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FSFE Launches Free PDF Readers Campaign

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the prety-darn-fine dept.

GNU is Not Unix 198

FSFE Fellow writes "The Fellowship of the Free Software Foundation Europe is proud to announce its latest initiative: pdfreaders.org, a site providing information about PDF with links to Free Software PDF readers for all major operating systems. FSFE president Georg Greve says: 'Interoperability, competition and choice are primary benefits of Open Standards that translate into vendor-independence and better value for money for customers. Although many versions of PDF offer all these benefits for formatted text and documents, files in PDF formats typically come with information that users need to use a specific product. pdfreaders.org provides an alternative to highlight the strengths of PDF as an Open Standard.'"

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List in TFA seems to have it covered (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26703973)

...so is the Free PDF readers campaign over now?

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704017)

Many years ago, when I was a young boy, my mom would take my friends and I to the public swimming pool. Everybody got along fine and stayed cool during the summer -- well, except for that one uncool day when two uncool adult negroes got into a fight on the grassy knoll.

They were young adults, late-teens to early-twenties, but they were large and intimidating and they bellowed and roared like the dinosaurs in the movies do. In spite of this, nobody really knew a fight broke out until the smaller negro picked up a palm frond [earth-and-sea-art.com] to use as a weapon: every time the larger negro would close in for a hit, the smaller negro would whap him in the head with the palm frond. There were no masters here, it was just slave-on-slave whip-action! A palm frond is actually a slow and not particularly painful weapon, but each whappin' was enough to stun the larger negro so that he couldn't close in for a hit.

The cops took them both away minutes later. The larger negro was led out first. Halfway down the walkway he, cuffs-'n'-all, looked back at his adversary and yelled, "I'm'a kick yo muhfuggin' ass, ya day-yamn NIGGAH !"

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704579)

Very interesting and quite enlightening. Thanks for sharing!

On a related note, remember--February is Negro History Month. [resist.com]

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (3, Insightful)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704107)

...so is the Free PDF readers campaign over now?

I would think so, with all the FOSS ones like xPDF and (my favorite) PDF editor. Viewable GPL source code for a PDF reader (and as an added bonus, editor) to me sounds like the end of this campaign. They may not have all the functionality of Acrobat(TM), but they do most of it, contrast OO.o and MSO.

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704155)

Additionally all of the readers for Free Operating Systems should count as MacOSX readers as well. At the very least xpdf would work fine on OSX.

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (2, Insightful)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704203)

Sorry for the double post, but let me end with a shameless "what the O stands for in FOSS" plug - If you feel up to it, by all means contribute to these projects to fill in for any missing functionality between the FOSS readers/editors and Acrobat(TM). I personally have never used Acrobat(TM), as I always just export from Open Office (another prime example of FOSS PDF functionality), but for someone who may use it on a daily basis and have a decent enough knowledge of C coding/libraries could easily fill in the gaps for the casual user looking for a feature.

I know whenever I see a FOSS alternative missing a feature, I git clone the source, implement it, build (rinse, repeat) then upload it to the nightly build and if more people did that for projects they have a decent understanding of (like these PDF apps) as opposed to others unable to do so because of a lack of knowledge on the subject (like me in this case) then the FOSS world would turn even faster than it already is.

Just my two cents, eh?

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704809)

Yes, they are missing the automatic, no option or notification to the user, installation of Adobe AIR runtime (at least on Mac OS X). It seems they are doing it just to artificially boost install base, otherwise, almost nobody would install it...

You have to notice it was installed, then dig out the uninstaller to remove (which appeared to work, but who knows, as they don't exactly detail what gets installed where).

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (0, Troll)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704831)

Sounds like Antitrust to me, just look at the EU and Internet Exploiter being preinstalled! And this isn't even by the OS vendor, so all the more in violation I say!

Offtopic, your sig. (1)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704413)

Willing to swap Melbourne weather for any weather from the USA or Siberia.

Are you sure about that? A few days over 40, then back to lovely 30s isn't that bad. I prefer it to 11 straight days over 100f [msn.com] (with plenty over 40c). And certainly over a Siberian winter...

We're better off than Adelaide that's for sure.

Re:Offtopic, your sig. (1)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704699)

11 straight days over 100F? Hell, we can go 3 straight MONTHS over 100F. Talk to me when you see 11 straight days over 115F.

Re:Offtopic, your sig. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705125)

Yes I should change it.

Almost time to buy your ho some diamonds, douches. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704689)

You know you're all a bunch of giant douchebags, and you'd be lucky to be dating Rosie O'Donnell. Your only salvation to keep your fat cow from leaving you this year for your constant douchebaggery is to buy her some diamonds from Jared. Then maybe, MAYBE, you'll be able to get your feeble dick wet in her nasty cooch.

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704765)

What about a Free PDF writer for Windows?

Other than installing OpenOffice.org, I mean...

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704941)

Here [bullzip.com] you go, works as a simple printer. Easy to install, hassle free, and works in any program that has the print function. Enjoy.

Re:List in TFA seems to have it covered (1)

holloway (46404) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704947)

Inkscape [inkscape.org] has PDF editing [inkscape.org] support on all platforms.

Is this useful? (2, Insightful)

panoptical2 (1344319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704007)

Other proprietary alternatives to Adobe's PDF reader also exist, but like it, their internal working is a a trade secret and these programs do not respect your right to control your own privacy and data.

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform, and this site seems to be blatantly against it.
I just don't see the need to have a directory of PDF readers. It's easy enough to Google "open source PDF readers." There just aren't enough of them to justify a directory.

