Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LibreOffice - What Is It - Installed Correctly

Once upon a time there was an office software suite called OpenOffice, worldwide free (as in no money!) and used in many European and third world countries. OpenOffice was an OSS system. The technical infrastructure (server computers, storage space a.s.o.) for this sizeable project was mainly supported by Sun Microsystems, a now defunct computer manufacturer. Then the software behemoth Oracle Corp. bought Sun and got OpenOffice as an Easter egg with the whole basket. They, Oracle, imposed some fees and apparently a whole lot of red tape and typical "big company" overhead which did not sit well with many of the major developers, that is the programmers who mostly as volunteers wrote the code and did all the nitty-gritty detail work.

Quote from another blog:

"Oracle's imposition of fees for some OpenOffice capabilities caused some of the venerable open source office suite's creators to head out on their own and create LibreOffice as a truly free OSS tool."

So the developers of OpenOffice spoke, parted from Oracle's realm and alas, we had LibreOffice.

Basically LibreOffice is almost exactly the same as OpenOffice, only better. Better because it can read files from Microsoft Works and Word Perfect and handle SVG graphics files.

There are two major differences:

  1. OpenOffice came with an always outdated Java version and LibreOffice requires a Java environment already installed on the computer. If I have set up your computer that is covered. If I did not set up your computer you need to install the most current version of Java and remove all older versions.
  2. OpenOffice came with Help files integrated in one huge download, LibreOffice comes in two files; you need both.

There are a few things you ought to know if you want to install LibreOffice.

  1. Install or update to the latest version of Java (as of July 2011 version 6 update 26 is current).
  2. Remove (un-install) all eventually still existing older versions of Java.
  3. Remove (un-install) OpenOffice - if it was on your computer at all.
  4. Download LibreOffice from this web page. As of end of July 2011 the current stable version id 3.4.2. You need two files:
    1. LibO_3.4.2_Win_x86_install_multi.exe, the LibreOffice installer program.
      Caution: This is a 214MB download!
    2. LibO_3.42_Win_x86_helppack_en-US.exe, the installer for the Help package.
    3. Above version numbers will be different for future versions!

Some important installation instructions (not meant to be comprehensive!):

Install LibreOffice itself by running the installer in file LibO_x.x.x_Win_x86_install_multi.exe.

For everything here not explicitly mentioned you can accept the default values/selections.

When you are being asked to select the type of installation please select Custom:

You will have to de-select the following features:
In Optional Components the Python-UNO Bridge:

In LibreOffice Program Modules de-select Draw, Base and Math; it should look like this:

Then select all three Microsoft Office modules:

Install the Help package by running the installer in file LibO_x.x.x_Win_x86_helppack_en-US.exe.

With these hints you should be able to install LibreOffice with the ability to open and write Microsoft Office Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. If you prefer to have me do the installation then please download both files that I mentioned above, I can do the rest remotely.

After the installation you will find two folders named "LibreOffice 3.x (random) Installation Files" and "LibreOffice 3.3 Help Pack (English) (random) Installation Files" on your desktop. Please delete these two folders.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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Anonymous said...

Hi :)
We found that any java more recent than the 6u21 caused problems for a few people. If the app seems slow or keeps crashing then try installing java version 6u21 and then open LibreOffice and go to

Tools - Options - Java

and select the 6u21 version. In current versions of LibreOffice, the 3.4.5 and 3.5.0 it is best to use java 7.something.

Java seems to be carefully written to be vulnerable and flaky so you need to keep updating it quite often. The LibreOffice devs are trying to eliminate any dependency on java

Regards from
Tom :)

Eike Heinze said...


Thanks for reading my blog.

Yes, you are correct, there were problems between outdated Java versions and by now equally outdated versions of LibreOffice. These problems surfaced regularly when the database module Base was installed.

I do not install Base on my customer's computers thus they should not have suffered from these problems.

I strongly advise NEVER to revert to older versions of any software, especially not Java. There are way too many viruses out there that just wait for a computer with older versions of Java because these can be (ab-)used to get in the computer.

Always staying up-to-date with all software IMHO is one of the most important precautions to keep a computer safe.

Eike Heinze said...

Sorry for the typo in your name in the previous post.