Linux PDF Readers / Editors

Updated 28-Jun-2024

There are many choices for PDF readers and editors for the Linux platform. I've used a variety over the years. Lately I had preferred these two:

  • Xournal++ (xournalpp), which is a reader and editor, and is touted as a handwriting notetaking software with PDF annotation support ... supports pen input from devices such as Wacom Tablets
  • Atril document viewer - Atril is a simple multi-page document viewer. It can display and print PostScript (PS), Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), DJVU, DVI, XPS and Portable Document Format (PDF) files. When supported by the document, it also allows searching for text, copying text to the clipboard, hypertext navigation, and table-of-contents bookmarks. Atril is a fork of Evince.

However, xournalpp does not have a dark or inverse mode, and therefore is glaringly white. This is also a problem when trying to write in a blank document. In addition, atril does not have any highlighting or note-taking functionality. And so, the best tool to do reading and annotating is in fact Evince, the base on which Atril was forked.

Evince (Gnome Document Viewer)

  • Can easily open large, complex PDF files (tested with the 1,000 page, 500mb Gray's Anatomy).
  • Has a dark / reverse mode
  • Can highlight and add notes
  • Cannot open epub or mobi files (use Calibre ebook viewer)

Other PDF Readers

  • okular (way too many dependencies)
  • gpdfview (no dark mode)

PDF tools / editors

  • Pdfchain a great tool for merging multiple PDF documents (available on apt)
  • PDFrankenstein which uses Inkscape to help edit PDF files of any length
  • Inkscape which can also now support multi-page documents (as of v1.2)
    • Inkscape can open small and medium-sized pdf files fairly easily. Large and very large files take longer.
    • The stable 1.2.2 version is available in apt, while a newer version is on the website as an appimage. I prefer the version found in stable / backports channels.