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F-Secure Suggests Ditching Adobe Reader For Free PDF Viewers 249

Posted by timothy
from the jane-the-sex-was-good-but-I've-had-enough-circus dept.
hweimer writes "Yesterday at RSA security conference, F-Secure's chief research officer recommended dropping Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files because of the huge amount of targeted attacks against it. Instead, he pointed to PDFreaders.org, a website maintaining a list of free and open source PDF viewers."
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F-Secure Suggests Ditching Adobe Reader For Free PDF Viewers

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  • Already there (Score:5, Informative)

    by andytrevino (943397) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:44PM (#27680467) Homepage
    I've been using Foxit Reader for some time on my aging laptop because of performance issues with Adobe Reader 9, and it works great. http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/ [foxitsoftware.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dyinobal (1427207)
      same here. I switched to foxit ages ago, simply because of adobe being so bloated. It made reading PDFs enjoyable again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by omeomi (675045)
      Agreed. Small download. Quick start-up. Never had a problem. Foxit rocks.
      • Re:Already there (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Saint Stephen (19450) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:55PM (#27680583) Homepage Journal

        Foxit has a couple of problems with some forms-based PDFs my work gave me, but on the other hand, it lets me save form field values in pdfs where acrobat won't.

        It's great; I got sick of the bloat ware and "run all the time! in the background! always show up with checks for prompts for updates every time I open my browser!" that adobe has turned into.

        now if foxit only made a flash player

        • Re:Already there (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:09PM (#27680747)

          Actually, the article specifically suggests that Adobe needs to improve its automatic update system, not remove it.

          Foxit is getting pretty widely used, and it will be especially vulnerable if it lacks a mechanism to update itself automatically.

          Convenience != good architecture.

          I'm not sure who are more dangerous, those that don't update because they don't know what updates are, or those that don't update because they're too paranoid about corporations whose software they already use to allow that software to be patched against demonstrated security issues.

          That said, Adobe is bloated. It just has nothing to do with running all the time in the background and prompting for updates, but just with generally shitty programming. Anything used for a significant portion of web traffic needs to have a mechanism to automatically retrieve updates, especially if the user is to lazy make sure that their system is up to date and secure.

          • by omeomi (675045) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:13PM (#27680795) Homepage

            I'm not sure who are more dangerous, those that don't update because they don't know what updates are, or those that don't update because they're too paranoid about corporations whose software they already use to allow that software to be patched against demonstrated security issues.

            What about those of us who don't update because we're too lazy?

            • Re:Already there (Score:5, Insightful)

              by QRDeNameland (873957) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:24PM (#27680895)

              What about those of us who don't update because we're too lazy?

              Then there's those of us who don't update because we've been burnt by updates breaking things way too many times in the past.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Sentry21 (8183)

              Funny I know, but it's not far off â" Acrobat only bugs me about updating when I'm about to try doing something else. 'I know you said you wanted to see this PDF, but wouldn't you be happier waiting 10 minutes for a software update instead?'

              Acrobat needs some method of downloading updates in the background and then just asking you if you want to apply them (yes/no) when you start it, but applying them later, when you're done.

              Then again, most apps need to do things like that.

            • by JoeBuck (7947) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:40PM (#27681051) Homepage

              What about those of us who don't update because we're too lazy?

              You might be lazy, but your computer isn't; it's been sending out spam 24/7 for a while now.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by petermgreen (876956)

            I'm not sure who are more dangerous, those that don't update because they don't know what updates are, or those that don't update because they're too paranoid about corporations whose software they already use to allow that software to be patched against demonstrated security issues.
            What about:
            Those who don't update because it would take unreasonable ammounts of time on thier slow connection

            Those who don't upgrade because they are afraid vendor incompetance will cause something to break (or have upgraded an

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hairyfeet (841228)

            Uuuhhhhh....I don't know where you get your info from, but Foxit updates itself just fine, has been for awhile. As you can see here [foxitsoftware.com] it updates itself. Allow me to quote: "To select "Check for Updates", please go to Help > Check for Updates Now > click "Preferences" in the Foxit Reader Updates dialog box > select "Automatically check for Foxit updates". Please note that this option is selected by default."

