|Background information for new users of Ghostscript|
- An overview of Ghostscript
- Related work
- If you need help
- Contacting Aladdin Enterprises
- Things you can do to help
For other information, see the Ghostscript overview.
Ghostscript is the name of a set of software that provides:
In simple terms, this means that Ghostscript can read a PostScript or PDF file and display the results on the screen or convert them into a form you can print on a non-PostScript printer. Especially together with several popular previewers, with Ghostscript you can view or print an entire document or even isolated pages, even if your computer doesn't have Display PostScript and your printer doesn't handle PostScript itself.
Ghostscript is a copyrighted work (Aladdin Enterprises owns the copyright); it is not shareware or in the public domain. Different versions of it are distributed with three different licenses:
Versions entitled "Aladdin Ghostscript" are distributed with a license called the Aladdin Free Public License that allows free use, copying, and distribution by end users, but does not allow commercial distribution. You can get the current version of Aladdin Ghostscript with this license from
or under AFS by direct reference to
where "#.##" and "###" are the version number with and without punctuation, for instance "5.10" and "510". You can also search for ftp access to Ghostscript at other sites, perhaps nearer your site, using the excellent ftp search service
A general search engine like
may also be useful, but in searching for files is likely to provide many unusable references mixed in among the useful ones.
If you haven't convenient access to the Internet, you can order Aladdin Ghostscript on a CD along with some useful related programs and documentation. Please note that this is not "commercial licensing": you are still getting freely redistributable software, with no support and no warranty. For more information write to Russell Lang or see
Versions entitled "GNU Ghostscript" are distributed with the GNU General Public License, which allows free use, and free copying and redistribution under certain conditions (including, in some cases, commercial distribution). GNU Ghostscript versions are released more than a year after the corresponding Aladdin Ghostscript version. You can always get the current version of GNU Ghostscript by Internet FTP from
or under AFS by direct reference to
or from any of the many GNU distribution sites. The GNU home ftp site is
For a more complete list of sites, including sites outside the U.S., write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Free Software Foundation makes GNU Ghostscript available on tape and CD-ROM.
Both Aladdin and GNU versions are also available from sites in the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN), in a tree based at /tex-archive/support/ghostscript/, which you can find at these principal CTAN distribution sites ("participating hosts") as of mid-1998:
ftp://ctan.tug.org/tex-archive/support/ghostscript/ Massachusetts, U.S.A. ftp://ftp.dante.de/tex-archive/support/ghostscript/ Deutschland ftp://ftp.tex.ac.uk/tex-archive/support/ghostscript/ United Kingdom
CTAN has more than fifty mirror sites around the world. For information about CTAN sites, including how to use them over the World Wide Web, get the file CTAN.sites from any CTAN server, for instance
Finally, Ghostscript is also available for commercial licensing. See "What about commercial use?" for details.
Aladdin Ghostscript and GNU Ghostscript come with NO WARRANTY and NO SUPPORT. If you have a question or a bug to report, please see "If you need help" for information about what to do.
The Ghostscript source code distribution, and the Ghostscript executable code, include libraries obtained from other parties. All the source files mentioned in this section are in the Ghostscript and third-party library source kits. The documentation of how to build Ghostscript tells where to get these libraries and how to unpack them.
- The Independent JPEG Group (IJG) library
- The executable versions of Ghostscript are based in part on the work of the Independent JPEG Group. For more information, see jpeg.mak in the main Ghostscript source directory and README in the jpeg subdirectory of the Ghostscript source code
- The Portable Network Graphics (PNG) library created by Dave Martindale, Guy Eric Schalnat, Paul Schmidt, and Tim Wegner, of Group 42, Inc.
- For more information, see libpng.mak in the main Ghostscript source directory, and README and png.h in the libpng subdirectory of the Ghostscript source code.
- The zlib library created by Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler
- For more information, see zlib.mak in the main Ghostscript source directory, and README in the zlib subdirectory of the Ghostscript source code.
These libraries do NOT fall under either the GNU License or the Aladdin Free Public License; they come with their own licenses, which also allow free use and redistribution under appropriate circumstances and which appear in the files mentioned just above. These libraries are entirely original works of their respective authors, and are provided AS IS with NO WARRANTY and NO SUPPORT.
