Red Hat will stop shipping LibreOffice as part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in future releases.
At face value the change, confirmed by Red Hat (and GNOME developer) Matthias Clasen on the Fedora project mailing list, sounds bad. LibreOffice is a tentpole in the free-software landscape, and arguably the exact sort of productivity suite workstations benefit from.
Worse still, limiting Red Hat’s involvement in packaging LibreOffice for RHEL as RPM will have a direct knock-on effect for Fedora, its downstream “consumer” OS offering, something Clasen notes.
The current status is that LibreOffice RPMs are “orphaned” (a term meaning they no longer have an active maintainer), with Red Hat (the hitherto existing maintainer) stepping away from the role almost entirely.
Why is Red Hat Doing This?
Clasen says the Red Hat Display Systems team (who do much of the work required) is “adjusting” its engineering priorities to focus on other key areas, like better Wayland support and adding HDR capabilities – things Workstation users (and Linux as a whole) will benefit from.
“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,” Clasen adds.
LibreOffice will remain maintained and supported in all supported versions of RHEL (and Fedora) with security updates as and when needed.
The “good news” is that this doesn’t technically matter. There’s an official LibreOffice Flatpak build. This is available to Fedora and RHEL (and other Linux) users. The LibreOffice Flatpak can “fill the void” so to speak.
Clasen adds, “engineers doing that work will contribute some fixes upstream to ensure LibreOffice works better as a Flatpak, which we expect to be the way that most people consume LibreOffice in the long term.”
Could someone step up to take over maintenance, both for the LibreOffice RPMS in Fedora? Absolutely, but the scale of the task shouldn’t be underestimated, so anyone committing to handling the packaging and upkeep will need to be fully aware of the job.
You can get more details in this Fedora developer mailing list thread.