Almost a year ago, I opened a thread on Full Circle Magazine forums asking what alternative PDF readers we have on Linux. Having re-installed Ubuntu Karmic, I was trying to expunge as much the freedom-hating bloatware as I could and that includes Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.
The native Linux equivalent, Evince, wasn’t good in Ubuntu 10.04, horribly slow and liable to crash. It improved immensely around Ubuntu 10.10, loading and rendering documents and pages faster more smoothly.
The question remained, is there a better open-source PDF reader? I know all the KDE users will shout Okular, but I run Gnome Desktop without the stack of KDE libs installed…
One suggestion I got back is Foxit Reader 1.1 for Desktop Linux,a free PDF document viewer provided by Foxit Corporation (free for non-commercial use). Version 1.1 looks to have been around since 2009. It has a highly streamlined user interface, small memory foot-print (typically less than 15Mb), fast launch and load speed (under three seconds).
As a standard PDF reader, you get Zoom and Best-fit functions, Page Navigation, Bookmarks, Thumbnails, Text and Image Selection Tools, Snapshot, and Full Screen viewing. Foxit Reader uses Safe Reading Mode by default, to block malicious PDF’s.
- Foxit can’t record the Navigation Panel status when a user exits.
- Can’t keep refreshing the list of recent files in real time.
- The page scrolling feature is invalid if finding text is not finished.
- Page thumbnails in the navigation pane don’t always appear – although this may be the fault of the PDF documents not complying to standards.
This free version isn’t time limited or ad-encumbered, but has the disadvantage that each time you fire it up, it pops a web-browser session onto the Foxit home page, what I’d call dial-home advertising.
Foxit Reader 1.1 doesn’t support several features which are available on Windows versions, such as commenting tools, drawing mark-up tools, typewriter, annotation or any kind of editing. So whilst it is light-weight and fast, you are getting what you pay for!
Foxit does the basic job of PDF reading reasonably well; but overall, Evince has overhauled Foxit in terms of features and performance. RC
Download the well-sign-posted Foxit Reader v1.1 for Desktop Linux package, available as .rpm, .deb and source tar.bz from the Foxit website.
I installed the package using Ubuntu software center but you can easily install from the command line. Under Ubuntu 11.04, Software Center complains of bad compliance in the package, but since you can select ‘ignore and install’ this shouldn’t stop you.