Overview of Ghostscript
This document is a roadmap to the Ghostscript documentation.
After looking through it, if you want to install Ghostscript and not only
use it, we recommend you read how to install
Ghostscript, and how to compile Ghostscript from
source code (which is necessary before installing it on Unix and VMS
Table of contents
Document roadmap by theme
What should I read if I'm a new user?
- how to use Ghostscript. This includes both
a quickstart introduction to the commandline version and more extensive
- detailed information about specific
devices that Ghostscript can use for output
- more detailed information about how to use Ghostscript under
Unix with lpr as a filter
- for information about known problems or to report a new one,
please visit bugs.ghostscript.com
but remember that free versions of Ghostscript come with with
NO WARRANTY and NO SUPPORT
GPL and commercial Ghostscript
GPL Ghostscript, Artifex Ghostscript and AFPL Ghostscript are different releases.
If you run into any questions, or if you are going to be using Ghostscript
extensively, you should at least skim, and probably eventually read:
Before building Ghostscript
If you are going to compile Ghostscript from source, rather than just use an executable
you got from somewhere, you may want to read:
What should I read if I'm not a new user?
If you have already used Ghostscript, when you receive a new release you
should begin by reading this file, then
- News.htm, for incompatible changes and new
features in the current release;
- if you wish, History#.htm (currently History9.htm), for changes in the current and earlier releases.
What if I'm a developer?
If you are going to do any development on or with Ghostscript at all, you
should at least look at
If you are going to write a new driver for Ghostscript, you should read
If you are considering distributing GPL Ghostscript in conjunction
with a commercial product, you should read the
license carefully, and you should also read
If you intend to use Ghostscript in the form of a dynamic link library
(DLL) under OS/2 or Microsoft Windows or in the form of shared object
under Linux, read
If you want to use Ghostscript as part of another program--as a callable
PostScript language interpreter--and not as a DLL or as a self-contained
executable application, you should begin by reading
- the source file
imain.h, the documented
API for Ghostscript not as a DLL
or if you are going to use only the Ghostscript graphics library,
What if I'm writing documentation?
If you are editing or adding to Ghostscript's existing documentation in
HTML format, or writing a new document, you should read
Presence on the World Wide Web
Ghostscript's home page
Ghostscript has a home page on the World Wide Web with helpful information
such as the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and a list of known problems
and workarounds for the current GPL Ghostscript release (in the
"Obtaining" file for that release):
More material about Ghostscript can be found at
Adobe PostScript, Encapsulated
PostScript, and PDF reference documentation
Adobe makes a wealth of technical documentation available over the Web,
PostScript Language Reference Manual (Third Edition); the
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) Format Specification version 3, including
Encapsulated PostScript Interchange (EPSI)
PDF Reference manuals.
The Acrobat SDK contains
pdfmark and Acrobat Distiller parameters documentation.
Some of these documents
are also available at Adobe's ftp
site, but not necessarily under the same filenames.
Other material on the WWW
Much other material about Ghostscript is available on the World Wide Web,
both as web pages and as archived Usenet and mailing list discussions. Use
the well-known search engines to find such material.
Which document contains what?
Here is the list in alphabetic order of Ghostscript documentation,
with explanations of the contents.
- On MS-Windows and OS/2, Ghostscript is compiled as a dynamic
link library (DLL). On Linux, Ghostscript can be compiled as
a shared object. This describes how to use it.
- Guidelines and style for C coding, which you should follow
if, for example, you write a new driver or add or
change something in Ghostscript. For developers.
- Changes.htm (Deprecated, please see News.htm)
- A detailed list of all code changes in the current release or
pre-release, generated mechanically from the CVS logs. For developers.
- The conditions under which Ghostscript may be distributed in a
commercial context. See also the GNU Affero General Public License.
- On OS/2, MS Windows-16 and MS Windows-32 platforms, Ghostscript is
compiled as a dynamic link library (DLL). This describes how to use it.
For developers. This DLL interface is obsolete.
Use API.htm instead.
- Code orientation for developers. Contains a detailed breakdown of
the source files by functional group, and overviews of the major
architectural features and services.
