PDF or Portable Document Format is mostly our first choice when it comes to printing, sharing and emailing documents, especially the larger ones. For Windows and MacOS, you might be very much familiar, and also dependent, on the widely used Acrobat products for pdf viewing and editing. Unfortunately, there is no default pdf editor available on your Linux systems. You can, however, install Acrobat products through Wine on Ubuntu, or else use a wide range of other available Linux-supporting pdf viewing and editing tools. Although these products are nothing as compared to the wide range of useful Acrobat tools, they can still help you with basic pdf editing.

Here is a list of products we have researched and then came up with a few easily available and free ones that can serve your purpose:

  • LibreOffice Draw (free and available by default on most Linux distros)
  • Inkscape (Free, available on the snap store)
  • Qoppa PDF Studio (Non-free, free trial available)
  • Master PDF Editor (Non-free, a basic free version available)
  • Okular (free)
  • Scribus (free)
  • PDF Escape (online, browser-based and free)
  • Gimp (Free)
  • Foxit Editor (Non-free, free trial version available)

In this article, we will explain where to find the free ones from and how to download them on your system for simple pdf editing.

We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Ubuntu 18.04 LTS system.

Method 1: Edit PDF Files with LibreOffice Draw

If you are looking for basic pdf editing functions such as editing of text, LibreOffice Draw is the right tool for you. It is part of the LibreOffice package and is mostly available by default in most Linux distros. If your system lacks it, you can easily install it from the Ubuntu Software Manager:

Open LibreOffice Draw

In order to edit a pdf file, launch LibreOffice Draw from the system Dash as follows:

Launch application

Then open the pdf file you want to edit from the File menu:

Open the PDF file

Then, make the alterations to your file; I have added some random text to my Dummy PDF file:

Opened PDF file

You then need to export the edited file to pdf by using the following icon:

Export PDF

This will save the output as a pdf file.

Save file

If you get an input/output error while exporting the file, you can save the file by some other name. When you close the file, you do not need to Save the file when you get the following message:

Save changes

Click the Don’t Save button and your file will be saved as a pdf file only.

Method 2: Edit PDF files with PDF Editor

A very simple tool for PDF editing is the good old PDF Editor.

You can install it through the following method:

Open your Ubuntu command line, the Terminal, either through the system Dash or the Ctrl+alt+T shortcut.

Then enter the following commands as sudo as only an authorized user can add/remove and configure software on Ubuntu:

$ cd /tmp
$ wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/main/l/lcms/liblcms1_1.19.dfsg-1ubuntu3_amd64.deb
$ wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/main/libm/libmng/libmng1_1.0.10-3_amd64.deb
$ wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/main/libp/libpng/libpng12-0_1.2.54-1ubuntu1_amd64.deb
$ wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/main/q/qt-x11-free/libqt3-mt_3.3.8-b-8ubuntu3_amd64.deb
$ wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/universe/p/pdfedit/pdfedit_0.4.5-2_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i *.deb

Install PDFedit

You can clean up the created folder as follows:

$ rm *.deb

You can then launch the pdf Editor from the Dash search as follows:

Launch PDFEdit

Open your pdf file in the tool and edit it accordingly as follows:

Linux PDF Editor

Simply saving the file will save it as a pdf file.

If you uninstall the tool, you can do so by running the following command:

$ sudo apt autoremove liblcms1 libmng1 libpng12-0 libqt3-mt pdfedit

Remove PDFEdit

Method 3: Edit PDF Files with Inkscape

Inkscape is an illustration editor which has everything needed to create professional-quality computer art. You can use it to make diagrams and illustrations, technical drawings, web graphics, clip art, and icons and logos. A collection of hands-on tutorials show you how to combine lines, shapes, and text of different types and styles to build up a picture. You can use this tool to edit your pdf files as follows:

Install it from the snap store or the Ubuntu-bionic-universe repository, both through Ubuntu Software Manager or the command line.

Install Inkscape

You can enter the following commands in your Terminal in order to install the tool:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:inkscape.dev/stable
$ sudo apt update

and then,

$ sudo apt install inkscape

Launch the tool either through the command line or the system Dash and open your file in Inkscape:

Launch Inkscape

It provides rich functionality to edit your pdf files. After that save the file as pdf with customizable settings.

If you want, you can remove the software from your system as follows:

$ sudo apt-get remove inkscape

Method 4: Edit PDF Files with GIMP

GIMP is an advanced picture editor. You can use it to edit, enhance, and retouch photos and scans, create drawings, and make your own images. It has a large collection of professional-level editing tools and filters, similar to the ones you might find in Photoshop.

GIMP can be installed through the Ubuntu Software Manager from the ubuntu-bionic-universe repository or through the Snap Store.

You can also run the following command as sudo in order to install the software through the Ubuntu command line, the Terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install gimp

Install GIMP

The system might prompt you with a y/n option to confirm installation. Please enter Y and hit Enter after which the software will be installed on your system.

You can launch the software through the command line by entering the following command:

$ gimp

Or, through the system Dash as follows:

Launch GIMP GNU Image Manipulation Program

In order to edit your pdf file, open the file in GIMP as follows as use it’s rich Toolbox-tool options in order to edit your file.

GIMP started

If you wish to remove the software, you can do so through the Ubuntu Software manager or by using the following command in the Terminal:

$ sudo apt-get remove gimp

Method 5: Using PDF Escape to edit PDF Files Online

PDF Escape is a browser-based pdf editor that you can use directly from the following website:


Simply add the file to the website through the Browse button or just drag the file to the “drop here” section.

PDF Escape

Then Click on the Save and Download icon from the left toolbar in order to save the edited file back to your system.

These were some tools that you can easily install and use to edit your pdf files. When there are such free applications available, and they serve your purpose well, why go for the costly ones!

5 Ways to Edit PDF files in Ubuntu

Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn