I'm considering switching from Microsoft Office (too expensive) to an open-source option.

What's the difference between OpenOffice and LibreOffice?

  • 1
    Documents look right in LibreOffice, in my experience. MSWord-generated documents tend to have more quirks when opened in OpenOffice.
    – Bob Stein
    Feb 16, 2016 at 15:04

6 Answers 6


From Wikipedia:

Compared to OpenOffice.org 3.3, LibreOffice 3.3 has some unique features, including [15]:

  • SVG image import
  • Lotus Word Pro and MS Works import filters
  • Improved WordPerfect import
  • Dialog box for title pages
  • Navigator lets you unfold one heading as usual in a tree view
  • "Experimental" mode that allows users to test out unfinished features
  • Certain bundled extensions (including Presenter View in Impress)
  • Color-coded document icons

Version numbers are the same as OpenOffice (for now) because it is a fork. The differences are relatively minor at the moment, though the featureset could of course diverge. It's a pretty safe bet that as long as OpenOffice remains free and open source (as in: Oracle doesn't kill it off), enhancements from that will continue to be merged into LibreOffice.

This article is an interesting read.

  • 3
    Thank you for the answer. IMO you should switch to LibreOffice. Oracle tried to acts like a business company, with absolutely no mankind (which is the heart of "free" and "open" source), that's why all the best OpenOffice developpers went away to develop for "free", "open"source, LibreOffice). That's why the next Ubuntu version will include LibreOffice, not OpenOffice. If you want long term support, go for LibreOffice ! Aug 6, 2011 at 6:54
  • 1
    Crunchbang Linux went to LibreOffice, and I went with it. Definitely recommend it.
    – Rob
    Jan 23, 2012 at 20:36
  • @OlivierPons OpenOffice is now hosted by Apache so likely there is plenty of long-term support.
    – Chloe
    Jun 24, 2013 at 20:55
  • Current version of LibreOffice is 6.4...
    – vonbrand
    Feb 19, 2020 at 16:41

When SUN was acquired by Oracle, the open source community was afraid that Oracle kills SUN's open source software, which included OpenOffice.org, OpenSolaris, MySQL, etc. While some of these fears turned to reality (with Oracle dumping OpenSolaris), the database giant plans for OpenOffice.org were not so clear and the office suite future seemed in danger.

Some OpenOffice.org developers forked OpenOffice and created LibreOffice. They created a foundation: The Document Foundation and changed the BSD licence (which meant you could develop and commercialize OpenOffice.org the way IBM used to do with Lotus Syphony) to our well loved GPL :)

The foundation quickly raised funds and started by cleaning the code base. From a user perspective, no major UI changes so far. However, for developers the current focus on code cleanup is very important and will increase the number of contributors. Meanwhile, after failing to monetize it, Oracle donated OpenOffice to the Apache foundation (hey IBM ;) )

In a nutshell, and to answer your question, LibreOffice is the brightest future OpenOffice.org could ever had :) LibreOffice 3.4.1 has been already released and packed with stable new features. Google, RedHat, Canonical, Novell and others are showing support for LibreOffice. The GPL office suite even got more serious a while ago with a new heavyweight board. And it already replaces OpenOffice.org in major Linux Distros (ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, etc).

So, go get your free LibreOffice copy, and don't forget to show them some support ;)

  • Oh the saga continues. It sucks that they can't merge the branches now. . . :(
    – surfasb
    Aug 6, 2011 at 7:50
  • well, now that Oracle has donated OpenOffice.org to the Apache foundation, LibreOffice can reuse code from the OpenOffice project.
    – lisa17
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:49
  • P.S: IBM donated its Lotus Symphony to the Apache Foundation as well
    – lisa17
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:51
  • From what I've read, it looks like The Document Foundation can merge OpenOffice code into LibreOffice, but going vice versa may prove far more difficult because of weird copyright issues.
    – surfasb
    Aug 18, 2011 at 23:16
  • @surfasb exact.
    – lisa17
    Aug 19, 2011 at 1:07

What made me change to LibreOffice is a very important feature for me in Writer:

  • when I use "Format > Defaut Formatting" in LibreOffice, my formatting done with "Character styles" are kept.
  • when I do the same in OpenOffice, my formatting done with "Character styles" are lost.
  • 1
    This is more of a comment than a real answer.
    – zeel
    Nov 6, 2012 at 4:12

At the moment, LibreOffice has more features than Apache OpenOffice and also more developers involved. About licenses both are opensource but LibreOffice is GPL (more copyleft) license and Apache OpenOffice has an Apache license (more permissive).

In fact in Wikipedia OpenOffice has "Moribund" as Development status

In 2016, only 11 commits from Apache OpenOffice were merged into LibreOffice, representing 0.07% of LibreOffice's commits for the period.

On March 2015, lwn.net published an study of differences between both version, and LibreOffice was the winner. https://lwn.net/Articles/637735/


One more thing - is that in LO You have a much greater option of keys to bind commands to. That is You can bind some functionality to Ctrl-a, Ctrl-Shift-a, Ctrl-Alt-Shift-a - while in OO You don't have Ctrl-Alt, Ctrl-Alt-Shift option. At least it was this way a month ago.

Another thing - LO works way faster then OO. For example it starts MUCH faster.


Open Office is certainly the most common open source office software, but as to which one is better, only you can decide. Try them both, they are free...

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