            I can say that I have been using the free version for years and for at least the past two ver

        • Re:Already there (Score:5, Informative)

          by DanWS6 (1248650) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:26PM (#27680917)
          I was a firm believer in foxit, until I had to fill out my 1040 and related forms. Some of the fields were just screwed up. I had to cave and install acrobat. I died a little inside that day.
        • by bigtrike (904535) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:16PM (#27681369)

          Foxit does not yet support JetForm/LiveCycle based PDFs. Neither does OSX's Preview.

          I wish people would stop using LiveCycle to produce PDFs, from what I can tell the format is not documented in the PDF ISO specification. Additionally, the newer format does not seem to provide any features that were not previously available in PDF. One can only speculate that it was done out of laziness or to thwart competition after they opened the format.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Skuld-Chan (302449)

            It is an open specification:

            http://partners.adobe.com/public/developer/xml/index_arch.html [adobe.com]

            And yes it does provide a lot of things not available in the pdf spec - for example directly rendered forms (which require significantly less bandwidth).

            I wish people would stop spreading fud about Acrobat/Reader. Having worked for Adobe (I no longer do sadly) on Acrobat specifically a few facts:

            A) update manager only starts with the app - it doesn't run constantly and you can disable it and use the help > check for

      • Re:Already there (Score:4, Informative)

        by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:24PM (#27681439) Journal

        And what I find quite important: it renders text quite well. At least I don't see a big difference between how Foxit renders text vs. Acrobat. But, as I was saying in another post, Sumatra does a very bad job - so much so, that I feel slightly nauseated when reading documents with Sumatra.

    • by sa1lnr (669048)

      I'll second that, been using Foxit for a couple of years now with no complaints.

    • by Kelson (129150) *

      Ah, but is Foxit Free Software, or merely free software?

    • Re:Already there (Score:5, Informative)

      by zonky (1153039) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:15PM (#27680807)
      Yes, it's so feature compatible with adobe, they've added similar exploits! http://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2008-1104 [mitre.org]
      • Re:Already there (Score:5, Interesting)

        by toleraen (831634) * on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:30PM (#27680955)
        Exactly what I don't get of this. When tracking the adobe exploits I saw several for Foxit pop up. The guy is basically advising security through obscurity. Foxit definitely released patches quicker than Adobe, but the vulnerabilities were still there...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The guy is basically advising security through not encouraging a monoculture
           
          .

          Fixed that for you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by izomiac (815208)
      I used to use Foxit, but got a little tired of its adware nature (banner ad, browser toolbar, tons of buttons that only exist to remind you what the free version doesn't have, etc.). So I switched to Sumatra [kowalczyk.info] (GPL and much more minimalistic than Foxit). Later, I started taking notes in class using PDF comments. I tried using Foxit again, but commenting is restricted to the Pro version. Plus it crashed every second time I tried to comment the DRM'd lecture notes (that was difficult to figure out since Fox
    • Re:Already there (Score:4, Informative)

      by FRiC (416091) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:00PM (#27681233) Homepage

      Until Foxit Reader (at least the Windows version, no experience with other versions) can support Unicode, it will never replace Adobe Reader.

    • Re:Already there (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:55PM (#27681679) Homepage

      Foxit Reader is proprietary, no more inspectable or modifiable than Adobe's PDF reader and therefore no more trustworthy than any other proprietary software. No proprietary software is not a good solution to the problems faced with Adobe's proprietary PDF Reader. You are merely jumping from one proprietor to another.

      A reasonable recommendation is a FLOSS PDF reader such as Sumatra, Skim, or one of the other fine PDF readers recommended by PDFReaders.org [pdfreaders.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by behindthewall (231520)

        I learned of Skim a few months ago, and it looks like a great tool. Extensive navigation and annotation abilities, with the annotations saved separately (merging them into the PDF file is also supported). Exactly what I want for migrating to more on-screen research and study.

