Debian Wheezy came with LibreOffice 3 (now two generations old). I want to upgrade or replace this with LO Ver 5 and manage this through the package manager. Online search for LibreOffice and Debian Wheezy produced only some old threads about updating to V4 via Wheezy backports, so I explored these methods:

  • Using a Debian Repository

    It appears that Testing (Stretch) has it. Debian's package information is almost a year old, but it looks like no Wheezy backport has it. Jessie backports does. So this would require adding a repo or backport that is not Wheezy-specific. My understanding is that this isn't recommended as a general practice, and requires manipulation of other settings.

    Problems encountered:

    1. Can't locate the precise specification for either repo.
    2. Can't locate the public key information.
    3. Manually editing the sources file requires knowing what to specify. The GUI tools are supposed to provide a somewhat automated way to do this (example), but Apper and Synaptic don't display the tools shown in online tutorials (ancient tool versions in Wheezy? Running as root required?).
  • Using Other Repos

    LMDE has it. I guessed that the spec would be deb http://packages.linuxmint.com debian main. Problems encountered:

    1. It is a Mint-customized version, so I don't know what complications that might introduce.
    2. Can't locate the public key information.

    Ubuntu has several dedicated PPAs (Fresh and Still). I tried adding Still with this command: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/libreoffice-5-1. The system tacked on a wheezy main extension for my convenience and nothing was found.

  • Using the LibreOffice deb tarball

    The LibreOffice site and tarball-enclosed readme file have several alternate instructions for installing the tarball using the package manager.

    1. Unarchiving the tarball and opening the terminal via right-click on one of the debs, followed by sudo dpkg -i *.deb. This did not request a password and produced an error message that no such file was found. Alternately:

    2. In the deb directory of the expanded tarball, select all of the deb files, right-click, and select open with package manager. This resulted in 30 instances of the package manager, one for each deb file, with complaints about missing dependencies.

I'm still learning my way around Linux and know just enough to be dangerous. The LibreOffice site recommends not using the tarball except if there is no other way. My assumption is that a version from a Debian repo will be more compatible (less customized for another distro), than one from an Ubuntu or Mint source.

LibreOffice offers a portable version that would seem to solve the problem because nothing is installed. However, it appears designed to run on external media and requires some portable infrastructure (Windows based that will run in Wine; I haven't dabbled with this, yet). This would also require manual maintenance.

I can't be the only Debian Old-Stable user with a problem loading a current version of LibreOffice. Is there a standard solution? Is that described in gory detail somewhere?

1 Answer 1


You probably don't want to hear this, but the easiest way to install LibreOffice 5 will be to upgrade to Debian 8 and enable jessie-backports.

To stay on Wheezy, you've already listed most of the available options:

  • Using a Debian repository

    The package information is up-to-date, the date given at the bottom is the date the page template was last modified. As you determined, Wheezy backports has LibreOffice 4, while Jessie backports has LibreOffice 5. Wheezy backports can never have LibreOffice 5 because oldstable backports aren't allowed to carry packages newer than the stable release (to allow upgrades); it would be possible to backport LibreOffice 5 but it would go into the "sloppy backports". You could file a bug asking for that to be done, but the LibreOffice maintainer in Debian already has an awful lot on his plate...

    You found the instructions already, although they don't explain how to enable the backports repositories using GUI tools such as Synaptic. There's no need to add a separate repository key, these are official repositories signed by the Debian archive keys. You mention "knowing what to specify", that's given in the instructions:

    deb http://http.debian.net/debian wheezy-backports main

    You do need to be root to add new repositories.

  • Using other repositories

    Unless you specifically find a different repository targeting Debian 7, I'd recommend against this. I doubt the Mint LibreOffice packages are specifically customised for Mint, but they will be built with whichever libraries are available in Mint; you'd probably end up "upgrading" your Wheezy installation to Mint in the process of installing LibreOffice 5. (I'm not sure how well that would go.)

  • Using LibreOffice-provided packages

    This should work, but I'd recommend following the terminal-based instructions; basically:

    1. Download the tarball
    2. Open a terminal
    3. Go to the directory containing the tarball
    4. Extract it: tar xf LibreOffice_5.1.1_Linux_x86-64_deb.tar.gz
    5. Install all the packages in one go: sudo dpkg -i LibreOffice_5.1.1.3_Linux_x86-64_deb/DEBS/*.deb

    The LibreOffice-provided packages are quite different from the Debian-provided ones, so you may need to uninstall LibreOffice 3 before doing this. The packages themselves don't depend on anything, so I imagine the binaries are statically linked and should work on Wheezy without needing to upgrade any other dependencies.

There's a final option which is to rebuild the Debian-provided LibreOffice 5 packages on your Wheezy system, making any necessary adjustments (probably only to the build-dependencies), but since

I'm still learning my way around Linux and know just enough to be dangerous.

that might be somewhat daunting. If you do feel like trying it, this should get you started (from a terminal):

sudo apt-get install build-essential devscripts
sudo apt-get build-dep libreoffice
dget http://http.debian.net/debian/pool/main/libr/libreoffice/libreoffice_5.1.1-1.dsc
cd libreoffice-5.1.1
dch -v 5.1.1-1~bpo70+1 "Backport to Wheezy."
dpkg-buildpackage -us -uc

The last step will probably complain about unsatisfiable build-dependencies; you need to either install them (if they're available in Wheezy but not used by LibreOffice 3), or fix debian/control to use the Wheezy equivalents.

  • Thanks for this great answer. I'm still digesting it, but a couple of questions: 1) Is it possible to simply add the Stretch repo or Jessie-backports to the Wheezy sources list? If LO is basically self-contained, might there be no dependencies that aren't met (or is your "final option" what's required for that)? 2) Might the portable version be a simple solution? 3) Otherwise, the tarball looks the most promising. Maybe my problem was using a non-explicit command from the wrong directory.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 23, 2016 at 10:11
  • 1
    1. The LibreOffice-provided packages are self-contained, the Debian-provided ones aren't; adding Stretch or Jessie backports to your sources and then upgrading LibreOffice would entail upgrading many other packages too. 2. I forgot to address the portable app variant; running it through Wine might work, but it feels rather sub-optimal to me. (In most cases I'd rather use a native Linux binary rather than a Windows binary...) 3. Agreed, using the LibreOffice-provided packages should be safe enough and has a good chance of working. Mar 23, 2016 at 10:18
  • Success with the tarball! Just wanted to close the loop. Thanks again.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 23, 2016 at 11:33

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