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First off, how difficult / practical would this be? My company has a dept. that deals with hundreds of MSDS sheets daily and is looking for an affordable solution to converting batches of them. While Adobe Acrobat Pro does this, licences run ~$450 a piece.

I was hoping to grab an old machine an just run a headless server that users can drag batches of their .doc files (or whatever it might be) to a designated location and will be given back PDF forms. This way we limit any maintenance/possible issues to a single machine and simply map a network drive for them to use for this.

Possible? If so, how?

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correction* a license is ~$180 per. However, dealing with 10+ users – Nils Bergman Jul 18 '13 at 17:14

Open office has a built-in for this type of task:

oowriter -convert-to pdf:writer_pdf_Export doc_file.doc

So you could make a pretty simple linux server with a webpage, they upload their .doc and it uses the above to make a pdf. Then your page would refresh and give the download link. (Note, for LibreOffice, if you prefer it, use lowriter instead of oowriter.)

Of course, this is not bullet proof since sometimes OpenOffice/LibreOffice has some formatting issues. It also isn't file extension agnostic - with imagemagick you could do most of the image extensions there.

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