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Reasons to use LibreOffice versus Office?

asked 2017-04-20 19:28:07 +0200

mgsjr20 gravatar image

I'm a working guy returning to get my doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I will mostly be using applications like Word and PowerPoint. Besides being free, why would choosing LibreOffice over Office be a wise decision?


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The main reason to use LibreOffice or probably still Apache OpenOffice... from my point of view is, not to rely on MS Office for basic reasons rather aside from specific features. But if there are tricky features in MS Office you actually need it is likely that some of them or at least some minor aspects of them are not perfectly supported by, say, LibO. I don't need anything of that stuff, and I much dislike many things other software users estimate highly.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-04-20 20:55:10 +0200 )edit

Thus in short: Without a specific list of what you feel sure to need you will not find a valid answer. Even if you post such a list it may be difficult to find somebody capable of giving a definite comparison of softwares with respect to that list. Life is complicated and the comparison of sotwares also is. The only statement I feel sure of: MS Office will contain even more superfluous features than LibO. They can afford the development and they are interested in incompatibiity.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-04-20 21:02:14 +0200 )edit

LO/OO can run on both Linux and Windows, but MS Office can only run on Windows. Why is this important? I noticed how MS has started to own my machine with their software. For example, their automatic updates are now forced updates, and when they want to run my CPU to 50% load or more doing their work, not mine, they can, and do it often, on my machine. Now for all I know they are using my machine to mine bit-coin. Well, I think my machine, is my machine. LO, on Linux keeps it mine. :-)

EasyTrieve gravatar imageEasyTrieve ( 2017-04-21 18:42:21 +0200 )edit

@EasyTrieve A little correction: M$O is available, although as a more limited version for obvious reasons, on MacOS X.

rautamiekka gravatar imagerautamiekka ( 2017-04-21 19:51:54 +0200 )edit

@rautamiekka, good point. (I'll take a swing at the locked down Apple OS another day.)

EasyTrieve gravatar imageEasyTrieve ( 2017-04-21 19:56:20 +0200 )edit

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answered 2017-04-21 10:56:26 +0200

gabix gravatar image

My reasons to use:

  1. Stability. Both Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice (AOO and LO respectively hereinafter) are rock stable as compared to M$O.
  2. Spellcheck. I can run spellcheck on languages that M$O does not even know (Esperanto is an example).
  3. Again spellcheck. I can (relatively) easily switch between variants (for example, with or without ё for Russian, modern or pre-1917 for Russian, taraškievica or nakromaŭka for Belarusian, Brazilian or European Portuguese, etc.).
  4. Still spellcheck. I can edit spellcheck dictionaries. I mean it. Not just adding words to custom dictionaries, but editing main dictionaries. This is handy when you need to write/edit texts in specific fields of science/medicine/technology with lots of specific jargon.
  5. Styles. Everything is about styles in AOO/LO. At first, it may seem cumbersome, but as you learn, you realize that styles are great, they let you change a document in virtually a couple of mouse clicks.
  6. Extensions. Tons of extensions let you finetune AOO/LO to your needs.
  7. Interface. No those stupid ribbons. Just plain old good menu-based interface (oh, if you miss ribbons, turn on the side bar and enjoy).

For the sake of objectivity: there is one thing that I miss in AOO/LO. It is search and replace in text documents. Well, M$O Word is better in this respect.

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@gabix: "...there is one thing that I miss in AOO/LO. It is search and replace in text documents."
Would you mind to explain? The 'Find & Replace' tool works well in Writer for me (and, of course, in Calc). In addition there is the extension "AltSearch" adding a few features sometimes missed in 'F&R'.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-04-21 11:25:39 +0200 )edit

LO defaults to using OpenGL, and LO's support for it is very bad, versus Office's use of DirectX (according to the overlay from MSI Afterburner when combined with RivaTuner Statistics Server). Also, tested with Excel 2016, Calc takes ages to do something and eventually fails to do it by entering infinite thrashing, while Excel seems to do it, but takes too long to be acceptable (likely my computer, needs reinstalling). That's the exactly same work done in the exactly same way in both.

rautamiekka gravatar imagerautamiekka ( 2017-04-21 19:56:08 +0200 )edit

Addendum to my comment: also, Excel 2016 uses multithreading up to the CPU core count. Calc is single-threaded. Also, OpenCL doesn't help, it hurts, whether hardware (especially) or software.

rautamiekka gravatar imagerautamiekka ( 2017-04-21 19:57:18 +0200 )edit

(Not from own expeiences with the software! Never saw it.)
A serviceman of a software distributor I knew from older days told me a few months ago they had delisted Office 2016 (and removed it from their own system) for the reason that it frequently caused crashes and required too much service. There was a suspicion MS tried to force their customers into their cloud.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-04-22 12:39:41 +0200 )edit


Would you mind to explain? The 'Find & Replace' tool works well in Writer for me (and, of course, in Calc).

Of course, find&replace does work in Writer. But it is more convenient in M$O Word. I refer specifically to paragraph breaks and line breaks. You can easily use ^p for paragraph breaks and ^l both in the search field and in the replace field in Word. In Writer, it becomes quite a tricky thing.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2017-04-22 18:20:18 +0200 )edit

Of course, the "works well for me" is limited. An old shortcoming of 'F&R' in LibO is its incapability of handling paragraph breaks and searches across paragraphs. I would suppose this is connected to persistent specifics concerning the RAM representation of opened documents. AltSearch offers more options, but is obviously not very efficient with them.
For convenience I would also expect a non-constant-search syntax more powerful than "wildcards". Did MS include a RegEx engine meanwhile?

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-04-22 18:52:05 +0200 )edit

answered 2017-04-22 06:57:05 +0200

mikebibo gravatar image

updated 2017-04-22 07:07:02 +0200

While I personally believe in open-source software, running LibreOffice on a Linux machine, I feel obliged to point out some issues which you really should consider.

In the discipline of psychology, the vast majority of refereed journals require submissions, with stringent formatting requirements, to be in MS Office format. Likewise, most conferences will expect presentations in MS Powerpoint format. These are potentially situations where otherwise minor formatting inconsistencies arising from translating from LibreOffice may be important.

If you are undertaking a PhD, one of your considerations should probably be what tools your supervisor(s), collaborators and external reviewers/examiners, are used to. Many academics rely heavily on MS Word and its track changes tools. While LibreOffice has made huge headway in recent years in compatibility in this area, I have experienced problems with documents constantly going back and forth between MS Office and LibreOffice, usually culminating in MS Office refusing to open the file.

There is also a move towards reproducible research which eschews office suites altogether in favour of Markdown or LateX more closely tied to statistical tools (eg. see

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There are political implications. Software "vendors" were allowed to choose whether to drive on the left or on the right side - or through the wood. Why wonder about the accidents? As long as there not are applicable bans against slanty cartels and against new-age hidden bribery we likely won't recover. This is also meant to argue against the hypothesis more than one internationally approved open standard for general purpose "office" documents was an advantage. I take it for the fundamental bad.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2017-04-22 12:56:29 +0200 )edit

@mikebibo, Good points! I ran into this yesterday when I was put on the spot to quickly get a spreadsheet to someone using MS. SOLUTION: Fortunately I was able to send it to myself (dual boot Linux/Windows setup), then open it in excel, clear the corruption, save and forward it along. But it took a little time, and was a little bit of a pain with two reboots. That being said I'm sticking to LO. I like it's future prospects better than those offered by MS.

EasyTrieve gravatar imageEasyTrieve ( 2017-04-22 19:12:29 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2017-04-20 19:28:07 +0200

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