How to build Ghostscript from source code

Table of contents

For other information, see the Ghostscript overview and the instructions on how to install Ghostscript.

General overview

This document describes how to build a Ghostscript executable from source code. There are four major steps to building Ghostscript:

  1. Acquire the compressed archive files of source code for Ghostscript and the required third-party libraries.
  2. Unpack the archive files into the Ghostscript directory and correctly named subdirectories.
  3. Prepare the makefiles, including specific changes for your operating environment and your choice of configuration options.
  4. Invoke "make" to build the software.

The remainder of this document describes each of these steps in detail. Note that some of this process is platform-dependent. After building Ghostscript you must then install it; for that, see the installation instructions.

How to acquire the source code

Building Ghostscript requires the Ghostscript source code itself, and also the source code for some third-party libraries that Ghostscript uses.

Ghostscript source code

There are two kinds of Ghostscript distributions available, called "Aladdin Ghostscript" and "GNU Ghostscript"; the distinction between them is explained in the conditions for distributing Ghostscript. The authoritative distribution site for Aladdin Ghostscript is

where "###" is the unpunctuated version number. GNU Ghostscript should be available on all GNU sites, such as

Ghostscript source code is packaged in two different formats: gzip-compressed tar files (*.tar.gz) and zip files (*.zip). For all versions there are gzip-compressed tar files:


For recent versions of Aladdin Ghostscript -- not GNU Ghostscript -- there are also zip files (each zipped file fits onto a single 1.44MB diskette):


("#.##" and "###" are version numbers in punctuated and unpunctuated form.) Software to decompress and extract both formats is available for almost every platform for which Ghostscript is available -- including Unix, DOS, MS Windows, and VMS -- so you can choose the format most convenient for you; but it's up to you to locate that software. See the section on unpacking the source code.

Third-party library source code

To build Ghostscript you need the source code for the Independent JPEG Group (IJG) library, the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) library, and the zlib compression and decompression library. Here are authoritative distribution points for these libraries, where as elsewhere, "#" is used for version numbers. The JPEG source code is quite stable, so the reference here includes the latest version number. The zlib references are version-independent and should always provide the latest version.

Third-party libraries: authoritative sources
zlib (latest)

On DOS or MS Windows one ordinarily uses the zip file kits, in other environments the compressed tar files, but this is simply a matter of convenience, since for the same version of the software the compressed tar file has the same contents as the zip file. Note that each of these libraries has its own version number that has nothing to do with Ghostscript's version number; you should get the highest numbered version. (If you encounter difficulties in the build process you might have to use a lower-numbered version, but don't worry about this yet.) If you're running Linux, you might check whether these libraries are already available in source form on your system, since many Linux distributors include them; but we advise you to get the highest version from the Net if you can.

Although the zip archives of an old version of the PNG library may not be named, we refer to it as

How to unpack the source code

Unfortunately there are no generally accepted standards for how to package source code into archives, so the instructions for unpacking Ghostscript are longer than they should be. We begin with a brief explanation of how to extract the two kinds of archive files.

How to unpack compressed tar files generally

Tar (.tar) files are the de facto standard for archiving files on Unix (every Unix system has the tar program), and programs to extract their contents are also widely available for DOS, MS Windows, and VMS. To economize on space and downloading time, Ghostscript's tar files are compressed with GNU gzip, which adds the suffix ".gz" to the file name, giving ".tar.gz".

To unpack a compressed tar file MyArchive.tar.gz you must both decompress it and extract the contents. You can do this in two steps, one to decompress the file and another to unpack it:

gzip -d MyArchive.tar.gz
tar -xf MyArchive.tar

or in a pipeline:

gzip -d -c MyArchive.tar.gz | tar -xf -

or, if you have a program like GNU tar that can handle compressed tar files, with a single command:

tar -zxf MyArchive.tar.gz

The tar program automatically preserves directory structure in extracting files. The Ghostscript source archive puts all files under a directory gs#.##, so using tar to unpack a compressed archive should always properly create that directory, which we will call the "gs directory". Make sure you're positioned in the parent of the gs directory before unpacking the files. If a subdirectory doesn't already exist, tar creates it.

