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Working with PDFs on Linux

Topic for Jan. 11, 2018 (KC7MM, NCS)

What is a PDF?

Portable Document Format, from Adobe Systems

  • Intended for exchanging documents indpendent of application programs.


  • Text
  • Images
  • Possibly bookmarks, JavaScript, video elements

The PDF combines three technologies: (source: Wikipedia)

  • A subset of the PostScript page description programming language, for generating the layout and graphics. Apple LaserWriter
  • A font-embedding/replacement system to allow fonts to travel with the documents.
  • A structured storage system to bundle these elements and any associated content into a single file, with data compression where appropriate.

PDF is a binary format, not text. Can be read and displayed always, but searching and editing depend on its origins as text or image.

  • Need OCR to get text from an image.

The PDF specification is an ISO standard, free for anyone to use, so many tools have been developed to work with PDF documents.

PDFs in Amateur Radio

  • Manuals e.g. Icom
  • Schematics. Saw a lot of GIFs in the past, few now
  • Specs & sales literature
  • Books, magazine articles: QST articles, ARRL Handbook
  • “Linux not supported” — what to do: Find the index, if there is one, then open in a PDF reader (next).

PDF Readers

Adobe Reader

  • JavaScript vulnerability

Evince, etc. Every Linux desktop comes with a default PDF reader. Search for PDF Linux


lin-topic_pdfs_on_linux.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/04 18:55 by KC7MM