Daily Archives: October 12, 2010

Building LibreOffice from source

Two weeks ago, the developer community behind OpenOffice.org decided to free itself from its “parent” Oracle. This split was unavoidable – Sun Microsystems who used to manage and oversee the development of OpenOffice.org was absorbed by Oracle, a company which is not particularly known for its fondness toward Open Source.

The tension which has been building up between the community and Oracle found a release in a “fork” – or perhaps just a continuation – called LibreOffice, as well as the birth of the Document Foundation which is the legal body to oversee its development.

The intention is to use the fruits of a parallel development project which has been ongoing for a long time – called “go-oo” – and merge the code. From what I understood, the go-oo code is leading at the moment, since it has a lot of added features still missing in OpenOffice.org like better MS Office compatibility, multimedia integration – which SUNĀ  has always been reluctant to add to OpenOffice.org because of direct competition with SUN/Oracle’s own not-so-open ancestor of OpenOffice.org, StarOffice.

Anyway, that is all old news now, even though it was exciting to see how a developer community takes the lead.

Binaries for LibreOffice beta are available for download from the Document Foundation site, and Niels Horn has a SlackBuild script which re-packages those binary RPMs into a clean Slackware package.

But I wanted to see if I could compile this software from source. OpenOffice.Org always seemed like a hurdle I was never prepared to take in terns of compilation. But this time I decided to go ahead and use the power of my new build box (components bought with donation money, thanks again!).

I must say, the LibreOffice source code is very much “in flux”. There are no source tarballs to download (except for the bootstrap) so I followed the official build instruction, which is to grab all sources directly from git repositories. That fact proved disastrous to the time required to come up with an error-free compilation… code can break any time, and in two weeks of compiling with my Slackware oriented set of configuration parameters I could only produce a working package with code from two days ago.

My SlackBuild script is a fairy crude script which is not (yet) able to checkout a snapshot from git at any desired date in the past (like my vlc and ffmpeg scripts can). So… if you try to replicate my efforts using my script you have a large chance of failure. Prepare for days of compilation – and to build it you need way more than 6 GB of free space.

Anyway, I have uploaded my built-from-source LibreOffice 3.2.99.2 packages (this is officially called the 3.3-beta2 release) for both 32-bit and 64-bit Slackware 13.1 (should work on -current too of course).

Grab them here: http://slackware.com/~alien/slackbuilds/libreoffice/ or use my fast mirror at http://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/people/alien/slackbuilds/libreoffice/ (rsync access through rsync://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/people/alien/slackbuilds/).

I must say I am impressed with the speed of LibreOffice. Within 5 seconds of clicking the LibreOffice Writer icon, I was typing in a text document. At the same time, that computer was running a virtual machine in wich I was compiling a xulrunner package.

Feedback is welcome!

Cheers, Eric