Some other programs -- under MS Windows, for instance -- can also unpack compressed tar files, but they may not automatically preserve directory structure nor even extract files into the current directory. If you use one of these, you must

How to unpack zip files generally

Zip files are the de facto standard for archiving files on DOS and MS Windows, and programs to extract their contents are widely available for DOS, MS Windows, Unix, VMS, and other platforms. Zip files are at once an archive format and a compressed format, so an unzipping program decompresses and extracts archived files as a single step.

One common 16-bit DOS program is pkunzip, which comes in the pkzip package. If you use this, you should ensure that you have at least version 2.04g, because with its -d switch, that version of pkunzip preserves the directory structure of archived files when extracting them; see below. Another popular free program to unpack zip archives, available for DOS and MS Windows (16-bit and 32-bit), Unix, VMS, and other platforms, is InfoZIP unzip:

Unlike pkunzip, InfoZIP unzip automatically preserves the directory structure of extracted files. So if you have a zip archive

Extracting zipped files
Command      Preserves directory structure

pkunzip   Does NOT
pkunzip -d   DOES (note the -d switch)
unzip   DOES

As with the compressed tar files, make sure you're positioned in the parent of the gs directory before unpacking the files. If a subdirectory doesn't already exist, zip or pkunzip -d creates it.

How to unpack Ghostscript itself

At this point you have acquired all the source code and are ready to unpack it according to the preceding guidelines for tar files or zip files. To unpack the Ghostscript source, make the parent of the (new) gs directory the current directory.

2-step:     gzip -d ghostscript-#.##.tar.gz
tar -xf ghostscript-#.##.tar
Pipe:   gzip -d -c ghostscript-#.##.tar.gz | tar -xf -
GNU tar:   tar -zxf ghostscript-#.##.tar.gz
pkunzip:   pkunzip -d
pkunzip -d
unzip:   unzip gs###sr*.zip

All the Ghostscript source files are now in subdirectories of the gs directory.

Source subdirectories
Subdirectory      Contents

src/   C source code and makefiles
lib/   PostScript files and scripts used when running Ghostscript
doc/   Documentation
man/   Unix man pages
examples/   Sample PostScript files

How to unpack the third-party libraries

The Ghostscript makefiles expect to find the JPEG, PNG, and zlib source code in specific subdirectories of the gs directory, and this means you must pay careful attention to unpacking the source code for these packages. Use the same method for all of them, no matter how they're packaged:

  1. Make the gs directory current.
  2. Unpack the archive file, creating a subdirectory (which will include a version number).
  3. Whatever the subdirectory's original name, rename it to the versionless name shown just below.

If you're uncertain how to unpack an archive, review the sections on compressed tar files and zip files.

3d-party software subdirectories
Package      Possible
original name
     Rename to

JPEG   ./jpeg-6b   ./jpeg
PNG   ./libpng-#.##   ./libpng
zlib   ./zlib-#.#.#   ./zlib

How to check for post-release bug fixes

Before making any changes for your particular environment, check the post-release "known bugs" notice at

where "###" is the unpunctuated version number of Ghostscript's latest release. The page lists bugs known in the latest release, and also gives workarounds and patches where available. Apply the patches before building Ghostscript.

How to prepare the makefiles

The Ghostscript makefiles are very large and complex in order to deal with the diverse requirements of all the different systems where they may be used. Fortunately, the only makefiles you're likely to want to change are relatively small ones containing platform-specific information.