Re:Is this useful? (5, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704059)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform,

You have never had the "Check for updates?" dialog that Acrobat sometimes raises end up behind the browser, freezing Acrobat and the browser?

Or that it took as much time to load Acrobat from DOS on my 486 as on a modern system?

How about people thinking you need to pay to create PDFs?

Re:Is this useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704509)

I've never had an issue with Adobe Reader crashing on update, but Quicktime is horrid. Multiple versions on Windows XP all seem to crash whenever the auto-updated decides to turn on (which is the "check on startup.")

Catch-22 is that you can't start up the program to disable check on startup.

This means you have to totally uninstall and reinstall QT to get the latest version. I've tried QT Alternative, and I've also tried CCCP, but I get a bit of studder with my videos, even on a dual core computer.

Re:Is this useful? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704805)

Just use VLC [videolan.org] . It plays pretty much everything.

Is there another document format (0, Redundant)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704767)

That works exactly like PDF that is 100% Stallman approved F/OSS?

You can print PDF files out of Word with a free download. There are perl libraries, php libraries and c libraries to create pdf files.

There isn't anything Stallman Free(tm) in existence that does anything close to PDF. And by "close to" I mean has a GUI and is brain dead easy for print shops, design studios, web publishers, API writers and end users to install and use.

Re:Is this useful? (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704083)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform

Most of us have never had a problem with it...except that it required 335 megs of disk space on Windows. 1/3 gig just to read and print PDFs? The Linux install needs only 125 megs. Why?

I just don't see the need to have a directory of PDF readers.

Either will average Joe user unless the directory puts a two-page ad [mozilla.org] in the New York Times. The only people who will know about that page are the ones who already use a non-Adobe reader! For Windows I find that Foxit suits my needs and somehow I don't feel guilty about using a proprietary reader(I use the default readers on Linux).

But PDF readers are old news...The only new thing I learned from the site is that there's a -- holy shit! -- KDE on Windows [kde.org] project!

Re:Is this useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704711)

"The only new thing I learned from the site is that there's a -- holy shit! -- KDE on Windows [kde.org] project!"

Same thing here. The documentation on the three projects they list is...sadly lacking. None of the projects seems to have a screenshot, or anything close to a manual. (The KDE on Windows project doesn't even mention Ocular.)

This was actually an issue I came across the other day - anyone know of a FOSS reader that lets you fill in and save form fields like Acrobat Reader does (eg. on IRS tax forms)? (Or, even better, a utility to enable that function in a PDF file?) For example, I can create a form in Open Office, but I can't enable saving. Foxit seems to save form data, but it puts a "Evaluation Version" watermark on my file. I tried pdfedit under cygwin, but it seemed pretty broken.

I tried looking through the PDF specifications, but no luck. Anyone know what the trick is?

Re:Is this useful? (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704883)

Most of us have never had a problem with it...except that it required 335 megs of disk space on Windows.

I have a full install of Adobe Reader 7.0 and it takes up less than 80MB.

Perhaps you were thinking of Adobe Acrobat, which is the Adobe software for creating and editing PDF files.

Re:Is this useful? (2, Informative)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704997)

7 is pretty old in their release timeline...

I have a 200mb install of 9. There is no reason to have that big of a footprint for something that is meant to view PDFs.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704137)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform, and this site seems to be blatantly against it.

Uh-oh. You're going to evoke the Nerd Rage(tm) of all the rabid soldiers of the FOSS movement that inhabit /.

Watch out!

Re:Is this useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704259)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform, and this site seems to be blatantly against it.

The adobe reader is horribly bloated and slow. Historically there have been a few features it supported that free readers did not (e.g., form filling) but this set is becoming more and more marginal over time. The only reason I use acroread sometimes these days is the occasional dodgy pdf file (usually japanese) that only works with it.

The good free readers tend to be much faster, better integrated with the system, look better (use the same toolkit as other apps, instead of Adobe's wacky attempt), and also seem to do much better font-rendering in many cases (kind of odd given Adobe's long history in that area, but there you have it...).

Re:Is this useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704287)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform

It is my opinion, that Acrobat Reader on Windows, has become slow, bloated, and prone to lockups.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704369)

It is blatantly obvious to anyone with two braincells to rub together, that Acrobat Reader on Windows, has become slow, bloated, and prone to lockups.

Fixed that for you. I am guessing the GP is either running Acrobat Reader 5 (or earlier) or opens like 3 PDF's a year.

Re:Is this useful? (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704389)

i think it's funny that they don't respect adobes right to protect their data, such as the internal workings of their pdf reader. if you really are about freedom, you won't begrudge others choices like FOSS do.

Re:Is this useful? (4, Informative)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704443)

Oh?

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

PDF is an open standard that was officially published on July 1, 2008 by the ISO as ISO 32000-1:2008.

This isn't the same as DeCSS cracking CSS or OpenOffice cracking the .doc format.

Re:Is this useful? (2, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704469)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform, and this site seems to be blatantly against it.

The site is a directory of open-source pdf readers. AR isn't open source.

Even if you don't care about open source, there are serious problems with AR:

  1. It's too slow for me to be willing to use it as a browser plugin.
  2. By default, it will execute javascript that's embedded in pdf files. This is both a privacy (people can track readers) and a security issue. After the first buffer-overflow exploit was announced, I kept it on my system. After the second buffer-overflow exploit, I deleted it. (If you want somewhat more security, disable JS: go to Edit, Preferences, JavaScript, and uncheck "Enable Acrobat JavaScript".)

