LibreOffice, born out of the OpenOffice.org project, has gained immense popularity over the years as a free alternative to proprietary office suites.
Its compatibility with various document formats, robust features, and extensive community support has made it a favored choice for individuals, businesses, and educational institutions.
Most Linux distributions now include it by default, so users have come to accept it as an essential component of their desktop Linux systems. However, this will change for RHEL and Fedora users in the future.
In a recent post that has caught the attention of the open-source community, Matthias Clasen, manager at Red Hat and GNOME developer, has announced Red Hat’s plans for the discontinuation of maintenance for LibreOffice in the future Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) releases.
These plans are expected to significantly impact Fedora, one of the most widely used Linux distributions closely associated with and backed by Red Hat.
The tradeoff is that we are pivoting away from work we had been doing on desktop applications and will cease shipping LibreOffice as part of RHEL starting in a future RHEL version. This also limits our ability to maintain it in future versions of Fedora.Matthias Clasen, manager at Red Hat
The reason for this turn is known to be the amount of effort that Red Hat engineers are putting into LibreOffice maintenance, which is distracting them from their main focus, which is currently on improving Wayland’s performance in RHEL, building out HDR support, and so on.
However, there is a silver lining: RHEL and Fedora are expected to ship LibreOffice as a Flatpak, presenting a new opportunity for seamless and up-to-date office suite integration. At the same time, RHEL’s engineers will contribute fixes upstream to ensure LibreOffice works better as a Flatpak.
So, while Red Hat’s decision to discontinue direct maintenance for LibreOffice may initially seem concerning, there is no need for severe alarm. Instead, the move to Flatpak aligns with Fedora’s philosophy of embracing cutting-edge open-source technologies while ensuring the stability and security of its operating system.
It is also noted that any Fedora developer is invited to commit to maintaining the LibreOffice packages. Nonetheless, it is stated that this is an enormous amount of effort that can be challenging.
Finally, Red Hat will continue to maintain LibreOffice in currently supported versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, 8, and 9, and it is expected that this change to take effect with the release of the upcoming RHEL 10, for which there is no roadmap yet and will probably not happen in the next two years.