Platform-specific makefiles
Makefile      Used for

bcwin32.mak   MS Windows with Borland/Inprise compilers
msvc32.mak   MS Windows with Microsoft Visual C++ version 4.n or 5.n
openvms.mak   OpenVMS
os2.mak   OS/2 with the gcc/emx compiler
unix-gcc.mak   Unix with gcc
unixansi.mak   Unix with ANSI C compilers other than gcc
unixtrad.mak   Unix with "traditional C" compilers
watc.mak   DOS with Watcom compilers
watcw32.mak   MS Windows with Watcom compilers

Platform-independent makefiles
contrib.mak   Contributed device drivers
devs.mak   Aladdin's device drivers
gs.mak   Documentation and miscellany
int.mak   Main makefile for the PostScript & PDF interpreter
jpeg.mak   JPEG library
lib.mak   Graphics engine
libpng.mak   PNG library
version.mak   Version and release date
zlib.mak   zlib library

Since these files change from one Ghostscript version to another, sometimes substantially, and since they all include documentation for the various options, here we don't duplicate most of that documentation: we recommend strongly that you review the entire makefile specific for your operating system and compiler before building Ghostscript.

Changes for your environment

You must edit the platform-specific makefile to change any of these:

The platform-specific makefiles include comments describing all these except the DEVICE_DEVS options. These are described in devs.mak and contrib.mak, even though the file that must be edited to select them is the platform-specific makefile. Check also the JVERSION and PVERSION macros in the platform-specific makefile, and adjust them if they don't match the JPEG and PNG library versions you're using: see jpeg.mak and libpng.mak for more information.

Some platform-specific options are described in the sections for individual platforms. See the "Options" section near the beginning of the relevant makefile for more information.

Selecting features and devices

You may build Ghostscript with any of a variety of features and with any subset of the available device drivers. The complete list of features is in a comment at the beginning of gs.mak, and the complete list of drivers in comments at the beginning of devs.mak and contrib.mak. To find what devices a platform-specific makefile selects to include in the executable, look in it for all lines of the form

FEATURE_DEVS={list of features}
DEVICE_DEVS*={list of devices}

For example, if the makefile has


indicating that only the PostScript Level 2 facilities should be included, you might make it


to add the ability to interpret PDF files. (In fact, FEATURE_DEVS in the current Unix makefiles already includes $(PSD) The Unix makefile also defines


indicating that the X Windows driver should be included, but since platform-specific makefiles as distributed normally include many of the possible features and drivers, you will probably rather remove from the makefile the features and drivers you don't want. It does no harm to include unneeded features and devices, but the resulting executable will be larger than needed.

You may edit the FEATURE_DEVS line to select or omit any of the features listed near the beginning of gs.mak, and the DEVICE_DEVS* lines to select or omit any of the device drivers listed near the beginning of devs.mak and contrib.mak. The first device listed in the definition of DEVICE_DEVS becomes the default device for this executable; see the usage documentation for how to select an output device at run time using the -sDEVICE= switch. If you can't fit all the devices on a single line, you may add lines defining

DEVICE_DEVS1=$(DD){dev11}.dev ... $(DD){dev1n}.dev
DEVICE_DEVS2=$(DD){dev21}.dev ... $(DD){dev2n}.dev

etc., up to DEVICE_DEVS15. Don't use continuation lines -- on some platforms they don't work.

Note that if you want to include a driver named xxx, you must put $(DD) in DEVICE_DEVS*. Similarly, if you want to include a feature related to the PostScript or PDF language interpreters (PostScript level 1 .. 3, or other language features such as the ability to read EPSF files or TrueType font files), you must represent it as $(PSD) If you are linking only the graphics library -- not the language interpreter(s) -- with an application and want to include optional graphics library features such as CIE color, you represent them as $(GLD)

Precompiled run-time data

Ghostscript normally reads a number of external data files at run time: initialization files containing PostScript code, fonts, and other resources such as halftones. By changing options in the top-level makefile for the platform, you can cause some of these files to be compiled into the executable: this simplifies installation, improves security, may reduce memory requirements, and may be essential if you are planning on putting Ghostscript into ROM.

To compile the initialization files (lib/, etc.) into the executable, change the 0 to a 1 in the line


To compile fonts into the executable, see Precompiling fonts.