The main functionality that AR has that isn't available in competing open-source plugins is all functionality related to DRM. I get along fine with Evince.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704665)

The main thing I like about OS PDF readers is that in 50 years you will still be able to open PDF's with the OS reader or its descendants, Adobe is unlikely to still be around.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704959)

The main thing I like about OS PDF readers is that in 50 years you will still be able to open PDF's with the OS reader or its descendants, Adobe is unlikely to still be around.

I don't follow you. It's true that PDF is an open format that's been used for a huge number of documents all over the world, so I think it's extremely likely that people will still have easy ability to read PDF documents far into the future. But that's an argument in favor of PDF as an open standard, not an argument in favor of using a particular piece of software to read your PFDs. I have no idea what software people will be using to read PDFs in 2059. It may be open-source or proprietary, or it may be some people using one and some using the other, the same as today. It may be software written in the 2050's, or it may be old software running in an emulator that makes it think it's on an ancient x86 system.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705047)

If Adobe shuts the doors and there's no OS implementation then that means the format slowly dies and your chances of opening the file in the distant future are diminished, if there's an OS reader then you are basically assured you will always have a way to access the files. Sure with an open spec you should be able to open the file in the future if you want to code up something to view it, but I think the MS XML spec is a nice counterpoint, there is only one real implementation so far distant opening of those files is much less likely.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

Ifni (545998) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704789)

Acrobat works ok, I suppose. It is slow to load, but the thing that keeps me from using it is the updates.

  • I have to reboot my Windows box to update a document viewer? I can apply an entire Office service pack without rebooting, why do I have to reboot for Acrobat?
  • I don't need Yahoo or Google toolbar, or whatever they are pushing in the auto-updater nowadays. I don't want your crappy "free" image editor/viewer. Every time I update it, I have to carefully read each and every screen so they don't sneak in some crapware, then I have to reboot. It's unnecessarily annoying.

So I scrapped it, and have never looked back. Sumatra meets most my needs, though I do dip into Foxit if Sumatra has any rendering issues (very rare in my experience) or I need more advanced functionality.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705123)

Well, until today I've always installed Foxit on my Windows machines, wanting to have a PDF reader for the odd game manual or so but unwilling to use the attrocious and bloated Adobe Reader. Thanks to this article, however, I've found Sumatra PDF, freeing me from Foxit's ads and cluttered interface so count one convert already.

Perhaps you're right and there are too few F/OSS PDF readers to merit a specific listing of them, but maybe this would give incentive to F/OSS devs to create some more of 'em ;) besides, raising awareness of other PDF readers helps dispel the idea that Adobe Reader is the only PDF reader out there, which helps with the stupid, propietary extensions that some are using on top of the PDF format that can only be properly used with Adobe Reader.

Re:Is this useful? (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705377)

Personally, I've never had a problem with Adobe Reader on any platform

I've had awful problems with it in Windows, historically. Hangups, slow to load, annoying default settings, crashes... Since version 9 though, it has become much more usable. Just make sure you turn off the auto update if you don't like to get nagged. :)

free readers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704037)

How about a "Readers that don't crash and hang the browser every time" campaign?

What? No Foxit? (1, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704045)

What - no Foxit?

Most Windows users couldn't care less about using "shareware" software vs freeware. Evidence: WinRAR

The gaudy interfaces of most FOSS software(like Sumatra) will frighten most sheeple away. Windows users expect complete programs with lots of features, rather than simplistic single-purpose designs.

Okular looks good though - just different - but I'd still opt for Foxit for most people simply because of the presentation... it's good enough that nobody will question where Adobe Reader went.

Re:What? No Foxit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704145)

Dude, this is the FSF. They're not going to endorse shareware... they won't even endorse Debian.

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704157)

Yes, no Foxit because Foxit isn't Free-with-a-capital-F. The entire reason the website was created was so that people could use free readers.

For me, I've never had Sumatra ever properly read a PDF file. I use Foxit on windows myself, but would rather use a free reader if I had to.

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704309)

For me, I've never had Sumatra ever properly read a PDF file. I use Foxit on windows myself, but would rather use a free reader if I had to.

You too? I didn't want to mention it, as the tone of my post was already fairly negative.

I'm definitely going to look into Okular.

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

zonky (1153039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704683)

Okular does require KDE4. This may or may not be a dealbreaker.

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704163)

Foxit is not FOSS. The site is dedicated to FOSS. Foxit is, however, nice... too bad it isn't multi-platform.

Re:What? No Foxit? (3, Funny)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704359)

Linux and OSX seem to have decent free PDF readers. It's only Windows that is lacking.

But yes, it does have a nice interface and presentation.

Re:What? No Foxit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704655)

I don't think "gaudy" means what you seem to think.

gaudy [wiktionary.org] : Excessively showy or ornamented in a tasteless or vulgar manner.

That's like the opposite of "simplistic single-purpose design".

How would you set up Okular on Windows?? (1)

charlener (837709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704823)

While the .org site is nice and enticing, the footnote re: "May need add'l software" plus Okular's site being less than transparent about how to actually go about using it on Windows is a major barrier for, well, just about anyone who's non-techincal. Does anyone know of instructions somewhere re: how to set it up with Windows?

Re:How would you set up Okular on Windows?? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704907)

It probably comes with KDE4 for Windows [kde.org] .

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705121)

But sometimes not using FOSS (or open standard file formats) is just plain stupid.

