[Tutorial] Considering a Switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice? Some Useful Information

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[Tutorial] Considering a Switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice? Some Useful Information

Post by LastUnicorn »

Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice and ODF Specifications
I think it would be fair to say that Apache OpenOffice is cruising into obsolescence and dying a slow death. It hasn't had a major update or improvement in years and does not use the latest Open Document Format (ODF) specifications for its files. (Also see OpenDocument Format. The information there is a bit dated as it (currently) only mentions ODF v1.2 but you get the general idea.) At the time of writing this (October 2022) the latest ODF version is v1.3. This has been implemented in LibreOffice but not in OpenOffice. It is very unlikely that OpenOffice will ever implement it. For more details on this see: I thought ODF was a universal format document.) On this basis alone you would be best advised to switch to LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.

Other Reasons to Switch
There are other reasons for switching over to LibreOffice: put succinctly, LibreOffice is actively developed and improved, the same cannot be said of OpenOffice. In day-to-day use using LibreOffice isn't much different to using OpenOffice, in most ways they are very similar, and LibreOffice should open all your 'old' OpenOffice documents without problems.

Downloading LibreOffice and the 'Versions'
At the LibreOffice download site you will notice that two main versions/editions are offered for download. The higher numbered version is the latest 'stable' (i.e. not 'beta') release of LibreOffice and is commonly known as LibreOffice Fresh. The lower numbered version is known as LibreOffice Still. The difference is that the Fresh version might contain new bugs that need fixing, that would be a work in progress and so Fresh can have further incremental versions produced within a shortish time frame. The Still version is older, has most of its major bugs fixed, and would not be updated in shortish time frames, hence you would be using Still for longer time periods without having to update it regularly (as you might want to do with Fresh). (Personally I prefer using the Still version.) None of this is to say that LibreOffice is a bug-ridden mess, it's not, but like all software of any complexity bugs will always be an issue. In any case, you can switch from Still to Fresh, or vice versa, as you please — so a decision now on which to use is not set in stone.

LibreOffice and Java JRE
If you do decide to switch to LibreOffice and you install LibreOffice 64-bit you may want to install a 64-bit implementation of Java JRE. This is required for some components of LibreOffice, but not all. You can get a download of Oracle JRE here: Java Downloads for All Operating Systems. For Windows systems the installer file to download is Windows Offline (64-bit). (If you switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice 64-bit and you have no further need for JRE 32-bit on your system then it would be safe to uninstall JRE 32-bit if you so wish. If you install LibreOffice 32-bit then you should retain, and/or update, your JRE 32-bit installation and direct LibreOffice 32-bit to use that.)

LibreOffice User Documentation
For extensive user documentation see: LibreOffice Documentation. Note that documentation of LibreOffice Fresh will be limited as Fresh is always a work in progress and there is little point in trying to create documentation for a program version in which some components of the program are being actively developed and hence changing. (This is one of the reasons why I prefer to use LibreOffice Still — the most complete documentation is available for it.)

File Associations and Installing LibreOffice Alongside OpenOffice
It is perfectly possible to have both OpenOffice and LibreOffice installed at the same time, so you can do that if you just want to try LibreOffice to see if it is suitable for you. In what follows I will assume that you already have the latest version of OpenOffice installed and you want, in addition, to install LibreOffice. (The reasons for specifying 'the latest version' is that OpenOffice's installer used to follow different routines and offer different install options in earlier versions.)

When you install LibreOffice it will grab all the ODF file associations .odf, .odg, .odm, .odp, .ods, .odt etc. and so double-clicking a file will cause LibreOffice to open that file by default. If you want the file associations to revert back to being opened by OpenOffice by default then the easiest way to achieve that is to reinstall OpenOffice and the file associations will be passed back to OpenOffice. In this scenario the OpenOffice installer will ask where to unpack the installation files to — by default it will offer to place them in a folder on your Desktop; just agree to that and once the install routine is over you can safely delete that entire folder. Next you will be offered the option to 'Modify' or 'Repair' your OpenOffice, just chose 'Repair' and at the end of the Repair routine your documents will be back to opening with OpenOffice by default. You can follow a similar routine with LibreOffice if you so wish. In essence: the last program to be installed/Repaired, OpenOffice or LibreOffice, will have the file associations assigned to it by default. It is also worth noting that installing/repairing will not affect the files in your OpenOffice Profile folder or your LibreOffice Profile folder — your previous settings will be retained.

If you do try installing LibreOffice alongside OpenOffice and decide you don't want LibreOffice then just uninstall LibreOffice and the uninstall routine should automatically revert your file associations back to OpenOffice. (If that doesn't happen you now know what to do.)

If you would prefer to set file associations manually then please see this guide for how to proceed: [Tutorial] Setting the default program to open files]

I hope the above helps when considering a switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. To be honest I think the switch is the best way to go.
Last edited by LastUnicorn on Thu Nov 03, 2022 8:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [Tutorial] Considering a Switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice? Some Useful Inf.

Post by John_Ha »

Some other things to consider include:

Critical bugs which cause complete data loss in AOO have been fixed in LO

LO seems to have fixed a number of bugs which cause complete data loss in AOO namely:

1. LO has fixed the bug which gives Format error discovered in sub-document Issue 128356 - Track Changes and Annotations on text range can cause corruption. Applies to 4.x (all versions?). It affects AOO users who use Edit > Tracked changes.

2. LO seems to have fixed the bug which causes complete data loss where files are full of ##### - see Why is my Writer file full of #####?. I suspect (guess may be a better word) that LO now does not use buffered writes to disk.

3. AOO has a known bug where AOO does not prevent a PC shutting down while AOO is still writing the file causing the file to be truncated and/or completely corrupted. Issue 126869 - Analysis Task: Lost/Corrupted Documents after Save/Shutdown - Comment 46. I suspect LO prevents the OS shutting down the PC until LO has completed writing the file.

Lost images in AOO Writer and Impress

LO has significantly improved the image handling code (which both AOO and LO inherited from OpenOffice.org) which causes AOO randomly to lose some or all images in a document or presentation. See 16. Lost images ... and a word of caution about using AutoRecovery. LibreOffice 6.1 and later is now probably better than AOO in [Tutorial] Some useful hints on using images. LO is now much less likely to lose images.

Better compatibility with Microsoft files

LO has better compatibility (more function, especially later added function) with Microsoft files and, while you should always save your LO Writer files as .odt files, and never as .docx files, etc, LO does have the capability to write .docx files if you are obliged to send someone a .docx file. See [Tutorial] Differences between Microsoft and AOO/LO files for a description of differences and for why you should always work in, and save Writer files as .odt, Calc files as .ods, Impress files as .odp, etc. If you do not save as .odt etc you risk losing data and/or formatting. Unfortunately many users switch off the error message warning them of potential data and/or formatting loss when saving to formats other than .ODF. :crazy:
LO warning message when saving in .docx (or other non .odt) format.<br /><br />DO NOT SWITCH OFF THIS WARNING!!<br />.
LO warning message when saving in .docx (or other non .odt) format.

Clipboard01.gif (12.16 KiB) Viewed 759 times
LO, Windows 10 Home 64 bit

See the Writer Guide, the Writer FAQ, the Writer Tutorials and Writer for students.

Remember: Always save your Writer files as .odt files. - see here for the many reasons why.
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