To compile threshold-array halftones into the executable, see the "Compiled halftone" section of int.mak for a sample makefile fragment, genht.c for the syntax of halftone data files, and lib/ for a sample data file. Note that even though the data files use PostScript syntax, compiled halftones do not require the PostScript interpreter and may be used with the graphics library alone.

GNU readline

Aladdin Ghostscript does not include an interface to GNU readline. A user contributed code for this purpose, which we spent significant time debugging and then updating to track internal architectural changes in Ghostscript. The contributor was willing to assign the copyright to Aladdin Enterprises, and to allow the code to be distributed with the Aladdin Free Public License (AFPL) as well as the GNU License (GPL). However, even though the GPL allows linking GPLed code (such as the GNU readline library package) with non-GPLed code (such as all the rest of Aladdin Ghostscript) if one doesn't distribute the result, the Free Software Foundation, creators of the GPL, have told us that in their opinion, the GPL forbids distributing non-GPLed code that is merely intended to be linked with GPLed code. We understand that FSF takes this position in order to prevent the construction of software that is partly GPLed and partly not GPLed, even though the text of the GPL does not actually forbid this (it only forbids distribution of such software). We think that FSF's position is legally questionable and not in the best interest of users, but we do not have the resources to challenge it, especially since FSF's attorney apparently supports it. Therefore, even though we added the user-contributed interface to GNU readline in internal Aladdin Ghostscript version 5.71 and had it working in version 5.93 (one of the last beta versions before the 6.0 release), we removed it from the Aladdin Ghostscript 6.0 distribution.

GNU Ghostscript distributions will include support for GNU readline. As with other GNU Ghostscript components that are not included in Aladdin Ghostscript, Aladdin will not attempt to run, link, or even compile this code, or keep it current across changes in the rest of Ghostscript. We will, however, welcome bug fixes or updates, and distribute them with subsequent releases of GNU Ghostscript.

The first GNU Ghostscript distribution that will include GNU readline support will be GNU Ghostscript 6.0, currently scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2000. Before that time, we may return the copyright of Ghostscript's GNU readline interface module, which the original author assigned to Aladdin Enterprises, to the author, so that users of GNU Ghostscript will have have access to it. However, since it requires internal changes not available in any released GNU Ghostscript version before 6.0, any user who gets this code and links it with Aladdin Ghostscript 6.0 will, according to FSF, be violating the intent (though not the letter) of the GPL.

We put considerable work into making it possible for Ghostscript to use GNU readline, including the creation and adjustment of internal software interfaces specifically to serve this purpose. In principle, we should have undone this work in Aladdin Ghostscript, lest FSF object to it too as intended to facilitate linking Aladdin Ghostscript with GNU readline (as the U.S. government has been said to do for code that merely provides APIs where encryption may be added). However, we are willing to take this risk rather than spend the time to undo the interface changes.

If you have comments or questions about this situation, please feel free to contact the Free Software Foundation, authors of the GPL and copyright holders of GNU readline, at, and Aladdin Enterprises, author and copyright holder of Ghostscript, at

Setting up "makefile"

After going through the steps just described to unpack the sources, make any desired changes to the makefiles, and unpack or create links to the third party libraries, as the final step in preparing to build Ghostscript you must usually associate the name "makefile" with the correct makefile for your environment so the make command can find it. See the section on your particular platform for how to do that if necessary.

Invoking "make"

Builds Ghostscript without debugging options.
make debug
Builds Ghostscript with debugging options and additional internal error checks. The program will be somewhat larger and slower, but it will behave no differently unless you actually turn on debugging options at execution time with the -DDEBUG or -Z command line switches described in the usage documentation.
make pg
On Unix platforms, builds with the -pg compiler switch, creating an executable for time profiling.
make begin
On PC platforms, attempts a quick and dirty compilation of all the .c files in the current directory. See the more detailed explanation.
make install
After building, installs the Ghostscript executables, support files, and documentation, but does not install fonts. See the installation documentation.
make clean
Deletes all the files created by the build process (relocatables, executables, and miscellaneous temporary files). If you've built an executable and want to save it, move it first to another place, because "make clean" deletes it.

