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FOSS Academic

PDF Hell

Why in the year 2021 is it hard to edit PDFs in Linux?

An image of a PDF of the musical notation to AC/DC's Highway to Hell.
This is an image of a PDF of sheet music for AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." Please enjoy the music, but don't ask me to edit the PDF.

Please don’t tell me to use Okular.

Please don’t tell me to use LaTex.

I’m barely keeping things together using Atril and pdfunite in the command line.

I popped over to It’s FOSS to see their list of top applications. When your list starts with LibreOffice Draw… I don’t know what to say. It gets worse from there, going to a bunch of commercial, proprietary solutions.

I now work for an organization that makes heavy use of PDF forms. I lament the lost hours.

Printing and scanning seems like the most efficient thing to do.

At this point, feel free to tell me to switch to Windows.

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No need to be timid, Kirk!

I honestly can’t really say. It might be that Okular doesn’t work well on non-KDE distros. I always found it clunky and haven’t observed improvements in it over the years. Is it time for me to take another look?

I have made good experience with Qoppa PDF Studio (https://www.qoppa.com/pdfstudio/). Although it is not FOSS, the developers react quickly and provide comprehensive feed-back. There are academic licenses: https://kbpdfstudio.qoppa.com/student-education-and-non-profit-discount/ It replaces Adobe Acrobat Professional in almost all aspects, I even like the UX better in PDF Studio