As you know PDF become an open, ISO standard. To view a PDF file we need to install a PDF viewer or PDF reader. A list of top 5 PDF readers is not too much for installation on Ubuntu Linux. But may be you wonder that if what should be used on your system to bring to the best benefit. Then, the answer is what benefit you need. It means you should know what you expect from the software and how the software meets your requirements.

For example, this is what I need for a PDF viewer.

  • show a PDF file as well
  • pay nothing
  • allow me to search text
  • support to rotate page, zoom in and zoom out
Well, I can eliminate one tool from top 5 PDF readers. It's gv tool because this tool doesn't allow me to search text. Now I have to add another option to the above list.
  • should be open source software
That's good. I can eliminate another tool from top 5 PDF readers. It's Adobe Acrobat Reader because this tool is NOT an open source one. One again, I add more options to my requirement.
  • provide side panel with thumbnails
  • allow double page mode
This time xpdf tool is removed from top 5 PDF readers. So which one is better between Kpdf and evince? I try to put one more option to the list of my requirement.
  • start up quickly
This option will bring to you an answer when you want to make comparison between Kpdf (or Evince) with Acrobat Reader since Acrobat Reader has a low loading. However, in term of performance when loading application Evince will be better in Gnome while Kpdf will be faster in KDE. So you know why Ubuntu offers Evince as a default Pdf reader while Kubuntu uses Kpdf. But if you don't like "a country under two kings", I will vote for Kpdf as the best PDF Viewer in Ubuntu Linux. You will ask me WHY? Wow, let me tell you right now.

Kpdf provides many configuration options (e.g. view two pages, configure memory usage, configure program look) which are not found in Evince. I like two mouse features (scrolling mouse and zooming mouse) in Kpdf when reading ebooks while Evince doesn't support these features as well. That the reason why I vote for Kpdf in this game.


  1. Ubuntu For Free // 1/5/08, 6:42 AM  

    my vote's for kpdf.

  2. bombcar // 1/29/08, 9:17 PM  

    Evince fails printing some PDFs. KPDF works fine. KPDF wins.

  3. Yuri // 5/11/08, 9:07 AM  

    Ubuntu lacks a good PDF reader.

    In Evince you can't take local screenshots (ie: copy images).

    KPDF is the best, no doubt. The drawback is that it requires 74MB of disk space in Ubuntu (due to the dependencies).

  4. Anonymous // 6/5/08, 9:00 AM  

    But the search in kpdf is not too good...

  5. Stamatis // 6/16/08, 2:08 PM  

    Memory usage does not work well in kpdf. Try to search non-existing text (e.g in some other language) in a very large document and it may consume all your memory ...

  6. Chris // 7/3/08, 11:05 PM  

    Kpdf doesn't seem to work with fillable forms, Evnice does this but it is kind of sketchy with check boxes. Still looking for a good reader...

  7. Anonymous // 7/22/08, 4:32 AM  

    PDF-XChange over wine is better than kpdf or evince. Its support tabs, and consumes less memory than the others, working with wine as emulator! I don't understand why there isn't a good linux pdf viewer...
    Sorry my poor english.

  8. Anonymous // 9/28/08, 8:32 PM  

    Here is one thing i want of my PDF viewer:
    * Ability to highlight text

    The only free pdf viewer I have found that does this is Foxit for Windows. Unfortunately they don't have a workable linux version, and they've started to add crap toolbars to the browser.


  9. Anonymous // 11/14/08, 11:24 PM  

    accroread 8 (Adobe Acrobat Reader) may be the best ... I'm using it on Ubuntu.

  10. Anonymous // 12/16/08, 4:43 PM  


  11. Anonymous // 1/31/09, 3:17 PM  

    The maintext of this page is written very good. Thank you for your opinions.

    PS: I am using Evince and it is ok up to date.

  12. Anonymous // 1/31/09, 9:26 PM  

    What abouta viewer that provide a bookmark feature? I mean: 200 pages pdf. I read N pages. I set a bookmark that remembers me where to start to read from next time I open that pdf.

  13. Anonymous // 3/7/09, 3:06 AM  

    Skim for OS X is the best PDF reader I have found, hands down - great search function, highlight, annotate with notes, or embed notes, bookmark, and search your annotations as well. Saves additions in a .skim sidecar file, so the original is not changed. Great presentation/full screen reader mode. I wish Ubuntu/linux had something like this... it one of the best research tools I have found. And it's OSS!

  14. Anonymous // 4/4/09, 9:26 PM  

    Foxit Software release Linux version

  15. Anonymous // 7/30/09, 6:28 PM  

    Here's a data point to consider.
    I'm running Ubuntu 8.04/AMD64
    I've always thought of Evince as being slow - but I hadn't realised just how bad it was until I ran this test.
    The plan was to open up a PDF and scroll through each page and time how long it took to get to the end of the document (a copy of an online magazine).
    From clinking on the PDF file in browser to getting the first page up took 15 seconds. As soon as each page had rendered, I hit down-arrow to move to the next page and so on. After 7 pages I had lost the will to live: it took 1m57s to load and display 7 pages. (Obviously I made sure the machine wasn't doing anything else while this test ran). Just to be sure, I did it again - same result, more or less.
    Next I went to a virtualised instance of XP, running as a Virtualbox client on the same machine. The same file was available as I had it's directory shared to VB. On this instance, when I clicked on the file Acrobat loaded (in 7 seconds) and I got to scroll through the first 7 pages in 52 seconds. Now, this was waiting for each page to fully render - it sort-of "snap" into clarity, after initially displaying a slightly pixelated version of each page. Just scrolling through these preview pages took 24 seconds - 4 times faster than Evince running native.
    Evince is awful software - slow, bloated and as others have noted doesn't always work, or print pages. Now I realise that this open-source software is produced by amateurs as a hobby - but really, it's a terrible example of what FOSS products are like.

  16. Anonymous // 1/26/10, 11:51 AM  

    Install foxit for linux on ubuntu.

  17. nka // 2/8/10, 11:34 PM  

    Thanks for the breakdown of the top 5. I know this is an old topic, but have you checked out the successor to KPDF, called Okular? I think it is quite good, and handles large PDF's (300+ pages) much smoother than Acrobat, xpdf, evince, or any other pdf reader that I have seen. I have found that Evince distorts the quality of the text with larger PDF files. Not sure why, perhaps something with the rendering.

    Okular is nice ;-)

  18. Anonymous // 6/29/10, 12:48 AM  


    Evince SUCKS in lucid. Very, very slow on very good hardware. xpdf is quick and reliable.