Note: on most platforms some of these simple instructions don't quite work in one way or another. Read the section on your specific platform.


If you are compiling Ghostscript on machines X1 ... Xn with cross-compilers that generate code for machine Y, you must first perform several extra steps on some machine Z (not necessarily of the same type as either Xi or Y). First of all, choose a makefile appropriate for Z and edit it to reflect the run-time options you wish to include (FEATURE_DEVS, DEVICE_DEVS*, and any other relevant options), just as for non-cross-compilation.

If Z runs Unix, perform the following steps:

  1. On Z,
    make clean
    make obj/arch.h obj/genconf obj/echogs
  2. Edit obj/arch.h to reflect the architecture of Y.
  3. On Z,
    make CC=: CCLD=:
  4. Copy the files obj/*.h from Z to the directory on each Xi that will be used for compilation.
  5. Extract from the file obj/ (on Z) the list of .o files that will be linked: this gives the list of source files that must be compiled.
  6. Do the compilations on Xi.

If Z runs some version of Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Visual C++, use the following steps. NOTE: We have not actually tested this.

  1. On Z,
    nmake clean
    nmake obj\arch.h obj\genconf.exe obj\echogs.exe
  2. Edit obj\arch.h to reflect the architecture of Y.
  3. On Z,
    nmake CC=rem LINK=rem
  4. Copy the files obj\*.h from Z to the directory on each Xi that will be used for compilation.
  5. Extract from the file obj\ (on Z) the list of .obj files that will be linked: this gives the list of source files that must be compiled.
  6. Do the compilations on Xi.

How to build Ghostscript from source (PC version)

All Ghostscript builds in PC (DOS and MS Windows) environments are 32- or 64-bit: 16-bit builds are not supported. The relevant makefiles are

PC makefiles
Makefile    Construction tools    For environment

bcwin32.mak   Borland/Inprise C++ 4.x   32-bit MS Windows 3.1 + Win32s, 95, 98, NT
msvc32.mak   Microsoft Visual C++ 4.x or 5.x   MS Windows 32-bit
watc.mak   Watcom C/386 or C++   MS-DOS 32-bit (extended)
watcw32.mak   Watcom C/386 or C++   MS Windows 32-bit
unix-gcc.mak   Cygnus gcc   Cygnus gnu-win32

To build Ghostscript you need MS-DOS version 3.3 or later and Borland/Inprise C/C++ (4.0 or later); Microsoft Visual C++ (version 4.0 or later); Watcom C/386 (version 8.5 or later) or C++ (any version); or the free djgpp + go32 development system. The options in the makefiles are chosen to strike a balance between RAM consumption and likely usefulness. If you run make in directory {dir}, the default configuration generates an executable that assumes the Ghostscript initialization and font files are in directory {dir}\lib.

Note that the make program supplied with each PC compiler has a different name. We refer to this program generically as make everywhere else in this document, but you will find the correct name for each compiler in the relevant section below that discusses that compiler.

You must have COMMAND.COM in your path to build Ghostscript. After making the changes needed to choose features and devices to build into the executable, you must create the directory where the compiler will do its work (normally the obj subdirectory of the current directory) and the directory where the compiled code will be placed (normally the bin subdirectory). Then to build the Ghostscript executable all you need do is give the make command.

A special make target "begin" attempts to compile all the .c files in the current directory. Some of these compilations will fail, but the ones that succeed will go considerably faster because they don't individually pay the overhead of starting up the compiler. So a good strategy for building the executable for the first time, or after changing a widely used .h file, is to do the fast compilation of everything possible, then the controlled compilation of everything that failed in the first step:

make begin

Note: if you unpack the Ghostscript sources on a DOS or MS Windows system from a Unix tar file, the unpacked files have linefeed alone as the line terminator (the Unix convention) instead of carriage return + linefeed (the Microsoft convention), which may make the C compiler unhappy. One simple way to fix this, if you have the InfoZIP zip and unzip programs, is

zip -l *.bat *.c *.h      (Letter "l", not the digit "1")
unzip -o   (Rewrite all the same files correctly)
del   (Delete the temporary zip file)

Borland/Inprise environment

To compile Ghostscript with the Borland/Inprise environment (hereafter referred to as just "Borland"), you need Borland C++ (version 4.0 or later); specifically the compiler, make utility, and linker. You also need either the Borland assembler (version 1.0 or later) or the Microsoft assembler (version 4.0 or later).

