Linux is a unique operating system, or rather a family of operating systems that comes in a wide variety of versions or distributions. Of all the Linux distributions, Ubuntu is one of the most well known. Linux has quite a learning curve compared to Windows and macOS, the trade off being more freedom and customizability. Luckily Ubuntu is one of the more beginner friendly Linux distributions.
Ubuntu and Linux operating systems in general also put a lot emphasis on open source software and are themselves open source. Proprietary third-party software is available on Ubuntu as well, although it tends to be not as well supported as on Windows and Mac. A good variety of PDF reader software of both types available for Ubuntu.
Of the software available, three have been selected as the best of what’s available. If you’re planning to use Ubuntu to read or work with PDFs, one of the options chosen here should meet your needs, whether you’re new to Ubuntu or have used it before.
Best PDF Reader for Ubuntu: Okular
Developed by KDE, a well known community for free and open source software, Okular is an easy to use program with several useful features. Okular touts itself as a universal document reader, meaning it’s able to open many other file types besides PDF, such as ODT, DjVu, PostScript and XPS.
Reading features include sidebar navigation, bookmarks, magnifier and text-to-speech. Okular also has annotation features like adding notes, underlining and highlighting text, and adding shapes and stamps. Overall, Okular is also lightweight software, making it a good option for those with older or low end computers.
Okular is completely free and open source software, available to download and install in a few different ways. The easiest is to search for it and install it from the Ubuntu Software store. It can also be installed from the Terminal with the apt-get command, or for the advanced users, even compiled from source code.
Second Choice: Foxit Reader
Well known on Windows as an alternative to Adobe and a lightweight and intuitive program in its own right, Foxit is available on Linux as well. Foxit Reader has the viewing features that you’d expect, like zoom, search, bookmarks and text-to-speech. It also has annotation features as well as form filling, encryption, cloud storage and collaboration capabilities. I reviewed the software in full here: Foxit PDF Reader Review
Third Choice: Evince
The default document viewer for the GNOME desktop environment, and therefore Ubuntu, Evince makes for a simple and lightweight PDF reader. Evince comes with features such as zoom, search, indexes/bookmarks, viewing of encrypted files and some basic annotation tools. While there are more feature rich readers available, for those who just need a simple way to view PDFs, there’s no reason not to stick with Evince.
That covers what I’ve found to be the best PDF readers available for Ubuntu. You can download Okular or Foxit Reader if you want something with more advanced features, but if you just want a quick and simple way to view PDFs, Evince is all you should need.
You’re Not on Linux?
In the past few months I also covered PDF readers for all other platforms, including the Best PDF Reader for Windows, as well as the Best PDF Reader for Mac, so do check them out if you own the machine or are just curious on what the competition has to offer.