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07 September 2011, 15:31

LibreOffice and drift apart

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LibreOffice Logo Michael Meeks, a LibreOffice developer at Novell, compared the codebase of LibreOffice with the sources hosted at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). As he writes in a blog post, the differences are already so great that it will now be hard to exchange new code between the two projects. In light of the several million lines of source code by which the two products now differ, he says users should not assume that code committed to Apache will "inevitably and automatically appear in LibreOffice". "Instead I suspect we will end up cherry-picking and porting only those things that justify the effort, as/when/if there is any such thing," added Meeks. Logo Meeks says that LibreOffice developers have removed some 526,000 lines of code and added approximately 290,000 new lines, including a filter for Lotus Word Pro, VBA improvements, a new RTF filter and gtk3 code. Code that has been removed includes more than 100 import and export filters that are no longer used for the binary data format in older versions (binfilters), along with other unused legacy items, such as operating-system-specific code for OS/2 and code to connect the proprietary Adabas database included in the commercial derivative StarOffice.

LibreOffice was announced in September 2010 as a fork of the open source office suite project and is being developed under the aegis of The Document Foundation. The fork was created because of doubts concerning Oracle's commitment to the free office suite; when it took over Sun, Oracle also assumed responsibility for the project but refused to tell the community what the future of the project would be. Most Linux distributions have already switched to LibreOffice and Oracle has since handed over the code to the Apache Software Foundation.


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