Evidence: WinRAR. What if the company goes tits-up? Can you open your archives in five years (in 64 bit environment)? How about 30 years?

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705215)

Two problems: first, Foxit isn't Free Software, which I imagine is a huge problem for the Free Software Foundation Europe. And second, Foxit sucks, not only does it have *ads* (c'mon, even Opera took them out and they were far less annoying), but the interface is a cluttered, incoherent mess and the fact that I still used it until today is only a testament to how pathetically bad Adobe Reader is, not to any quality of Foxit.

Re:What? No Foxit? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705223)

The gaudy interfaces of most FOSS software(like Sumatra) will frighten most sheeple away

No, most people use Adobe because they don't know they have a choice and many stick with Adobe because rationalising the familiar is easy. For most people, they wouldn't notice if their adobe was replaced by Sumatra or Foxit, which I have recently abandoned for SumatraPDF due to a flashing ad banner, admittedly for foxit's paid product, I wouldn't have minded but if it didn't flash and distract me from what I am doing.

Re:What? No Foxit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26705357)

Side-note: I can't stand when I see my friends use WinRAR and mindlessly click past the "your 40 days are up" nag screen.

7zip opens just about every archive format, runs on most platforms, is open source (except for the RAR accessing function; discriminating users can install without that included), and is only a few megs.

Fix sites! (4, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704081)

Now if we could just get all websites to stop depending on the damn Acrobat Reader plugin. I kid you not- I have had to fight several sites we must use at work that, instead of just offering links to necessary PDF files, they check "to make sure you have the Acrobat Plugin installed" and pull some type of plugin call. Extremely annoying. Why not just point the damn link at the PDF file and let the browser decide how to handle it!!!!! Most of us *hate* the Acrobat Reader plugin, we don't WANT to have to look at a PDF file embedded into the web browser.... it is slower, less flexible, doesn't offer all the controls, often doesn't free memory after you close that "page", and doesn't allow us to use some other reader.

And if I had a dollar for every site that claims I *MUST* have Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to look at a damn PDF file, I would be rich.

Re:Fix sites! (1)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704761)

Now if we could just get all websites to stop depending on the damn Acrobat Reader plugin. I kid you not- I have had to fight several sites we must use at work that, instead of just offering links to necessary PDF files, they check "to make sure you have the Acrobat Plugin installed" and pull some type of plugin call. Extremely annoying.

That is terrible. I've never seen that before, and as you admit by "I kid you not" it isn't very common. It seems more like part of the "retarded webmasters" problem. I don't think that is a problem that we are ever likely to fix. We could try making it more difficult to write web pages, but that hasn't worked for C.

Most of us *hate* the Acrobat Reader plugin, we don't WANT to have to look at a PDF file embedded into the web browser.... it is slower, less flexible, doesn't offer all the controls, often doesn't free memory after you close that "page", and doesn't allow us to use some other reader.

I tried to use google to find a reference for the "adobe acrobat cringe" but could not. It is a phenomenon whereby a person will cringe after finding out that they accidentally clicked a pdf, and now have to wait 20 seconds for adobe to load.

And if I had a dollar for every site that claims I *MUST* have Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to look at a damn PDF file, I would be rich.

I've seen this. A lot. I would be rich too. It is a serious problem, and I think too many of us web viewers don't take the time to e-mail the webmasters, and inform them of their terrible mistake. It is too easy for us to just ignore it, and use our selected viewer.

Re:Fix sites! (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705453)

It is a phenomenon whereby a person will cringe after finding out that they accidentally clicked a pdf, and now have to wait 20 seconds for adobe to load.

There's a great variation on this: before double-clicking the PDF file you want to open, you hold down 'shift' to have it skip the useless plug-in loading, but you don't notice that another file in the directory was already highlighted - depending on the number of files in the directory, you are now waiting for several dozen instances of Acrobat to load (among other things).

The "adobe acrobat eye-stab" would be an appropriate name for this phenomenon.

Developer Laments: "What Killed FreeBSD" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704143)

The End of FreeBSD

[ed. note: in the following text, former FreeBSD developer Mike Smith gives his reasons for abandoning FreeBSD]

When I stood for election to the FreeBSD core team nearly two years ago, many of you will recall that it was after a long series of debates during which I maintained that too much organisation, too many rules and too much formality would be a bad thing for the project.

Today, as I read the latest discussions on the future of the FreeBSD project, I see the same problem; a few new faces and many of the old going over the same tired arguments and suggesting variations on the same worthless schemes. Frankly I'm sick of it.

FreeBSD used to be fun. It used to be about doing things the right way. It used to be something that you could sink your teeth into when the mundane chores of programming for a living got you down. It was something cool and exciting; a way to spend your spare time on an endeavour you loved that was at the same time wholesome and worthwhile.

It's not anymore. It's about bylaws and committees and reports and milestones, telling others what to do and doing what you're told. It's about who can rant the longest or shout the loudest or mislead the most people into a bloc in order to legitimise doing what they think is best. Individuals notwithstanding, the project as a whole has lost track of where it's going, and has instead become obsessed with process and mechanics.

So I'm leaving core. I don't want to feel like I should be "doing something" about a project that has lost interest in having something done for it. I don't have the energy to fight what has clearly become a losing battle; I have a life to live and a job to keep, and I won't achieve any of the goals I personally consider worthwhile if I remain obligated to care for the project.

Discussion

I'm sure that I've offended some people already; I'm sure that by the time I'm done here, I'll have offended more. If you feel a need to play to the crowd in your replies rather than make a sincere effort to address the problems I'm discussing here, please do us the courtesy of playing your politics openly.

