Community Week: Development – get involved

LibreOffice Community Weeks

On Monday we had a chat with LibreOffice’s dedicated mentor for new developers, Jan Iversen, and on Wednesday we then looked at some statistics from the development team and the tools they use. Today we finish off this Community Week by showing you how to get involved. Put your coding gloves on and get ready to become a LibreOffice hacker…

Getting the source code

The first thing you need to do is read this page – this is a step-by-step guide, from the primary contact until you have successfully gotten your first patch merged.

The page describes how to download the source code:

  • Git: at the command line, enter “git clone git://”

This download takes a while, but with that you have access to not only master (the bleeding edge source code), but also are release candidates (e.g. 5.1.6 RC1) as well as old versions. In total this is the source code with history.

Building LibreOffice is a task that takes quite a while, because the suite has approximately 7 million lines of code. The time needed depends a lot on your setup and the operating system. Windows is the slowest, and it is common to see the first build to take 6-10 hours. Linux and macOS are pretty fast: the normal time is 1-2 hours. Remember that the second build is a lot faster because it only builds changes.

Building it

How you build the code depends on your operating system, but our wiki has some guides:

If you have a choice of operating systems at your disposal, we recommend using Linux, where it’s very easy to install development tools and other related software.

Oh, and want to see what a LibreOffice build process looks like? Check out this speeded-up video (maybe turn down your audio before playing it though – the music is a bit loud!)

Start communicating

Once you’re able to build LibreOffice from its source code, it’s a good idea to reach out to other developers – maybe to get help, or ask for pointers, or simply see what things need working on. You can subscribe to the mailing list (see the archives here), but for more immediate contact join the #libreoffice-dev IRC channel on Freenode.

The mailing list and IRC channel can be busy, so there’s not a lot of time for off-topic discussion, but it’s worth introducing yourself quickly (who you are, why you want to help, any specific things you want to work on). If you want to talk to Jan, the new developer mentor, you’ll find him as @janIV on the IRC channel. Or send an email to

Start hacking!

We’ve mentioned “Easy Hacks” a few times this week – now we’ll explore them in detail. Easy Hacks are small tasks designed to be ideal starting points for new LibreOffice developers, so you can take them on without needing a lot of experience with the project or source code.

The first thing to do is read the quick introduction on this page – it explains the workflow and shows you how to use Bugzilla, which is used to coordinate Easy Hacks. From there, you can choose the language or technology area in which you want to help, eg:

For a full list of Easy Hacks in different languages, see this page, and once you’ve completed a few, you may want to move on to Core Hacks.

So good luck on your coding adventure, we look forward to your contributions, and just let us know on IRC or the mailing list if you have any questions!