        Unfortunately, it is dependent upon Mac OS PDF handling libraries. I've been wishing/hoping something similar will appear that is cross platform. Some recent news about Python-based PDF libraries (I forget the specific names, at the

  • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:44PM (#27680481) Homepage Journal

    It's interesting that of the 8 alternatives mentioned, only Okular is listed as being available across the board on Windows, Mac OS X, and (as they put it), "Free Operating Systems." (Linux, BSD, etc.) Even so, it involves installing KDE on top of Windows or Mac OS X, but at least it can be done.

    The only two-platform reader, Yap, appears to be based on GNUStep, and I don't actually see a Windows download on the web page.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Doesn't Apple have their own non-adobe pdf reader built into OS X?

      • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:52PM (#27680557) Homepage Journal

        Doesn't Apple have their own non-adobe pdf reader built into OS X?

        Yes, Preview can read PDFs (among many other formats) well enough that I didn't even install Adobe Reader when I bought a new MacBook a few months ago. Admittedly I'm not sure how well it handles forms, but it has no problems with static PDF files.

        Of course, I doubt it's open source/free software, so it wouldn't be on this list anyway.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Of course, I doubt it's open source/free software, so it wouldn't be on this list anyway.

          Well, its effectively 'free' in the sense that any one who has the operating system that runs it already owns a copy.

        • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:54PM (#27681163) Homepage Journal

          Forms support is decent, but not perfect. I reported a couple of bugs I ran into filling out my tax forms this year. Specifically, I couldn't save a PDF in Adobe Reader that had form data already saved in it with Preview. And the digits didn't align correctly in the bank routing and account number fields.

          I use it frequently. My only other gripe is that the search is brain-dead. (It "ors" all the search terms. which is never what I want. Putting an "AND" between them doesn't help :-/)

          It might sound like I don't like it, but these are actually my only complaints. Very solid app.

          It's also worth noting that PDF export is built right into the print subsystem. No goofy third party print drivers. No need for individual apps to understand PDF.

          -Peter

      • by John Whitley (6067) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:15PM (#27680805) Homepage

        Yes. There's also Skim [sourceforge.net] for OS X, which is far and away my favorite PDF reader for any platform. It's actually designed by and for people who really want to read, quickly search, and annotate PDFs.

        Here are two of Skim's great features that I'd love to to see in other PDF readers:

        1. Fast search with great presentation. Skim's PDF text search is blazing fast, provides a concise one-hit per line view, as well as thumbnails of the page around the search target on mouse hover. The thumbs are great for quickly winnowing down to the correct hit; you often don't need to even read the text, just the "look" is enough to know you've got the right thing.
        2. The ability to easily spin off small windows frozen to a part of a page -- great for popping open a diagram or other material referenced across multiple pages of a text.

        I do believe that Skim relies heavily on various OS X frameworks (e.g. for PDF rendering, Spotlight support for search, etc.). That definitely goes to show the value of providing functionality via general, well-conceived and well-implemented frameworks instead of being wrapped up inside of monolithic applications.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BlackSabbath (118110)

          Whole-heartedly agree. Skim has made getting through my Master's degree much easier. The ability to highlight (markup in many ways) and add text notes directly on the page make this awesome.

    • by dov_0 (1438253) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:53PM (#27680567)

      I've been using Evince on Linux for years now. No dramas. Runs about 10 times faster than the Adobe Reader as well.

      Does whether a particular reader is cross-platform really matter? Most people only seem to use the zoom in/out, scroll up/down and preview pane functions anyway. Not a lot to figure out on a different system...

      • by Kelson (129150) *

        Does whether a particular reader is cross-platform really matter? Most people only seem to use the zoom in/out, scroll up/down and preview pane functions anyway. Not a lot to figure out on a different system...

        Good point. Now that I think about it, I've been using Evince on Linux, Preview on Mac OS, and Adobe on Windows for quite a while.

      • I'd like to bind/bookmark certan pages to keys like CTRL+1,2,3.. but besides that evince works fine, and I can embed it in Firefox using mozplugger.

    • OS X comes with Preview which handles a variety of formats including multiple page PDF documents. In fact, the imaging system is based on PDF.
    • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:21PM (#27680869) Homepage Journal

      The websites are the horror from a windows end-user point of view.

