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linux pdf viewerWhen it comes to distributing forms and other information over the Internet, the file type of choice tends to be PDF. This file type is popular because it has decent compression rates, can prevent editing, allows for interesting visual elements, and allows interactivity (especially when it comes to filling out forms on the computer).

Thankfully, there are plenty of applications all over the web which can read these files. However, they all have different feature sets as well as other pros and cons. So, what are the best Linux PDF viewers?

Evince

linux pdf viewer

Evince is the default PDF viewer which comes with the Gnome desktop environment. Therefore, it is automatically included with distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE when Gnome is chosen over KDE. This PDF viewer excels in being extremely lightweight and quick to load. It is also very easy to navigate around in, as there is just a left panel which shows small snapshots of each page of the PDF or a small index listing of all sections in the PDF (if it has been formatted correctly to do so), and then the rest of the window goes towards displaying the actual document.

Besides very small features like bookmarks, it only has view control functions such as zoom and fit to window.

Okular

linux pdf reader

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On the other side of the spectrum is Okular, the default PDF viewer for the KDE desktop environment. It is included in distributions which come with KDE, such as Kubuntu, Fedora’s KDE spin, and openSUSE when KDE is chosen over Gnome. While Evince may have specialized in being lightweight, Okular is much heavier but includes a good number of useful features.

Okular also boasts support for a number of other file types, including Postscript, DjVu, CHM, XPS, ePub, TIFF, DIV, FictionBook, ComicBook, and others.

Adobe Reader

linux pdf reader

If you want to use a PDF viewer which comes from the developers who defined the PDF format in the first place, then you should take a look at Adobe Reader. It is essentially what you’ve come to expect from the Windows version: feature-filled, but not as lightweight as the other available solutions. However, you do get plenty of features that you’ll definitely not see in other PDF viewers, such as the ability to sign and configure security preferences, have it read out loud, and more.

There are also some useful features which are included in some applications like FoxItReader (see below), such as automatic scrolling.

FoxIt Reader

linux pdf viewer

Last but definitely not least of all Linux PDF viewers is FoxItReader. This PDF viewer is known for being quick, fairly feature-filled, and cross platform. It’s also the PDF viewer of choice for those who like to have portable apps on their flash drives. Thankfully there multiple options available for Linux, downloadable in a DEB, RPM, and Bz2 package, so it can be installed on most distributions.

Conclusion

You’re never out of options when it comes to PDF viewers. Of course, there are still others which you can choose from, but from Linux’s smaller list of viewers (when compared to Windows), these are definitely the most popular and outstanding choices available. Of course, it all depends on your own preferences as to which one is best for you, but you can’t go wrong with using any of these solutions.

What Linux PDF viewer do you use, and why do you like it the most? Let us know in the comments!

  1. vinod Kumar
    September 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    where can i download adobe reader for kali linux os. In official adobe website there isn't linux version only showing windows and mac versions.

  2. Vivian
    March 31, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I'm frustrated by my inability to find a Linux PDF reader that will let me scale page size for printing. Evince only pretends to; a "scale" option appears in the print pop-up, but it makes no difference what you set it to; the printout is the same. Okular only allows scaling for what appears onscreen, not for printing. Can anybody recommend a PDF reader that will let me custom-scale my printout? Thanks.

  3. TGIF007
    January 31, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Adobe's Acrobat Reader for Linux is very out of date.

    Their last release for Linux was version 9.5.3, while Windows and Macs are up to 11.0.1.

    Not only is it lacking support for the latest versions of the PDF file format, but it's scheduled end-of-life (and end of all support -- including security patches) is June 26, 2013.

    Time to move on to something else, unless Adobe has a sudden (and quite unexpected) change of heart.

    Given their dropping Flash for Linux other than the built-in support in Google Chrome, I don't think Linux is on their radar anymore.

    Let's just hope they continue to publish all new enhancements to the pdf file format so that the Linux tools can keep up.

