|Edit: Removed from tutorials, see the most recent tuto from RGB: [Tutorial] Installing Apache OpenOffice on GNU/Linux|
This tutorial has been integrated in the OOo wiki also: Documentation/How Tos/Installing on Debian based Distros.
The Ubuntu concept is that once a flavor is released, there is no update for its content, except security issues. Therefore, once you stick to a flavor (Dapper, Edgy, Feisty, ...), your OOo version is not updated. Basic reason is : integration has been validated with this package, a new one could mess the system.
But Ubuntu releases of OOo are known to be rather bugged, especially the Feisty one (slideshow in Impress causes crash recovery systematically, Base wizards freeze at the very end of the process among the most 'popular' bugs on the Ubuntu forums).
From 2.3, OOo is also available in .deb format, no need to convert the packages with alien as before.
Here is a method for all Debian-based distros :
1. Remove all the packages from the installed version
Go to Synaptic or your package manager and mark all the openoffice.org packages installed to be removed (there is the string ubuntu in their version number). This is mandatory for your first upgrade of the distro delivered OOo version, no need to do that for the following upgrades.
Note: don't use the Ubuntu Software Center to remove OOo because it seems that some packages are left and conflict with the install with official debs.
For Ubuntu (flavors prior to Jaunty 9.04), the system will also remove the ubuntu-desktop package. No worry, this is a meta package that can be removed safely. But in case you want to upgrade your whole distro, you'll have to install back this package (and the OOo original version).
2. Download the tarball (.tar.gz file) from the official OOo web site
See here : http://www.openoffice.org/download/ (or http://download.openoffice.org/other.html and select the Linux DEB version depending on your architecture, 32 or 64bit).
If you've troubles getting the automatic download, see on the mirrors: http://distribution.openoffice.org/mirrors/#mirrors.
3. Extract the tarball in your home directory (or any other directory you want)
Either do that with your file browser and your archive manager (usually available in the context menu) or open a terminal (you should be directly in your home directory) and :
filename = OOo_2.4.0_LinuxIntel_install_en-US_deb.tar.gz
Hint: no need to type the whole filename, just start with the first characters and hit the TAB key for the auto-completion.
You should see a new folder, say OOo_inst_folder.
Example (for 2.4.0): OOo_inst_folder = OOH680_m12_native_packed-1_en-US.9286
4. Install the created .debs
5. Update the Applications menu
Go to the desktop integration subfolder.
Run again the previous installation command.
Here you are, menus should have been updated.
If you had run the Ubuntu version before, you might face a problem starting OOo the first time. If so, try to reset the user profile. But during the welcome process, don't transfer your personal data (if you had 2.x), former configuration files might corrupt the new profile.
Installing from the RPMS (for the record)
If you've the RPMS package and don't want to download again the DEBS package, you can convert the RPMs to DEBs using the following command to be launched before step 4: