Dec 14 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 – Print to PDF

noPDFUbuntu_thumb Ubuntu 9.10 – Print to PDFAs I work more with Ubuntu, I notice there’s a few quirks with it, and I was recently struck with a rather simple problem that turned in to a bigger problem. And what was more troubling was there was no REAL solution to find; it was staggering.

The Windows public seems to have a grip on the issue fairly well and there are tons of tool for it, but Ubuntu, not so much.

Try printing to PDF… or create a PDF.

UbuntulistPDFPrinter_thumb Ubuntu 9.10 – Print to PDF

I wasn’t that impressed with Ubuntu in this area. My position is that this should be something so simple to install/use, but it’s not.

Like a lot of people I’ve used Windows for years and never has this really been a big issue. For Windows I’d use CutePDF or PDF Creator or some other freeware alternative, but I found no like solution for Ubuntu.

Where Ubuntu asserts itself as being easy to use. and as a commenter said recently, “Linux is easy to use, this isn’t the 80’s”- perhaps but the solution wasn’t staring me in the face.

The first thing I did was go looking in the ‘Ubuntu software center’- there’s plenty of PDF programs to view, edit and rearrange, but there’s nothing there to allow you to PRINT to a PDF [possibly the easiest way to convert anything to PDF].

So I went searching where I found this article about adding a PDF printer- and it works, but this is NOT simple. Ubuntu is supposed to be the ‘HUMAN’ Operating System; so show me. ACK! not yet.

Some other forums were saying ‘use open office’ to create a PDF- they just weren’t understanding and it’s okay; they were trying to help. Where the solution provided is valid it’s too long to and requires a TERMINAL access.

And while I found a solution, I was not impressed at all..

The solution is found in the Synaptic Package Manager. This method, simply JUST WORKS.

image_thumb Ubuntu 9.10 – Print to PDF

But the solution is not without its problems.


Once you select and install/apply the changes to add the PDF printer, it’s listed to the printer listing for the system, but here’s the kicker…


It prints to the HOME PDF folder on your system. This is by default.

What’s funny about this this is that this has got to be hand-down the dumbest solution and non-developed function I’ve ever seen. This is almost like the developers just went ‘okay we can create a PDF let’s move on!’; there’s no refinement here- it doesn’t ask me where I would like to save it? there’s no option to ask about compression of security or resolution; it’s completely ‘lacking’ – in ever sense of the word.

While I could be off base, but this is the results of my finds on a base install of Ubuntu 9.10. If you’ve a better solution; one more fitting of the average user, please let me know.



03/24/2010 – Seems it’s easier if you use the ‘print to file’ option and choose PDF; file name and save location [path] is provided for you. Obviously is a new user and learning curve issue. Enjoy!


L. Henry Jr.


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  • Javier.EJSF

    Yep, rather disappointing. I had the same issue, found this helpful (written for Intrepid and Jaunty but it's the same procedure for Karmic)

    They couldn't make it more inconvenient, could they?

    • Thanks for your comments. I completely agree with you and thanks for the link.


  • I just printed an order confirmation from a vendor in HTML format straight to a pdf file and saved it my document file on a brand new installation of Ubuntu 9.10. I have no printer installed. I simply went to "print to file" in the open window and when asked I changed it to .pdf as the format.

    Why can't you do this with every document?

    I use Adobe reader and PDF Shuffler for PDF files.

    I am relative NOOB to Ubuntu.

    Operate a 6 client peer-to-peer windows network in my own business.

    In the last year I have set up an Ubuntu server for my website.
    My client computers either run dual OS's
    or strictly Ubuntu.

  • Green Earth

    PDF in Linux/Ubunut has been one of my biggest reasons for not using it as a primary desktop. For me, Linux is a curious addiction. Over a year ago I spent hours and hours in forums and doing web searches to find some kind of opensource application that would allow me to not only have options when "printing to pdf" but being able to append, highlight, rearrange, delete pages, and so forth. NOTHING exists for Linux that is remotely close to PDF freeware or low-cost software in Windows. How smart people steeped in the open source community haven't pulled their hair out over this is beyond me! How long has openoffice had PDF generation? Isn't ghostscript opensource? Anyway, Linux will remain forever as a server and "we couldn't affrord anything else" operating system until there is more and better tools that at least mimic the business functionality we've had in windows for at least the last 10 years. Whew, I feel better….

    • I agree. 'Printing to PDF' is just one of the many small things that need to be refined on Ubuntu. I was really frustrated with Ubuntu at first, and now not so much. But it still lacks some of the most apparent logical functions.

      …and I'm glad those therapy sessions are paying off… 😉

      Thanks for your comments.

      L. Henry Jr.

  • Open with gimp then print.