      Okular: no download, build descriptions?
      MuPDF: A parser description?
      Yap: That screenshot ...
      Sumatra PDF: Looks good.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > The websites are the horror from a windows end-user point of view.

        Perhaps you should consider getting your operating system from an organization that does not require you to download such fundamental applications as a PDF viewer from a third party.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Perhaps you should consider getting your operating system from an organization that does not require you to download such fundamental applications as a PDF viewer from a third party.

          Hey, I don't want my OS coming with ANY apps, how about that? Just run my programs and stay out of my way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by blind biker (1066130)

        I tried Sumatra (newest version) and while it's installed size is small, compared to the features it offers, it's bloated (ok, it's not bloated if you compare to Adobe, but it is compared to Foxit). But that's not the real problem with Sumatra: the gravest issue is the rendering: I thought I'll get a headache reading text rendered by Sumatra. It was very unpleasant at any zoom level.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mjwx (966435)

        Sumatra PDF: Looks good.

        I switched from Foxit to Sumatra PDF when the flashing banner ad in Foxit became too annoying. Sumatra handles displaying PDF's on a Windows box far better and doesn't seem to have the same issues when printing a colour PDF, Foxit would take 5 minutes to send it to the printer. Sumatra doesn't do everything, its a small light PDF viewer that has a quick load time, which is exactly what most people are after with a PDF viewer.

    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:14AM (#27683411)
      You can edit PDFs and paste text onto forms with the Gimp. Kinda painful, but it works and then you can save the file in any format you want.
  • Helpfully (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:50PM (#27680529)

    F-Secure posted a PDF with exploits to uninstall Adobe Reader and install a new free reader.

  • by gilgongo (57446) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:54PM (#27680579) Homepage Journal

    Acrobat utterly takes the biscuit when it comes to being the most execrably awful, arrogant, bloated, buggy, piece of software ever made, ever. And that's in a world where Microsoft exists as well.

    But as if that isn't bad enough, it ALSO ranks as the most tragic irony in *all* *computing* *history* that such a screamingly, revoltingly, tear-out-your-hair-and-become-a-monk awful software is essentially based on an open standard. I'll say that again: PDF is an *open* ISO standard. HOW did Adobe rape and strangle it to death like they did? If anyone wants an example of how unspeakably evil marketing and sharp practices can be, they need look no further than Adobe Acrobat.

    If I never used Acrobat ever again it would be too soon.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:08PM (#27680737)

      the most execrably awful, arrogant, bloated, buggy, piece of software ever made, ever.

      It's called Realplayer.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:20PM (#27680853)

      That was my response to the dreamweaver CS3 install that dumped over 800 meg of bolt-on garbarge and two new services BEFORE starting the actual dreamweaver install.

      And the new-and-improved dreamweaver was almost exactly the same as the macromedia version. They added a new CSS selector and a new tab for their adobe ajax framework. And they broke the best interakt extension. So the product went backwards, despite trending towards epic MS levels of application footprint.

      They acquired the interackt folks and I think CS4 suckers are still waiting for the supported port.

      Everything adobe touches turns to shit if you ask me.

    • by lymond01 (314120)

      It's about profit. These days, you can't charge people $40 (or $140) per copy to go from Acrobat 5 to Acrobat 5.01, with security fixes. You need another version with added features, better usability, etc, otherwise people won't see the value in shelling out for the new version, and you won't make any money. It's easier to add then it is to recreate, so you get bloated software.

    • Acrobat Reader is pretty universally despised. I was very surprised when I saw, on bittorrent, a WinXP iso slipstreamed with Adobe Acrobat. Oh well - some people are just, you know, crazy.

    • by H0p313ss (811249) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:38PM (#27681027)

      Acrobat utterly takes the biscuit when it comes to being the most execrably awful, arrogant, bloated, buggy, piece of software ever made, ever.

      Clearly you have not used anything Lotus has shipped in the past decade.

    • by spinkham (56603) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:08PM (#27681297)

      Acrobat utterly takes the biscuit when it comes to being the most execrably awful, arrogant, bloated, buggy, piece of software ever made, ever. And that's in a world where Microsoft exists as well.

