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About Ghostscript and Ghostview

Last modified: 12 December 2008

Ghostscript is a program for displaying PostScript graphics. Ghostview is a convenient user interface to Ghostscript. Both are freely available on the Net.

If you want to view PostScript documents with a Web Browser (e.g. Netscape, Mosaic,...) you should install Ghostscript and possibley Ghostview. If you are using a Mac, Ghostscript should be sufficient (the Mac version already has a Graphical User Interface), but for Unix or MS-DOS you will probably also want to get Ghostview to serve as the user interface to Ghostscript. Instructions for setting up Ghostview to be your "external viewer" for PostScript documents on Unix machines are given below, although nowadays most web browsers are configured to do so by default.

You can get Ghostscript and Ghostview from the sources listed below. Installation instructions are generally included in the distribution.


Ghostscript is now distributed in two different versions, with two different licenses. The Aladdin version, distributed by Aladdin Enterprises, is more recent and is covered by the Aladdin Ghostscript Free Public License (AFPL), which prohibits commercial distrubution (unless you get a commercial license from Artifex Software Inc., which is the only entity currently authorized by Aladdin to grant such licenses). The GNU version is the Aladdin version of about a year ago, and is covered by the GNU Public License (GPL). It is therefore now called "GPL Ghostscript".


The original Ghostview has evolved into several different "front-end" tools for viewing PostScript using Ghostscript:

Selecting Ghostview as your external viewer in Unix

X Windows browsers such as Netscape and Mosaic should be able to use ghostview automatcially if it is installed, but if you have any problems you can configure them explicitly to do so.

Netscape (version 1.1 or later), Mosaic (2.4 or later) and current beta versions of Lynx will take care of unpacking files compressed with the Unix compress utility (files ending in .Z) or the GNU gzip utility (files ending in .gz), though some versions of Mosaic seem to have problems getting this step right.

If you are using some other browser (OmniWeb, Microsoft's Internet Explorer) then you may want to look at the instructions for your browser, and/or in the xxx archives at Los Alamos (see below).

Further Information

Compiled by Eric Myers <myers@umich.edu> Last Updated: 25 July 2000

Copyright © 1998,1999 by Eric Myers
PostScript is a trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated.