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On its first birthday, LibreOffice has reason to celebrate

Happy code day to you…

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The Document Foundation, which produces the LibreOffice open source office-software suite, is celebrating the first anniversary of the code’s release.

LibreOffice was born out of disgruntlement at the way Oracle handled the OpenOffice project after it took ownership of Sun. This time last year, key open source developers left the OpenOffice team and set up their own software group, run by consensus decisions and supported by volunteers.

Although the team asked Oracle if it wanted to take part in the new project, Larry Ellison’s crew handled rejection badly and ended up donating the entire code base of OpenOffice to Apache Software Foundation. IBM is still developing the OpenOffice code, but progress has been slow – and not helped by more defections to The Document Foundation.

“The situation with Apache is progessing very slowly, and it's not really fair to compare the two products. But we hope it’s going to be sorted out very quickly,” The Document Foundation spokesman Italo Vignoli told The Register. “If you look at the last couple of months, in terms of code generated and developers working, we’re had a lot more activity than OpenOffice.”

To date LibreOffice has signed up over 250 developers, he said, and organizations such as Canonical and others have appointed staff members whose job is solely to develop for the software suite. More developers are still coming on board, and the group is planning to expand the range and sophistication of the platform.

“The Document Foundation has attracted more developers with commits in the first year than the OpenOffice.org project in the first decade", says Norbert Thiebaud in a statement. Theibaud was a first-day hacker who jumped on LibreOffice code on September 29, 2010, and is now a member of TDF Engineering Steering Committee.

According to data from The Document Foundation, there have been around 7.5 million downloads of the LibreOffice suite since its first stable launch in January. In addition, it estimates another ten million users are installing the code via USB stick or CD burned by one of these downloads.

Vignoli said that LibreOffice was now the office suite of choice for the vast majority of Linux distributions, and in the next year there will be more of an effort to attract enterprises and users of Windows systems.

“We all know how conservative Windows users can be, thus we have more Linux users,” he said. “But given the market sizes, Windows users will grow faster than Linux users. For enterprises, they need to test software very carefully before deploying, and so we’ve only just started to see corporate deployment and expect more announcements in the next few months.”

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, however. The Document Foundation had been hoping to set up a formal legal holding entity in Germany by now to manage the code as a foundation. Sadly, the paperwork has slowed this process down, but it's now moving forward again. ®

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