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 systems).
Table of contents
* Document roadmap by theme
+ What should I read if I'm a new user?
+ GPL Ghostscript and commerical Ghostscript
+ Before building Ghostscript
+ What should I read if I'm not a new user?
+ What if I'm a developer?
+ What if I'm writing documentation?
* Presence on the World Wide Web
+ Ghostscript's home pages
+ Adobe PostScript, Encapsulated PostScript, and PDF reference
+ Other material on the WWW
* Which document contains what?
+ Primarily for users:
+ For both users and developers:
+ Primarily for developers:
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 printing
* 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
* additional information about GPL Ghostscript releases that is not
relevant to commercial versions.
If you run into any questions, or if you are going to be using
Ghostscript extensively, you should at least skim, and probably
* about the fonts distributed with Ghostscript, including how to add
or replace fonts
* a description of the Ghostscript language, and its differences from
the documented PostScript language
* about the postscript files distributed with Ghostscript (other than
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:
* how to build Ghostscript and install it
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
* if you wish, Changes.htm, for a detailed list of changes in the
* if you wish, History#.htm (currently History8.htm), for changes in
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
* the roadmap documentation for Ghostscript's source files and
If you are going to write a new driver for Ghostscript, you should read
* the guide to the Ghostscript source code
* the interface between Ghostscript and device drivers
* about the external font interface between Ghostscript and
If you are considering distributing GPL Ghostscript in conjunction with
a commercial product, you should read the license carefully, and you
should also read
* additional clarification of the circumstances under which
Ghostscript can be distributed with a commercial product
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
* documentation on Ghostscript Interpreter API
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
or if you are going to use only the Ghostscript graphics library,
* about the structure of the Ghostscript library and its interfaces
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,
including the PostScript Language Reference Manual (Third Edition); the
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) Format Specification version 3, including
Encapsulated PostScript Interchange (EPSI) format; the 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.
There is a translation of the Ghostscript 'man' pages into Czech at:
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. For developers.
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.
A detailed list of all code changes in the current release or
pre-release, generated mechanically from the CVS logs. For
The conditions under which Ghostscript may be distributed in a
commercial context. See also the GNU 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
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
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
All 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:
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 it.
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 is needed.
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
"History*.htm", 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
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. For developers.
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 through ps2pdf to
convert PostScript to Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF).
Detailed information on how to use Ghostscript through ps2ps2 to
convert Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) or Adobe Postscript
Level 3 into Adobe Postscript Level 2.
A description of the PostScript files (other than font files)
distributed with Ghostscript, including initialization routines,
utility programs, and sample printable files.
The GNU General Public License, which states the conditions for
using and redistributing GPL Ghostscript.
A description of how to prepare and test a Ghostscript release.
Of interest only to developers who want to create new
Ghostscript versions for distribution.
A guide to the Ghostscript source code, for development and
How to set up Ghostscript as a Unix lpr filter.
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 command-line options.
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
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., 7 Mt. Lassen
Drive - Suite A-134, San Rafael, CA 94903, U.S.A., +1(415)492-9861, for
Ghostscript version 8.71, 10 February 2010