How To View .chm Files In Ubuntu 8.10

By | 2008/11/20

Yesterday I ran into a file format I had not seen before.  Microsoft .chm (Compiled HTML).  Turns out there are plenty of solutions for Linux.  I have to admit I really wondered why the publications I found were in .chm and not in a more standard .pdf format.  Really makes me appreciate common standards.  I’ll outline some of the solutions I found here.

.chm Viewers

I ran into a number of .chm viewers for Linux, all available within the Ubuntu repositories.

If you are a Gnome user you may like gnochm:

sudo aptitude install gnochm

If you are a KDE user you may prefer kchmviewer:

sudo aptitude install kchmviewer

There are also some conversion tools, which I’ve had varying success with:

sudo aptitude install chm2pdf

There are more solutions listed on the link at the top of this article.  You may check that out for more information.

27 thoughts on “How To View .chm Files In Ubuntu 8.10

  1. Dorian

    For KDE users, a better things is to install okular-extra-backends and just use okular instead of kchmviewer.

  2. Casper

    While I’m all for bashing Microsoft, lets not compare apples and oranges. CHM is for bundling, integrating and organizing help into applications. And lets not forget PDF used to be just as proprietary up until 1.7 came under ISO.

  3. Odd-rationale

    Also, xchm is a very nice light weight solution.

    And FireFox has an extension that can view chm.

  4. ethana2

    Oh, ok- I usually just extract it into a folder and view the html files, but it certainly looks more convenient to not have to do that..

  5. Roger

    Not all the CHM viewers are of equal quality. Conceptually the CHM file is a container format like zip that has a bunch of HTML files as well as metadata like their structure (the tree you see), indexing information etc.

    Most viewers do not understand CSS or don’t display it well which means pages can look awkward or ugly, or fail to use colour information.

  6. eythian

    You should use apt:/ URLs for this kind of post – no need to give people ‘aptitude install’ commands 🙂

  7. treal

    I had the same problem, but i was LX noob then.
    I watcher angrily on word ‘executable’ and then launched it trough wine.

  8. Inzi

    Oh talking about the .chm format, i’ve run into so many problems because of that. I’ve tried out so many different kinds of chm viewers on ubuntu (Gnome).
    Although i use gnome, the best .CHM viewer is kchmviewer, I’m a med student so most of the ebooks i have are .chm format. and only kchmviewer could open them properly.

    The other viewers,either couldn’t open them or everythng came out garbled..

  9. Fabian Rodriguez

    In the spirit of “Linux for human beings”, I’d rather direct someone to “Add/Remove…” than go through apt-get commands.

    I’d still appreciate knowing the package names, though.

    Thanks for all the posts about seemingly obvious information – emphasis on seemingly 🙂

  10. BobCFC

    Lots of ebooks come in the .chm format, they are much smaller than the pdf equivalents usually only 1-3 mb instead of 15mb+


    I agree about chm/pdf being apples/oranges. When I find documentation or tech books in multiple formats, I always choose chm. Why? Because pdfs are hard-configured for specific page sizes. chms reflow text to any window size, so that works great, even on PDAs.

    Imagine what web browing would be like if every web page required you to resize your browser to a specific size on your screen. chms are compressed bundles containing text and images, and are very flexible.

    I have only used gnochm and xchm. Each has a few rendering problems, but xchm generally does a better job of approximating what you see in the M$ chm reader. gnochm often has problems with using fonts that are very tiny or are hard to read.

  12. Thomas Colliers

    I kind of like chm-files. I’ve read a lot of tech-books using xchm and am very satisfied with it. Simple and smooth reading.

  13. Munish Goyal

    under ubuntu you can install ‘CHM Viewer’ from Add/Remove… options

  14. jmg

    @ Inzi… I appreciate your input about which .chm viewer to use. I’m also a med student and have been at wits end about not being able to view my ebooks. Thanks!

  15. M Jones

    THANKYOU!!! ChmSee!!! this is the only reader that can read my textbooks (i’ve tried xchm, chm viewer, both cant read or makes the fonts incredibly small). And I tried xchm viewer it says error and cannot even open files. I’m also medical, not a student but a registrar (doctors are a poor profession these days what with the fees you have to pay; free books are a lifesaver!)

  16. T Soft

    GnoCHM on Ubuntu Intrepid has really been a headache. It shuts down as soon as it opens any .chm file. CHMSee isn't any beta, it aint got index and intelligent search features. Some body help me here

  17. Cyberknight

    I was having the same problem but I found xCHM and it seems to function without issues…

  18. Adam

    There is a version of Kchmviewer in the Ubuntu 9.04 repos that doesn't include full KDE support and works very nicely on Gnome. This has solved all of my problems with small text and indexes that don't work. xchm works very well too and is quite light weight.

  19. Carlos Fernando Castaneda Olano

    Thank you. It works!

  20. tony

    Thanx to all guys, such a wonderful guidance, and all your answers..

  21. Mousumi

    Thanx.Now I can read chm files…..

  22. Pankaj Khairnar

    Thanx for the good article, now I can view and do all types of operations on chm files thanx a lot.


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