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I was just wondering if PDF formats are opensource.

I've seen openoffice save a document in ODT format in contrast to DOC or DOCX. Is there alternate file format to PDF?

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closed as off-topic by roadmr, falconer, blade19899, Braiam, Eric Carvalho Jan 16 '14 at 2:36

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This is not about Ubuntu. Questions about other Linux distributions can be asked on Unix & Linux, those about Windows on Super User, those about Apple products on Ask Different and generic programming questions on Stack Overflow." – roadmr, falconer, blade19899, Braiam, Eric Carvalho
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

@CloseVoters: Why would this question be considered as off-topic? Don't we use pdf files in Ubuntu? The user has a question about something which he uses on Ubuntu... These have always been considered on-topic... – Aditya Jan 10 '14 at 16:00
@Aditya This is offtopic, because it is not about Ubuntu. Just because pdfs can be used on Ubuntu too it won't make it ontopic. This has nothing to do with the Ubuntu OS or something related to it. This is a general question about the PDF fileformat or about opensource. To see why your reasoning is wrong: Windows running as a guest OS on an Ubuntu machine also won't be ontopic, although a lot of Ubuntu users run windows in a VM. If the problem is with the VM then it's ontopic, if the problem is with Windows then it's offtopic. Here the question isn't about a PDF on Ubuntu so it's offtopic. – falconer Jan 14 '14 at 14:02
@Aditya "on any site that doesn't deal with Windows": But if we follow your reasoning this site deals with windows in such cases. That's what I tried to mean. You said previously that there is a list "which mentions what are the topics which are categorically off-topic" and Windows is not listed there as offtopic. This question is not about Ubuntu. It's about PDF and its legal. Even if you mention that you are using Ubuntu it won't make it ontopic. It's not the problem that Ubuntu is not mentioned in the question, the problem is that the question is not about Ubuntu. 100% offtopic. – falconer Jan 14 '14 at 15:44
@Aditya I won't open a meta on this subject, because I don't really care if this question stays or goes. I just wanted to tell you that these kind of questions are offtopic. (AFAIK). – falconer Jan 14 '14 at 15:46
I don't see how this could be Ubuntu related... – Braiam Jan 14 '14 at 17:44
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The PDF format itself is freely usable and the relevant patents can be used freely (although they apparently remain under Adobe's control so this could potentially change, IANAL regarding patent law).

Adobe Systems made the PDF specification available free of charge in 1993, PDF remained a proprietary format, controlled by Adobe, until it was officially released as an open standard on July 1, 2008, and published by the International Organization for Standardization as ISO 32000-1:2008.

In 2008, Adobe published a Public Patent License to ISO 32000-1 granting royalty-free rights for all patents owned by Adobe that are necessary to make, use, sell and distribute PDF compliant implementations.


The ODT format is part of the OpenDocument specifications, which are also free to use, see

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PDF is largely based on PostScript. It's very common to find graphics files and academic papers in PostScript (.ps file extension) format.

However, if you are looking for the advanced features of PDF files such as fillable forms, security signatures, and such you will not find those features in PostScript files.

The Linux/UNIX world has long had useful tools for working with PostScript files such as GhostScript, which also happens to work with PDF files.

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