      I see you never used Visual SourceSafe.

      But yes, Acrobat sucks.

  • For those on the go (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:01PM (#27680649)

    Sumatra PDF is also available in a portable format [portableapps.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drizek (1481461)
      I was introduced to Sumatra from portable apps and now use it instead of FoxIt. It does have a few issues here and there, but it seems to work better.
  • using this guys logic, he should be saying to dump Microsoft and use another OS due to the large number of breakins on Windows boxes. Notice I didn't say attacks because attacks do not mean security failure. I'll bet he picked his words, or MS did, for legal reasons.

    anyways, Microsoft and RSA have been buddy buddies for a few years now so it's no wonder MS has the RSA picking on Adobe. Adobe has almost as large a distribution channel as Microsoft and that makes Adobe a big target. Add to it Adobe's Flash an

    • by Draek (916851)

      They would, if Linux was able to run 99% of the world's Windows applications. Yes, I know there are some PDFs out there that Evince et al can't open, but so far I haven't found any and I have *hundreds* of PDFs on my computer so chances are they're a stastistically insignificant percentage and, as such, unlikely to bother the average user.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I'm not entirely certain of that compatibility problem. Many Mac users don't run Windows apps at all and comparability is not necessarily an issue. Part of what drives many Mac users is that it is NOT Windows and so they feel better because of it. For some people, it only takes knowing that there is a viable alternative for them to make the switch. "All the advantages of Mac without the price!"

    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:45PM (#27681095)

      using this guys logic, he should be saying to dump Microsoft and use another OS due to the large number of breakins on Windows boxes.

      Unless he thought that the cost of switching OSes was significantly higher than the cost of switching to another free piece of software on top of that OS. With Windows, people need it to do things that no other operating system can do, namely, running Windows-only applications as well as they can be run. Switching to another OS requires either dealing with emulation, a VM, or not being able to run those programs at all. In addition, there are costs in either a steep learning curve going to linux or hardware to get a Mac. Cost to change: many, many hours of learning or a few thousand dollars.

      On the other hand, as long as these PDF readers can read any pdf that adobe can, and as long as they're free like adobe is, there's no other cost. Hell, you can even have adobe installed just in case you'll need it, but make another reader the default for everything, thereby giving you the security of having another reader without any loss in functionality. Cost to change: maybe half an hour.

      In other words, your bias is showing.

  • "...because of the huge amount of targeted attacks against it."

    So let's also put forward the same suggestion directed at Windows?

  • by Burdell (228580) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:11PM (#27680767)

    Being the most targeted is not a good reason to switch (being the most exploited may be). However, rather than say "acroread sucks, try something else", shouldn't a security company actually check the security of the alternatives? Alternative does not automatically imply better; how do I know that the alternatives are not worse?

    How many of the alternatives implement all the features require (and implement them securely)? Viewing an owner's guide PDF or some such isn't a big deal (I'd hope they can all do that); I need to know if all the form handling works correctly (because I need to use that).

    • by JoeBuck (7947)
      The very existence of a huge number of features means that there will be more security bugs. Also, black hats tend to focus their attacks on the dominant player, unless there's a #2 that's super-easy to beat. Obscurity isn't sufficient to provide security but it does help.

      It's true that many of the alternatives lack certain features, but most PDF files don't use those features either. You can use a simpler reader except in cases where you need all the features.

    • by mrbene (1380531) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:35PM (#27682823)
      I think F-Secure's unofficial stance is outlined best in their blog [f-secure.com] from a while back:

      we're not recommending Foxit. We're not recommending Sumatra. Or PDF-Xchange, CoolPDF or eXPert PDF. Instead, we recommend users to find their own Adobe Reader replacement. This way we get more heterogeneous userbase, which is a good idea security-wise.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:19PM (#27680849)

    "Yesterday at RSA security conference, F-Secure's chief research officer recommended dropping Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files because of the huge amount of targeted attacks against it.

    I used to use Adobe's PDF reader but while running Windows XP, I got a message prompting me to upgrade my Adobe reader to the latest.

