Installing the JBIG2 encoder

Most Linux distributions do not include a JBIG2 encoder since JBIG2 encoding was patented for a long time. All known JBIG2 US patents have expired as of 2017, but it is possible that unknown patents exist.

JBIG2 encoding is recommended for OCRmyPDF and is used to losslessly create smaller PDFs. If JBIG2 encoding is not available, lower quality encodings will be used.

JBIG2 decoding is not patented and is performed automatically by most PDF viewers. It is widely supported and has been part of the PDF specification since 2001.

On macOS, Homebrew packages jbig2enc and OCRmyPDF includes it by default. The Docker image for OCRmyPDF also builds its own JBIG2 encoder from source.

For all other Linux, you must build a JBIG2 encoder from source:

git clone
cd jbig2enc
./configure && make
[sudo] make install

Dependencies include libtoolize and libleptonica, which on Ubuntu systems are packaged as libtool and libleptonica-dev.

Lossy mode JBIG2

OCRmyPDF provides lossy mode JBIG2 as an advanced feature. Users should review the technical concerns with JBIG2 in lossy mode and decide if this feature is acceptable for their use case.

JBIG2 lossy mode does achieve higher compression ratios than any other monochrome (bitonal) compression technology; for large text documents the savings are considerable. JBIG2 lossless still gives great compression ratios and is a major improvement over the older CCITT G4 standard. As explained above, there is some risk of substitution errors.

To turn on JBIG2 lossy mode, add the argument --jbig2-lossy. --optimize {1,2,3} are necessary for the argument to take effect also required. Also, a JBIG2 encoder must be installed as described in the previous section.

Due to an oversight, ocrmypdf v7.0 and v7.1 used lossy mode by default.