Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Viewing PDF Files on Terminal

First you need to convert a PDF document to HTML, then you run it through the elinks pager. There's a fine utility for doing just that, and it's called (appropriately) pdftohtml. You can find the home page for pdftohtml. If pdftohtml isn't already installed in your distribution of Linux, or isn't on your CD set, it's commonly available for Debian and RPM-based distributions, such as Fedora, SUSE, and more. The elinks program is also easily available if it isn't automatically installed in your distribution.
For example, you can install pdftohtml and elinks in Debian Linux with this command:
# apt-get install pdftohtml elinks

Users of the yum package can get the RPM version with this command:
# yum -y install pdftohtml elinks

Now you can view a PDF document with the following command. This particular command has one drawback. The output will not include frames (PDF files generally have a frame on the left that lets you jump to different pages).

$ pdftohtml -q -noframes -stdout document .pdf | elinks

If you want the left frame of page numbers, you can always use the following command instead:

$ pdftohtml -q document .pdf ; elinks document .html

You can write a script to save you all this typing each time you view a document. Use sudo or log in as root to create the /usr/local/bin/viewpdf script and enter the following code:


pdftohtml -q $1 ~/temp.html
elinks ~/temp.html

#end of script

This code assumes it's OK to store the temporary HTML file in your home directory. You can use another location if you prefer. Now save your work and make the file executable:

$ sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/viewpdf

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