Linux Applications

OpenOffice and LibreOffice compared

There used to be a time when was commonly used in production environments all across the US. That all changed in 2009 when Oracle acquired the project from Sun Microsystems and discontinued it in 2011.

Oracle replaced the software with two different projects: the Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Windows, Mac OS, and Linux Distros are the multiple operating systems on which they could work. Both utilities have found their loyal user bases and are being regularly updated.

Apache OpenOffice comes under the Apache Foundation, whereas the documentation foundation sees to LibreOffice and its updates. Let’s see how this software is different from each other and what progress has been made in both since 2011.

Free and Open-source

From 2011 to this day, both software remains are free and open-source. However, Apache OpenOffice has been lagging in releasing timely updates. As of yet, the latest version of Apache OpenOffice is 4.1.8, whereas LibreOffice is far ahead with the latest 7.0 version available for download on the web. Not to mention, LibreOffice updates have been much more responsive in catching up with the latest development in the computing world.

Ease in Installation

Not only is LibreOffice readily available from the Official Ubuntu repositories, it actually comes preinstalled with the more modern Linux distributions. That makes LibreOffice much more convenient to get started with, and the software owes its larger user base to this fact.

Apache OpenOffice, on the other hand, has to be installed manually via setup, which is available for download on the web.

Feature Highlights:

  • Both software share the following features in common
  • Both use a Word Processor as a writer and a spreadsheet for calculations
  • Both come with a presentation program
  • Both have a vector graphics editor as a drawing board
  • Both features desktop publishing
  • Both include a database management program

The differences between them are minute and are not easily identifiable but still, those differences exist for you to point them out.

Take the sidebar for instance; it is enabled by default in Apache OpenOffice, whereas LibreOffice has it disabled. You can change this by heading over to the Tools.Options>libreOffice>Advanced. Once you get there, select the enable Experimental feature and restart the software.

Once restored, go to view and enable the sidebar.

Impress Presentation in LibreOffice

The Impress presentations in LibreOffice can be controlled via an application on android phones. On the other hand, Apache OpenOffice doesn’t have a similar feature.

Supported File Formats

Both LibreOffice and ApacheOpenOffice support the .ods, .odt, .odp file extensions, and they in turn support the .doc, .docx, and other document extenstions.

Embed Fonts in LibreOffice

LibreOffice also has font embedding options, although it’s disabled by default. To enable font embedding, head over to the Font tab, click File, and then select properties. This is yet another feature that LibreOffice has an edge over Apache. This is especially detrimental to Apache since font embedding is a feature that is taken for granted among users at this point. Also, the embedding feature does its job in such a way that the file retains its unique characteristics even if its viewed on a system without this feature.

Word Count Display Option

LibreOffice has the word count display option enabled by default, and you can see it displayed in the status bar. That is not the case with Apache OpenOffice, in which the word count option has to be enabled manually. To enable word count, navigate to the Tools button and check the Word Count option to have it displayed on your screen.


The LibreOffice is distributed under the LGPLv3/MPL license, whereas Apache OpenOffice comes under the Apache License.

Wrapping Up

All things considered, LibreOffice seems to have an edge over Apache OpenOffice, as it includes several convenient features that Apache doesn’t have. These features are big, mind you, and they can make or break service for some of the more demanding users. In any case, Apache still can do pretty much everything that LibreOffice can, except for the aforementioned features.

About the author

Younis Said

I am a freelancing software project developer, a software engineering graduate and a content writer. I love working with Linux and open-source software.