From a technical perspective, the project faces a set of challenges that significantly outstrips our ability to deliver. Some of the resources that we need to address these challenges are tied up in the fruitless metadiscussions that have raged since we made the mistake of electing officers. Others have left in disgust, or been driven out by the culture of abuse and distraction that has grown up since then. More may well remain available to recruitment, but while the project is busy infighting our chances for successful outreach are sorely diminished.

There's no simple solution to this. For the project to move forward, one or the other of the warring philosophies must win out; either the project returns to its laid-back roots and gets on with the work, or it transforms into a super-organised engineering project and executes a brilliant plan to deliver what, ultimately, we all know we want.

Whatever path is chosen, whatever balance is struck, the choosing and the striking are the important parts. The current indecision and endless conflict are incompatible with any sort of progress.

Trying to dissect the above is far beyond the scope of any parting shot, no matter how distended. All I can really ask of you all is to let go of the minutiae for a moment and take a look at the big picture. What is the ultimate goal here? How can we get there with as little overhead as possible? How would you like to be treated by your fellow travellers?

Shouts

To the Slashdot "BSD is dying" crowd - big deal. Death is part of the cycle; take a look at your soft, pallid bodies and consider that right this very moment, parts of you are dying. See? It's not so bad.

To the bulk of the FreeBSD committerbase and the developer community at large - keep your eyes on the real goals. It's when you get distracted by the politickers that they sideline you. The tireless work that you perform keeping the system clean and building is what provides the platform for the obsessives and the prima donnas to have their moments in the sun. In the end, we need you all; in order to go forwards we must first avoid going backwards.

To the paranoid conspiracy theorists - yes, I work for Apple too. No, my resignation wasn't on Steve's direct orders, or in any way related to work I'm doing, may do, may not do, or indeed what was in the tea I had at lunchtime today. It's about real problems that the project faces, real problems that the project has brought upon itself. You can't escape them by inventing excuses about outside influence, the problem stems from within.

To the politically obsessed - give it a break, if you can. No, the project isn't a lemonade stand anymore, but it's not a world-spanning corporate juggernaut either and some of the more grandiose visions going around are in need of a solid dose of reality. Keep it simple, stupid.

To the grandstanders, the prima donnas, and anyone that thinks that they can hold the project to ransom for their own agenda - give it a break, if you can. When the current core were elected, we took a conscious stand against vigorous sanctions, and some of you have exploited that. A new core is going to have to decide whether to repeat this mistake or get tough. I hope they learn from our errors.

Future

I started work on FreeBSD because it was fun. If I'm going to continue, it has to be fun again. There are things I still feel obligated to do, and with any luck I'll find the time to meet those obligations.

However I don't feel an obligation to get involved in the political mess the project is in right now. I tried, I burnt out. I don't feel that my efforts were worthwhile. So I won't be standing for election, I won't be shouting from the sidelines, and I probably won't vote in the next round of ballots.

You could say I'm packing up my toys. I'm not going home just yet, but I'm not going to play unless you can work out how to make the project somewhere fun to be again.

= Mike

--

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -- Theodore Roosevelt

Highlight security instead (4, Interesting)

spazimodo (97579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704175)

Pretty much every virus infected PC I've seen in the past few months was originally infected via the magnificence that is Acrobat Reader (and most of the remainder were infected by the meth-using-crack-whore that is the Sun JRE)

The time is right to go after Acrobat. After explaining to someone that the virus that just trashed their PC (or office's PCs) came in by way of a hidden PDF in an infected web page, not only are they OK with removing the Acrobat browser plugins, but they're often open to getting Acrobat off the machine entirely.

Given the rash of shit that Microsoft has (rightfully) received over the years for browser exploits, it's time to hold Adobe and Sun accountable for their dangerously insecure products. Both companies patch management is terrible. Neither provide any decent support for sysadmins to push out updates ("uh, try to find the MSI that the installer drops and then, you know, push it out with something. I think you can do it with Group Policies!" is about as far as they go) For Java it's been easy to say "just get rid of it" since for 99% of people it's unnecessary, but Acrobat and Acrobat Reader have been more of a challenge. Perhaps highlighting how insecure Acrobat is will help move the effort to replace it along.

Re:Highlight security instead (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704247)

But I periodically come across oddities in FoxIt. My favorite was the one time I went to print, and all of the pictures came out inverted. Its really hard to read a table that's upside down...

Re:Highlight security instead (2, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704515)

Pretty much every virus infected PC I've seen in the past few months was originally infected via the magnificence that is Acrobat Reader ... by way of a hidden PDF in an infected web page.

That's spot-on. I'm like much of the Slashdot crowd (or so I suppose): using the Internet since well before the turn of the millenium, tried all kinds of OSs, a bit of a hardware geek, etc. Yet I was casually surfing along with my work laptop (yay, with McAfee Enterprise)on some humor/satire related website when everything in my browser froze up. The moment the browser recovered, I was told there was an error in acrobat.exe; the next three minutes were a blur of virus/trojans/backdoor alerts from McAfee. I unplugged the ether and shut it down. In the end it was easier to nuke the HDD than to attempt any kind of recovery whatsoever.

Re:Highlight security instead (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704551)

I have to call bullshit on this...
"Pretty much every virus infected PC I've seen in the past few months was originally infected via the magnificence that is Acrobat Reader"

Please do explain how you determined it was the PDF viewer...

