LibreOffice on the Raspberry Pi

  • Operating System: Raspbian

LibreOffice is a Office suite of programs includes a Word Processor, Spreadsheet, a Database and presentation software but how well does it perform on a Raspberry Pi?

 

 

Libre Office 3.5 for the Raspberry Pi

LibreOffice is an office suite of programs for Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Slide show Presentations, Vector Drawing and a Math formula editor.

LibreOffice for the Raspberry PiLibreOffice is a community driven suite of programs meaning the features are driven by what people want to use it for and free to use. It is a good choice for students, small businesses and occasional users as is should cover all their needs. LibreOffice is able to load and save documents from other office programs such as Microsoft Office so you can edit home work and documents sent to you without any issues.

I use LibreOffice on both Windows and Linux Ubuntu operating systems so when I found out LibreOffice is available for Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi I was interested to see how well it works.

 

 

LibreOffice Calc

Firstly I tried out Calc the spreadsheet program. Calc is well featured, if you have used Microsoft Excel you will find a familiar look and feel with a layout like Excel 2003 and lower.
It has a good range of formulas for mathematical, financial, statistical, date and time calculations and more advanced features such as pivot tables for data analysis. If your interested in programming there is also a macro editor so you can automate processing your data.

In general the Raspberry Pi version of LibreOffice Calc performs well considering the limited power of the RPI. General navigation and data entry is responsive and comfortable.
Typically a spreadsheet has a mixture data, text and numbers and formulas to calculate various results from the data. I use such a spreadsheet to keep track of the household finances. This consists of 92 columns and 126 rows of data and formulas. The file was created in LibreOffice but is now used on a smart phone so is in the latest Excel format (XLSX) which was loaded instantly with no loss of formatting or functionality.

To begin with I busily added in various things I would buy if a large cheque fell through my letter box. Calc updated the formulas instantly and was as usable as my desktop version, as expected.

Next I tried a bit of data analysis which would give a better idea of the performance. For this I used a sheet with 5 columns and 2000 rows and a second sheet with 2 columns and 2000 rows. Using the formula Vlookup I imported data from the second sheet to the first. As expected this was a bit more of a struggle. To import 2000 numbers from the second sheet took 2 min 8 seconds, in comparison my 3 year old laptop took 32 seconds. Once the formulas were converted to just the results the sheet was responsive again. Though this is slow compared to the time it takes on a laptop it's to be expected with high demand features.

 

 

libreoffice Calc for the Raspberry pi

Next I tried a pivot table on the same data. Pivot tables are a way to summarise large amounts of data into simple readable tables that can be easily changed to many layouts. I have used pivot tables for many years in Excel and know there can be an initial delay updating them on slower machines. I was very surprised to find that the pivot table was nearly instant to create and responsive to use including dragging the sections about to create different layouts.
I then increased the data to ten thousand rows and recreated the pivot table. This one was generated in 2.1 seconds.

Calc has a large work area of 1,048,576 rows by 1024 columns, though if you need anything near this size of a spreadsheet you better find yourself a desktop computer to use.

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

LibreOffice Calc on the Raspberry Pi is responsive and comfortable to use, though sometimes windows and menus have a brief delay of about a second it's works well. If you are using complex formulas or large amounts of data then it will be sluggish in places but general use such as homework, data lists and financial spreadsheets it is perfectly usable.

 

LibreOffice Writer

Writer is a word processor which is well featured and is suitable for most peoples requirements of a word processor. It can load and save files created in Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and Open document formats as well as the usual text based formats of RTF and txt. It can also save PDF files which is useful feature.

writer-libreoffice-rpi

To test writer I loaded a 33 page 13044 word file which it handled with no problem, scrolling was smooth. Changing font size and style was instant and worked comfortably. Next I inserted a large HD image of 1920 x 1080 pixels, this was then resized with the image handles. Again LibreOffice performed instantly in dragging and resizing the image and there was also no delay in scrolling the page. Jumping around the document to the start and end of the document was also instant.

Next I tried a mail merge using the 2000 row Calc sheet used earlier as my address list, into a half page of text. This generates 2000 pages with each page addressed to a different entry from the Calc sheet.
After completing the wizard the Raspberry Pi went on it's merry way creating the 2000 pages. In total this took 16 minutes and 30 seconds, a bit of a wait.
For comparison I done the same mail merge on my laptop which took 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Suddenly the Raspberry Pi didn't look as slow as I first thought.

Conclusion:

As with Calc LibreOffice Writer on the Raspberry Pi is perfectly usable for general word processing and performs well for homework, letter and document writing. No spell checker dictionary is installed as standard so this test was done with out auto correct which may have an impact on the performance.

 

 LibreOffice Impress

Impress is similar to Microsoft PowerPoint used for creating presentation slide shows. It is comparable with PowerPoint and has many of the features available.

impress libreoffice for the Raspberry Pi

For this test I downloaded some MS powerpoint example file from tlccreative.com. This example contained various images and text boxes across 33 slides. Even though the document contained 1 or more images per slide, navigation was responsive and so was resizing the image and text boxes. Though the menus and windows were not quite instant but not far off. Occasionally there would be a delay before option boxes would appear but I would expect that with this type of program on a Raspberry Pi.

 

This file is a tutorial that shows how to generate different slide show effects in the Impress slide show mode. Once started each slide is changed with a mouse click. The Raspberry Pi displayed the presentation effects without issue and looked to be at the correct speeds.

Conclusion:

LibreOffice Impress on the Raspberry Pi was responsive and comfortable to use for editing a graphical presentation using slide show effects. It has the occasional sticky requester but on the whole works well.

 

Other Features

LibreOffice also has a Database program called Base which is can be used to query, generate reports and edit database tables from MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft Access.

Draw is a vector line drawing program that can be used to create clip art, diagrams, flow charts and other graphical content that can be used in Writer, Impress and Calc. Images can also be exported to other formats such as PDF, JPG, PNG, EPS, SVG and many more.

Maths is a mathematical equation editor allowing you to insert equation formulas into your documents or output them in PDF format.

 

Libre Office is available for the Raspberry Pi at the PI Store or from the Raspbian Packages.

 

For the package install use LXterminal.

Enter the commands

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libreoffice

more information on installing packages can be found here

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