LibreOffice VS OpenOffice

A 5 point comparison of two similar free software suites

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In a battle between OpenOffice versus LibreOffice, which office software suite would win? Here's how to find out which would bring home the productivity title for you or your organization.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice are very similar with minimal differences, especially since both office software suites are absolutely free and based on similar development code.

So if OpenOffice and LibreOffice had a fight, it would go on for a while.

The opponents are evenly-matched and who wins would depend largely on fairly minor personal preferences. I prefer LibreOffice but overall, I consider this battle a bit of a toss-up. 

To help you visualize the tradeoffs between OpenOffice and LibreOffice, check out this chart of five differences I found between them, followed by more detailed explanation of each point.


LibreOffice vs OpenOffice: 5 Major Differences

There are five major differences between LibreOffice and OpenOffice:

  • Difference in Development: According to the LibreOffice Wikipedia page, "On 28 September 2010, The Document Foundation was announced as the host of LibreOffice, a new derivative of" 

    ​According to the OpenOffice Wikipedia page, "Apache OpenOffice, [is] a derivative of OOo [] by the Apache Software Foundation, with contribution from IBM Lotus Symphony." As the two suites derived from, many similarities exist including the names of each program: Writer, Calc, Impress, Base, Draw, etc.

    One interesting note: Code licensing of each suite is such that updates to OpenOffice source code can be added into LibreOffice but updates to LibreOffice source code cannot be added into OpenOffice. For this reason many people prefer LibreOffice to OpenOffice.
  • Difference in Android App Availability:  Neither LibreOffice nor OpenOffice developers officially support a mobile version of their suite but a third-party app or port known as AndrOpen Office is available from the Google Play store. There currently seems to be no similar app for LibreOffice.
  • Difference in Languages: While both suites are available in major world languages, LibreOffice has shown more focus in development on language options. If you are interested in a language not offered in OpenOffice, check LibreOffice. If neither features your language, we would suggest looking at Microsoft Office.
  • Difference in Display: This is a small and surmountable difference, but LibreOffice automatically shows status updates in the lower bar of the screen for Word Count, a feature you would have to manually update in OpenOffice or install the Word Count Status Bar Controller extension. You can also integrate Firefox Personas, which add personalized flair to the interface, in LibreOffice but not OpenOffice.
  • Difference in Text Tools: LibreOffice allows you to embed fonts, which means your document has a greater chance of looking the same even when read by someone who does not have those same fonts installed on their computer.

Both suites are available for desktop installation on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. A portable version is also available for both suites thanks to third-party developer LibreOffice PortableApp and OpenOffice PortableApp. The term portable can be misleading, however. This means the installation is on a USB, for example, rather than your computer.