I've never seen a PC infected by Acrobat Reader. I have seen dumb-asses that download a lot of "free" software that invested the systems, wiped data, FUCKED UP THE USERS LIFE...but have never seen Adobe release any reader that can infect apc by viewing a PDF. For that matter, did the PC have any, ANY protection on it at all????

(I have in excess of twenty years in IT, and currently I do forensics...I do have a clue, so please explain the method you used to make such a claim)

Re:Highlight security instead (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704701)

Agreed, this is either pure FUD, or the poster was running a way-obsolete version of Acrobat Reader.

Acrobat Reader is a piece of junk, but it's not a major vector for malware.

Re:Highlight security instead (1)

spazimodo (97579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705053)

Here's an example of one I came across recently: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r21704795-Browser-Redirect-to-7770-interesting [dslreports.com]

Also at the time I'm writing this, there are at least three PDF droppers listed here: http://www.techzoom.net/security-radar/latest-virus.en [techzoom.net]

Generally tracking things back to the original infection vector is fairly straight forward if it happened recently - there's usually cruft all over the system that wasn't there prior to the infection, and log file entries or application crash memory dumps correlate to the time things started getting hinkie. Often it's as easy as loading up the browser history in IEHV and seeing what the user did (google search for some topic, the 3rd URL down points to http://ssladjfkfj.fjdskjff.cn/ [fjdskjff.cn] and if you're quick enough and the site is still up you can usually grab a copy to see exactly what the page is doing.)

Acrobat Reader that hasn't been upgraded to 8.1.3 (I'm not sure if there are patches for 7) is vulnerable. There are lots of PCs out there with an older version of Acrobat, especially since many people disabled the update notifications after getting sick of being prompted to install Photoshop Elements (or whatever else Adobe was pimping) over and over.

Re:Highlight security instead (3, Insightful)

Bryan-10021 (223345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704609)

Pretty much every virus infected PC I've seen in the past few months was originally infected via the magnificence that is Acrobat Reader (and most of the remainder were infected by the meth-using-crack-whore that is the Sun JRE)

The time is right to go after Acrobat. After explaining to someone that the virus that just trashed their PC (or office's PCs) came in by way of a hidden PDF in an infected web page, not only are they OK with removing the Acrobat browser plugins, but they're often open to getting Acrobat off the machine entirely.

Given the rash of shit that Microsoft has (rightfully) received over the years for browser exploits, it's time to hold Adobe and Sun accountable for their dangerously insecure products. Both companies patch management is terrible. Neither provide any decent support for sysadmins to push out updates ("uh, try to find the MSI that the installer drops and then, you know, push it out with something. I think you can do it with Group Policies!" is about as far as they go) For Java it's been easy to say "just get rid of it" since for 99% of people it's unnecessary, but Acrobat and Acrobat Reader have been more of a challenge. Perhaps highlighting how insecure Acrobat is will help move the effort to replace it along.

What version of Sun JRE was running? I haven't heard of any viruses with Sun Java in years.

So what did Adobe and Sun say when you reported the problem??

Re:Highlight security instead (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704741)

Um, Adobe not only gets you a way to get to the MSI, but it actually creates a customization file for you. That solution is called Adobe Customization Wizard 9 [adobe.com] . Sun JRE has been a bit more of a pain in the rear, especially when it comes to making sure ONLY the version(s) you want are installed and registered.

Re:Highlight security instead (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704759)

>> it's time to hold Adobe and Sun accountable for their dangerously insecure products
>> Neither provide any decent support for sysadmins to push out updates

Correct. It's stupid that the JRE tries to autoupdate by default on startup, annoying users that just use it for executing some REAL application... In the other side, the last week I tried to use the Adobe flash 10 plugin inside an intranet (without internet access, by first installing the last plugin .EXE) and IE simply crashed on the first page with a flash reference, apparently because the plugin tries to connect to somewhere (I suppose adobe.com for autoupdates) and trashes everything. The solution was some "special" version of flash 9 that a friend had by chance.

Re:Highlight security instead (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705281)

Pretty much every virus infected PC I've seen in the past few months was originally infected via the magnificence that is Acrobat Reader (and most of the remainder were infected by the meth-using-crack-whore that is the Sun JRE)

Really?

Because stupid users are still at the top of my list. If you want to count technological infection vectors then for the last month 1. Windows RPC vulnerability (MS08-67), mostly on home PC's that weren't patched. 2. IE, drive by infections are common, falls victim to virus that other browsers would ignore. 3. Outlook, not that dangerous on its own but when a user without less then 2 brain cells to rub together clicks on "BritneyNaked.jpg.exe" it tends to cause a lot of problems.

It would be nice (1)

Renegade Iconoclast (1415775) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704209)

I've often felt like writing a PDF viewer myself, not because I'm at all interested in the problem, but to see how many updates I'd have to release to get it to work. It's that part of the puzzle that intrigues me the most. I figure I could do it in under a thousand, give or take 990.

Re:It would be nice (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704631)

What I'd LOVE to see is a F/OSS or even proprietary PDF reader/writer (complete with forms) in under the massive 335mb or 100mb options mentioned above.

Why the bloody hell are these programs so dammed huge?!

That is about a penny of disk space. (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704739)

Disk space is dirt cheap. That is less than a penny of disk space. Looking over my Reader directory, there is about 32 megs of localization resources. 2 megs of fonts. 40 megs of plugins. 102 megs of setup files so you can repair/change the installation. The actual core binaries seem to be under 5 megs.

There is probably a good reason these are so large anyway--developer time is vastly more expensive than disk space and PDF is a pretty complex beast.

