Redacting PDFs in Ubuntu

Some students in my “Experiment Design” course this semester asked me to share with them examples of good reports from students from previous years.

Since I usually ask my reports to be submitted in PDF format, I needed some way to alter the PDF and remove the names/personal information before sending them to the class.

A quick google check game me this askUbuntu thread, with some suggestions:

  • Load the PDF on Inkscape
  • Load the PDF on xournal
  • Load the pDF on GIMP

The GIMP and Inkscape routes required me to load the PDF page by page, which was kinda inconvenient. I ended up going the xournal route. They don’t have a “redact” option, but I could use a black highlighter (need to repeat 2 or 3 times since the highlighter is transparent).

I am not sure how foolproof this is though. I have not actually removed the text, so it is quite probable that it can still be retrieved from the PDF if you really want to (which I don’t this is the case for this particular situation). If you need something that REALLY needs to be redacted, this might not be the solution for you.

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