The Future of LibreOffice and Other Office-Suites

“it is a dilemma for both TDF and Apache as to whether to divert resources into an open source web version of the software or plough on competing with MSO for a desktop space that looks like becoming a paradigm of the past.”

Mail Thread Index – The Document Foundation Mailing List Archives starting at message 06698.

While this is definitely a matter on the horizon there will be years of relevance still for hundreds of millions of XP machines looking for a home. If XP becomes no longer an option in 2014, many millions will go to GNU/Linux whereupon MSO is not an option except from a terminal server. I expect we are only a year or two away from useful LibreOffice versions for the web. Already there are demonstration projects.

MSO, OTOH, is handicapped by legacy installed base and features not portable to the web. M$ cannot respond to these issues rapidly without cutting their revenue-streams. They have to shift gradually and in the process will lose customers to Google and LibreOffice. It’s all good. LibreOffice should continue good growth.

“As of today, LibreOffice is being used by close to 60 million people. It is the standard free office suite on all major platforms, available in over 100 languages. Large cities and organizations are deploying it very successfully, more and more schools and universities are rolling it out, and there’s not a single month where it is not covered by major media around the globe – because we always have good news to share. The Document Foundation has become a member of leading organizations for free software and open standards, and at the very same time, is widely seen as a the leader in its area, built on strong reputation and credibility. Last but not least, the ecosystem is growing rapidly, as more and more enterprises discover the business benefit of truly free software.”

see recent conference announcement

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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18 Responses to The Future of LibreOffice and Other Office-Suites

  1. eug says:

    Why I contribute my changes to Libreoffice and won’t re-license them to a non-copyleft license?

    http://mmohrhard.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/why-i-contribute-my-changes-to-libreoffice-and-wont-relicense-them-to-a-non-copyleft-license/

  2. SSO says:

    Robert Pogson wrote: “That is untrue. OpenOffice.org could write a document that LibreOffice could open if you wanted it to do that. There is nothing sacred about file-formats.”

    I am not doing anything special when I create my OOo documents, although they _are big. I am just doing what the OOo Calc program allows and can handle, and save the docs in the default spreadsheet format, i.e. .ods. Even so, for more than a year now, LibreOffice has not been able to open them, whereas this was not a problem prior to November 2011. Something was changed or a bug exists in LO which causes this.

    I agree with most of what you write with regard to firearms laws and social responsibility. As I see it, and which seems to be borne out by your N.Y. example, the key is culture. There is obviously no easy fix, but stricter gun laws would at least save _some lives each year.

  3. SSO wrote, of LIbreOffice, “until it even manages to open my main Calc document, which I depend on, it is simply useless here.”

    That is untrue. OpenOffice.org could write a document that LibreOffice could open if you wanted it to do that. There is nothing sacred about file-formats. They just lock us in. True freedom in IT comes from portable documents not lock-in. If you don’t value freedom, by all means use stone tablets or whatever burden you choose.

    If you happen to have data that can exist in only one file-format you have chosen to lock yourself in. It would be better to modify the data to be more portable in the long run. This is not only about running applications but about being able to backup data or to port it to new systems.

    SSO wrote, of LIbreOffice, “60 million computers may have LO installed. The question is how many made a personal decision about installing it, not to mention how many are actually using it, let alone depending on it.”

    You can ask whatever question you choose of LO, OO or MSO. Downloads are rarely accidentally made by people not intending to download an installable package. An office suite is not malware. It’s a set of applications. 0 to millions of people may use a single download. It is very likely many more than 60 million use it. Ubuntu/Canonical claims a few percent of shipping PCs. That’s tens of millions per annum. There could be quite a few who don’t use LO even though it’s installed and there could be many who use a single PC or terminal server.

    SSO wrote, “Americans are in desperate need of very strict firearms regulations since they obviously cannot handle guns responsibly”

    The problem, if it exists, is not about legislation but social responsibility. A socially irresponsible criminal will choose not to obey regulations/laws so those only affect people who are not part of the problem. I just saw a segment on CNN about 500 murders in 2012 in Chicago. Many of those murders are drug-dealers/gangs competing for market-share. That’s not anything that can be fixed by firearms laws/regulations. The real problem is that so many young male blacks in Chicago do not feel society is part of their family. The solution more likely rests in improving education, redirecting “at risk” children, re-educating parents, and improving opportunities for legal gainful employment.

    I have the choice to live in a peaceful region remote from a city with those kinds of problems. The members of gangs who see murder as normal are the ones who need to be convinced to change their ways. That’s the only way to fix the real problems which are not the number/kind of firearms in the city. Before firearms were so plentiful, similar marginal individuals used knives, clubs and stones. Imagine how the situation would change if the “war on drugs” money was diverted into stimulation of education/business/social services and these young men went to schools instead of prisons. There is no quick fix, certainly not firearms laws. New York City was in a similar mess and it took them a decade of actually enforcing laws and improving the lot of ordinary young people to change things. NYC chose to ban private firearms but that was just a small part of the huge effort put into improving everything about the city. They went from near-bankruptcy to thriving in the process. Firearms laws didn’t do that.