Is it really worth spending months to create more brittle, less readable yet highly optimized code so you can save a penny of disk space?

Re:That is about a penny of disk space. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26705429)

Network bandwidth, however, isn't so cheap. A few hundred MB is more than I usually download in a day.

All FOSS PDF Viewers are Outdated (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704303)

As someone who really loves to play around with LaTeX, it really irritates me when features in my document can't be seen and tested in anything other than Adobe. There are so many neat things out there (like PDF javascript) but they're just not implemented... It's sad...

Re:All FOSS PDF Viewers are Outdated (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704669)

Why the flying fuck would you want to put javascript in a PDF!?! I personally consider it a feature that my PDF viewer does not support such absurdities.

IRS tax forms (2, Interesting)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704821)

That is the first that comes to mind. Validation on forms. See also: Your IRS 1040

Re:IRS tax forms (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705083)

The last place I want to be doing my 1040 is on a PDF with Javascript validation...

Re:All FOSS PDF Viewers are Outdated (1)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705243)

There are so many neat things out there (like PDF javascript)

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Web Applications Instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704371)

Why settle for something you have to install? Sure, FOSS is nice, but there are some great free online web applications for viewing PDF files out there:

PDFescape (a PDF viewer and editor / form filler)
http://www.pdfescape.com

Zoho Viewer (a PDF viewer)
http://viewer.zoho.com/

Google Docs (a PDF viewer is built in now)
http://docs.google.com/

Online webware really is the future for most applications, and the above examples really highlight how well PDF files can be viewed in an online app.

Why all the buzz? (3, Informative)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704385)

It's a PDF reader, I know acrobat is crummy but honestly. This seem a bit silly. I use foxit and I'm happy with it. FOSS or not I just need to read the file nothing more.

Try using DJVU (4, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704411)

I much prefer the format for all my electronic documents. [wikipedia.org]

It often produces much smaller compressed files (typically about half the size of a PDF), and there are open source viewers for many platforms. It has plenty of support for annotations, OCR, internal links etc just like PDF, and you can extract the parts and structure of a Djvu document in XML with command line tools and modify them easily.

It's also very easy to cut a Djvu document into individual pages, which lets you publish big documents on websites so that users only need to download the actual pages that they are interested in reading (eg if they want to preview the file without downloading the whole thing). This saves bandwidth, user waiting time, etc.

Last but not least, the Djview viewer renders pages much faster than Acrobat or Xpdf in my experience - so much faster that I regularly get annoyed at the sloness of flipping pages in PDF format. The first thing I do with any paper in PDF format is to convert it using pdf2djvu.

Re:Try using DJVU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26705173)

Yeah, good luck reading DjVu files in 50 years.

PDF Reader on Mac OS X? (3, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704445)

Unless you haven't used a (somewhat recent) Mac recently, you'd know that you don't need a PDF reader on Mac OS X. The OS itself can open, print and print to PDF directly.

On OS X 10.5, if I press [Space] while I have a PDF document selected in Finder it displays it nearly instantly.

So unless I'm missing something obvious, installing a PDF reader on Mac OS X seems pointless to me.

Re:PDF Reader on Mac OS X? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704645)

I love the ability to Quick Look PDFs and Preview does work just fine as a PDF reader... and yet I usually use Skim for my PDF reading needs. Why? Because I read academic papers constantly (at least one, usually more a day). The ability to easily highlight the text while I read is essential and Preview just isn't good enough. The highlighter is a tool rather than an operation and highlighting can be selected and removed. After a single page, the difference will be obvious...

Re:PDF Reader on Mac OS X? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704749)

I did my taxes today on my Mac. Filled my 1040 in Preview. Worked great. Saved and everything. Until I entered my bank info. It seems that the 1040 uses some text spacing feature that Preview doesn't support.

So . . . I fired up Acrobat and re-did the whole thing. (Acrobat couldn't save the PDF once it was edited in Preview. Once I figure out the labyrinthine Apple bug reporting system I'll report both of these problems.)

Right or wrong, people only check their documents with Acrobat. It is the de facto reference implementation.

-Peter

Re:PDF Reader on Mac OS X? (1)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704771)

I read a lot of PDF files on my Mac and work and it has been my experience that the "native" PDF plugin (which really isn't, in older versions of the OS it was called the "SchubertIT" plugin) is inferior to Acrobat's reader (I believe I am using version 7-8, not at work so can't check.) Also using X 10.4 so maybe it's better in 10.5.

On my iMac (one of the last PowerPC models shipped) the Adobe version is faster, renders text and documents more accurately and more quickly, and is more accurate when selecting text.

I'm not a fanboi or anything, and would be interested in a Mac PDF reader that's better than either of the above options.

FOSS FUD? (4, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704573)

Other proprietary alternatives to Adobe's PDF reader also exist, but like it, their internal working is a a trade secret and these programs do not respect your right to control your own privacy and data.

A tad melodramatic, isn't it? Ooh, scary secret internal workings... I don't think this is going to increase adoption rates of FOSS PDF readers one bit, and for one simple reason.

No one cares. Sure, maybe a few people do, but the VAST majority of people really couldn't care less if their PDF reader is free as in speech, so long as its free as in beer. They're gonna google "free pdf reader", find Adobe's and use that. Or, if they really don't like Adobe (who could blame them?), they'll see Foxit next on the list, and use that.

If you want to get people to switch, you need your product to be substantially superior in terms of features, not philosophy. Packaging it with something people already have would also be a good method. If there was a PDF reader good enough to be packaged with OOo, that'd be a start.

