With all the Internet attacks that exploit Adobe Acrobat Reader people should switch to using an alternative PDF reader, a security expert said at the RSA security conference on Tuesday.

Of the targeted attacks so far this year, more than 47 percent of them exploit holes in Acrobat Reader while six vulnerabilities have been discovered that target the program, Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of security firm F-Secure, said in a briefing with journalists.


But what are the alternatives?


  1. #1 The Science Pundit
    April 23, 2009

    I installed Ghostscript (8.64) a while ago because I wanted to import some PDF documents into GIMP, but I didn’t think to make it my default PDF reader. I’ll have to give that a try.

  2. #2 chezjake
    April 23, 2009

    For Mac users, the alternative is built right into the OS. You can open any pdf document in the built in “Preview” app, and you can save any document as a pdf via a checkbox in the standard Print dialog box.

  3. #3 dean
    April 23, 2009

    Skim is also a good choice for the mac.

  4. #4 NewEnglandBob
    April 23, 2009

    I am glad there are alternatives. I detest anything and everything from Adobe. None of their stuff works correctly and it is all full of bugs and holes and runs slow and crashed and hangs…..

  5. #5 Dave Gill
    April 23, 2009

    It isn’t open source, but I’ve been using Foxit Reader for quite some time, and it works quite well – and considerably faster than Adobe.

  6. #6 liquidthinker
    April 24, 2009

    Well, the SuSE 11.1 distro I recently installed seems to have configured “evince” as the default reader for Firefox. It’s a gnome thing and so far seems to work pretty well.

  7. #7 Dunc
    April 24, 2009

    Plus, Acrobat Reader (on Windows, anyway) is about the rudest, shonkiest app going. Constantly trying to update itself (and frequently throwing unhandled exceptions in the process, which is a real pain if you’ve got a debugger installed and you’re trying to do something else) and insists on a reboot whenever it’s updated, or even when you uninstall it. It’s just rubbish.

  8. #8 DuWayne
    April 24, 2009

    In a perfect world, OpenOffice would let you read PDFs…

  9. #9 jake
    April 24, 2009

    hate acrobat with a passion, always have

    I have to create PDF’s on a daily basis for text documents and very large, dynamic maps. My favorite free (windows) programs are PDF-Xchange for viewing/editing and PDFill for adding headers/footers/page numbers. Foxit is perfect if you only need to view.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    April 24, 2009

    DuWayne: An editable PDF import would be somewhat difficult because of the fundmental nature of PDF. Having the ability to edit (as in the Adobe software) in OO would be a huge investment of code better done as a stand alone but integrated program or a major add in that you can call up if you want.

    Reading a PDF seems like a good idea, but in some ways, it’s the same as reading a spread sheet. IOW, if you are in OO Writer and “open” a spreadsheet, it opens in Calc. OO could have a thusly integrated PDF reader.

    Anyway, there has been a discussion of this for a while, and at one time there were plans to develop it, but they seem to have fizzled.

    There is a PDF import extension project:



    but I doubt this is what you are looking for.

    BTW, among the various PDF readers in Linux, some are way nicer than Adobe Reader will ever be. Also, there are numerous command line utilities to convert to and from PDF and variou formats, to break a PDF document into distinct pages, combine pages, etc. etc.

  11. #11 highschoolphysics
    April 24, 2009

    I use Foxit reader. It’s small, fast, and really safe. And it’s free to boot.

    Highly recommended to all.

  12. #12 Connie
    April 24, 2009

    Another vote for Foxit.