  4. SSO says:

    Seems the comments are veering OT here and there, so here’s my take:

    1. I am sure there are many good things to be said about LibreOffice, but until it even manages to open my main Calc document, which I depend on, it is simply useless here. This has been so since November last year, whereas there has been no problem with OpenOffice. Go figure, whoever has the time.

    2. 60 million computers may have LO installed. The question is how many made a personal decision about installing it, not to mention how many are actually using it, let alone depending on it.

    3. About firearms: Yes, Norway has a high rate of privately owned firearms and an almost negligible rate of homicides by the same weapons, as well as a very small number of homicides overall. In USA it is very different. The reason is clearly cultural: Americans are in desperate need of very strict firearms regulations since they obviously cannot handle guns responsibly, as opposed to people in many other countries.

  5. THR says:

    Chromebooks can run GNU/Linux just fine. Here’s how to run Debian GNU/Linux on one.

    That does not matter, because people will use them as-is, meaning they will use Chrome OS. If that’s your excuse then Microsoft can be absolved, too, because on any computer which comes with Windows (the Windows 8 ARM devices excluded) you can run GNU/Linux.

  6. THR wrote, “They sell you a product, the Chromebook, but you don’t own it, as you can only meaningfully use it if you sign up with Google.”

    Chromebooks can run GNU/Linux just fine. Here’s how to run Debian GNU/Linux on one.

  7. THR says:

    Whats wrong with Google? I gesture to say that more Chromebooks have sold then the M$ METROFAIL tablets

    Google is a moloch, a black hole of data. And this has NOTHING whatsoever to do whether one likes Chromebooks or MS tablets. I don’t like neither because they come with a price — having to sign up with either Google or Microsoft. So in this respect Google is no better than Microsoft. They sell you a product, the Chromebook, but you don’t own it, as you can only meaningfully use it if you sign up with Google.

    Got something to hide THR?

    The usual propaganda line spouted by people who usually also support the war on citizen’s rights under the guise of the war on ‘terror’.

    If you use Windows, you have no *private* data, if you use Google you have no *private* data. If you use the web, your smartphone and the internet you have no privacy. PERIOD

    ABSOLUTE privacy? Sure, it doesn’t exist on the net. But that doesn’t mean that violatons of privacy should be made easy — both by the users and the state. Anyway, it’s disturbing that your reverse conclusion seems to be: well, let’s just forget about privacy since we can’t have it. No! Every possible effort must be made to strengthen privacy on the net. That begins with many states’ unlawful and unwarranted telecommunications data retention.

    It’s kind of ironic that people like you promote Linux, not least because of its freedom. But you seem to be oblivious to the freedoms you very willingly abandon in real life day after day. When it comes to this Stallman is actually much more forward-thinking than you here are.

    And it remains hypocrisy in its purest form that people like Pogson pour hate on Microsoft for spying on their users — and then they recommend Google. What insanity! Freedom my ass!

  8. d wrote, “Where is the linux support for google drive?”

    In my browser, Chrome.

    see https://drive.google.com/?usp=chrome_app#my-drive

  9. d. says:

    If you use the web, your smartphone and the internet you have no privacy. PERIOD

    That’s a kind of defeatist attitude, also a dangerous one. If we become complacent with the idea that losing your privacy is just an inherent part of using the internet, then that’s what’s going to happen. The more you give up your rights, the harder it is to ever get them back again.

    Fortunately, there are still organizations who care about things like privacy and user’s rights and defend these rights. Like EFF and FSF for example.

    I know that I don’t have much privacy when I use my smartphone. Thus I don’t use it for anything “important”. But when I’m on my desktop, I know I have my privacy. Why? Because I have browser plugins that block ads, ad networks, tracking cookies etc. Pretty much all forms of tracking can be blocked if you know how.

    There are certain sites where I enable ads, because I want to support those sites and the ads they show are non-intrusive. But tracking cookies stay disabled on my browser.

    Similar measures could be made available on smartphones as well. There’s no reason why you couldn’t create similar browser plugins for smartphone browsers. In the future, when the ARM platform becomes more widespread and portability becomes easier, I’m sure it will be trivial to browse the internet while retaining your privacy, even on a smartphone.

    Got something to hide THR?

    Another flawed line of reasoning. That’s exactly how totalitarian states begin. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!” It’s what they all say. And then before you know it, your every move will be monitored and if you say anything that upsets the powers-that-be you’ll be moved to a re-education camp.

    Seriously… just because google is a better alternative than mapplesoft, we don’t have to accept everything they do unquestioningly. Google isn’t a beneficient saint of FOSS. They do support the community somewhat (GSOC), and that’s good. They do some good things. But beyond that…

    Where is the linux support for google drive?

