Best PDF Reader for Linux

The Adobe PDF file format is commonly used for instructions, manuals, boarding passes, and lots of other types of documentation. You are bound to run into a PDF document eventually. Is your Linux system able to open and read them?

In this tutorial, we have compiled some of our favorite PDF readers for Linux. You will learn about our top picks and what makes them solid choices for installation.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • Best PDF readers for Linux, with installation instructions
Best PDF Reader for Linux
Best PDF Reader for Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Evince, Okular, Atril, Adobe Reader, MuPDF, Zathura, GNU gv
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Best PDF Reader for Linux



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  1. Any web browser

    You do not need any special software to open PDF documents. Your web browser can open them just fine. Whether you have Firefox, Chromium, Chrome, or some other web browser, these are all perfectly capable of viewing PDF documents. Keep in mind that web browsers may not have some of the convenient features of dedicated PDF viewers, but they can usually suffice, and will save you from needing to install additional software.

    Firefox web browser being used to view a PDF document
    Firefox web browser being used to view a PDF document
  2. Evince PDF Viewer

    Evince (also known as Document Viewer) is the default PDF viewer for the GNOME desktop environment. If you are using GNOME, then this application should already be installed on your system – it often comes pre-installed on other desktops, too. We like it because it is a super lightweight program, makes the text easy to read, and it is often installed by default.

    Evince (Document Viewer)
    Evince (Document Viewer)

    Installation instructions:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ sudo apt install evince
    
    Fedora:
    $ sudo dnf install evince
    
    Arch Linux and Manjaro:
    $ sudo pacman -S evince
    
  3. Atril PDF Viewer

    Atril is the default PDF viewer for the MATE desktop environment. Even if you are not using MATE, this is a good choice for a PDF viewer. We like it for its simplicity and convenient features, such as the ability to bookmark documents.

    Atril PDF Viewer
    Atril PDF Viewer

    Installation instructions:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ sudo apt install atril
    
    Fedora:
    $ sudo dnf install atril
    
    Arch Linux and Manjaro:
    $ sudo pacman -S atril
    



  4. Okular PDF Viewer

    Okular is the default PDF viewer on for the KDE Plasma desktop environment. KDE users will already have it available, and you can still install the application regardless of which desktop environment you currently use. We like it for some of its advanced features, such as the ability to highlight the important parts of documents with the text highlighter.

    Okular PDF Viewer
    Okular PDF Viewer

    Installation instructions:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ sudo apt install okular
    
    Fedora:
    $ sudo dnf install okular
    
    Arch Linux and Manjaro:
    $ sudo pacman -S okular
    
  5. Adobe Acrobat Reader

    Adobe Acrobat Reader might be the first choice people think of when it comes to opening PDF documents. Although there is a Linux version of Adobe Reader available, it no longer receives updates on the Linux platform hence is obsolete and not recommended for the installation. The only good thing we can say about it is that the creators of the PDF format are the same who developed this program.

    Adobe Acrobat Reader
    Adobe Acrobat Reader

    Adobe Reader is a proprietary PDF viewer available via external 3rd party package. To download it:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ wget ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/unix/9.x/9.5.5/enu/AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i386linux_enu.deb
    
    Fedora:
    $ wget ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/unix/9.x/9.5.5/enu/AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i386linux_enu.rpm
    
  6. MuPDF PDF Viewer




    MuPDF is an extremely lightweight PDF viewer for Linux that supports a PDF, XPS, and EPUB formats. Use this software if want a very small install and a PDF viewer with no extra features. We like it because it’s probably the most basic and lightweight PDF viewer available.

    MuPDF PDF Viewer
    MuPDF PDF Viewer

    Installation instructions:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ sudo apt install mupdf
    
    Fedora:
    $ sudo dnf install mupdf
    
    Arch Linux and Manjaro:
    $ sudo pacman -S mupdf
    
  7. Zathura PDF Viewer

    Zathura is a free, plugin-based document viewer application. Available plugins include PDF, PostScript and DjVu. Use this software if you would like to extend the functionalities of your PDF viewer.

    Zathura PDF Viewer
    Zathura PDF Viewer

    Installation instructions:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ sudo apt install zathura
    
    Fedora:
    $ sudo dnf install zathura
    
    Arch Linux and Manjaro:
    $ sudo pacman -S zathura
    
  8. GNU gv PDF Viewer

    GNU gv is a powerful PostScript and PDF document viewer developed by the GNU Project. This one is always a safe choice to make, considering a huge amount of other software on Linux is also developed by GNU. We like it for its retro interface and simple features.

    GNU gv PDF viewer
    GNU gv PDF viewer

    Installation instructions:

    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian:
    $ sudo apt install gv
    
    Fedora:
    $ sudo dnf install gv
    
    Arch Linux and Manjaro:
    $ sudo pacman -S gv
    



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Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we saw a list of the best PDF viewers on a Linux system. We also learned how to install any of the applications mentioned here on all major Linux distros. Each of them have their pros and cons, and the best one for you will depend on your situation, whether you want a beefy program, lightweight viewer, or want to stick with one of the default viewers.



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