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Initially when I installed Natty, JRE was not installed for libreoffice. Later I came to know installing JRE i.e., libreoffice-java-common will lead to performance improvements. So installed it and in LO options selected enable java runtime. But I noticed a heavy degradation in the performance. LO was taking more time to load, scrolling through pages became very slow and what not!

So now I wonder what purpose does JRE in LO serve?

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From the OpenOffice wiki:

Java is required for complete OpenOffice.org functionality. Java is mainly required to use the new embedded Java technology based HSQLDB database engine, or to make use of accessibility and assistive technologies. If you do not require database tables or accessibility integration or some wizards, then you do not need to download and install Java. Base (the database component) for example completely relies on Java technologies to run, but other programs (like Writer, Calc, and Impress) only need Java for special functionality.

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I'd like to know: is Java / JRE necessary for any calc formulae etc to run, or only for some visual assistance? –  nutty about natty Oct 22 '11 at 11:04
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For details, see the Ask LibreOffice question What features absolutely require Java ? which hopefully will track the current status.

There are some projects to replace the current Java dependencies, e.g.:

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