Top 5 PDF Readers for Linux

Portable Document Format or PDF is the most widely used format for sending and receiving documents these days. Being an open standard for document exchange, PDF support has been incorporated in many Linux distributions by default. Also, the popularity of the format has even convinced Microsoft to include PDF support in the upcoming version of Windows.

Earlier, many people had to rely on the closed-source Adobe PDF reader for accessing PDF documents. However, thanks to the hard work of many software developers, we have plenty of tools to do that.

Here’s a list of some of the best PDF readers you can find for Linux:

5. Mupdf
Ranking 5th on the list is a lightweight PDF viewer called mupdf. The application is a no-fuss PDF viewer with blazing fast page rendering. If you want to quickly open a document, mupdf is your best bet as this little application has no menubars, no buttons and no toolbars whatsoever. Upon opening your document with mupdf, all you’d see is your document in a window.

Just press the appropriate arrow keys to browse through the document. To zoom in, simply press Ctrl and +, and to zoom out press Ctrl and -. Certainly not an application for those who use and edit a lot of PDF documents; however, if you are browsing through a bunch of heavy PDFs, mupdf is the perfect tool for the job.

4. Adobe Reader
Adobe Reader is certainly the most popular and the most widely used PDF reader around. Developed by Adobe, this closed-source-but-free PDF reader allows you to read all kinds of PDFs along with high quality rendering of images and text. Apart from good rendering capabilities, Adobe Reader comes with some great collaboration tools and features many business users would find useful.

Despite being one of the most feature-loaded PDF readers around, Adobe Reader is quite bulky when compared to its competitors. That is the only reason why it ranks 4th on our list.

3. Foxit Reader
Foxit Reader is a well-known software application amongst Windows users, often serving as a lightweight alternative to Adobe Reader. Foxit Reader is a multilingual PDF Reader with features like annotation, PDF import/export, and highlighting. The software comes in two versions, free and premium, with the latter loaded with many more features.

The Linux version however, is currently in beta and doesn’t have any advanced features yet but it’s completely free. That version, according to the company, is under development and will soon be upgraded with many features of its Windows counterpart. Foxit can be downloaded in .rpm, .deb and tarball format from HERE.

2. Evince
If you’re an Ubuntu user, you must surely have used Evince. It’s the default PDF reader for Ubuntu and many GNOME-based distros. The reason it ranks 2nd on our list is simply because it’s lightweight, very stable and easy to use. Though it doesn’t include many important features like annotations and highlighting, Evince is still the most perfect PDF reader around.

The lightweight document reader supports many other popular formats like Postscript, Djvu, XPS, CBZ (comic books), dvi and more. Apart from that, Evince also indexes page numbers and thumbnails. Evince has been the default PDF reader for Ubuntu since a long time so there are almost no major stability issues with it. Despite being so widely used, many desktop users don’t know the real name of the software; they prefer to call it document viewer instead.

1. Okular
Topping the list comes KDE4’s default document viewer, Okular. Based on KPDF, Okular runs across all major desktop platforms including Windows and Macintosh. The reason Okular is so popular is because it’s simple and easy to use. Yet, it comes loaded with features that make it stand apart from its competitors.

Besides being able to read PDF files, Okular also includes features like annotations, highlighting, bookmarking and more. Moreover, Okular integrates nicely with the rest of the KDE desktop making it our favorite PDF Reader for Linux. Also, much like Evince, Okular also supports other document formats like djvu, CHM, XPS, ePub and others. In fact, it’s one of the very few document readers that are able to open ePub documents, so you don’t have to worry anymore about your favorite novel rotting in your documents folder, waiting to be read.


  1. And my personal favorite

  2. Please remove Foxit from this list. It hasn't been updated in over two years, and is a dead project. It is not, despite what the website says, under continued development. The last mention in the forums (about a year ago) states that they weren't going to update the Linux version anymore, and whatever was supposed to replace it hasn't surfaced in over a year.

  3. AnonymousJuly 14, 2012

    What about xpdf?

  4. I second the request by Anon. from September 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM about FOXIT being a dead horse and the laughing stock of the online community: how can version 1.1 be "just released" and maintain that status for centuries to come??!?

    Apart from that nitpicking: great list & descriptions. Am also fed up with the patience slow Adobe-Reader requires at times, and am mightily looking fwd to giving Okular a spin!