Neither Aladdin Enterprises nor any organization known to us currently offers Ghostscript support for end-users -- that is, for people or companies who just want to use Ghostscript and not redistribute it as part of a product. Companies that include Ghostscript in their products under a commercial license (see next section) may offer support to end-users, but it would be support for the company's own product, not for Ghostscript per se.
Nothing in the GNU or Aladdin Free licenses prevents anyone from providing support for Ghostscript, either free or commercial. Aladdin would be happy to include in the Ghostscript documentation the contact information for anyone who wants to offer such support.
GNU Ghostscript may not be incorporated into commercial products which forbid copying or for which customers cannot obtain source code for no more than the cost of reproduction, although it may be distributed ("aggregated") with commercial products; Aladdin Ghostscript may not be incorporated into commercial products at all, and may be distributed commercially only under extremely limited circumstances. However, Ghostscript is also available for commercial licensing, which in addition to the right to incorporate Ghostscript into commercial products includes support, a limited warranty, high-quality fonts, and other benefits. For more information about commercial licensing of Ghostscript, please contact Aladdin Enterprises' commercial distribution partner, the only entity legally authorized to distribute Ghostscript per se on any terms other than the GNU or Aladdin free licenses:
Artifex Software Inc.
454 Las Gallinas Avenue, suite 108
San Rafael, CA 94903 U.S.A.
Artifex does not offer commercial support as a separate service; support is available only to OEM licensees (that is, licensees who redistribute Ghostscript in a product).
Ghostscript is written entirely in C (with some optional assembly-language accelerators for DOS platforms), with special care taken to make it run properly on systems of either byte order ("low-endian" and "high-endian") and of various word lengths. GNU Ghostscript is known to run on the following platform families:
Aladdin Ghostscript is known to run on all of the above, and additionally on the following platform families:
It is very likely that Ghostscript will run under other versions of DOS, and other versions of Unix that support X11, but it has not been tested in these environments. (Ghostscript does not run well on PC-compatibles with Hercules display cards, since text and graphics output interfere with each other, but you can work around this by redirecting the text output to a file.)
Ghostscript has also been ported to a number of platforms by users, who are willing to be contacted about problems on those specific platforms:
IFF file format RETINA graphics board INTUI Amiga window system
Jonathan R. Hudson
+44-1703-867843 telephone and fax
The Web site has precompiled binaries, and the port includes includes drivers for:
pic: native graphics format (PIC, 1-, -2, 4-, 8-colour formats) qfax: fax files (1D, 2D normal and fine)
Geoff Keating has created code to allow processing encrypted PDF files. Unfortunately, current U.S. export control laws don't allow redistribution of this code from a site in the U.S., even though it's freely available to anyone anywhere in the world from Geoff's site in Australia:
The change is a single file of PostScript code, pdf_sec.ps, which replaces a file in the standard Ghostscript fileset, so it can be added to a running version of Ghostscript without rebuilding anything. A full explanation and instructions are on Geoff's page.
The Ghostscript user interface is very primitive, so several people have contributed screen previewers with better user interfaces.
We know of three freely available X Windows screen previewers based on Ghostscript: Ghostview, gv, and GSPreview. Most users who have expressed an opinion prefer gv over Ghostview.
http://wwwthep.physik.uni-mainz.de/~plass/gv/A copy of gv (but perhaps not the most recent version) can also be found at:
gv is available for OpenVMS (both VAX and Alpha), called GhostView-VMS or gv-vms. Some places you can find it are:
For technical information on GSview for Windows or PM GSview, please contact Russell Lang <email@example.com>. (Aladdin provides Lang with a mail alias, but Lang is not an employee or agent of Aladdin.) These programs are also available for commercial licensing from Artifex Software Inc.
ps_view's authors are Boguslaw Jackowski and Piotr Pianowsky <P.Pianowski@gust.org.pl>.
