“PDFCube” is a simple PDF presentation tool that can be used in Ubuntu Linux (including Mac OS X). It uses a PDF reading engine called “Poppler” and OpenGL for 3D spinning cube transitions effects (like in Compiz). And because of that, it might not work properly if your GPU does not have DRI access (“Direct Rendering Interface”), which is usually caused by improper GPU drivers.
You can also use it as a simple PDF viewer as well. But it lacks many functions of a PDF reader (such as selecting texts, following URLs in PDF files etc). Anyhow it also doesn’t let you manually zoom in/out the pages, but when you run it in the full-screen mode (default), most PDF files should be readable.
Still, having the ability to to manually change the zooming levels should have been there.
However, that being said, it has few other cool effects such as:
*. Zooming to (with a simple effect) selected areas of a PDF page (upper: right/left, bottom right/left and middle).
*. Enable/Disable full-screen (keyboard shortcut “f”).
*. Uses a 3D spinning cube transition effect while switching pages as shown in the above screenshot.
*. You can also use your arrow keys for quickly switching between pages (without effects).
*. Change the background color.
That’s pretty much it.
You can install “PDFCube” in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by using the below command in your Terminal window.
However, please remember that, this version, while viewing PDF files in full screen didn’t seem to fully display the whole PDF page and some content was automatically cropped out while I used it and I guess that could be because the package version in the Ubuntu 11.10 repository is a bit outdated when compared to its current release.
If you use Ubuntu 12.04, as it has a recent version of “PDFCube”, perhaps that issue might be fixed.
So, use the below command to give it a try, or …
sudo apt-get install pdfcube
But as a fix, you can install the latest beta version (0.0.4-1) manually which seems to have fixed it. For that, you’ll need to install a dependency called “libboost-program-options”.
Then whenever you want to open a PDF file using it, use it in the below format.
Replace “your-file.pdf” with your PDF file name and its path. And make sure to read its manual to know about its keyboard shortcuts (which is the only way you can control it). For that, use the below command.
Few keyboard shortcuts …
exit/enter fullscreen : “f”
go to next page with 3D effects: “c”
go to previous page with 3D effects: “a”
zoom in/out to various sections of a page: “h, j, k, l, z”
But remember, unless your PDF file is properly composed to fit into the output device’s aspect ratio, PDFCube will stretch it in order to fit it into the whole screen. And one cannot complain the software for that because it’s your PDF file’s fault.
However, as a fix (until you correct your PDF file’s content), you can exit the full-screen mode and run it in “Windowed” mode and then, try resizing the window until the “stretch” goes away.
But then again, this breaks the purpose of showing a presentation in full-screen, so the best option is to correct the PDF file :). Other than that, it is a really cool tool that will come in handy while presenting a presentation. Good luck.