  4. Beirapadua Greaser
    January 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    my distro came with evince. but I change it with okular.
    thumbs up for okular :D

  5. Febri Yanto
    December 27, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    qpdf, just suits me... just alternative of sumatra pdf i use on windows

  6. Frank Schmeisser
    December 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    As someone who mostly makes old hardware fly with minimalistic linux distros, I mostly use epdf or xpdf, which are barebones, but get the job done.

  7. Vishal Srivastava
    December 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Whoa, now this is some sort of surprise for me. I always considered Adobe Reader as the only PDF Reader. Thanks for the intel!!

  8. Pratik Patel
    December 3, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Can you tell me, which fonts you're using in this KDE screenshot above for menubar?

  9. Sebastian Hadinata
    December 2, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I use evince, the default PDF reader that comes with the linux distro that I use.

  10. Anonymous
    November 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Annotation ability of "Okular" gives it an edge over the others... Its the best!

    • Hélder Pereira
      November 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Quite right. And that is why I have Okular installed even on my GNOME. Evince is still the default and just for reading stuff, it's fast, light and delivers. But when I need to take notes, Okular it is. It is worth every bit of extra KDE bloat.

  11. Lazza
    November 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I (almost) always use Evince. But at least once I had to use Foxit (I believe the Windows version with Wine, which is more updated) in order to properly save a PDF after I filled some forms. Evince save broken PDFs when you fill the forms. The most stupid thing is that even the original Adobe Reader does not allow you to save PDF forms, when Foxit Reader does! Sadly, it's a lot proprietary so usually I simply use Evince, it's pretty nice.

    • Lazza
      December 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Well it's fast to load and show files, open source, has a nice fullscreen view without toolbars (Okular for example requires you to disable them in the preferences IIRC), has the features one really need (copy text regardless of the "user protection" of the PDF, print the pages you want, zoom, export images, etc.) without much of the "bloat" you can find in Adobe Reader. Also the fact it ships with Ubuntu means no other software to install.

  12. Eucadio Novelo
    November 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Wow i didn't know that there was a version of Foxit reader for Linux

    • Anony_Mous
      November 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      I didn't know that either.

      • Danny Stieben
        November 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm

        Glad I could share it! :)

    • XLinuxUniverseSRB
      March 20, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Qpdfview the best PDF reader for Linux. ;) :)

      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:b-eltzner/qpdfview

      sudo apt-get update

      sudo apt-get install qpdfview

  13. ahmed Fouad khalil
    November 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    go ahead linux, from time to time more applications added and more usability we can gain

  14. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 25, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I like Evince and Okular's interface. Tired with Adobe Reader since it's so bloated. Why go for monstrous software if something under 5MB can do the same?

    • Danny Stieben
      November 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      If people don't need the very specific features such as Read Out Loud, then the 5MB packages will do just fine. :)

  15. Efi Dreyshner
    November 25, 2012 at 1:32 am

    I am using Evince most of the time,
    But when I am using KDE, the best (built-in) option is Okular.

  16. Damien
    November 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I am surprised that you mentioned Foxit since the Linux version has not been updated for the past 3 years. It used to be good, but has become outdated with poor support. Adobe reader is very resource intensive. I used eVince. It is not the best, but it get the job done.

    • Danny Stieben
      November 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      I have to agree, I usually don't like including older software. But FoxIt has always worked for me for my own uses, so I found it good enough to include.

  17. juan david gil
    November 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    thumbs up for foxit!

  18. Anon
    November 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    My distro comes with evince installed, and I quite like it. I have issues with Adobe because it's not FOSS. However, that's not to say that all proprietary software is bad. Back when I was a Windows user, I really liked CCleaner. Btw, a good PDF viewer for Windows is Sumatra PDF.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      November 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

      I use Sumatra. Too bad it doesn't handle EPUB that well. Haha, it's called Sumatra PDF for the reason, eh?

    • Danny Stieben
      November 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      I've occasionally heard about Sumatra, but I've never really looked at it. I suppose now's a good time to do so.

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