Feb 01 2017

How to install LibreOffice 5.3 from snap on Ubuntu 16.04 (and others)

Update #1: 3 Feb 2017: The new LibreOffice 5.3 has been released to the stable snap channel, which means the process of installing is quite easier. See at the end of this post for the simplified instructions, to install from fresh or switch channel from edge to stable.

LibreOffice 5.3 was released a few days ago, and it has several new nice features.

LibreOffice 5.3, installed from a snap.

Caption 1  LibreOffice 5.3, installed from a snap.

The LibreOffice project provides a tarball for Ubuntu with the new version, that can be downloaded, extracted and then we can run it.

However, we can install a snap with LibreOffice 5.3, which makes it convenient for testing and not messing up our system.

The following apply to Ubuntu 16.04 or newer. It also applies to Ubuntu 14.04 once you follow this tutorial.

Let’s check what snaps are available for LibreOffice.

$ snap info libreoffice
name:      libreoffice
summary:   "LibreOffice is a powerful office suite including word processing and creation of spreadsheets, slideshows and databases"
publisher: canonical
description: |
  LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – its clean interface and
  feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your
  productivity. LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most
  powerful Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word
  processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector
  graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).
channels:                 
  stable:    5.2.3.2 (10) 364MB -
  candidate: 5.2.3.2 (10) 364MB -
  beta:      5.2.3.2 (10) 364MB -
  edge:      5.3.0.2 (14) 374MB -
$ _

We learn that there are several channels for snaps, and the new version of LibreOffice is currently in the edge channel. This channel is that channel that is less stable than all others. That is, if we go for edge, we are bleeding edge in terms of LibreOffice. And some things may not work due to packaging. By installing this snap, we help in testing the packaging of the LibreOffice snap.

Let’s install LibreOffice from the edge channel:

$ sudo snap install libreoffice --channel=edge
libreoffice (edge) 5.3.0.2 from 'canonical' installed
$ _

Let’s get some info again from the installed LibreOffice snap.

$ snap info libreoffice
name:      libreoffice
summary:   "LibreOffice is a powerful office suite including word processing and creation of spreadsheets, slideshows and databases"
publisher: canonical
description: |
  LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – its clean interface and
  feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your
  productivity. LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most
  powerful Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word
  processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector
  graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).
commands:
  - libreoffice.impress
  - libreoffice
  - libreoffice.math
  - libreoffice.writer
  - libreoffice.base
  - libreoffice.calc
  - libreoffice.draw
tracking:    edge
installed:   5.3.0.2 (14) 374MB -
refreshed:   2017-01-19 04:24:50 +0200 EET
channels:                 
  stable:    5.2.3.2 (10) 364MB -
  candidate: 5.2.3.2 (10) 364MB -
  beta:      5.2.3.2 (10) 364MB -
  edge:      5.3.0.2 (14) 374MB -

We verify that LibreOffice 5.3 was installed and now we know the new commands to run the new version.

Let’s figure out now how to run the new LibreOffice. Because we already have LibreOffice (the stock Ubuntu LibreOffice) installed.

$ whereis libreoffice
libreoffice: /usr/bin/libreoffice /usr/lib/libreoffice /etc/libreoffice 
/usr/share/libreoffice /snap/bin/libreoffice /snap/bin/libreoffice.calc 
/snap/bin/libreoffice.math /snap/bin/libreoffice.draw /snap/bin/libreoffice.writer 
/snap/bin/libreoffice.impress /snap/bin/libreoffice.base 
/usr/share/man/man1/libreoffice.1.gz
$ _

The stock LibreOffice is under the /usr tree. The freshly installed LibreOffice is under the /snap tree.

Caption 2  Trying to find “libreoffice” in Dash. It shows both the stock LibreOffice and the snapped LibreOffice.

The icons from both corresponding versions are the same. Empirically, the first for LibreOffice Writer would be the stock LibreOffice, while the second one is the snapped LibreOffice.

We can move the icons on the Launcher and then launch them. If we selected our preferred version, then we are fine. Otherwise, we try with the other same icon.

Here is how LibreOffice 5.3 Writer looks like.

Update #1 (3 Feb 2017)

Let’s try again to see whether there are new snaps for LibreOffice because we got a hint that the new LibreOffice 5.3 has hit the stable channel.

$ snap info libreoffice
name:      libreoffice
summary:   "LibreOffice is a powerful office suite including word processing and creation of spreadsheets, slideshows and databases"
publisher: canonical
description: |
  LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – its clean interface and
  feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your
  productivity. LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most
  powerful Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word
  processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector
  graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).
channels:                 
  stable:    5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
  candidate: 5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
  beta:      5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
  edge:      5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -

Indeed, the testing snap that was initially in the edge channel, has been moved up to the rest of the channels and reached the stable channel.

If a snap is in the stable channel, this means we can install from Ubuntu Software. GUI time!

