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Old 09-30-2009, 07:24 PM   #1
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Linux reader software

Bouncing off a thought from another thread:

What software, aside from FBReader, is available natively on Linux for reading? Not Sigil, and not Calibre -- neither of which is focused on reading. I'd like to find something that I can install on my Q7, and maybe my Nokia 770.

I can't seem to find anything aside from text-readers (ie: plain-text document readers, sometimes focused on Project Gutenberg formatting.) I'm looking for something that can support ePub, fb2, zipped html, xhtml, etc. that has a book-like experience/interface, preferably with CSS and bookmarking support.

Supposedly CoolReader is multi-platform, but I cannot find anything aside from zipped Windows binaries.

And, please, don't suggest Wine. That's basically saying "use Windows."

Thanks,

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Old 09-30-2009, 07:40 PM   #2
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There are not many options for Linux. One you did not mention is Okular. This is actively supported, and includes an annotation system, but interesting formats like CHM and ePub are "optional" and are often not available in standard Linux distributions.
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:09 PM   #3
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I looked at Okular the other day -- it's pretty well embedded into KDE, isn't it? It'll pull in half the universe in dependencies. And it's another one of those "I can open anything!" apps -- probably too huge to use on a simpler machine. I wrote it off after about 10 minutes of looking at its features. It seems to see itself as a PDF reader, plus.

Its tag line "More than a Reader!" seems to sum up my point -- plus it looks like Ubuntu doesn't compile in ePub, as you mentioned. So, while I am capable enough to compile software (assuming well-documented instructions ) it seems to be way too much, both in effort and features.

I need to hit the lottery, so I can hire some damn programmers to make something right.

Thanks for responding.

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Old 10-01-2009, 04:54 PM   #4
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Supposedly CoolReader is multi-platform, but I cannot find anything aside from zipped Windows binaries.
No surprise. CoolReader's home page says Supported platforms: Win9x/ME/NT4.0/Win2K/XP

You can have any platform you like, as long as it's Windows...
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:41 PM   #5
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No surprise. CoolReader's home page says Supported platforms: Win9x/ME/NT4.0/Win2K/XP

You can have any platform you like, as long as it's Windows...
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Windows seems to be the entire universe to some folks.

...

Actually, Windows Universe v. 1 would explain a lot...

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Old 10-01-2009, 05:51 PM   #6
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Supposedly CoolReader is multi-platform, but I cannot find anything aside from zipped Windows binaries.
I have not tried them, but CR3 seems to have Ubuntu and qt versions, see CoolReader Engine.
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:06 PM   #7
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Windows seems to be the entire universe to some folks.
Well, it's certainly the biggest part of the total computer universe.

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...

Actually, Windows Universe v. 1 would explain a lot...

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Kernel panic! Boot universe? (No sync!)
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:23 PM   #8
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Hey!

Awesome -- I didn't find that, obviously. I'm trying it now.

They seem to be up to 3.0.21 for Windows, but the i386 DEB is 3.0.14. Browsing the files, looks like 3.0.17 is available for armel (Smart Qs and Nokia tablets could use these, in theory.)

Observations:
Claims to support zip files, but hasn't been able to open two that I've tried.

Doesn't seem to support CSS, or at least not entirely. My example HTML uses it pretty heavily, and the book is pretty when it works -- book is not pretty here.

Still, it's an option! And maybe this stuff gets better in the later versions. If I can figure out how to compile .21, I'll add more here. I'll dig up an ePub and give that a try, too.

Thanks wallcraft! They're obviously still developing it, so there's some energy!

m a r

ps: nonetheless, ebook-viewer from Calibre still kicks it in the 'nads.
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:34 PM   #9
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What software, aside from FBReader, is available natively on Linux for reading?
I've actually been fairly pleased with FBReader on my old Lifebook running Puppy Linux. It handles Plucker files, and it handles Mobipocket and ePub files as well.

