2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Software 2.0 Writer editing a text document under Windows XP
Developer: Sun Microsystems in association with the community
Latest release: 2.0.4 / October 13, 2006
OS: Cross-platform
Use: Office suite
License: GNU Lesser General Public License
Website: is a free office suite of applications available for many different operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X. It is intended to be a compatible alternative to Microsoft Office. It supports the OpenDocument standard for data interchange. is based on StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative. is free software, available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

The project and software are informally referred to as "OpenOffice", but project organizers report that this term is a trademark held by another party, requiring them to adopt "" as its formal name, and abbreviated as OOo or OO.o.

Overview 2 for Linux editing an HTML document
Enlarge 2 for Linux editing an HTML document

According to its mission statement, the project aims "To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format." aims to compete with Microsoft Office and emulate its look and feel where suitable. It can read and write most of the file formats found in Microsoft Office, and many other applications; an essential feature of the suite for many users. has been found to be able to open files of older versions of Microsoft Office and damaged files that newer versions of Microsoft Office itself cannot open. However, it cannot open older Word for Macintosh (MCW) files.

The primary development platforms are Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris. There are also ports available or in progress for Mac OS X, OS/2 and many Unix-like operating systems.

Federal Computer Week issue listed as one of the "5 stars of open-source products." In contrast, was used by The Guardian newspaper to illustrate what it claims are the limitations of open-source software. is a collection of different applications that work together closely to provide the features expected from a modern office suite. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office. The components available include:

  • Writer — a word processor similar in look and feel to Microsoft Word and offering a comparable range of functions and tools. It also includes the ability to export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can also function as a WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages. One important difference between Writer and Microsoft Word is that in Writer, many functions and number formats from Calc (below) are available in Writer's tables. Another difference is that in Writer, automatic save is off by default.
  • Calc — a spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel with a roughly equivalent range of features. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user's data. Calc is also capable of writing spreadsheets directly as a PDF file.
  • Impress — a presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files allowing them to be played on any computer with the Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files. Impress suffers from a lack of ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.
  • Base — a database program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base is able to work as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/ PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0.
  • Draw — a vector graphics editor comparable in features to CorelDRAW. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts.
  • Math — a tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.
  • Quickstarter — a small program for Windows and Linux that runs when the computer starts for the first time. It loads the core files and libraries for during computer startup and allows the suite applications to start more quickly when selected later. The amount of time it takes to open applications was a common complaint in version 1.0 of the suite, and Quickstarter was a solution of sorts. Substantial improvements were made in this area for version 2.0.
  • The macro recorder — is used to record user actions and replay them later to help with automating tasks, using Basic

It is not possible to download these components individually on Windows, though they can be installed separately. Most Linux distributions break the components into individual packages which may be downloaded and installed separately. Basic Basic is similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and is based on StarOffice Basic. In addition to the macros, the upcoming Novell edition of OpenOffice 2.0 supports running Microsoft VBA macros, a feature expected to be incorporated into the mainstream version soon.. Basic is available in the Writer and Calc applications.

History versions
Version Description Release Date
Build 638c The first milestone release October 2001
1.0 May 1, 2002 Recommended for windows 95 users May 2, 2003
1.1 September 2, 2003
1.1.3 October 4, 2004
1.1.4 December 22, 2004
1.1.5 Last release for 1.x product line September 14, 2005
1.1.5secpatch Security patch (macros) July 4, 2006
2.0 Milestone October 20, 2005
2.0.1 December 21, 2005
2.0.2 March 8, 2006
2.0.3 June 29, 2006
2.0.4 Latest stable release October 13, 2006

Originally developed as the proprietary software application suite StarOffice by the German company StarDivision, the code was purchased in 1999 by Sun Microsystems. In August 1999 version 5.2 of StarOffice was made available free of charge.

On July 19, 2000, Sun Microsystems announced that it was making the source code of StarOffice available for download under both the LGPL and the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL) with the intention of building an open source development community around the software. The new project was known as, and its website went live on October 13, 2000.

