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A Guide to Wrangling PDF Files

written by: M D Albertson Jr•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 10/23/2011

PDF files are a main stay of distributing and sharing documents across platforms. As such, every Linux user needs the tools and know-how to manage, create, and view PDF files.

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    The Portable Document Format

    PDF The Portable Document Format (PDF) is the de-facto format for documents that need to be displayed on multiple platforms. Which makes it great for sharing documents with people outside of the Linux platform. In order to take advantage of this format you are going to need the right tools. The following fifteen articles present a variety of tools for managing, creating, and viewing PDF files on Linux.

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    Creating PDF Documents in Linux

    There are several methods for creating PDF files in Linux. This article details exporting OpenOffice documents as PDF files and using the Common Unix Print System (CUPS) to create PDF files.

    How to Create PDFs with Ubuntu

    PDF Printers allow you to make any printable file into a PDF file. This can be great for increasing the portability of various documents and files that cannot be displayed properly on other systems. The above article features instructions on installing PDF viewers and software for creating PDF files including instructions on setting up a PDF printer in Ubuntu.

    Combining PDFs at the Command Line

    One of the greatest hassles of using PDF files is the occasion in which several files need to be combined into one document. On the Windows side of things there are plenty of business oriented programs for sale that will do this as well as other things. However in the Linux world, there is Ghostscript, a suite of varied tools for manipulating and editing PDF files from the command line.

    Save Keystrokes: Using Aliases in Linux

    The problem many people have with using Ghostscript is that it is rather difficult to remember and type all of those options. This tutorial not only demonstrates the power of aliases in Unix shells, but also shows a handy alias for combining several PDF files.

    Create PDF Files with ps2pdf

    Many Linux systems use post script printers to print files or even to create .ps files that can be stored and printed later. In order to view these files without printing them a user needs a document viewer capable of displaying .ps files or convert them into another format. This where ps2pdf comes in handy. Ps2pdf is a script from the Ghostscript suite that converts post script files into PDF files.

    Moonshiner: A GUI Front-End for ps2pdf

    For those not accustomed to utilizing the command line, don't panic. Moonshiner is a GUI front-end for the ps2pdf script named as a pun for Adobe Acrobat Distiller (so you may want to hide this program from any nearby ATF agents).

    How to Create and Edit PDF Files Using Open Source Software

    There are many ways to create and modify PDF files. From OpenOffice to ps2pdf to Moonshiner, there is a tool for every type of user. This article gives an overview of different tools that can be used to create and edit PDF files.

    Linux Office Suites: Part I - Freewares

    OpenOffice is not the only office suite that can utilize and generate PDF files of documents. Koffice, GNOME Office, and Lotus Symphony do so as well. So if for some reason OpenOffice cannot be used (either technical or based on some kerfuffle with Oracle), there are alternative office suites.

    Linux Office Suites: OpenOffice.org

    Of course OpenOffice is still a quite usable and popular means for creating PDF files. Its popularity attracts more developers and users, which means that bugs are often found and fixed more often. So if a stable and well maintained office suite is needed for creating PDF files, then OpenOffice is a great place to turn to.

    Linux Applications: Scribus

    Scribus is a desktop publishing application, which makes it a wonderful program for creating professional caliber PDF documents. It can be used to make brochures, fliers, and posters. The program also supports visual features such as transparency and supports encryption in order to secure sensitive documents.

    Open Source Database Reporter

    A nicely formated database report is appreciated by any database administrator. Having a nicely formated PDF file of said report is even better. This article details open source database reporters such as OpenRPT, which can directly output its reports as PDF files, and Datavision, which can output LaTeX files that can be subsequently converted to PDF.

    The Wonderful World of Open Source: Academic Research Software

    Doing research usually involves dealing with white papers, which are usually published as PDF files online. JabRef and Zotero are bibliographic tools for keeping track of references and managing all of your PDF formatted white papers. There is also QtiPlot, for when you need a graph exported as a PDF file.

    Home Designer Software for Linux OS

    Sweet Home 3D is a free home design application that allows you to plan your furniture arrangement. It supports plans in 2D as well as 3D and can import free furniture models. Then once the plan is complete it can exported as either an image or a PDF file.

    Undelete Files in Ubuntu Using Foremost

    Foremost recovers many different files that have been deleted and supports the recovery of PDF files. It can be used in those troubling times where you have accidentally deleted important documents.

    Open Source Textbooks

    Open Source Textbooks and electronic publishing has been on the rise recently. The PDF format has become crucial for publishers that want to reach platforms like Linux. One such publisher is Flat World Text, which sells open source textbooks as PDF files for electronic use.

References

  • Adobe Acrobat Logo is property of Adobe used here under fair use.