Everyone needs a suite of office software for everyday tasks. Microsoft Office is perhaps the best-known option, but there are also lots of free alternatives that replicate almost all the features of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and company. LibreOffice is one such package, and it’s earned a reputation as one of the best free office suites around.
LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite, a project of The Document Foundation. It was forked from OpenOffice.org in 2010, which was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice. The LibreOffice suite comprises programs for word processing, the creation and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, working with databases, and composing mathematical formulae. It is available in 110 languages.
LibreOffice uses the international ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument file format (ODF) as its native format to save documents for all of its applications. LibreOffice also supports the file formats of most other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, through a variety of import/export filters.
LibreOffice is available for a variety of computing platforms, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux (including a LibreOffice Viewer for Android), as well as in the form of an online office suite. It is the default office suite of most popular Linux distributions. It is the most actively developed free and open-source office suite, with approximately 50 times the development activity of Apache OpenOffice, the other major descendant of OpenOffice.org.
The project was announced and a beta released on 28 September 2010. Between January 2011 (the first stable release) and October 2011, LibreOffice was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times. The project claims 120 million unique downloading addresses from May 2011 to May 2015, excluding Linux distributions, with 55 million of those being from May 2014 to May 2015.
|Writer||A word processor with similar functionality and file support to Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. It has extensive WYSIWYG word processing capabilities, but can also be used as a basic text editor.|
|Calc||A spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. It has a number of unique features, including a system which automatically defines series of graphs, based on information available to the user.|
|Impress||A presentation program resembling Microsoft PowerPoint. Presentations can be exported as SWF files, allowing them to be viewed on any computer with Adobe Flash Player installed.|
|Draw||A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It provides connectors between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It also includes features similar to desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher. It is also able to act as a PDF-file editor.|
|Math||An application designed for creating and editing mathematical formulae. The application uses a variant of XML for creating formulas, as defined in the OpenDocument specification. These formulas can be incorporated into other documents in the LibreOffice suite, such as those created by Writer or Calc, by embedding the formulas into the document.|
|Base||A database management program, similar to Microsoft Access. LibreOffice Base allows the creation and management of databases, preparation of forms and reports that provide end users easy access to data. Like Access, it can be used to create small embedded databases that are stored with the document files (using Java-based HSQLDB as its storage engine), and for more demanding tasks it can also be used as a front-end for various database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC/JDBC data sources, and MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access.
Work is ongoing to transition the embedded storage engine from HSQLDB to the C++ based Firebird SQL backend. Firebird has been included in LibreOffice as an experimental option since LibreOffice 4.2.