Software Spotlight: 3 Free Open-Source Office Suite Programs

By Courtney Evers, Free Geek Toronto volunteer

Now that you have picked up your Linux computer from Free Geek Toronto, it’s time to talk about software!

In this Software Spotlight, we’ll be looking at three free options for office suites that can replace Microsoft Office — collections of software that include a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation program. For those who may not know what is in an office suite, or just need a reminder, here is the breakdown for the main three components:

  • A word processor allows you to create, edit and print documents
  • A spreadsheet program allows you to to organize data, perform calculations, determine things like percentages and averages, and analyze and store data, and create charts from that data
  • A presentation program allows to to create a presentation slide show with text, images, videos, and audio, etc.

While the Microsoft Office Suite is arguably the most well-know office suite program out there, and it works on the Linux operating system, the cost of the 2021 Office Home and Student software is $149.99, and the Office Home and Business software is $249.99.

By using any of the following Open Source alternatives, you get all the usability and features that you need, but at the low cost of FREE, while also supporting open source software. In addtion, all of these alternative office suites have the ability to save documents in many different formats, including those that are compatible with the Microsoft Office file formats. This means that if you need to send a Microsoft Word .docx document to your school or employer, you can be assured that it will work with the software that they are using.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice split off from the OpenOffice suite in 2010 and is supported by the non-profit organization The Document Foundation which promotes free, open-source software with a focus on document handling. According to www.openhub.net, there are 213 current contributors active in developing, maintaining and updating this office suite. LibreOffice is the largest open-source office suite, with 200 active million users.

What it comes with:

There are currently 390 extensions available for you to customize your suite, from document templates, to timestamp based backup, colour management tools, map creators and more! LibreOffice currently supports 115 languages, and has a host of volunteers around the world working on developing different features, creating spellcheck and grammar check, creating documentation and providing user support.

You can download LibreOffice for Linux, MacOS and Windows here.

Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice is supported by the Apache Software Foundation, one of the world’s largest open source, volunteer based communities. It has over 20 years of open source development, is used by millions of people around the world and currently has 11 active contributors. You can see that it has the same types of programs with the same names as LibreOffice, which makes sense at they were at one time developed in the same project.

What it comes with:

There are currently 718 extensions that you can use with the Linux operating system, from language packages to music diagram writers, clipart packages, colour management and more. There are also currently 1745 templates between the Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer programs, and 52 languages supported, although some of those languages are currently outdated.

You can download OpenOffice for Linux, MacOS and Windows here.

Calligra

Calligra is a free open source office suite supported by KDEev, a non-profit international community that develops free and open-source software, and currently has 17 active contributors. Although it doesn’t have a math program, it does include a Project Management application, as well as a program that combines the word processor Words and the presentation software Stage, allowing users to switch between a computer interface and tablet interface with ease.

What it comes with:

There are currently 77 language teams working on various languages to create localized versions, and an easy web interface to report bugs.

You can download Calligra Suite for Linux, MacOS and Windows here.

Now that you have a rundown of each of the three office suites, take a look at the links, see which one might be best suited to your needs, and if you need more support in learning various tips and tricks to using them, check out YouTube for video tutorials, or the documentation and user forums on each of their respective sites.

 

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