7 Useful Free and Open Source PDF Tools

Last Updated on May 23, 2022

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. The format includes a subset of the PostScript page description programming language, a font-embedding system, and a structural storage system.

Over the years PDF has become an extremely important file format. If you want to create documents that can be viewed under all major operating systems, PDF is the ticket, as it maintains the overall look and feel of documents regardless of what platform they are viewed under.

This article focuses on useful PDF tools which can help you create PDFs as well as small utilities/libraries that help you work with PDF. It doesn’t seek to overlap with our articles on PDF manipulation tools and PDF viewers as they are covered in separate articles.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks chart. Only free and open source software is eligible for inclusion.

Useful Free and Open Source PDF Tools

Let’s explore the 7 PDF tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action (where appropriate), a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

PDF Tools
ScribusDesktop page layout software producing commercial grade PDF output
LibreOffice DrawVector graphics editor and diagramming tool that can create PDFs
GhostscriptGhostscript PostScript / PDF interpreter
PDFBoxJava tool for working with PDF documents
pdf-compressCompress an overly large PDF file to smaller monochrome
PoDoFoEasy to use PDF parsing and creation library
pdfgrepCommand-line utility to search text in PDF files
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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