*Yeah, I know I'll probably get modded down for daring to use FOSS and FUD in the same breath, but come on! That description was so over the top*

Re:FOSS FUD? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704945)

I noticed one interesting thing from the wikipedia article on Sumatra PDF [wikipedia.org] :

Sumatra 0.5 and earlier versions can print PDFs that have disallowed printing. This feature has been removed from the newer versions.

This sounds like a step backwards. Why would I want my PDF reader to refuse to print something for me? At least the source code is available - hopefully someone will fork it to fix this bug.

Re:FOSS FUD? (3, Interesting)

solferino (100959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705069)

See Spazimodo's comment above for the security risks involved in using Adobe's proprietary comment.

The argument you're making - that ppl will switch for pragmatic rather than philosophical reasons - is an old one. The free software community will counter with the argument that their philosophical reasons are entirely pragmatic. Ours is simply more long term pragmatic thinking. The benefits of the founding of the Free Software Foundation 25 years ago are increasingly showing manifest benefits today. Why do you have an issue with people expressing broader and longer term thinking?

Re:FOSS FUD? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705327)

And how many people do you think will bother reading the entire website instead of just the column labeled "Windows"? If you're the type that reads the entire website instead of going straight to the "Download" link, you're the type that needs to know the practical problems of using propietary software but for most people you could probably put "I love child porn!" in there and it wouldn't affect the downloads one bit.

okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26704577)

Wake me up when you have a free open source replacement for adobe flash.

Re:okay (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704663)

There are a few. They're just all several version out of date feature-wise and crash-prone as hell, AFAIK. (e.g. Gnash.)

Re:okay (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704793)

Then they aren't "replacements", are they?

"Replacement" implies that it fits the same bill.

Re:okay (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704797)

odd it posted as AC.

Who cares about readers? How about editors? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704703)

We've had free (and Free) PDF readers covered for years.

But what about PDF editors? And I don't mean things like OpenOffice that can output its native format into PDF outputs (but can't open the PDFs and edit them) or any similar program on Mac OS X able to print anything to PDF. I mean something that can open and edit a PDF file generated by some other tool where you don't have the original source (or there is none in the case of a scanner scanning to PDF). I mean Adobe Acrobat replacements. Not Acrobat Reader replacements.

Where is that?

Re:Who cares about readers? How about editors? (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704799)

OO 3.0 actually can import PDFs. It's the only reason I have it installed on my machine.

Re:Who cares about readers? How about editors? (1)

patrickthbold (1351131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705161)

You could just do pdf2ps, then edit the postscript with your favorite text editor and then use ps2pdf.

Re:Who cares about readers? How about editors? (2, Insightful)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26705249)

This is exactly what users don't want ! Sure I could do it (and have, and it's a major pain in my ass), but boss man sure as hell isn't going to start messing around with hand-editing ps files (on command the line, no less !), and neither is any non-programmer/sysadmin in the company.

FOSS needs to offer at the very least parity with closed source in terms of usability if it's going to get anywhere. Firefox didn't get to where it's at by simply being libre, it got there by offering a better user experience - same as Ubuntu.

Meh... (1)

Keyper7 (1160079) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704705)

I download Adobe Reader for Linux because some documents can only be seen like they were meant to be seen in it. But I avoid using the .tar.gz installer script: I usually download the .deb, unpack it manually instead of installing it and copy the folder to the /opt limbo. Then I use it only when I really really need it. I don't even bother in creating a link to the binary in /usr/local/bin or something. I keep it hard to use.

Why? Not because it's proprietary, not because I'm a FOSS zealot. Just because it's a bloated piece of crap that offers very little in exchange for a ridiculous loading time and a very intrusive installer that puts icons everywhere, creates dozens of new mimetype associations without saying it and copies its mozilla plugin to three different folders.

Regarding "Check for updates" in Adobe Reader (4, Informative)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704713)

Whenever the Adobe Reader (or Acrobat Pro for that matter) is brought into a Slashdot discussion, people invaribaly mention the fact that it insists on checking for updates, which is completely true. It's a pain, and some people also use it as an example of what they hate about Windows.

However, what I'm more surprised about is that a bunch of geeks aren't capable of exploring the options of the update applet:

* Run Adobe Reader/Acrobat Pro, click Help menu -> Check for updates...
* Let it perform a scan, then regardless of whether it found anything to update or not, click Preferences when it appears, and uncheck the "Automatically check for Adobe updates" checkbox.
* Click OK, let it scan again for some reason, then hit Quit. Now it will never bother you again.

Now of course, the default should be for updates to NOT be automatically installed. If necessary it should perform scans by default, but have the update notification unobtrusive, like a little icon in the main GUI for example.

Anyway, I provide these instructions because even though we're supposedly a site full of high-intellect individuals, I continually see this complaint and wonder why people can't just try to solve the problem themselves, either through poking with the options like every geek should (it's fun to explore stuff, isn't it?), or simply Googling for an answer.

Re:Regarding "Check for updates" in Adobe Reader (1)

hplus (1310833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704833)

Maybe this has changed in the last few years, but back when I used Windows, Acrobat would not respect the choice not to automatically search for updates. That is what bothered me about the program, more than anything else.

failed campaign for windows (1)

enter to exit (1049190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26704901)

to install Okular you need to install the KDE environment

to install yap you have to compile the code.

and sumatra just fail in terms of resource management (70meg to open a document that says "test 123")

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