Work on version 2.0 began in early 2003 with the following goals: better interoperability with Microsoft Office; better performance, with improved speed and lower memory usage; greater scripting capabilities; better integration, particularly with GNOME; an easier-to-find and use database front-end for creating reports, forms and queries; a new built-in SQL database; and improved usability. A beta version was released on March 4, 2005.

On September 2, 2005 Sun announced that it was retiring the SISSL. As a consequence, the Community Council announced that it would no longer dual license the office suite, and future versions would use only the LGPL.

On October 20, 2005, 2.0 was formally released to the public. Eight weeks after the release of Version 2.0, an update, 2.0.1, was released. It fixed minor bugs and introduced new features.

As of the 2.0.3 release, changed its release cycle from 18-months to releasing updates, feature enhancements and bug fixes every three months.


Sun subsidizes the development of in order to use it as a base for its commercial StarOffice application software. Releases of StarOffice since version 6.0 have been based on the source code, with some additional proprietary components, including:

  • Additional bundled fonts (especially East Asian language fonts).
  • Adabas D database.
  • Additional document templates.
  • Clip art.
  • Sorting functionality for Asian versions.
  • Additional file filters.
  • Migration assessment tool (Enterprise Edition).
  • Macro migration tool (Enterprise Edition).
  • Configuration management tool (Enterprise Edition)., therefore, inherited many features from the original StarOffice upon which it was based including the XML file format which it retained until version 2, when it was replaced by OpenDocument.



The API is based on a component technology known as Universal Network Objects (UNO). It consists of a wide range of interfaces defined in a CORBA-like interface description language.

The document file format used is based on XML and several export and import filters. All external formats read by are converted back and forth from an internal XML representation. By using compression when saving XML to disk, files are generally smaller than the equivalent binary Microsoft Office documents. The native file format for storing documents in version 1.0 was used as the basis of the OASIS OpenDocument file format standard, which has become the default file format in version 2.0.

Development versions of the suite are released every few weeks on the developer zone of the website. The releases are meant for those who wish to test new features or are simply curious about forthcoming changes, they are not suitable for production use.

The project is still essentially run by StarOffice staff, and getting external contributions into the core codebase is generally regarded as being more difficult than with other high-profile free software projects.

Native desktop integration 1.0 was criticized for the lack of look and feel of native applications when comparing to the platform it is running on. Starting from version 2.0, uses the native widget toolkit, icons and font-rendering libraries across a variety of platforms, to better match native applications and provide a smoother experience for the user. There are projects underway to further improve this integration on both GNOME and KDE. can also be used on Mac OS X. A version using the Aqua interface was planned for version 2, but due to technical challenges, licensing complications and limited development resources, the project was postponed to the 3.0 release. The application has been made available in two intermediate varieties that run on OS X in the meantime:

  • Mac OS X (X11). This version requires the installation of or XDarwin, and is a close port of the well-tested Unix version. This version is functionally equivalent to the Unix version, but its user interface has a significantly different look and feel to that of purpose-designed Mac OS X applications; the application uses it own menu bar instead of the usual Mac OS menu attached to the top of the screen, for example. Version 2.0.4 provides the X11 port with the ability to conveniently use installed system fonts like other Mac OS X applications, the use of cups for printing.

Current development of the Aqua version of : Native (without X11)

Last screenshots, and infos about port, without X11: ericb's blog

  • NeoOffice. A fork (means derivated product) version integrates with OS X by using Java, Carbon and (increasingly) Cocoa. NeoOffice adheres fairly closely to OS X GUI standards (for example, using native pull-down menus), and has full access to OS X's font and printing subsystems. It is the work of a very small team. Its releases lag slightly behind the official releases.

Other projects 2 for Windows saving a Hello World document
Enlarge 2 for Windows saving a Hello World document

Other projects run alongside the main project and are easier to contribute to. These include documentation, internationalization and localization and the API. is a set of extension programs to allow the sharing of documents, calendars, address books, e-mails, instant messaging and blackboards, and provide access to other groupware applications.

There is also an effort to create and share assorted document templates and other useful additions at OOExtras.

