Etch from scratch – installing Adobe Acrobat Reader

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Update (22 November 2007) Thanks to readers who leave comments (see below), I now know that there is a .deb available from Adobe. But if you are using Debian, then you may find more useful (thanks H), as you can place an appropriate mirror site in your /etc/apt/sources.list for use by apt-get. Note: Remember to run apt-get update if you change your sources.list file.

On Debian GNU/Linux (Sarge) I can use Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0.10 or Xpdf, and most often I use Acrobat Reader. Xpdf was great for viewing simple PDF documents, but I tended to use Acrobat Reader if I was viewing and printing longer or more complex PDF documents.

I was beginning to experience difficulty displaying some PDF documents (black boxes for images and ill-formed fonts) with both PDF viewers. Also, not being able to print more than one copy of a PDF at a time from Acrobat Reader was becoming cumbersome.

Installing Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.9 on my new Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (Etch) system was straight forward. But it has not been included in the Debian package management system, so it is another piece of software that I need to keep track of separately. I do this in a log book of the paper variety and in a file called admin-log located in the root home directory.

Since researching how to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader, I have read LWN’s article about a ‘phone home’ feature in Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0 that logs when you view tagged PDF documents with a company over the internet. This article is over two years old, and whether this is still an issue or feature in Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.9, I’m not sure. H tried to persuade me to use Evince, which was tempting as I can just use apt-get, and I may still do this if I can find evidence that Adobe Acrobat Reader still includes the ‘phone home’ feature.

This is my experience of installing Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.9.

  1. As root in a terminal, ran apt-cache search acroread
  2. This is because Adobe Acrobat Reader on my Debian Sarge system was called ‘acroread’. I did not find ‘acroread’, so tried other key words such as ‘PDF’ and ‘reader’ without success.

  3. Displayed the /etc/apt/sources.list file to check that an ‘etch contrib non-free’ repository had been included in my sources list. And I do have such a repository listed.
  4. Adobe Acrobat Reader did not appear to be in any Debian repositories that I had listed in my sources list, so I decided to download Acrobat Reader from Adobe. For Linux, they offered Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.9 as a tar.gz and .rpm. I downloaded AdobeReader_enu-7.0.9-1.i386.tar.gz.
  5. I use the Desktop as a scratch or temporary area, so I moved the downloaded file to this directory and unpacked using:
  6. tar xvzf AdobeReader_enu-7.0.9-1.i386.tar.gz

    AdobeReader folder on the desktop is displayed containing the following files:

  7. I displayed ReadMe.htm in my browser and read that the INSTALL script would install Acrobat Reader in a /usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0 directory.
  8. I navigated to the AdobeReader directory, and ran:
  9. The following is what was displayed in my terminal (including my responses in bold) as I ran the installation script:

    This installation requires 111 MB of free disk space.

    Enter installation directory for Adobe Reader 7.0.9 [/usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0] <- Pressed Enter key to accept the default directory

    Directory “/usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0” does not exist.
    Do you want to create it now? [y] y

    Installing platform independent files … Done

    Installing platform dependent files … Done

    Do you want to install the browser plugin ? [y/n] y

    This will install the browser plugin for acroread.

    Do you want to perform automatic installation ? [y/n] y

    Trying to install plugin for browser – firefox
    Installing plugin in /usr/lib/iceweasel/iceweasel
    Installation successful. /usr/lib/iceweasel/plugins/

    Trying to install plugin for browser – mozilla
    Installing plugin in /usr/lib/iceweasel/iceweasel
    The plugin seems to be already installed. Are you sure you want to overwrite ? [y/n] n
    Installation cancelled.

    Finished with automatic install.
    Do you want to perform manual installation ? [y/n] n

    If you are facing any problem in getting the installation to work for your browser, please copy the following file to the plugin folder of the browser:

    In case of difficulties please refer to the documentation provided along with the browser for addition of new plugins.
    Please login again for changes to MIME types and icons to take effect.

  10. I navigated to where the binary was installed, i.e. /usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0/bin and checked that I could start Adobe Acrobat Reader with:
  11. I was able to successfully start Acrobat Reader.

  12. I navigated to /usr/local/bin (the directory where I usually install applications outside of the Debian package manager), and created a symbolic link to the Adobe Acrobat Reader binary:
  13. ln -s /usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0/bin/acroread acroread

    This means that any user on my computer can run Adobe Acrobat Reader without having to add the Adobe specific path to their environment variables.

Later, if I wish to uninstall Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.9, all that I have to do is remove the directory and files in /usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0/, and the symbolic link that I have created.

For the moment, I can view PDFs, which I need to do to be able to get on with my current assignment, but I’ll research other PDF viewers when I’m more at leisure. So if any of the PDFs that I’m viewing are suitably tagged, yes, the PDF publishers will know that I am reading up on the health and medical areas of nanotechnology.


11 thoughts on “Etch from scratch – installing Adobe Acrobat Reader

  1. Evince and KPDF are probably the best of the free software PDF viewers. They start up faster than Acrobat (although not quite as fast as xpdf), have good printing support (better integration with CUPS etc than Acrobat), and they’re good enough now that it’s very rare to find a PDF that they can’t cope with. They also do a lot of the “fruity” PDF features like hyperlinks, table of contents as a side panel, and so on.

  2. @Cameron
    I have had a look at the comparison table between Evince 0.7.2 and Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0, and I feel that I need to play with both before I decide.

    Currently, I’m enjoying the browser (Iceweasel) plug-in for Adobe Acrobat Reader as I am able to quickly view the PDF, decide to print a few pages or save for later. Also, the search is really fast and displays the links to all the occurrences of your search term within the PDF.

    Unfortunately, only version 0.4.0 is in the Debian stable (Etch) and unstable repositories, and 0.8.1 is in experimental. I guess I’m back to including experimental in my sources list for playing 🙂

  3. Hi,
    Like the author of this page, I downloaded the acrobat software from Adobe and installed it, using almost exactly the same method.
    I’m certain the method will work for most folk. But I’m using an Etch system with a twist. It’s 64 bit. When I run $ acroread, I get the following:
    /usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0/Reader/intellinux/bin/acroread: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

    I’m having trouble cracking this problem. Are there instaructios for 64 bit anywhere?


  4. I stumbled accross this site via big G. I will probably never come back.

    Nowadays is offering a .deb file. So you can get around installing librarys and compiling.

    Download the .deb file, and get it installed with:
    sudo dpkg -i AdobeReader_enu-8.1.1-1.i386.deb

  5. @BoneStorm

    When this article (blog entry) was prepared in May, there was not a .deb file available from Adobe for the then current version. This article was about installing.Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.9.

    Also, I have never had to compile the Adobe Acrobat Reader. I simply did what people do on alternative operating systems such as Windows, i.e. download a file, uncompress it, and ran the installation program.

    However, thanks for letting me know that a .deb file is now available from for a newer version of Adobe Acrobat Reader in 8.1.1. Do you know if it calls home?

    I will still look at alternatives such as Evince as I prefer to use apt-get with appropriate debian sites listed in sources.list.

  6. Pingback: Etch from scratch - Java « dilettante

  7. @anandarao
    The main computing platforms that I use are UNIX and LInux. If you need MS Windows advice or support, then I am unable to assist except to suggest that you Google or try more specific forums applicable to your needs.

    Note: I’m not sure what you mean by ‘msxl’ if you mean MS Excel, then the Open Source Software (OSS) alternative is includes a spreadsheet programe (Calc) that enables you to convert spreadsheets to PDF.

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