Every Linux distribution has been bundled with a number of basic applications so you can use your computer immediately right after the installation process has done, without having to install necessary apps manually. PDF viewer is one of the default apps offered by most Linux distributions.
As we have known, limiting user option is not the Linux’s way. So you can install as many PDF viewer app as you want.
There are a number options of PDF viewer app in Linux. Famous communities like KDE and GNOME has been developing their own PDF viewers, with their pluses and minuses.
Some PDF viewers for Linux come with a complex features to enable users accomplish more tasks with their PDFs. Some just have a very minimum features with the focus for viewing PDF files. Nothing more.
Here is the list of popular PDF viewers for Linux.
Evince is probably the most well-known PDF viewer in Linux. The app comes with a very simple interface but not in capability. Apart from PDF, document formats like Postscript, djvu, tiff, dvi, XPS, SyncTex can also be opened using Evince. You might wondering why do this app comes with a very simple interface?.
Evince was originally designed to work in GNOME, though it basically also runs very well in other desktop environments. The app is intended to replace the multiple GNOME document viewers with a single application. That is why Evince has the motto of “Simply a Document Viewer”. Though Evince is basically developed for Linux platforms, Windows users can use it too to replace Adobe Acrobat Reader (or any PDF viewer for Windows).
For KDE fans, Okular is surely the best option they can’t replace. Developed by KDE, the document viewer has more complex menus than Evince but they both basically has the similar capabilities. Okular is also capable to view other document formats outside of PDF like Postscript, DjVu, CHM, XPS, ePub. The app is also available in other platforms other than Linux including Mac and Windows.
One of Okular features that Evince doesn’t have is Text Selection. This features enables you to select a specific phrase or word and turn it into an image file (JPG and PNG). You can also use the selected phrase/word as the keyword on Google search or Wikipedia.
You won’t find any menu button in this app, at all. All you will see are some buttons on the bottom side of the app. So, how to open a PDF file?. Fortunately, the app has a right-click option. When you perform a right-click on your mouse some menus will appear. However, once again, not many options are offered. You will only see standard options to open the files, reload, save and full screen. Xpdf is indeed designed to be small and efficient. So, it’s unsurprising to see this app comes with very minimum of features.
4. Foxit Reader
If you prefer to use a feature-rich PDF viewer than simple ones like Xpdf then Foxit Reader should be the best option. The PDF viewer has a very complex features. It’s more than just a PDF viewer but also an annotation tool. The tabbed interface enables you to open multiple documents at once for a collective read.
Foxit Reader itself is a cross-platform app. Linux is one the platform that is supported by this app other than Windows and Mac. One of plus points of Foxit Reader is that it has been integrated with cloud services. You can open and save your PDF files in the cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box to Alfresco. You can also directly share the PDF document you are reading on the internet via Foxit Drive service. Protection your document is also possible but, you need an Foxit account in order to do this.
5. GNU GV
GNU GV is quite similar to Xpdf, which mean, it is very simple with very minimum features. You can’t even scroll your mouse to jump to the next page of your document. Fortunately, there is a pagination buttons that is located at the left sidebar of the app so you don’t have to reopen the app over and over to read the next page of your document.
Mupdf is probably the simplest PDF viewer ever. You won’t see any button on this app at all. Not even right-click option. The app has a very specific function with no additional option offered. Oh, you can actually run this app with some options but you need run in from terminal.
Last but not least. The last PDF viewer for Linux that you can consider is Qpdfview. The glance look of this app is quite similar to Adobe Acrobat Reader’s. Qpdfview is another feature-rich PDF viewer. The app also comes with a tabbed interface like Foxit Reader which enables you to open multiple PDF files at once.
Qpdfview can also be used to open document formats other than PDF, including DjVu and PostScript. Qpdfview uses Poppler for PDF support, libspectre for PS support, DjVuLibre for DjVu support, CUPS for printing support and the Qt toolkit for its interface. You can also highlight specific phrase/word and add some comments.