Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finally, real PDF annotating under Linux! (with help from Wine)


Finally, a way to annotate PDF files under Linux (provided you can run Wine)

I have been looking for years for a solution to annotate PDF files from my Linux box. I usually do a lot of proof-reading, and these highlight and post-it features are just gold when you have to transmit your comments using the internet.

On the other hand, there is as far as I know NO software that can add annotations to PDF files in a clean way. Here are the ones I tried:

  • PDFEdit did some horrible glitch on my screen when I tried to change the document. Anyway, it looks good at modifying PDF files, but could not even figure out whether it supports annotations. Looks pretty complicated to use.
  • Foxit Reader has a Linux binary available. Of course, it segfaulted as soon as I tried to open a PDF file.
  • Xournal and its derivates are often claimed to support that feature. However, all they do is turning the PDF file into an image that you can annotate. Not exactly the same thing.
  • Okular is the only tool that actually has a real annotation tool for PDFs. It just looked like the holy grail, until I realized the annotations were not saved withing the PDF, but written separately... Which makes them unusable for any other reader.

One of the reason why PDF annotation support is so poor is no Linux PDF library supports it. As a consequence, software that uses them cannot neither. So we will probably we stuck with this situation until GNU PDF gets mature (which may take a while).

The solution came from the controversial Wine. I resigned myself to try a couple of Windows software under it. This is where I realized that the Windows software world is very different - Foxit requires to try some shit before you can download it freely, other software is paying, and so on. Moments like that remind me why I'm not part of this world.

But, finally, I found an assle-free, doing-the-job software that just installs and works flawlessly under Wine. It is called PDF-XChange Viewer and did not ask me to waste my time of my money before I can use it. Just needed to download the installation binary, gave it to wine, then run the software through wine without any particular twiddling. It just worked.

Sure, this is not free (as in free speech) software, nor is it native Linux, but waiting for a real free solution this is still a better compromise than dual-booting or buying software that doesn't work.

Posted via email from Troy's posterous

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