LibreOffice celebrates its first birthday

The Document Foundation, the group behind popular open source productivity suite LibreOffice, celebrates its first birthday today with an estimated 25 million users across the globe.

Founded following displeasure in the OpenOffice.org community with seemingly draconian rules placed on the project by corporate overlord Oracle, The Document Foundation forked the codebase and created LibreOffice. While the first beta, launched twelve months ago today, was little more than an OpenOffice.org clone with a new logo, the project has since gone from strength to strength.

"What we have achieved in just twelve months is incredible," crowed Steering Committee member Charles Schulz. "Let's have a look at some numbers: we have 136 members who have been nominated for their contributions to the project; we have some 270 developers and 270 localisers - although we always want to attract more - many of whom are also members; we have over 100 mailing lists, with over 15,000 subscribers, half of whom receive all our announcements; and there have been thousands of articles in the media worldwide."

Since the LibreOffice project opened its doors, it has grown to around 330 active contributors who are responsible for more than 25,000 commits. That's 25,000 improvements, bug fixes, and code cleanups that upstream project OpenOffice.org hasn't got, by virtue of what Foundation member Michael Meeks described as Oracle's inability to comprehend community.

Norbert Thiebuad, a hacker who has been tinkering with the LibreOffice code since day one, hangs the project's success firmly on its more open attitude. "Thanks to a very welcoming attitude to newcomers, to the copyleft license, and to the fact that it is not requesting any copyright assignment, The Document Foundation has attracted more developers with commits in the first year than the OpenOffice.org project in the first decade," he declared.

In the twelve months the project has been running, it has been chosen over its rivals - including OpenOffice.org - as the default productivity suite in the majority of mainstream Linux distributions, with an estimated 15 million active users. In addition, the binaries for other platforms have been downloaded nearly eight million times with around 90 per cent of the project's installed user base running it on Windows.

"When the community around OpenOffice.org decided to fork into an independent, community-driven project, I was excited and wanted to see it be a success," explained day-one contributor David Nelson. "The best way to ensure that was to actively get involved and, right from the first day, I decided I wanted to be part of the team. I work on LibreOffice documentation and website content development, operate an Alfresco platform for the project, and provide support to the marketing group. LibreOffice is indeed a live, thriving and active project, and we are all determined to ensure it continues to be a great success story."

The Document Foundation has a clear aim in sight: a total of 200 million users worldwide before the decade is out. While it's still a way away from that lofty goal, a cracking first year will likely give its members hope for the future.