LibreOffice has been going on for a while now and it is currently in its second release candidate. LibreOffice and OpenOffice cannot be installed side-by-side. So, to install LibreOffice, users had to manually remove OpenOffice, which is quite bothersome, before installing the LibreOffice .deb file.

However, to make installation in Ubuntu and its derivatives easier, the LibreOffice developers has made a PPA. In addition to making it easier to install, installing from the PPA will ensure that users get the updates regularly.

Before you install LibreOffice through this PPA, remember that it will remove OpenOffice automatically. Also keep in mind that this is not the final release yet.

So, to install LibreOffice, open the Terminal and execute the following commands:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install libreoffice

If you start LibreOffice now, you will notice that it looks very ugly. To make it looks consistent with the other applications, execute the command below:

For GNOME

$ sudo apt-get install libreoffice-gnome

For KDE

$ sudo apt-get install libreoffice-kde

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Oracle Asks Founders Of The Documents Foundation To Leave

After Oracle acquired SUN Microsystem, some leading members of the OpenOffice.org community forked OpenOffice.org as LibreOffice. They also set up The Document Foundation to continue the independent works of the OpenOffice.org community.

However, Oracle is not taking their move well. They want the founders of The Documents Foundation to leave the OpenOffice.org council. According to Oracle, their works with The Documents Foundation and LibreOffice will conflict with that of OpenOffice.org.

In many FOSS projects there is usually a free exchange of codes and ideas between the original project and the forked one. There is however little or no competition between them. The fact that Oracle mentions conflict of interest suggests that they see LibreOffice as a competitor and that they want tighter control over the direction that OpenOffice.org takes.

LibreOffice already has backing from a lot of companies including Google, Red Hat, Canonical and Novell. Moreover Mark Shuttleworth has also said that future releases of Ubuntu will ship with LibreOffice, not OpenOffice.org.

So, for now LibreOffice seems to be winning; although the developers will in all likelihood get kicked out from a project they have been working on for years.

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