PDF & Image Kiosk Display using Impressive on a Raspberry Pi

As the title says the ability to generate a rolling slideshow of pdf files for presentation or display purposes. Impressive is to pdfs as feh is to images (although Impressive will run images too, whilst feh won’t run pdfs!). It is highly configurable and everything is run from the command line 😉


You will need an old version of raspbian as the latest version 23-09-2016 is broken with regard to impressive.

I used 2014-01-07-wheezy-raspbian.img

This meant I had to fix my wireless dongle

Get your kit together:
Raspberry Pi (I used a Model B)
Decent screen / tv + 32″
8mb SD card

Install raspbian to SD card
Fire up your RPi

Open a terminal
sudo apt-get update
(don’t necessarily need to upgrade unless you need to)

Open up Raspberry Pi Configuration from the preferences menu
Disable Overscan/Underscan if screen not filled
Overclock to Medium 900mhz (not essential)
GPU memory to +96 (I went for 128)
Enable ssh server and check you can ssh in from another PC

Change name of Pi to PDFKiosk
Change username / password


Install Impressive
fetch latest impressive from impressive.sourceforge.net/Downloads
and then
sudo apt-get install impressive (to get all the dependencies)
sudo apt-get install mupdf (fast rendering pdf viewer)

You need at least version 0.11.1 of impressive for it to work on an RPi

Setup a directory for your pdfs and images
Load up this directory with some PDFs and images (no sub directories just now)

Using Impressive

Simple interactive:
impressive sample.pdf

Autorun and Rolling Show:
impressive -a 10 -w sample.pdf

Autorun and Rolling Show of all pdfs in folder:
impressive -a 10 -w *.pdf

Autorun and Rolling Show of all jpgs in folder:
impressive -a 10 -w *.jpg

However as you need to use the latest version, unzip the download from earlier, and run a command like this:

You can move all the unzipped files into your PATH if you want

Now we need to do some scripting to make Impressive commence on start up:

Create a file called

then in this file add:

and save. I’ll leave it to your imagination and creative requirements for all the things you can then do, e.g. bash scripts etc.

No need to add any screen blanking, as impressive prevents this from happening

sudo reboot and impressive should start doing its thing

This should also run without X.

Link to Impressive on Sourceforge with documentation

Thanks to Martin Fiedler for creating this great bit of software

2 thoughts on “PDF & Image Kiosk Display using Impressive on a Raspberry Pi

  1. Hi , thanks so much for this post. Im interested in replacing my slideshow with using Impressive. However , trying to run it outside of X. Meaning don’t even start X.
    I am getting a resolution error when running Impressive from command line outside of X.

    Can’t open display
    Detected screen size: 1280×1024 pixels

    Does it not work outside of Windows Manager?

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