[Scribus] ghostscript-esp vs. ghostscript-afpl vs. ghostscript-gnu

PLinnell mrdocs
Tue Jun 7 21:58:29 CEST 2005

On Tuesday 07 June 2005 20:01, Sebastian Roeder wrote:
> Today I come up with some ghostscript questions and hope someone
> can shet a light on this - it's about different ghostscript
> versions.

It also does not help with the way some distros package and name GS.

> For normal office used I did never care about ghostscript - the
> distros normaly use a ghostscript-esp (at that time version 7.x)
> that is under GPL and works togehter with non-postscript printers
> and CUPS. The ESP suffix seems to be for Epson who started to make
> ghostscript-afpl non-postscript printer complient. (Note: There is
> currently 8.15.rc3 on the Cups HP).

Correction: Easy Software, tho Epson has done some sponsorship.
> When I worked with Scribus I was often recommended to use
> ghostscript-afpl instead, which is always more up to date (e.g.
> 8.15) and can be used for free (as in free beer) under the Aladin
> License. However this seems not to be the latest (stable)
> development. The latest version (e.g. 8.51) seems to be non-free,
> one has to pay a licence fee for it.
Erm, 8.51 AFPL is still free to use and re-distribute as long as you 
do not charge for it. 

What Scribus relies on is some of the high level "devices" and the 
core interpreter. The "devices" and improved PDF 1.4/PS3 support in 
the most recent versions of GS are specifically why we make a big 
fuss about having the latest GS. 

> To make confusion even worse there is ghostcript-gnu:
> http://www.gnu.org/software/ghostscript/
> The ghostscript main page points out that this was the name of
> ghostscript-gpl until 2004, but they have a new 8.16 release now.

Which unfortunately muddies the water as it is GPL 8.15 with some 
files removed to make FSF happy. That is my understanding and I could 
be wrong here, but I see little value in this release.

For printing, ghostscript-esp is the way to go. It will support the 
broadest range of printers and has CUPS integrated.

> OK, I am using ghostcript-afpl-8.15 atm on Gentoo with regard to
> best Scribus results - this means I have to print my everyday docs
> on WinXP because of the "CUPS-non-postscript-incompatiblety".

ghostscript-afpl 8.15 should have CUPS integrated in gentoo AFAIK. 
Patches exist for this. I do not use gentoo, but I would be pushing 
the devels there are some dramatic improvements even between 8.1x and 
8.5x in certain areas. The build setup between the two is *not* 
dramatically different.

If gentoo does not have esp-ghostscript at 8.15, I'd be filing RFE's 
and nudging the devels.

> My questions are which ghostscript-* version is best for Scribus
> (and what the hell is the difference between the gnu one and the
> others) and maybe what I can do to get my printer to work + best
> Scribus results. As a sidenote, the printer is PCL aware (Brother
> HL5140 laserprinter).

It might be antithetical to the gentoo way, but I always have the 
latest GS parallel installed to what ever the distro provides me. I 
self compile it in /usr/local (the default) and pretty much use this 
version without CUPS *specifically* for Scribus and GSview.

Hints here: 
> And please correct me if I gave a wrong summary ;-)
> Regards,
> Sebastian

What has happened in the past is AFPL Ghostscript was not allowed to 
ship with CUPS integration. Most distros wishing to support loads of 
printers used ESP-Ghostscript and were stuck waiting for ESP to 
update to GPL 8.x  This is no longer an issue and I hope all future 
GS releases after 8.16 will come with CUPS integrated.

Transitioning to GS 8.x with all the drivers supported by ESP GS is a 
major work. That task in some cases requires major rewrites of the 
print drivers as the color model in GS 8 was changed (for the 

RedHat never used ESP Ghostscript until 2 days ago, as they supported 
many older, as well as many Japanese specific printers. They have 
supported many different drivers with their own build system in RPM. 
The 7.07 spec file is either a: truly scary b: a masterpiece of perl, 
shell, sed and awk scripting and patches to make it all stick.   

Redhat has now switched to GS 8.15, based on ESP Ghostscript. For the 
adventureous, Rawhide has RPMS. Remember Rawhide's motto:
"If it breaks, you get to keep the pieces." 

Mandrake Cooker and Suse 9.3, also now have GS 8.15, based on the 
latest ESP-Ghostscript 8.15. I'd note that Mandrake and Suse have 
contributed a pile of fixes and patches to ESP GS 8.15.  Where Debian 
and other distros are with GS I have not a clue.

I've tested a backport for Suse 9.2 and earlier, but it is tricky. 
Ghostscript is one of the most complex packages to build via RPM if 
you want CUPS, foomatic, ijs and everything else working and 
installed properly. 

What is hoped is for GPL GS 8.16/8.17 to have CUPS support natively 
built in which will make upgrading in the future much less painful. 
this means no more forked GS for the Linux/OSS folks. We might even 
get fontconfig support added too. 


GPL Ghostscript - based on an older version of AFPL Ghostscript, 
maintained and released by Artifex. Has a few core drivers which are 
built statically, plus "devices" which do the file conversions.  Note 
fixes to AFPL also get applied regularly to the GPL branch.

GNU Ghostscript - based on GPL Ghostscript minus some files and 
licensing changes. (My understanding.) A quick look at the tarball 
does not reveal anything new except for these minor changes and no 
additional functionality.

ESP - Ghostscript - based on GPL GS with the addition of hundreds of 
additional printers supported. ESP-Ghostscrip includes CUPS, Omni and 
other third party drivers. Maintained and commercially supported by 
Easy Software, but also released under the GPL.

AFPL - Ghostscript - freely available, latest version of Ghostscript 
from Artifex. 

I would note the Artifex folks are quite happy to work with OSS folks 
and the AFPL license is fairly free as in freedom too. They have been 
*very* helpful to us in some cases. That they do not wish to maintain 
the extra drivers in the GPL tree is also very understandable to me.

It is probably clear as mud, but I hope this all makes sense. It is a 
bit more complex, but should give folks an idea of the differences. 

When 8.16/8.17 hits the distros, this will be far less complicated for 


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