How to install and use Foxit Reader in Linux - Tutorial

Updated: November 19, 2022

All right, it is time for another tutorial in my Windows to Linux saga. Today, I will focus on Foxit Reader, a versatile PDF viewer (and to some extent, editing software), with lots of interesting and useful capabilities. If you're pondering a move from Windows to Linux, then you may be thinking, hey, will this run, too?

For a change, unlike most of my previous tutorials of this nature, the answer here is a bit more convoluted. However, we shall explore and answer everything. Once again, I will call upon WINE to install Foxit Reader, but then, let's get to it. After me.


Why Foxit Reader?

This is actually a good question - and quite valid. As it happens, Foxit Reader does have a native Linux build, but if I'm not mistaken, it's last been updated around 2013. This means that if you want to use this program, you will want the newer Windows-only builds going forward.

The more philosophical question is, unlike say SketchUp or Kerkythea or Notepad++, does one really need a non-native PDF tool in Linux? And the answer here isn't as straightforward as earlier. With the other programs I've migrated so far, the functionality difference was rather clear-cut. The native Linux programs did not offer suitable parity, which is why I selected the Windows applications for the job.

With PDF software, Linux has a great deal of versatility. Top-notch command-line tools, for one. There's also a range of paid applications, with pretty decent quality, which I will be reviewing in the coming months. Even with the available free range, you're sort of in good hands. Okular does a reasonable job, although its editing capabilities can be better. But it's not like you'll be in a total lurch.

That said, Foxit Reader has a lot of nifty options - perhaps too many, one could say. Tabbed interface, ability to turn off Javascript (I wonder why this should ever have been included in documents, go figure), Protected Mode for viewing potentially unsafe files, okay annotation features, and you can also use signatures. Not bad. All right then, let's install it.

WINE configuration

The first step is to have WINE installed on your system. I am going to use the exact same method outlined in the SketchUp Make 2017 tutorial (see link above). I have the WINE repositories added, and I installed the 6.X branch on my system (at the time of writing). You can also use 7.X, if you like. Perhaps you should, as it seems to offer even better compatibility, as I've recently discovered in my going full native with Linux on an older laptop with hybrid graphics. That's another story in this fine migration saga.

Foxit Reader installation

Download the program, head to the command line, and install it:

wine "Foxit Reader installer executable"

Foxit Reader installation wizard


The setup is quite simple and quick. WINE did not prompt or ask for any additional components or libraries to be downloaded and configured. So technically, you're all set, and you can start using the program.

Does it work well?

The answer is, for the most part yes. I'd say 95%. The actual functionality is all there, and the program behaves in a reliable and consistent fashion. However, there is some small visual glitches with Foxit Reader running in maximized window mode. I noticed tiny artifacts in the UI, probably a consequence of the fact this tool isn't designed to run in a Linux desktop environment, and there may be some subtle clashes between its native styling and whatever the host system wants. The other issue is, once, just once, the program didn't start when I tried to launch it. It was as if the machine ignored my click on the launch icon. Not sure what happened there.

Foxit Reader configuration

Foxit Reader works


And there we go, another task successfully completed. Perhaps this is not the most ideal of scenarios, and the visual glitches mar the perfect record so far, but then again, this does give you the extra flexibility you may need working with PDF files. If for whatever reason a native program can't handle something, you can have Foxit Reader installed through WINE as your backup, or use it as your primary utility, if you so wish.

The installation was pretty straightforward, and I'm quite happy that the full range of excellent capabilities are all there, and work correctly. Well then, that brings us to the end of this tutorial. There shall be many coming soon, so stay tuned. Also, if you do have potential problems or snags that may affect your own migration journey, ping me, I may perhaps be able to find a solution. Take care.


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