A set of Perl extensions is available through the CPAN in order to allow document processing by external programs. These libraries do not use the API. They directly read or write the files using Perl standard file compression/uncompression, XML access and UTF-8 encoding modules.

A distribution of called "Portable" is designed to run the suite from a USB flash drive.

For version 2.04, should, in a manner similar to Mozilla Firefox, support extensions.


As of September 26, 2006, the security site Secunia reports no known security flaws for OOo 2.x. Kaspersky Lab has shown a proof of concept virus for This shows OOo viruses are possible, but there is no known virus "in the wild".

In a private meeting of the French Ministry of Defense, additional macro-related security issues were raised. developers have responded by noting there has been no published vulnerability, but have been in talks with the researcher to fix the vulnerability.


Market share

Although Microsoft Office retains 95% of the general market, and StarOffice have secured 14% of the large enterprise market as of 2004. The web site reports more than 62.5 million downloads.

Large scale users of include Singapore's Ministry of Defense, and Bristol City Council in the UK. In France, has attracted the attention of both local and national government administrations who wish to rationalize their software procurement, as well as have stable, standard file formats for archival purposes. It is now the official office suite for the French Gendarmerie. It may also be noted that the Supreme Court of India, which uses Linux, completely relies on

On October 4, 2005, Sun and Google announced a strategic partnership. As part of this agreement, Sun will add a Google search bar to, Sun and Google will engage in joint marketing activities as well as joint research and development, and Google will help distribute

Besides StarOffice, there are still a number of derived commercial products. Most of them are developed under SISSL license (which is valid up to 2.0 Beta 2). In general they are targeted at local or niche market, with proprietary add-ons such as speech recognition module, automatic database connection, or better CJK support.

Java controversy

Version 1 depended on a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) being present on the user's computer for some auxiliary functions, but version 2 increased the suite's use of the programming platform. The following areas of 2.0 depend on a JRE being present:

  • The media player on Unix-like systems
  • All document wizards in Writer
  • Accessibility tools
  • Report Autopilot
  • JDBC driver support
  • HSQL database engine, which is used in base
  • XSLT filters
  • BeanShell, the NetBeans scripting language and the Java UNO bridge
  • Export filters to the Aportis.doc (.pdb) format for the Palm OS or Pocket Word (.psw) format for the Pocket PC
  • Export filter to LaTeX

The dependency on an installed JRE had drawn criticism from advocates of free software, as the JRE generally available for desktop platforms was, at the time, a proprietary application bundle, thus undercutting the principles of freedom advocated by such groups. The fact that Sun Microsystems is both the creator of Java and the chief supporter of has drawn accusations of ulterior motives for this technology choice.

The issue of's use of Java came to the fore in May 2005, when Richard Stallman appeared to call for a fork of the application in a posting on the Free Software Foundation website. This led to discussions within the community and between Sun staff and developers involved in GNU Classpath, a free replacement for Sun's Java implementation, in which it was determined that all necessary steps were in place to ensure that key uses of the Java platform would be supported in GCJ and Classpath.

Fedora Core 4 (released on June 13, 2005) included a beta version of version 2, running on GCJ and GNU Classpath. This demonstrated that the use of Java did not need to be a barrier to the use of on free software platforms. When 2.0 stable was released, the same continued. The developers also placed into their development guidelines various requirements to ensure that future versions of could be run on free implementations of Java.

Sun Microsystems announced in May 2006 that it intended to release the Java platform under an open-source license. On November 13, 2006, Sun released javac, JavaHelp, and the Java HotSpot virtual machine as Free/ Open Source software, under the GNU General Public License. They reiterated that they intend to do the same for most of the rest of the Java implementations.

A common point of confusion is that mail merge to generate emails requires the Java API JavaMail in StarOffice; however, as of version 2.0.1, uses a Python-component instead.

Trivia includes several Easter eggs, including some quite fully fledged games: a version of Space Invaders is playable by entering a cheat code into a cell in Calc, as is a version of Tic-tac-toe, and the names and picture of the Calc developer team.

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