Printing and Scanning
by Tony Butka
on the OS/2 Platform
This month we take another look at the dual postscript and pdf programs, GhostScript (the engine) and GhostView (the GUI viewer), with a big thanks to the brave souls who attended SCOUG's February general meeting.
First, for anyone who doesn't know by now, Adobe has abandoned OS/2 - in fact did so a while ago with Version 3.0 of their Acrobat Reader software, the last native OS/2 software. Since then, over the years, there have been a number of new things added, particularly with Version 4.x, including better handling of color graphics, eps files, multi-page documents with hot links from within Acrobat, and many more.
Obviously the old version of the Acrobat reader is just not up to the job anymore, and can result in simply not being able to read the new stuff.
Enter GhostScript, a command line interpreter engine for manipulating postscript (.ps) and portable document format (.pdf) files. Until recently, our main source for this essential software was Russell Lang, the Australian of Ghostgum Software fame.
Word went out over the OS/2 community that Russell would no longer be supporting GhostView, and a number of naysayers started the drumbeat of the (again) death of OS/2. I myself, in fact, may have helped to create this impression in a column, so let me set the record straight, as Dick Nixon would say.
Klaus Staedler correctly reminded me that GhostScript for OS/2 is not dead at all. In fact, we will be talking about two new releases for OS/2 in this article. What has happened is that Russell Lang has not committed to any new releases of GhostView the graphical front-end to be used with GhostScript. GhostScript, on the other hand, continues to be developed and ported. In addition, after Russell's announcement, he recently (quietly) released a new 4.31 beta of GhostView. In the ensuing Internet posts, it would seem that Mr. Lang has determined that he will continue to fix stuff in the current version 4.3 as new versions of GhostScript come out. Way to go Russell! (says a registered owner of 4.3)!
Ok, with this clarification let's see what works and what doesn't work with the various shipping versions of all this stuff.
- GSV 4.3 works with GS 7.04 through 8.00 or later. This is also true for beta 4.31.
- GSV 4.1 works with GS 7.00 through 7.03, but will not work with GS 7.04.
- GSV 3.6 works with older versions of GhostScript.
Installation and testing was done on a Shuttle Spacewalker system with 512 MB of 266 RAM and an AMD XP1800+. OS/2 versions included Warp 4 (FixPak 15), eCS (1.02), and WSeB (FixPak 3). No incompatibilities were noted in installing under any of these versions of the OS.
However you choose to do the installation, it's pretty simple since version 4.1 and the nice installer.
The EMX Runtime Install:
The only gotcha is that you need to have the emx runtime installed on your system before running the program. If you are using another unix/linux port on your system like PMSANE, then you probably already have this installed. If you don't, then simply copy the file emxrt.zip into the root directory of your boot drive (like C:) and unzip the file, making sure that the file directories are in your config.sys file.
Installing GhostView/ GhostScript
You simply need the two GSV and GS zip files in a temp directory, for example:
which are the latest beta 4.31 GhostView and the latest AFPL GhostScript build for OS/2. You then unzip the viewer, either with your favorite GUI zip program, or if you're using pkzip:
pkzip /extract gsv431os2
This will create a set of files including one called os2setup.exe. Simply run that program and you will be prompted through the rest of the installation.
The new versions of GhostView and GhostScript work very well with both postscript and pdf files, with the exception of some printing issues that we'll get to. For some reason, the GNU GhostScript 7.05 ran visibly faster under both Warp 4 and eCS than the AFPL Version 8. In terms of file handling, there were no issues with either version of Ghostscript in opening any of the postscript or pdf files that I tried, including some very complex documents with a lot of hyperlinking.
Well, printing has always been an issue with open source. In the tests we did at the SCOUG meeting, we were able to get my Epson C80 to print pdf files - sort of, and slowly (without color). Running some tests at home with my Xerox C20 (really a Lexmark Optra Color 45), it was clear that printing pdf files under postscript is broken, period. On the other hand, postscript files mostly print OK. The workaround, for me, was to use the pcl drivers for the printer - lo and behold everything works just fine!
From the readme files, it looks as if most of the HP inkjets should work, as well as most lasers. For the Epsons, it looks as if most of the older models should work like the CSC 400-800 series, as well as the old ESC and ECSII's. This is true using either the Epson drivers or the new unidirvers. Your mileage may vary.
Actually, if you try this combination, please let me know what luck you have with various printers, and I'll forward the information to the appropriate folks.
I'm actually most of the way through a more thorough look at both GhostView and GhostScript, but as usual ran out of time. See you next month.
You might want to read the last Ink.
By day, Tony Butka is a bureaucrat for Los Angeles County. In his other life he lives in a loft surrounded by computers, printers, and a host of vinyl records.
The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA
Copyright 2003 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS
SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks of the Southern California OS/2 User Group.
OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International
Business Machines Corporation.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.