Xpdf is the de-facto standard
suite of tools for displaying and converting PDF files on Unix-like
The Poppler project
converted and extended the core of Xpdf version 3 into a library that
other programs could use.
Tools like Evince and
Zathura now use Poppler
for high-quality PDF rendering.
However, while Poppler includes the conversion tools (e.g.
pdftotext) from Xpdf, it doesn't include the
xpdf program itself.
xpopple is the
xpdf program — a Motif-based PDF
viewer for X11 — adapted to use the Poppler library for rendering.
This gives you the classic Xpdf 3 interface, with Poppler's updated
While Poppler's API changes frequently, my intention is that xpopple
should work with all versions of Poppler from 0.19 onwards.
Why would you want to use xpopple rather than something like Evince? One advantage is the flexible resource-based customisability of the Motif interface; I use xpopple for presentations, and like being able to tweak its appearance and behaviour.
xpopple is based on the patches from Debian's xpdf package, with some problems fixed (which I've submitted back to Debian), and a small number of additional features (e.g. some extra keybindings).
The original Xpdf was written by Glyph & Cog, LLC.
The Debian and Gentoo maintainers did most of the hard work of
xpdf from its library.
I've just tidied up a few loose ends (in particular, the configuration
parser, which has to work somewhat differently for Poppler than for the
original Xpdf) and packaged it for other distributions to use.