LibreOffice 6

LibreOffice 6

I have been a fan of LibreOffice for quite a while. In fact, I have used it on Windows since the old days of Sun System's When the Document Foundation forked the project to produce LibreOffice, that was my route, as I found there was a lot more support there.

When I took the plunge to use Linux on my laptops (one running Ubuntu 16 and one running Mint Sylvia), my existing experience with LibreOffice made the learning curve gentler. LibreOffice 5 had proved, on both Windows and Linux, to be a formidable alternative to Microsoft Office, and was in no way an inferior product.

So, this weekend I noticed that the Document Foundation had released LibreOffice 6, and I knew I had to try it out.

Unfortunately, the update did not appear in the Linux update panel. Fortunately, I found a website that had clear easy instructions on what to do. Linux Mint normally makes installation and updating of software easy, using the Software Manager, or at the least using the Debian Package Manager to install a downloaded .deb file. However, neither of these easy options is available with LibreOffice, because of the sheer size of this office suite. So, the installation has to be done through the terminal – UGH! Worse still, I found that it was necessary to uninstall version 5 before installing version 6. What a risk! What if version 6 did not work. So I checked that I had a backup installer for version 5, and went ahead with the instructions to uninstall v5, and then to install v6. Before I go further, here is the website with the instructions.

It is difficult to cover all the changes. I was pleased to see that the main interface for all the LibreOffice apps had not changed substantially – though the icons are much more attractive. But I was pleased to find that, under the hood, many features had been made easier and more powerful. Special characters are quite important in my work, so I was delighted to find the management of special characters has been greatly improved. Also, a quick examination of Calc suggests that there is very little this app can now not do that is available in Excel. Powerful spreadsheet features seem to work easily.

Impress is, in my mind, a better tool than Powerpoint, and has been for some time. The tweaks in version 6 keep LibreOffice Impress ahead of the game.

So, my first impressions, after no more than an hour, are good, but as I use the software regularly over the next week or two, I will make some notes, and report back again.

And remember – you don't need to use Linux to benefit from LibreOffice 6. The Windows version is just as good, and a worthy competitor to Microsoft Office, despite the fact that LibreOffice is still open source, and still free.

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