I recently updated one of my computers to 12.10 and did a clean install of 13.04 on another, but neither allow me to search a PDF that I exported using LyX (LaTeX editor). I have no problem searching PDF's exported using TeXmaker on both computers, and I had no problems searching any PDF before I did the upgrade.

UPDATE: I've tried using other PDF readers (in 13.04) with mixed results. Document Viewer (once called Evince I believe) and Okular have the same issue. I CAN search them, but only for words/letters that show up in a math environment. I still cannot search for words found in standard text environments.

However, I was able to install linux versions of Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader and while their interfaces are not the best on Ubuntu, I am able to search anywhere in the PDF using either application. Thoughts?

  • @djeikyb I believe that could be an answer, no?
    – Braiam
    Dec 30, 2013 at 13:14
  • I think this has a good answer, so it shouldn't be closed.
    – Seth
    Dec 30, 2013 at 22:06
  • It is/was a bug in poppler.
    – alephreish
    Oct 26, 2014 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


This doesn't sound related to ubuntu. It's much more likely that you're generating pdf files that aren't lining up with your expectations.

Since you're doing pdf programming, it's worth knowing there are two main render libs for linux: poppler and mupdf. Gnome's default pdf viewer (and Unity's) is evince; it uses poppler. I usually test mupdf by building the latest version of llpp. But don't forget that Chrome ships with a pdf viewer plugin that I think is based on or made by Adobe. And Firefox now comes with pdf.js. Pdf.js is under heavy development. It's likely you'll hit some bad render bugs in firefox right now, but it's rapidly getting better (and all the bugs I've found were already fixed upstream..).

My most recent is experience is with itext, but I also like using tex/xelatex. I don't have problems making pdfs with searchable text. Since you're using tex stuff, you'll likely get better answers over at http://tex.stackexchange.com

my tests

I encountered zero problems with search / select / copy / paste behaviour. Admittedly, I didn't create the pdf's on ubuntu.

files made with:

  • itext (images interspersed with text)
  • xelatex (hello world text)
  • lyx -> pdflatex (hello world text)


  • ubuntu 12.04 livecd
  • ubuntu 13.10 livecd


  • firefox / pdfjs
  • evince / poppler

I had a similar problem with pdflatex in Ubuntu 14.04. It had nothing to do with the render libs, as I have tested with different viewers in different OS. The solution was the installation of the CM-super's version of Computer Modern, as suggested in this link:

Solution 4: With the CM-super's version of Computer Modern: Install the cm-super font package ($ apt-get install cm-super on Debian/Ubuntu), then in your source: \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} The rest of the configuration is automatically done by updmap.

The generated pdf is now searchable with all tested viewers: Document Viewer, Okular, Chrome and Firefox. All its features are 100% working.

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