    I attempted to and the downloaded file was quite small. On completing the installation, I found out that I was stuck with a directory heavy at 200MB! Uninstalling the extras did not help matters.

    Later on, I discovered Foxit Reader [foxitsoftware.com]. I haven't looked back and I am not worried about Adobe misbehaving for I know the would not like Microsoft to gain any traction with their XPS [microsoft.com] format.

  • What about DRM PDFs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@gmail.PERIODcom minus punct> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:26PM (#27680913) Homepage Journal

    I have a ton of DRM protected eBooks from my college. They only work in Adobe Acrobat Reader. How do I remove the DRM, or would removing the DRM so that I can use them in a third party PDF viewer be a violation of my license with the college and publishers?

    I really don't want to lose my eBook library, but I don't want to get infected either.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:36PM (#27681013)

      Open the file as a text file and look for the comment that says something like it is a violation of the DMCA to remove the following lines. Remove the following lines. Repeat. This is of course assuming that you don't think it's a violation of the DMCA to remove the lines in question.

    • > ...would removing the DRM so that I can use them in a third party PDF viewer be a
      > violation of my license with the college and publishers?

      Why don't you read the license and find out? It certainly would not be infringement of the copyrights.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Search for ineptpdf.pyw.

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      I remember I tried several freewares to recover a DRMed PDF once.
      Try for example GuaPDF.

    • This is slashdot! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kludge (13653) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:53PM (#27681651)

      Step 1: Don't buy anything with DRM protection.
      Step 2: Repeat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bcrowell (177657)

      How do I remove the DRM

      On linux: gs -q -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=b.pdf a.pdf -c '.setpdfwrite'

      or would removing the DRM so that I can use them in a third party PDF viewer be a violation of my license with the college and publishers?

      Who cares? You're in a situation where you're being horribly abused. The professor chose the book, the publisher chose to put DRM on it, and the publishing industry's lobbyists got Congress to pass the DMCA...just do whatever

    • by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@b[ ]rog ... m ['sgp' in gap]> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:59PM (#27682963) Homepage Journal

      Kpdf (part of KDE 3.5) had a checkbox to ignore DRM. I don't know of Okular (KDE 4) does.

  • It's amazing that Foxit Reader has nearly all the functionality of the newest Acrobat Reader, but the installer is 10X smaller! And not to speak about how much more stable it is. Now I put Foxit on every computer I use. Foxit is so much better than Acrobat Reader, that every time I see it on a computer I think to myself "Are you effing kidding me????!!!"

    I really don't understand how did the Adobe SW engineers manage to make such a bloated and unstable POS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839)
      Probably the same way HP printer drivers are 350mb.
      I'm actually starting to suspect that the same people who write the adobe reader/updater code, also work in the HP drivers division. Both use FEAD/Nosso compression, both have obnoxious updaters, both are massively bloated....
      /tinfoil hat
  • The Open Document Format - ODF [wikipedia.org] was supposed to replace PDF anyway. Why not hasten the process and make a PDF to ODF converter? [ubuntuforums.org]

    The ODF Alliance [odfalliance.org] should be on that case to do a converter program to convert all document formats to ODF format.

    • by tepples (727027)

      The Open Document Format - ODF was supposed to replace PDF anyway.

      For one thing, can ODF embed fonts?

    • by Hucko (998827)

      ODF was to restrain the problem of data being held hostage in a proprietary format. The most recognised targets were .doc & .xls but not limited to them.

      Pdf is a different problem though. An earlier version has been a public standard (OSI? That one that Microsoft gamed with those single use countries... ;)

  • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:48PM (#27681119)
    Actually, what would also be a huge help (regardless of reader) would be to only use PDF where it was appropriate to do so -- namely, when the end user actually needs to print said document.

    I realize there's pretty much no point in saying this, as it seems that many designers -- especially in large organizations -- seem to give little thought to the end user, and the usability of their site. (inappropriate or unnecessary use of pdf, flash, javascript, popups (still!) etc )

    I'm tired of going to a site to find that in order to find out -- for example, where an event is going to take place -- that I have to download a 3 page pdf document, one that would have been so much easier and quicker and accessible as html on a webpage.

