Section 4.4. I Can t Read PDFs or PostScript Documents

4.4. I Can't Read PDFs or PostScript Documents

Microsoft users need access to documents in specialized formats. If you expect to convert them to Linux, you have to accommodate these needs. Two of the more important formats are PDF and PostScript. The standard for reading PDFs on Microsoft operating systems is Adobe Acrobat Reader. There is no standard for reading PostScript files on Microsoft Windows, yet it is an important standard for documents because of its compatibility with PostScript printers.

For many regular users, it is best to install Adobe Acrobat on their workstations. I've described the process in "Installing the Latest Version of Firefox" in Chapter 3.

Many Linux geeks do not like the license associated with Adobe Acrobat. Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader available. In addition, several Linux applications can easily read PostScript files.

To create PDF documents, you can export to PDF directly from your applications, as described in "Creating Acrobat Files," later in this annoyance.

4.4.1. Alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader

There are several alternatives to Adobe Acrobat Reader available to Linux users, which I've summarized in this section. Their locations may vary in desktop menus; generally, you can find them under the Office or the Graphics menu:


Xpdf is an open source viewer for PDF files. It's a simple viewer; once the application starts, a right-click opens the menu, and you can highlight and copy data to a text editor. The Xpdf project includes a separate text extractor as well as a PDF-to-PostScript converter. For more information, see


GNOME PDF, naturally, is the PDF reader designed for the GNOME desktop environment. It is based on Xpdf. While it has regular GUI menus, I find it less capable than Xpdf. Although it is still popular, the developers do not appear active, as is apparent on their home page at


The latest distribution releases include the Evince document viewer, which is intended to be GNOME's all-in-one document reader. It supports documents in PDF, PostScript, DVI formats, and more. For more information, see


KPDF is a reader with excellent potential. It includes views with thumbnails, and it's highly configurable. KPDF version 0.41, included with SUSE Linux, is better than the version of KPDF included with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as it supports text copying, under the Mouse Mode menu.

If you've already installed the xpdf package on SUSE Linux, you'll have to uninstall it first and then install the kdegraphics3-pdf RPM, which includes both the KPDF and Xpdf applications. For more information on KPDF, see its home page at


The KGhostView application supports both PDF and PostScript documents. It does not include the text-capture capabilities associated with Xpdf and later versions of KPDF. While it is part of a separate kghostview package on Debian Linux, it is part of the kdegraphics RPM on Red Hat/Fedora and the kdegraphics3-postscript RPM on SUSE Linux. For more information, see the KGhostView documentation at

4.4.2. Creating Acrobat Files

You do not need the full version of Adobe Acrobat to create your own PDFs. You can create your own PDF documents with the Writer. All you need to do in this application is choose File Export as PDF. Writer takes your document and saves it, including embedded graphics, in PDF format.

Microsoft Office still does not support file exports to PDF format. If you're running the suite, you can save the costs associated with Adobe Acrobat.

4.4.3. Reading PostScript Documents

There are PostScript viewers associated with both the GNOME and KDE desktops. The GNOME PostScript reader is known as GGV; the KDE PostScript reader is KGhostView. Both applications are essentially just readers; they do not include any specialized text-capture capabilities. For more information on GGV, see; for more information on KGhostView, see the documentation described in the previous section.

Linux Annoyances for Geeks
Linux Annoyances for Geeks: Getting the Most Flexible System in the World Just the Way You Want It
ISBN: 0596008015
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 144
Authors: Michael Jang © 2008-2017.
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