The Plucker compatibility was a big win, as I have about 3,200 books in Plucker format on an SD card in my PDA, and I could copy the lot to my notebook.
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:35 PM   #10
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Kernel panic! Boot universe? (No sync!)
Blue Screen of Big Crunch?

"sol.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

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Old 10-01-2009, 08:02 PM   #11
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I've actually been fairly pleased with FBReader on my old Lifebook running Puppy Linux. It handles Plucker files, and it handles Mobipocket and ePub files as well.

The Plucker compatibility was a big win, as I have about 3,200 books in Plucker format on an SD card in my PDA, and I could copy the lot to my notebook.
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That's cool. What can plucker do for display? Is it fairly basic? (ie: headers, italic, bold, images?)

FBReader can do a lot. But it's (X)HTML handling is weak (and by extension, ePub.) I'm looking for an open format that can do nice, not necessarily perfect, layout. For me, (X)HTML (and by extension, ePub) seems to be the way.

I've got a book that I want to read right now, that has little aphorisms and pull-quotes interspersed throughout it. I've made decent formatting with it in XHTML, and using CSS. Can't read it on anything except a browser, or Calibre's ebook-viewer. FBReader, CoolReader, some other hacky, crashy, java-based reader I found -- they all ignore CSS, where the magic is. And they don't have bookmarks, which I need to improve the books by marking errors to correct.

It seems like everyone wants to reinvent the wheel -- whereas ebook-viewer uses Webkit, and translates everything into XHTML/ePub before displaying it.

Kovid mentioned something about hacking it a bit, so that lines don't get displayed partially obscured at the top and bottom of the screen. Once that's done, it'll seem to me to have met the basic challenges of a reader. Too bad it can't be extracted from Calibre. It would work well on readers like the Smart Q7 and the Nokia internet tablets, and other tablet-based machines. And it would be ever-compatible with Calibre cataloged and generated ebooks.

The other readers all seem to be about providing (minimal) access to many formats, not about displaying them beautifully and faithfully. It's some sort of engineer mentality, I think. (I like engineers, not disrespecting! Just not the mental frame to view everything through.)

I'd hoped that conversions to FB2 would allow for a more faithful display in FBReader, but it didn't seem to work. Maybe if I hand wrote it -- but I'm pretty sure that there isn't any way to call for display positioning of elements in FB2. For FBReader, I expect that all formats are being translated into FB2 before displaying them -- which limits the display possibilities. Understandable, of course, as it started as an FB2 reader, and all the other formats were added later.

Anyhow, FBreader is good, CoolReader looks promising -- but until someone makes a decent ePub/XHTML reader for Linux that's not trying to be all things...

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Old 10-01-2009, 08:21 PM   #12
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That's cool. What can plucker do for display? Is it fairly basic? (ie: headers, italic, bold, images?)
Pretty much. HTML support is pretty good, though CSS support is lacking.

It supports embedded images and hyperlinks, text attributes (bold/italic/etc.) and custom fonts on the PDA if you run Palm OS 5.

I got started in ebooks because a former employer decided the IT folks should all have PDAs, and a Handspring Visor Deluxe showed up in interoffice mail. I went looking for software that could help me do my job, and discovered Plucker, which would let me convert the HTML based manuals for a lot of the systems I dealt with to a form I could read on the PDA.

Somewhat later, I discovered I could comfortably read fiction that way, and now have the entire Baen Free Library and a bunch of stuff from PG and elsewhere in Plucker format.

There's a Windows Mobile based product called Vade Mecum that views Plucker files, and the Plucker dev list recently had a chap pop up doing a Plucker viewer for the iPhone, which will be very nice.