The fonts available for Ghostscript, and how to use and add fonts in general, are extensively documented. See that documentation for (almost) all information about fonts. Nelson Beebe maintains a useful set of information about PostScript Type 1 fonts, including sources for freely distributable and commercially licensed fonts and an extensive list of Unix systems and the fonts available for them:
http://www.iki.fi/~mtr/genscript/ (home page)
and download the pstotext kit from
pstotext is unsupported, but the authors, Paul McJones <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Andrew Birrell <email@example.com>, are happy to have your questions and comments either by e-mail or at
For more information about the authors' Virtual Paper project, which attempts to make on-line reading of lengthy material (like research reports, manuals, or entire books) comfortable, read:
The list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) isn't updated very often, so it may be somewhat out of date. It's available from
or by AFS from
CompuServe announced in December 1995 that the Graphics Support Forum offers Message Section and Library 21, "Ghostscript", for technical assistance with Ghostscript. Ghostscript is available for downloading in Library 21, "Ghostscript." To access the Graphics Support Forum, GO GRAPHSUP. This service has no connection with Aladdin Enterprises.
Aladdin Enterprises doesn't have the resources to respond to questions from users of the freely available versions of Ghostscript. (Responding to questions and bug reports is one of the benefits that Artifex Software provides to commercial users in exchange for the licensing fee.) If you have problems with Ghostscript and you have access to the Internet, we suggest to post your question to one of these Usenet newsgroups:
There are hundreds of Ghostscript user sites all over the world, and another user will often be able to help you. If you have trouble with a specific device driver, look at devs.mak and contrib.mak in the Ghostscript source directory to see in which file the driver is defined. If it's defined in contrib.mak, the list of contributed drivers, please contact the author directly. Aladdin Enterprises can't help you with user-maintained drivers.
Aladdin Enterprises does want Ghostscript to be of high quality, so if you have been running Ghostscript and encounter a problem, we encourage you to post bugs to the newsgroups mentioned above. Before doing that, however, you should first check the "known bugs" notice at
where "###" is the unpunctuated version number of Ghostscript's latest release.
We will consider investigating problems reported to those newsgroups, or e-mailed directly to <firstname.lastname@example.org>, if (and only if) the report meets all the following conditions:
Bug reports that include suggested fixes are especially welcome. As time permits, Aladdin Enterprises may also respond to e-mail from the following classes of users:
Aladdin Enterprises owns or has access to the following hardware and software:
If your problem turns out to be specific to some other hardware or software configuration, it may take longer to track down, since we will have to rely on other users to help.
Please do not contact us if all you want is help with the freely distributed versions of Ghostscript! Ghostscript is free, but our time is not. If you call for help, we will tell you politely that we cannot answer your question. Ghostscript's documentation, while not of commercial end-user quality, has been adequate for thousands of users (for many of whom English is a foreign language), so the answer to your question is very likely in it somewhere.
Here is our contact information:
203 Santa Margarita Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025 U.S.A.
+1-650-322-0103 telephone (09:00-12:00 US Pacific time zone)
There are some projects that users could do that are somewhat independent of the main body of the code, and that would help improve Ghostscript.
and then contact Aladdin if you want to do the work.
Ghostscript was originally created, and is primarily developed and maintained, by L. Peter Deutsch, President of Aladdin Enterprises (not to be confused with Peter J. Deutsch, founder of Bunyip Information Systems Inc.).
Special thanks are due to Russell Lang, for the GSview for Windows and PM GSview programs, and for contributing most of the code for the Microsoft Windows and OS/2 environments; to Tim Theisen, for the Ghostview program for X Windows and for major contributions to, and assistance with support of, the code for the X Windows environment; to Martin Fong and Mark Lentczner, for the first Macintosh ports; to Pete Kaiser <email@example.com>, for redoing all of the documentation in HTML; and to the Independent JPEG Group, to Group 42, Inc., and to Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler, for creating the freely available libraries that Ghostscript uses.
Special thanks are due to URW++ Design and Development Incorporated, of Hamburg, Germany (http://www.urwpp.de/) for making a commercial-quality set of the 35 standard PostScript Type 1 fonts available for free distribution under the GNU and Aladdin licenses.
Special thanks are due to Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation for originating the GNU General Public License, for originally motivating Aladdin's interest in creating free software, and for being the primary distributor of GNU Ghostscript on the Internet.
See also the list of the many other people who have contributed significantly to improving Ghostscript.
Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 Aladdin Enterprises. All rights reserved.
This file is part of Aladdin Ghostscript. See the Aladdin Free Public License (the "License") for full details of the terms of using, copying, modifying, and redistributing Aladdin Ghostscript.
Ghostscript version 5.50, 16 September 1998