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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[5] files, for the display or printing of document pages, and the conversion between PostScript and PDF files.[6]

Original author(s)L. Peter Deutsch
Developer(s)Artifex Software[1]
Initial releaseAugust 11, 1988; 31 years ago (1988-08-11)[2]
Stable release
9.27[3][4] / April 4, 2019; 5 months ago (2019-04-04)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC
Operating systemCross-platform
TypePostScript and PDF interpreter
LicenseDual-licensed (GNU Affero General Public License + commercial permissive exception)


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.

Ghostscript can also be used as a file format converter, such as PostScript to PDF converter. The ps2pdf conversion program, which comes with the ghostscript distribution, is described by its documentation as a "work-alike for nearly all the functionality (but not the user interface) of Adobe's Acrobat Distiller product".[7] This converter is basically a thin wrapper around ghostscript's pdfwrite output device, which supports PDF/A-1 and PDF/A-2 as well as PDF/X-3 output.[7]

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.[8][citation needed]

As it takes the form of a language interpreter, Ghostscript can also be used as a general purpose programming environment.

Ghostscript has been ported to many operating systems, including Unix-like systems, classic Mac OS, OpenVMS, Microsoft Windows, Plan 9, MS-DOS, FreeDOS, OS/2, Atari TOS and AmigaOS.


Ghostscript was originally written[9] 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[10] (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.[11] With version 8.54 in 2006, both development branches were merged again, and dual-licensed releases were still provided.[12][13]

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.[14] Artifex' point of view on "aggregated software" was challenged in court for MuPDF.[15][16][17]

In February 2013, Ghostscript changed its license from GPLv3 to GNU AGPL in version 9.07, [18][19] which raised license compatibility questions for example by Debian.[20]

Variants and forksEdit

  • Aladdin Ghostscript 5.50 (1998-09-17) and 6.01 (2000–03-17)[21]
  • AFPL Ghostscript[22] is Aladdin Ghostscript under the AFPL, 6.50 (2000-12-05) to 8.54 (2006-05-17), now abandoned.[12][13]
  • AGPL Ghostscript is the canonical variant available, since February 2013,[18] under the GNU Affero General Public License which is a free software license.
  • GNU Ghostscript is part of the GNU project and is now derived from GPL Ghostscript.
  • GPL Ghostscript is the basis for Display Ghostscript, which adds Display PostScript functionality support.
  • Ghostscript is the current commercial proprietary version licensed by Artifex Software for inclusion in closed-source products.
  • Ghost Trap is a variant of GPL Ghostscript secured and sandboxed using Google Chrome's sandbox technology.
  • ESP Ghostscript was a GPL Ghostscript fork for ESP's CUPS and merged with GPL Ghostscript.[23]

Front endsEdit

Ghostscript GUIs view PostScript or PDF files on screens, scroll, page forward, page backward, zoom text, and print page(s).

Free fontsEdit

There are several sets of free fonts supplied for Ghostscript, intended to be metrically compatible with common fonts attached with the PostScript standard.[27][28][29][30] These include:

The Ghostscript fonts were developed in the PostScript Type 1 format but have been converted into the TrueType format,[31][30] usable by most current software, and are popularly used within the open-source community. The Garamond font has additionally been improved upon.[37] URW's core 35 fonts have been subsequently incorporated into GNU FreeFont and TeX Gyre.[38]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bold Condensed
  2. ^ similar in style to the Postscript Marigold font but older


  1. ^ "Documentation". July 10, 2002.
  2. ^ "History of Ghostscript versions 1.n". Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  3. ^ "GPL Ghostscript 9". Ghostscript. Artifex Software, Inc. 2016-11-20. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  4. ^ "Overview of Ghostscript".
  5. ^ "Ghostscript and the PostScript language".
  6. ^ Ingo, Henrik (1 August 2006). "Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source". – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b "ps2pdf: PostScript-to-PDF converter". Retrieved 2014-08-03.
  8. ^ "Creating a Free PDF Writer Using Ghostscript". Retrieved 2017-06-02.
  9. ^ "Recent changes in Ghostscript".
  10. ^ Ghostscript 5.50 license (mirror)
  11. ^ "Background information for new users of Ghostscript".
  12. ^ a b "Advogato: Blog for raph". 29 June 2017. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. ^ a b Ghostscript leading edge is now GPL! Posted 7 Jun 2006 by raph "I have some great news to report. The leading edge of Ghostscript development is now under GPL license, as is the latest release, Ghostscript 8.54."
  14. ^ Licensing Information IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT DISTRIBUTING SOFTWARE FROM ARTIFEX "If your application, including all of its source code, is licensed to the public under the GNU GPL, you are authorized to ship GPL Ghostscript with your application under the terms of the GPL license agreement. You do not need a commercial license from Artifex." (archived)
  15. ^ Copyright infringement lawsuit filed against palm on
  16. ^ "Complaint for Copyright Infringement" (PDF). p.4 ¶15, p.6 ¶27. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  17. ^ "Notice of Voluntary Dismissal With Prejudice" (PDF). Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Ghostscript 9.07 and GhostPDL 9.07".(dead url, backup available)
  19. ^ "Licensing Information". Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  20. ^ "Re: Ghostscript licensing changed to AGPL".
  21. ^ "Ghostscript".
  22. ^ "Obtaining AFPL Ghostscript 8.54".
  23. ^ "Article #484: The Grand Unified Ghostscript Officially Released: GPL Ghostscript 8.60 - Common UNIX Printing System". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Debian package - gsfonts". Retrieved 2010-04-21.
  28. ^ "Fonts and font facilities supplied with Ghostscript". Retrieved 2010-04-21.
  29. ^ "Linux fonts (mostly X11)". 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
  30. ^ a b c "doc/pcl/urwfonts (URW fonts in TTF format)". ghostscript doc. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  31. ^ a b ArtifexSoftware. "urw-base35-fonts". GitHub. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  32. ^ Finally! Good-quality free (GPL) basic-35 PostScript Type 1 fonts., archived from the original on 2002-10-23, retrieved 2010-05-06
  33. ^ Finally! Good-quality free (GPL) basic-35 PostScript Type 1 fonts. (TXT), retrieved 2010-05-06
  34. ^ "Fonts and TeX". 2009-12-19. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
  35. ^ Five years after: Report on international TEX font projects (PDF), 2007, retrieved 2010-05-06
  36. ^ "GhostPDL License". ghostscript doc. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  37. ^ Bisson, Gaetan. "URW Garamond ttf conversions". Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  38. ^ "The New Font Project : TEX Gyre" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-06-12.

External linksEdit