Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by KC7NYR

Topic for Jan. 11, 2018

What is a PDF?

  • Portable Document Format, from Adobe Systems
    • Intended for exchanging documents independent of application programs.
  • Contains:
    • Text
    • Images
    • Possibly bookmarks, JavaScript, video elements
  • The PDF combines three technologies: (source: Wikipedia)
    • A subset of the PostScript page description programming language, for generating the layout and graphics. Apple LaserWriter
    • A font-embedding/replacement system to allow fonts to travel with the documents.
    • A structured storage system to bundle these elements and any associated content into a single file, with data compression where appropriate.
  • PDF is a binary format, not text. Can be read and displayed always, but searching and editing depend on its origins as text or image.
    • Need OCR to get text from an image.
  • The PDF specification is an ISO standard, free for anyone to use, so many tools have been developed to work with PDF documents.

PDFs in Amateur Radio

  • Manuals e.g. Icom
  • Schematics. Saw a lot of GIFs in the past, few now
  • Specs & sales literature
  • Books, magazine articles: QST articles, ARRL Handbook
    • “Linux not supported” — what to do

PDF Readers

  • Adobe Reader
    • JavaScript vulnerability
  • Evince, etc. Search for PDF Linux
  • LibreOffice
  • Calibre
  • Command-line tools
    • pdfgrep utility to search (Web article) [NOTE: installed on saturn & tested]

Creation Tools

  • Because they are independent of any application program, PDFs are ideal for exchanging information. Avoid all the hassle of proprietary formats.
  • LibreOffice and other applications can save their files in PDF format (e.g., Musescore)
  • Conversion from other formats
    • xx2pdf utilities:
    • ps2pdf            – Convert PostScript to PDF
    • chm2pdf – A Python script, converts MS CHM help files
    • gscan2pdf – GUI produces PDFs or DjVus from scanned images
    • pythontrml2pdf – Converter of Report Markup Language (RML)
    • webkit2pdf – export web pages to PDF files or printer (GUI)
    • pandoc – handles multiple formats, including docx, ePub,
    • rst2pdf – ReportLab-based reStructuredText to PDF re
      • Explain markup language
      • MediaWiki, HTML
    • markdowntopdf Web site convert markdown files to PDF online
    • ImageMagick can convert image files to PDF from command line
    • Inkscape graphics program saves as PDF and PS

Editing Tools for PDF Files


This subject is far too large to cover here. To find more information, run a Web search for linux pdf + what you want to do: edit, create, etc.

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