|Original author(s)||L. Peter Deutsch|
|Initial release||August 11, 1988|
|Type||PostScript and PDF interpreter|
|License||Dual-licensed (GNU Affero General Public License + commercial permissive exception)|
Ghostscript is a suite of software based on an interpreter for Adobe Systems' PostScript and Portable Document Format (PDF) page description languages. Its main purposes are the rasterization or rendering of such page description language files, for the display or printing of document pages, and the conversion between PostScript and PDF files.
Ghostscript can be used as a raster image processor (RIP) for raster computer printers—for instance, as an input filter of line printer daemon—or as the RIP engine behind PostScript and PDF viewers. It can also be used as a file format converter, such as PostScript to PDF converter. The
ps2pdf conversion program comes with the ghostscript distribution.
Ghostscript can also serve as the back-end for PDF to raster image (png, tiff, jpeg, etc.) converter; this is often combined with a PostScript printer driver in "virtual printer" PDF creators. As it takes the form of a language interpreter, Ghostscript can also be used as a general purpose programming environment.
Ghostscript was originally written by L. Peter Deutsch for the GNU Project, and released under the GNU General Public License in 1986. Later, Deutsch formed Aladdin Enterprises to dual-license Ghostscript also under a proprietary license with an own development fork: "Aladdin Ghostscript" under the Aladdin Free Public License (which, despite the name, is not a free software license, as it forbids commercial distribution) and "GNU Ghostscript" distributed with the GNU General Public License. With version 8.54 in 2006, both development branches were merged again, and dual-licensed releases were still provided.
Ghostscript is currently owned by Artifex Software and maintained by Artifex Software employees and the worldwide user community. According to Artifex, as of version 9.03, the commercial version of Ghostscript can no longer be freely distributed for commercial purposes without purchasing a license, though the (A)GPL variant allows commercial distribution provided all code using it is released under the (A)GPL.
Ghostscript graphical user interfaces (GUIs) view PostScript or PDF files on screens, scroll, page forward, page backward, zoom text, and print pages. Such GUIs include Evince, IrfanView, Inkscape and PDF24 Creator. Virtual printers can also create PDF files.
- 35 basic PostScript fonts contributed by URW++ Design and Development Incorporated, of Hamburg, Germany in 1996 under the GPL and AFPL. It is a full set fonts similar to the classic Adobe set: Bookman L (Bookman), Century Schoolbook L (New Century Schoolbook), Chancery L (Zapf Chancery), Dingbats (Zapf Dingbats), Gothic L (Avant Garde), Nimbus Mono L (Courier), Nimbus Roman No9 L (Times), Nimbus Sans L (Helvetica), Palladio L (Palatino), Standard Symbols L (Symbol), in Type1, TrueType, and OpenType formats.
- The GhostPDL package (including Ghostscript as well as companion implementations of HP PCL and Microsoft XPS) includes additional fonts under the AFPL which bars commercial use. It includes URW++ versions of Garamond (Garamond No. 8), Optima (URW Classico), Arial (A030), Antique Olive, and Univers (U001), Clarendon, Coronet, Letter Gothic, as well as URW Mauritius and a modified form of Albertus known as A028. Combined with the base set, they represent a little more than half of the standard PostScript 3 font complement.
- A miscellaneous set including Cyrillic, kana, and fonts derived from the free Hershey fonts, with improvements by Thomas Wolff (such as adding accented characters).
The Ghostscript fonts were developed in the PostScript Type 1 format but have been converted into the TrueType format, usable by most current software, and are often used within the open-source community. The Garamond font has additionally been improved upon. URW's core 35 fonts have been subsequently incorporated into GNU FreeFont and TeX Gyre.
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