PDF ( Portable Document Format) is a widely used document format used for creating documents. It’s a hugely popular format thanks to its portability, ease of use, and readability. The PDF format preserves all the aspects of the document such as Font size and color as well as other elements such as images, tables, and forms to mention a few. This makes reading PDF documents convenient across a wide range of devices since all the aspects of the document are unaltered.
Occasionally, however, you may want to alter a few aspects of your document. While this is totally possible by converting your document to a Word document ( you can do this online ) and later saving the document as a PDF document, it’s often tedious. In addition, this restricts you to the number of pages that you can convert.
Thankfully, there are a few PDF editing tools that you can leverage to make changes to your PDF documents. In this guide, we present some of the best PDF editors for Linux that you can use to make changes to your PDF documents.
1. LibreOffice PDF editor
The LibreOffice suite is a powerful and feature-rich office suite that took over from the OpenOffice suite which was discontinued back in 2011. It's completely free and open-source and provides an impressive collection of productivity applications for everyday office use such as LibreOffice Writer ( word processing ), LibreOffice Calc ( Presentations ), LibreOffice Impress ( Presentations ), and several others to mention a few.
But can you open and edit PDF documents with LibreOffice? Sure you can. This is possible using the LibreOffice Draw application. The LibreOffice Draw is typically used for vector graphics design. Thankfully, it also offers the ability to modify PDF documents.
However, there's a catch to that. You can only make simple changes like adding text, images, and text boxes and makes other simple edits to your existing PDF documents. Where a PDF document is opened as a document, you cannot do further changes.
LibreOffice suite, which includes LibreOffice Draw is quite easy to install in Linux. Check out the installation instructions on the Wiki.
Scribus is a cross-platform, free and open-source desktop publishing software that is mostly used for creating stunning layouts, typesetting, and creating files for high-quality and professional printing equipment. For that reason, it is mostly used for making magazine publications, flyers, books, and newsletters.
In addition, Scribus allows to make simple minor changes to PDF documents as well as create interactive PDF presentations. Sadly, like LibreOffice Draw, you are limited to simple PDF modifications such as adding text, shapes, lists, and text boxes. The main focus of Scribus is desktop publishing.
To install Scribus in Debian / Ubuntu run:
$ sudo apt install scribus
For Fedora, CentOS and RHEL, execute the command:
$ sudo dnf install scribus
Based on KDE framework libraries and Qt, Okular is a multiplatform viewer that is native to the KDE desktop environment. Okular allows you to read EPub books, view images as well as PDF documents and so much more. It supports a myriad of file formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, and PDF.
It provides an advanced UI where you can edit your PDF documents by adding annotations, highlight and add text, copy and paste text as well as append a digital signature to your PDF documents. In addition, you can add text boxes, add shapes and draw lines and trim page borders.
To install Okular in Debian / Ubuntu run:
$ sudo apt install okular
For other distributions, It’s best to install using the snap package as follows:
$ sudo snap install okular
4. Foxit PDF Reader / PDF Editor
Foxit Reader is a multi-platform document viewer that can be used on Windows, Linux, and smart devices running Android and iOS. It provides a simple and neat UI that makes it easy to read PDF documents.
Foxit reader provides the following features:
- View and annotate PDF files.
- Sign PDF files across both desktop and mobile devices using eSignature.
- Printing PDF documents.
- Filling forms.
- Opening several PDF documents in multiple tabs.
- Text search and page rotation.
Foxit also offers Foxit PDF editor and PDF Editor Pro which are premium PDF editing tools. These offer advanced editing and collaborative features. You can download and try them for 14 days upon which you will be required to purchase a license. To download Foxit PDF Reader, visit the official site.
Download the Linux 64-bit installer which is a tarball file.
Alternatively, you can run the command:
$ wget http://cdn01.foxitsoftware.com/pub/foxit/reader/desktop/linux/2.x/2.4/en_us/FoxitReader.enu.setup.2.4.4.0911.x64.run.tar.gz
Once downloaded, extract the tarball file.
$ sudo tar -xvf FoxitReader.enu.setup.2.4.4.0911.x64.run.tar.gz
Then run the installer.
$ sudo ./FoxitReader.enu.setup.2.4.4.0911\(r057d814\).x64.run
This pops open the Foxit installer as shown.
Click the ‘Next’ button. Then Accept the License Agreement terms.
The installation will get underway.
Finally, click on ‘Finish’ to wrap up the installation.
Inkscape is an open-source and cross-platform vector graphics application that is a perfect replacement for expensive tools such as Adobe Illustrator. It's a powerful free design tool that comes in handy for users who want to create impressive vector imagery. It's quite lightweight and offers all the tools you might need to create stunning vector art.
In addition to creating vector graphics, you can use Inkscape to edit PDF documents. You can import PDF documents and carry out basic editing tasks including inserting and modifying text and images. However, as Inkscape is mostly used for vector graphics, its functionality for editing PDF documents is limited.
To install Inkscape on Debian / Ubuntu, run:
$ sudo apt install inkscape
For other major Linux distributions such as CentOS, Mint, Fedora, and RHEL, use the snap package as shown:
$ sudo snap install inkscape
5. Master PDF Editor
Master PDF Editor is a proprietary tool, unlike the tools discussed earlier. Thankfully, it provides a free version that allows you to try out the basic PDF editing features. To unlock all the PDF editing features, you need to upgrade to the premium version.
Master PDF Editor unlocks cool PDF editing features that allow you to:
- Add or modify existing text including changing font size and color.
- Insert shapes, objects and a wide plethora of controls such as lists, radio buttions and checkboxes.
- Merge and split PDF documents.
- Create, edit and remove bookmarks.
- Add watermarks & background images to PDF documents.
- Sign PDF documents using digital signatures.
- Encrypt PDF files with 128-bit encryption.
- Optical character recognition.
- Print PDF documents using virtual PDF printer.
To install Master PDF, head over to the official download page and grab the package for your distribution.
For Ubuntu / Debian
Download the .deb package.
$ wget https://code-industry.net/public/master-pdf-editor-5.8.20-qt5.x86_64.deb
Then run the package as shown to install Master PDF:
$ sudo apt install ./master-pdf-editor-5.8.20-qt5.x86_64.deb
For CentOS/ RHEL/Fedora
Download the .rpm package.
$ wget https://code-industry.net/public/master-pdf-editor-5.8.20-qt5.x86_64.rpm
Then, execute the package:
$ sudo rpm -ivh master-pdf-editor-5.8.20-qt5.x86_64.rpm
In this tutorial, we have highlighted some of the most notable PDF editing tools for Linux. Do you know of any other out there? Do let us know in the comment section.