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I'd hoped that conversions to FB2 would allow for a more faithful display in FBReader, but it didn't seem to work. Maybe if I hand wrote it -- but I'm pretty sure that there isn't any way to call for display positioning of elements in FB2. For FBReader, I expect that all formats are being translated into FB2 before displaying them -- which limits the display possibilities. Understandable, of course, as it started as an FB2 reader, and all the other formats were added later.
I don't think it's converting to fb2 format for display. Simpler, I think, if you can read the foreign format in the first place to just display it.

I expect that sort of conversion to occur on the desktop in the program that creates the files viewable on the reader (like Mobi Creator ripping stuff to HTML, and creating the Mobi file from that.)

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Anyhow, FBreader is good, CoolReader looks promising -- but until someone makes a decent ePub/XHTML reader for Linux that's not trying to be all things...
I wouldn't hold my breath. The demand will be for an all-in-one solution ala FBReader.
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:36 PM   #13
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Too bad it can't be extracted from Calibre.
Maybe you/we should do like Michelangelo - instead of extracting the ebook reader, try to chip away all the stuff that doesn't look an ebook reader - mind you I haven't looked at Kovid's code, and right now I want to work on Open Inkpot on my eSlick. So what do I know?
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:47 PM   #14
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Pretty much. HTML support is pretty good, though CSS support is lacking.

It supports embedded images and hyperlinks, text attributes (bold/italic/etc.) and custom fonts on the PDA if you run Palm OS 5.
I still use a palm Treo 680. But my eyes can't handle it without glasses now. Frickin' eyes... I've lost a lot of enthusiasm for the platform, too.

I just remembered that I have Plucker and iSilo on there. Never really used Plucker, and only played with iSilo a bit. They're both attractive -- basically HTML 3.2, I think. Can't handle CSS, as you mentioned. Good for the times, of course -- and if palm had not essentially abandoned development, they'd possibly have better apps. I think I never really used them because I have had an REB1100 for a long time, and it was far superior for reading ebooks (but had its own limitations, too.)

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I got started in ebooks because a former employer decided the IT folks should all have PDAs, and a Handspring Visor Deluxe showed up in interoffice mail. I went looking for software that could help me do my job, and discovered Plucker, which would let me convert the HTML based manuals for a lot of the systems I dealt with to a form I could read on the PDA... [snip]
Lucky! I had to buy a Palm III while I was in Japan in '98, and I couldn't sync until I got back to the States six months later... Such a dork.

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I don't think it's converting to fb2 format for display. Simpler, I think, if you can read the foreign format in the first place to just display it.

I expect that sort of conversion to occur on the desktop in the program that creates the files viewable on the reader (like Mobi Creator ripping stuff to HTML, and creating the Mobi file from that.)
I guess I meant something more like "The display engine was probably designed for FB2, so it may not have the tools necessary." After all, there are (and have been) display engines around for a long time that they could have used. I think they built their own, and have to add things as they go forward.

Reading a foreign format well enough to extract the content, and building an engine to display it faithfully seem to me to be a different magnitude of problem. Simpler to make a basic translator that ignores much beyond header/italic/bold/image. Think tables -- mostly never translate, after all. If they had a display engine, it would probably work, no?

I'm sure that the converters (in my case, Calibre) are also somewhat limited in transformational capability. But since ePub displays so well in Calibre's viewer, I think that it's having trouble emulating it in FB2. Could be a limitation of the programmers (although they seem uber-capable) or the format.

I've looked at the FB2 specification (but understood less about XML then than I do now) and don't recall anything that suggests that elements can have their display properties changed. Doesn't mean that it doesn't, of course.

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I wouldn't hold my breath. The demand will be for an all-in-one solution ala FBReader.
Yup. Which is why it'll always lack excellence, but will work sorta okay at a lot of things. I mean, FBReader can't even delete an ePub after you add it to the library. Sticks around if you delete the disk file, too. (They just switched from XML to SQLite for database management. It's alpha beta, of course.)

I'm almost always an outlier, but I'm confident that if what I wanted were around, people would use it instead. Doing one thing well is Linuxy.

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