    I'm willing to bet that, at the very least, half of all pdfs created do not need to be pdfs in the first place.
    • by Hucko (998827)

      Isn't one of the 'features' of pdf that it is for document exchange? One of the talking points was that it "couldn't be changed" by the end viewer. Bollocks of course, but there aren't very many good native-pdf word processors.

      I believe they were designed to replace printouts unless a print version was actually needed, not be the printout vector themselves. The idea that end to end would look the same no matter what was used to view it. acroread, other pdf reader, or paper.

      Html attacks a similar problem, b

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:48PM (#27681129)

    Okular has no chance there. Not amongst regular Windows users at least.

    Step 1 - Go to PDFreaders.org [pdfreaders.org] - no issue
    Step 2 - Click on "Download" on the intersection between Okular and Windows - no issue
    Step 3 - Click "Download latest installer for immediate installation. - no issue
    Step 4 - Run the KDE installer - not so much an issue, as what it does is
    Step 5 - Click Next - "install from Internet" is the default setting, sounds reasonable
    Step 6 - Select a download server - "What the hell did I just download then?"
    Step 7 - Select an available release - Ehh? Whut?
    Step 8 - Select the package you want to install - Well, that's just fucked up. 140+ packages to choose from. They're sorted by package name ONLY, cannot sort by package notes.
    Step 9 - Look for something called Okular as package name. None found
    Step 10 - "Oh, well, maybe these are packages I want in addition to Okular. I mean, I downloaded the Okular installer, right?"
    Step 11 - Click Next
    Step 12 - Installation/Update finished
    Step 13 - Realise that NOTHING has been installed.
    Step 14 - Get annoyed
    Step 15 - Call tech support (realise this is a free program and there's noone to yell at)
    Step 16 - Download and run the installer again (because they forgot where they downloaded it to)
    Step 17 - Get to the package list and start reading very carefully
    Step 18 - Wonder why the hell the package list goes Czech, Kashubian, Welsh, Danish, German, Greek, English, Esperanto, Spanish, Estonian [spelling package]
    Step 19 - Realise there's still no Okular package anywhere
    Step 20 - Read the list for the 3rd time and note that "Graphics applications" has a note "(including Okular)"
    Step 21 - Wonder why the hell the download Okular link from before doesn't give you the fucking package to begin with
    Step 22 - Notice that you're now downloading 40 (forty!) packages from the servers
    Step 23 - Notice that one of these files are 60+ MB
    Step 24 - Wonder why they call Acrobat Reader bloated and slow when that installer is less than 25 MB and takes about 30 seconds to install, just by clicking Next until you're done.
    Step 25 - Notice that you now have a folder called "Programs" in your Start menu's program folder, which is aparently a sym-link to the program folder (doesn't point to itself though)
    Step 26 - Find the "KDE 4.22 Release" folder in Programs and notice these programs:

    • Help
    • Graphics\More Applications\KColorChooser (Color Chooser)
    • Graphics\More Applications\KRuler (Screen Ruler)
    • Graphics\Gwenview (Image Viewer)
    • Graphics\KolourPaint (Paint Program)
    • Graphics\Okular (Document Viewer)
    • Network\KNetAttach (Network Folder Wizard)

    Step 27 - Wonder once more why the hell people call Acrobat Reader bloated when this program installs with 5 extra programs.
    Step 28 - Start the bloody program!
    Step 29 - KConf_update.exe would like to run. So, Acrobat Reader running its updater - Bad! This - GOOD!
    Step 30 - TRY to put frustrations aside and use the program

    That installer REALLY needs some work.

    And if you are going to have a Windows program, be as kind as to have an actual uninstaller. NONE of the KDE programs installed are listed in (Add/Remove)Programs(and Features). No uninstallers in the start menu either. I realise a lot of vocal FOSS supporters don't like Windows, but please - if you're going to advocate FOSS, at least make it live up to the LOW standards of Windows software (the non-malicious part of that group).

    • by LiquidFire_HK (952632) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:49PM (#27681625)

      Well, to be fair, the KDE on Windows [kde.org] page does say, in bold,

      KDE on Windows is not in the final state, so applications can be unsuitable for day to day use yet.

