Debian 10 and LibreOffice

The stock Debian 10 includes LibreOffice 6.1.5. A newer version is available through the backports repository.

LibreOffice is one of those packages that improves with each release. Using the backports version seemed reasonable. At least until the version jumped from 6.3.4 to 6.4.1 rather than 6.3.5.

With 6.4.1 the top menu bar was functional but grayed out — looking disabled or inactive.

I traced the bug to a faulty libreoffice-gtk3 package. Removing the package resolved the issue but rendered the overall appearance of LibreOffice unacceptable.

While the menu was functional, I could not introduce that kind of head scratching annoyance to users. I decided to revert to the stable branch 6.1.5 version and forsake any benefits newer versions might offer. The users don’t know the difference anyway.

A frustrating part of the backports repository is no easy way to revert package versions. Trying to do that probably is an exercise in futility as the package has to be pinned or held back.

The 6.3 package can be installed manually from the LibreOffice web site, but that requires manual package maintenance. Not a feasible approach with multiple systems to maintain.

The backports repository follows the Debian testing branch. In this instance the jump from 6.3.4 to 6.4.1 was too eager. While the testing branch is for testing, the upstream LibreOffice recommendation is to use the 6.3 branch. I don’t see any need to jump to the 6.4 branch until the 6.3 branch is declared end-of-life (EOL).

This is an example why many people use stable releases and forsake potential new features until well tested. For many people there is no need for bleeding edge.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Debian

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