[nSLUG] Foolproof way to print PDF's?
George N. White III
gnwiii at gmail.com
Fri May 3 09:21:08 ADT 2013
PDF had to be invented because PostScript documents started to collect all
sorts of system and printer specific enhancements. Furthermore, run time
resource requirements for PS docs were unpredictable -- think about a
phototypsetter ended up taking all day to rasterize one figure.
All this also meant that a PDF document that "worked" 5 years ago could be
Now clever programmers have added non-standard enhancements to PDF, but
printers and archivists are fighting back by getting ISO standard PDF
"subsets" such as "PDF/A", etc. There are tools that can help identify
The wikipedia entry for PDF/A will give you an idea of the sort of
enhancements that are ruled out by the various PDF/A standard levels. <
has pointers to compliance checkers.
PDF (and PS) files that require enhancements not supported by your printer
can be printed as bitmaps after being rendered on your PC. Windows
drivers have some
heuristics to decide when to send PDF and when to rasterize on the host.
be a checkbox somewhere to "always send images". CUPS can use GS to
rasterize PDF's if your printer doesn't accept them. I often install
printers using both "PS" and
"PCL" drivers, the latter should use GS to rasterize PDF's. The CUPS
not have the same bugs as your PDF viewer, so docs you can view don't
print. CUPS often uses its own GS version/configuration, so even if the
file is viewable using GS on your screen there can still be problems
printing to a PDF incapable printer.
GS has drivers that can rewrite a PDF to remove some non-portable
extensions, but GS can't handle extensions that rely on non-free "helper"
apps or compression
On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 5:59 PM, Jack Warkentin <jwark at bellaliant.net> wrote:
> Hi Everybody
> Every once in a while I come across a PDF file which I can view on-screen
> perfectly on my Debian Wheezy system with several different PDF viewers,
> including gv, epdfview, and xpdf. But *none* of these prints the file
> successfully. A case in point can be found at
> On the other hand, when I fire up my Windows XP virtual machine, I can
> print it perfectly with Adobe Acrobat.
> I find this very frustrating. Any ideas, anyone?
> Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at bellaliant.net
> 39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6
> nSLUG mailing list
> nSLUG at nslug.ns.ca
George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia
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