  10. dougman says:

    Re: What stupidity! You claim to be pro-freedom but would rather see people getting cozy with the moloch Google. The “Cloud” is no place for any private data, and you should avoid it like the plague.

    Whats wrong with Google? I gesture to say that more Chromebooks have sold then the M$ METROFAIL tablets

    Got something to hide THR? If you use Windows, you have no *private* data, if you use Google you have no *private* data. If you use the web, your smartphone and the internet you have no privacy. PERIOD

    Camp Williams and the other centers being built, will record everything and for later retrieval.

    https://publicintelligence.net/nsa-spies-on-email/

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/

  11. d. says:

    The “evilness” of google depends on whether you appreciate your privacy or not. Google does offer you lots of stuff for free, but the way they are paying for this is that they collect information about you. A lot of information.

    Myself, I’d rather not be tracked, I’d rather my browsing habits stayed my business and my business only.

    I also don’t buy the idea that everything will move to cloud and web apps in the future. There are tons of things you still can’t do with web apps, things that will probably never be efficient to do with web apps.

  12. THR, the troll, wrote, “You claim to be pro-freedom but would rather see people getting cozy with the moloch Google.”

    That’s Stallman’s position with which I disagree. I like a competitive IT situation and competition can thrive in the cloud as well as on PCs or servers. For me it’s a matter of trust. I trust Google because they have done nothing but provide great service. They have given me no malware, slowing down, DRM, anti-competitive actions and I cannot beat the price of their service. So, if cloud is somehow evil and not just efficient, I can at least choose the lesser of the evils, Google instead of M$ or Apple. It is possible that Google will morph into a monster but I don’t see the mechanism. The company has price/performance built in to its DNA and they use FLOSS legally/properly. I have no complaint.

    My data is probably safer with Google than if it were on a PC running that other OS. It’s probably safer than running on my own PC with GNU/Linux and no backup. At the moment, I have more data than I can backup locally but just a few hundred MB on Google.

  13. THR says:

    They are far better off using the cloud where experts can do a lot for them in IT at an incredibly low price compared to maintaining that other OS.

    What stupidity! You claim to be pro-freedom but would rather see people getting cozy with the moloch Google. The “Cloud” is no place for any private data, and you should avoid it like the plague.

  14. dougman says:

    MSO is going with a subscription web-base deal. M$ should also release a Android and Linux version.

    LO should develop Android and Chrome apps; it has gotten to the point that soon the OS will not matter, as everything will be done via the browser.

  15. Kevin Lynch wrote, of the cloud, “doesn’t make sense for consumers and home users though”.

    Nonsense. Home users are not going to run their own e-mail servers, for instance. Same goes for image-databases and the like. They don’t have the technical expertise nor the motivation to learn compared to the ease of doing things in the cloud. There are tons of people who don’t know what a backup is. They are far better off using the cloud where experts can do a lot for them in IT at an incredibly low price compared to maintaining that other OS.

  16. Kevin Lynch says:

    Personally I’d rather see the continuation of the traditional desktop software. I’m not keen on doing everything on-line.

    I know exactly what the cloud is. It’s just the Internet with a new marketing gimmick. Most of which comes from the old mainframe/dumb-terminal model. And what happens when your dumb-terminal can’t connect to the mainframe? You get nothing done is what happens!

    I completely appreciate this whole cloud malarkey makes a tone of sense for enterprises running their own personal clouds with an army of IT staff to keep it almost running.

    It doesn’t make sense for consumers and home users though. In that past five years I’ve faced something on the order of a 13% real terms pay cut. I got a measly £400 non-consolidated payment added to my salary this year, (over half of which was taken by the tax man). Which is still a pay cut in real terms. Virgin Media are putting their prices up in January.

    I am seriously considering having my broadband package reduced or cut off completely. And I bet there are many consumers who have a need for software like LibreOffice who are facing the same dilemma.

  17. Of course there’s still no word on what version of LibreOffice the guy was using. Perhaps it was a beta or alpha version. The guy claims to have provided the files to a team-member… I have created and opened thousands of files with LibreOffice with no problems whatsoever. 60 million using it by choice can’t be wrong.

    That thread died weeks ago…

    see http://listarchives.libreoffice.org/global/marketing/msg06551.html

    Gillmor is a journalist of mixed reliability. He recently switched to GNU/Linux although he still uses that other OS for MSO. He’s also a gun-hater, irrationally so, arguing the NRA lies. I quoted him stats that show USA is not the homicide capital of the world and places with tougher laws like Honduras have an order of magnitude higher intentional homicide rates. The intentional homicide rate in countries that forbid ownership of handguns tends to be a few times lower than USA but they also have a lot less freedom in other areas valued in the USA like national healthcare and higher taxation rates.

    Norway, which has very high firearms ownership (31%), higher than Honduras (6.2%), also has a very low intentional homicide rate, 0.6 per 100K per annum.

  18. THR says:

    Here, that’s more like it: LibreOffice ist super, Herr Pogson! (That’s from the same mailing list: Msg 6546.)

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