Since I’ve switched to Linux several months ago, I’ve had to deal quite a lot with PDF documents. PDF’s are an essential part of the job as a PhD student, and one needs to manipulate them quite a lot – merging, splitting, turning and resizing. In a previous post I’ve mentioned some of the applications I am using. However, since then new needs have emerged and its time for the nerd update. Here’s the review of the tools I’m using in my daily PDF operations:
- Viewing – I have all but abandoned PDF-Xchange viewer. Good old Adobe reader is just much more compatible with the printers at the university, even though the connection still has some bugs I’m too lazy to work out.
- Editing – I usually do not use editing in PDF. But when I do, I find Okular the most straightforward tool for this.
- Splitting and merging – I used PdfMod and PDF-Shuffler to split and merge PDF documents, but I’ve had some difficulties figuring out how to force the order of the pages when merging and splitting. PDFSAM allows the user to choose exactly the order of documents when merging and the interface is much more to my liking. However, PdfMod is still the one I use to rotate pages.
- Bookmarking – when merging PDF’s, the bookmarks do not always merge in a consistent way. JPdfBookmarks allows to edit or create bookmarks, including dumps and uploads of complete sets of bookmarks. Very useful!
- Online tools – of course all these operations on PDF documents, including resizing, merging, converting and compressing can be done online. The downside is the limit on the document size you can upload/generate, but in everyday use its usually not a problem at all.
Since I’ve started a new job as a PhD student, I am doing my best to become a proper nerd. I have switched from Windows to Ubuntu, and I have been testing many software applications under Ubuntu to find alternatives to what I’ve been used to. Here’s a list of what I am currently using for which purpose. I try to stick to open source software. If you click on the link, it will open in a new window/tab. So far I am very happy with my choices.
- FreeFileSync – syncronizing data between computers. Simple and robust tool.
- Krusader – file management made easy!
- Mendeley – managing, sharing and indexing research papers. Makes referencing a joy. And you can share papers with your group online as well.
- JabRef – reference manager integrated with Mendeley.
- digiKam – photo management. i used to miss the Windows Live Photo Gallery. But now I’ve dicovered that digiKam offers the same and much more so who needs Windows?
- Firefox – web browsing. Works fine. Epiphany or Chrome are an alternative, but Firefox works fine for me so why switch?
- Thunderbird – Email client that I find way nicer than Outlook.
- Lightning – calendar extension of Thunderbird. Syncronized via Dropbox!
- Libre Office – document production and data processing, faster than Microsoft Office and completely free. I usually make my documents in Lyx, a document processor that is LaTeX integrated.
- PDF-Xchange viewer – PDF viewer and editor. The newest Adobe Reader X is unfortunately unavailable (yet) under Linux. Unfortunately because no other PDF viewer/editor I’ve tested, and I tried most of them, offers the same level of sophistication in a user-friendly interface. PDF-Xchange works OK, but it has to be installed in Wine, so its an ad-hoc measure. Printing from PDF-Xchange viewer does not work properly, perhaps due to the Wine layer between the program and Ubuntu. I guess it could have been set straight, but I just use Adobe Reader for printing jobs.
- Sciplore – a mind mapping tool based on FreeMind. It is supposed to be fully integrated with Mendeley via JabRef but its not working properly yet. Hope they will fix it soon. In the meantime Sciplore is my “workhorse” for keeping all my information together. Notes, links, people, ideas – all organized in one big mind map.
- Getting Things Gnome – simple and efficient task manager.
- PdfMod and PDF-Shuffler – simple applications for modifying PDF documents – reorder, rotate, and remove pages etc. They are both doing the same job, so I just keep both.