- Documention for deprecated devices and features. Features described here
will be removed in future versions of Ghostscript.
- Detailed information about some specific devices for which Ghostscript
can produce output. Run "
gs -h" to see which
devices a particular version of Ghostscript is built to use.
- Describes the interface between Ghostscript and device drivers. If
you do this, you should also read and use the C style
and coding guidelines. Necessary to develop a new driver. For
about fonts freely available for Ghostscript, and how to add and use new
fonts. Also describes how to use Ghostscript fonts as X Windows fonts. For
both users and developers.
- A note of thanks to people who have helped in the development of
- Part 1 of the five-part original Usenet distribution of the free
- The history of changes in all Ghostscript releases:
History9.htm for Ghostscript versions 9.n
History8.htm for Ghostscript versions 8.n
History7.htm for Ghostscript versions 7.n
History6.htm for Ghostscript versions 6.n
History5.htm for Ghostscript versions 5.n
History4.htm for Ghostscript versions 4.n
History3.htm for Ghostscript versions 3.n
History2.htm for Ghostscript versions 2.n
History1.htm for Ghostscript versions 1.n
- How to install Ghostscript. See also how to build
- A list of outstanding open issues in Ghostscript. These include
known limitations, minor bugs, performance issues, differences from
Adobe implementations, and others.
- The relationship between the Ghostscript interpreter and the
PostScript language as defined by Adobe.
- A description of the Ghostscript library, a set of procedures to
implement the graphics and filtering capabilities that are primitive
operations in the PostScript language and in Adobe Portable Document Format
(PDF). For developers.
- How to build Ghostscript executables from the source code. See also
how to install it. It's not necessary to be a highly
experienced developer to build or install Ghostscript, but some experience
- A brief description of the latest release or pre-release of
Ghostscript, and a list of any incompatible changes in it. Changes in older
releases are described in the history files "
which are usually installed in the documentation directory. Run
gs -h" to see where that is.
- A list of Ghostscript development projects with which we would like
- The guidelines and style for postscript coding in Ghostscript. Some
of Ghostscript is implemented in the postscript language itself, and
various utilities and examples are distributed with it. You should
follow these guidelines if you're extending or modifying those files.
- Detailed information on how to use Ghostscript through
ps2epsi to convert PostScript to Adobe
Encapsulated PostScript Interchange (EPSI) format.
- Detailed information on how to use Ghostscript, GhostPCL and GhostXPS to convert PostScript, PDF, XPS, PCL or PXL input to Adobe
Portable Document Format (PDF), Adobe PostScript Level 2, Adobe Encapsulated PostScript Level 2, Open XML (XPS) or PCL-XL.
- A description of the PostScript files (other than font files)
distributed with Ghostscript, including initialization routines, utility
programs, and sample printable files.
Contains a table of "third party libraries" (that is, code from outwith the
Ghostscript/GhostPDL project) that we import to our project and supply in our
releases. Including the purpose they serve, the version we QA and ship, the
license under which the code distributed and the URL for the "upstream"
- The GNU Affero General Public License, which states the conditions for using
and redistributing GPL Ghostscript.
- This document.
- A description of how to prepare and test a Ghostscript release. Of
interest only to developers who want to create new Ghostscript versions for
- A guide to the Ghostscript source code, for development and debugging.
- How to set up Ghostscript as a Unix
- Detailed instructions on how to use Ghostscript, including such
matters as designating an output device; choosing a default paper size;
how Ghostscript finds files, including font files; how it uses environment
variables; notes on specific platforms, including the X Window System; and
- Ghostscript's external font interface to a host platform's
font-rendering mechanism, for developers.
Copyright © 2000-2006 Artifex Software, Inc. All rights reserved.
This software is provided AS-IS with no warranty, either express or
This software is distributed under license and may not be copied, modified
or distributed except as expressly authorized under the terms of that
license. Refer to licensing information at http://www.artifex.com/
or contact Artifex Software, Inc., 7 Mt. Lassen Drive - Suite A-134,
San Rafael, CA 94903, U.S.A., +1(415)492-9861, for further information.
Ghostscript version 9.21, 16 March 2017