      The installer is far from suitable for end-users as well. I'm not sure why the website would link to the KDE installer without any instructions (there is no installer specific to Okular, or any specific KDE program, yet).

      • I should also add that kconf_update doesn't do updating (in the sense of downloading software from the Internet), it just cleans up/modifies configuration files.

  • Foxit is unsuitable (Score:5, Informative)

    by GF678 (1453005) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:52PM (#27681151)

    This isn't FUD, this is based on my own experiences:

    I've found that the latest Foxit Reader is unable to show certain PDFs, in particular those created using the latest version of Adobe Acrobat. I created some PDFs in Acrobat 9 and when loaded into Foxit Reader 3.0, showed up entirely blank. The only way to view them was to put Adobe Reader on instead. So I did.

    I'm not sure why Foxit showed these PDFs entirely blank. Maybe Acrobat 9 has a new version of the PDF standard that's incompatable, I don't know. What I do know is it means that if I want to gurantee the viewing of PDF files, I pretty much require Adobe products, which isn't that bad if you're using Reader 9 (much faster than version 8).

    Possibly a vendor lock-in mechanism, but I'm tired of fighting. It's easier just to go with Adobe and get on with work.

    • by GF678 (1453005) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:55PM (#27681183)

      One more thing I forgot to mention - I switched from Acrobat to PDFCreator a while back. It's very good, and anything I render using PDFCreator works just fine with Foxit Reader. Also has the side benefit of being open source and an example of an actually GOOD open source product. Unfortunately this doesn't discount the fact that other people might use Acrobat to render THEIR PDFs, and I don't want to cut myself off from being able to view them.

  • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@alum.miPARISt.edu minus city> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:57PM (#27681697) Homepage

    This list [billposer.org] is more comprehensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I used to use Adobe's Linux Acrobat Reader; 4 was the first version I recall using. I loved that Adobe provided a Linux release, even if it wasn't open (I prefer open programs, but I won't cry if I don't get them). I kept upgrading as new versions were released, until, I think, 8 (maybe?) This version decided that it would install a bunch of shit into ~/.local, overriding KDE's PDF icons with its own that were out of place, and generally making a mess of itself. Cleaning up ~/.local didn't help, because

  • Needed feature (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:31PM (#27682361) Journal

    Since my profs and TAs seem to love Acrobat's "comments"(those stupid yellow icons that display on a mouseover), are there any on linux that will display them? I've had no luck with Evince or Okular on hardy.

    • by mu22le (766735)

      bump [sorry :(]

      I have exactly the same problem, I'd choose free software over closed source any time, but AFAIK there is no libre pdf reader that support reading (not to mention writing) comments, that's why I keep an old copy of acrobat 7 around (much faster and less bloated that newer versions)

      Does anyone know an alternative?

  • Tracker Software (Score:4, Informative)

    by eric2hill (33085) <eric@ijacBALDWINk.net minus author> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:20PM (#27682717) Homepage

    The free PDF Viewer from Tracker Software [docu-track.com] is a wonderfully fast PDF reader, and comes with annotation capability right out of the box. They are very developer friendly, and their PDF XChange printer drivers produce PDF's that are tighter and better optimized than Adobe themselves. Great company to work with, and a great free PDF viewer.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:46PM (#27682881)

    Adobe suggests ditching F-Secure for other anti-malware products.

    But that won't happen and people aren't going to switch PDF readers, until the security software itself starts identifying Acrobat installations as riskware and displaying dialog boxes alerting users to the security risk and what actions they need to take (what types of alternatives are available to use)..

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:38AM (#27683193) Homepage

    All I need is a PDF reader that will render correctly, won't create security problems, and will run on Win32. What's current thinking on this? The alternatives listed:

    • MuPDF Seems to be mostly a demo for a new graphics library.
    • Okular Does that even run on Windows? The table says yes, but the site says no.
    • Sumatra PDF Do I want to trust something that comes from "blog.kowalczyk.info"?
    • Yap Just a front end for GhostScript, which does a mediocre job on PostScript.

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