That is, open Ubuntu Software and perform a search for libreoffice. For some reason, the snaps in Ubuntu Software have the nonfree tag, so we have a hint that the first result is the snap.

Let’s click on the first result in order to get more info, before installing.

Yep, it is LibreOffice 5.3.0.3. I suppose that since it is a snap, it is assumed that it may contain non-free components. Considering that Ubuntu Software does not offer any other indication whether a package is traditional or a snap, it is important to have that hint.

We click to install. If we did not already sign in with a Launchpad.net account, it will ask us to input the email/password now (since this is a snap). If you do not have a Launchpad Single-SignOn account, create one at https://login.launchpad.net/ (it’s free).

Here is how it looks like in Ubuntu Software, having installed LibreOffice as a snap.

Let’s click on Launch to start LibreOffice. If you actually do that, you (with snapd version 2.21) actually launch LibreOffice Base. It’s a bug, https://bugs.launchpad.net/snappy/+bug/1661590

Until the bug gets fixed, launch the LibreOffice snap from Dash :-).

Update #2: 3 Feb 2017

Suppose you already installed LibreOffice from the edge channel and you want to switch to the stable channel. How do you do that?

Channel switching in snaps is supported since the summer, Snapd 2.0.10: new media interfaces, channel switching

Let’s try it out.

$ snap info libreoffice
name:      libreoffice
summary:   "LibreOffice is a powerful office suite including word processing and creation of spreadsheets, slideshows and databases"
publisher: canonical
description: |
  LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – its clean interface and
  feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your
  productivity. LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most
  powerful Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word
  processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector
  graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).
commands:
  - libreoffice.impress
  - libreoffice
  - libreoffice.math
  - libreoffice.writer
  - libreoffice.base
  - libreoffice.calc
  - libreoffice.draw
tracking:    edge
installed:   5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
refreshed:   2017-02-01 20:51:51 +0200 EET
channels:                 
  stable:    5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
  candidate: 5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
  beta:      5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -
  edge:      5.3.0.3 (17) 374MB -

We are tracking the edge channel and want to switch to the stable channel. The snap is identical, so it should merely change the tracking parameter.

$ snap refresh libreoffice --channel=stable
snap "libreoffice" has no updates available

To switch channel, we need to refresh the installed snap, and indicate the new channel to switch to.

Unfortunately, both edge and stable have identical snaps and we probably have hit this bug (Channel switching (track new channel) does not work if the two channels happen to have identical snap packages). I tried with other snaps that had different versions between the channels and it worked just fine.

Therefore, for now, we can remove the snap and install again from the default channel.

$ snap remove libreoffice
libreoffice removed
$ snap install libreoffice
libreoffice 5.3.0.3 from 'canonical' installed

That’s it!

Permanent link to this article: https://blog.simos.info/how-to-install-libreoffice-5-3-on-ubuntu-16-04-from-snap/

7 comments

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  1. Time saving tip, you don’t need the `–channel=edge`, you can just do `–edge`. Great writeup!

    • edo on February 2, 2017 at 00:06
    • Reply

    the menu dissappear if its installed on a distro than its not using unity, because the menu its on the global menu

  2. @Jorge Castro: Thanks!

    @edo: At the top left of the LibreOffice window, you can see an icon with the LibreOffice logo. If you click there, you get a menu with the following menu items

    Open
    Save
    Print
    Menubar
    Options
    Close

    Select the “Menubar” and it should show you the menu bar to continue. You can select “Options” if you want to access the LibreOffice dialog box.

  3. How do you adjust the GTK theme and icons, etc., to match your system? I don’t think this is working yet for snaps? But without it there are a lot of usability issues, such as the file chooser dialog, Win95 look, etc.

    1. @Rik Shaw: there is a backend for gtk3 (and gtk2) that is used when creating a snap. So, things like theming would normally work automatically.
      Indeed, this experimental 5.3 snap does not respond to theme changes. I believe it will be looked into.
      I have not found yet the “snapcraft.yaml” configuration for LibreOffice, which will show the details of the backend for the snap.

  4. Crashes

    The application cannot be started.
    [context=”user”] caught unexpected com.sun.star.deployment.DeploymentException: Extension Manager: failed to read data entry in configuration backend db: file:///home/mariuz/.config/libreoffice/4/user/uno_packages/cache/registry/com.sun.star.comp.deployment.configuration.PackageRegistryBackend/backenddb.xml

  5. @Popa Adrian Marius: Do you get that when you run, for example, libreoffice.writer, as soon as you have installed the snap? If you can provide steps to reproduce it, it would be helpful.

  1. […] we installed LibreOffice 5.3 on Ubuntu using a snap and start the new version of LibreOffice […]

  2. […] (originale in inglese) […]

  3. […] LibreOffice 5.3 was released a few days ago, and it has several new nice features. The LibreOffice project provides a tarball for Ubuntu with the new version, that can be downloaded, extracted and … – Read full story at Hacker News […]

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