Have you made the switch to LibreOffice yet? You really should! The project is going from strength to strength, with versions available for all Linux, Mac and Microsoft users. Most big name Linux distributions have alreeady made the switch from OpenOffice.org, and organisations such as Red Hat, Google, SUSE and the Free Software Foundation are throwing their weight behind the project too.
LibreOffice began as a fork of OpenOffice.org after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems last year. OOo's future was uncertain under Oracle, and the project had been dogged for years by bureaucracy and dithering on the part of Sun. Updates were irregular, developers of even simple patches apparently struggled to get them implemented, and the code was a real dog's breakfast, with many comments (in German) harking back to its earlier incarnation as StarOffice.
All that's changed under management by The Document Foundation. The beta of version 3.3 was released last September. Initially a clone of OOo 3.3, the final release (3.3.3) in June added a number of new features including SVG image import, better import filters for Microsoft Works, Lotus Word Pro and WordPerfect, and an "experimental" mode that lets users test unfinished features.
Version 3.4.2 hit the servers at the beginning of August. Along with a huge code tidy-up (more than 5,000 lines of dead code have been removed), there are memory usage improvements, reduced reliance on Java, the ability to test and reset styles within Writer, improved speed and compatibility with Microsoft Excel, and better text rendering too.
I've been using LibreOffice since its first beta -- principally the Writer component -- and it performs flawlessly. I like to run at least two versions so I can try out the pre-releases and even the nightly builds. But more on how to do that in the next blog ...
In the meantime, check out the best free office productivity suite around!