There are various different products in the Ghostscript family; this document attempts to explain what they are, and how they are related.
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Ghostscript is an interpreter for PostScript™ and Portable Document Format (PDF) files. It is available both under the GNU GPL Affero license and for commercial licensing from Artifex. It has been under active development for over 20 years and has been ported to many different systems during this time.
Ghostscript consists of a PostScript interpreter layer, and a graphics library. Sometimes the Ghostscript graphics library is confusingly also referred to simply as Ghostscript. Even more confusingly, sometimes people say Ghostscript when they really mean GhostPDL.
Binaries for Ghostscript for various systems can be downloaded from www.ghostscript.com/download. The source code is included in both the Ghostscript and GhostPDL downloads from the same site.
GhostPDF is an interpreter built on top of Ghostscript that handles PDF files. Currently GhostPDF relies on extensions to the PostScript language/imaging model, and so cannot be used independently of the Ghostscript PostScript interpreter component. As such GhostPDF is an umbrella term used to refer to both these extensions and the interpreter code.
Many people (including the authors) frequently just refer to Ghostscript as supporting PDF and only specifically mention GhostPDF when wanting to make the distinction between the PostScript and PDF support.
GhostPDF is included in the Ghostscript binaries for various systems available from www.ghostscript.com/download. The source can be found in both the Ghostscript and GhostPDL downloads from the same site.
GhostPCL is an interpreter for PCL™ and PXL files. This consists of an PCL/PXL interpreter hooked up to the Ghostscript graphics library.
Binaries for GhostPCL for various systems can be downloaded from www.ghostscript.com/download. The source can be found in the GhostPCL/GhostPDL downloads from the same site.
GhostXPS is an interpreter for XPS (XML Paper Specfication) files. This consists of an XPS interpreter hooked up to the Ghostscript graphics library.
Binaries for GhostXPS for various systems can be downloaded from www.ghostscript.com/download. The source can be found in the GhostXPS/GhostPDL downloads from the same site.
GhostPDL (Ghost Page Description Languages) is an umbrella term for all the above technologies. As all the above interpreters are built upon a single graphics library, there are size and portability benefits to using two of more of the languages in a given project. A product that includes more than one such language in a single binary and automatically chooses between them is sometimes referred to as a "Language Switch" build.
The source code for GhostPDL can be found on www.ghostscript.com/download.
PostScript is a registered trademark of Adobe Systems Inc.
PCL is a registered trademark of Hewlett-Packard Company.
Copyright © 2000-2018 Artifex Software, Inc. All rights reserved.
This software is provided AS-IS with no warranty, either express or implied. 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., 1305 Grant Avenue - Suite 200, Novato, CA 94945, U.S.A., +1(415)492-9861, for further information.
Ghostscript version 9.26, 20 November 2018