To create "makefile", give the command

echo !include "src\bcwin32.mak" >makefile

To run the make program, give the commmand


Besides the source files and the makefiles, you need:

*.bat   (a variety of batch files used in the build process)

Comments in the makefiles describe the configuration parameters. If your configuration is different from the following, you should definitely read those comments and see if you want or need to change any of this:


Microsoft environment

NOTE: We have received reports that the Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 and 6.0 compilers produce incorrect code for Ghostscript version 6.0 and later, from the same source code that compiles and runs correctly with other compilers. We strongly recommend using the Inprise (Borland) compiler rather than MSVC++ 5.0 or later. (We use the Inprise compiler for the executables that we distribute ourselves.)

To compile Ghostscript with the Microsoft environment, you need Microsoft Visual C++ 4.0 or later with its associated "nmake" utility and linker. If you're using version 4.x, before building, in msvc32.mak find the line "MSVC_VERSION = 5" and change it to "MSVC_VERSION = 4".

To create "makefile", give the command

echo !include src\msvc32.mak >makefile

To run the make program, give the commmand


You may get error messages during compilation about /QI0f being an undefined switch, or the message "dwmain32.def: EXETYPE not supported for platform; ignored" during linking. Ignore them.

The Microsoft VC++ 5.0 compiler locks up when compiling gxi12bit.c with /O2. Compile this file without /O2.

The Microsoft VC++ 5.0 compiler produces a non-working executable if compiling without stack checking. Don't change the setting TDEBUG=1 in msvc32.mak.

Making self-extracting executables

You can build self-extracting Windows executables of Ghostscript. (This is not needed to use Ghostscript.) Currently this requires both the Borland/Inprise and the Microsoft compilers, and also two pieces of third-party software:

You will have to edit src/winint.mak to define WINZIPSE_XE and ZIP_XE respectively as the path names of these programs. See Release.htm for the detailed procedure.

Watcom environment

Because of limitations in the way that Watcom implemented their wmake program, you must run the Watcom tools under MS Windows, even if you are generating a DOS executable. This is very unfortunate, and there is no good technical reason for it, but we were unable to persuade Watcom (now Powersoft) to do anything about it.

To use the Watcom compiler, add to AUTOEXEC.BAT the line "set DOS4G=quiet". Check that AUTOEXEC.BAT also contains a line of the form "set WATCOM={wcdir}" where {wcdir} is the directory where you installed the Watcom tools, and that the setting of PATH includes {wcdir}\binnt (or %WATCOM%\binnt) before {wcdir}\binw (or %WATCOM%\binw). Then to create "makefile":

For     Give the command

DOS   echo !include src\watc.mak >makefile
MS Windows   echo !include src\watcw32.mak >makefile

Before compiling, change the definition of the WCVERSION macro in the makefile (watc.mak or watcw32.mak) to the version of the Watcom compiler you are using. This is necessary to handle some minor incompatibilities between versions.

To run the make program, give the commmand

wmake -u

For information on using the GNU make program with the Watcom compiler to build MS-DOS executables, which avoids the limitations in wmake, see here.

Cygwin32 gcc

A user reports that it is possible to compile Ghostscript for MS Windows NT using the Cygwin32 gcc compiler, GNU make, and the unix-gcc.mak makefile, with only two small source code changes:

Information about this compiler and environment is at the Cygnus site:

Please note that Cygnus's licensing terms aren't quite as liberal about redistribution as either the GNU General Public License or the Aladdin Free Public License, so read their license carefully if you want to redistribute the results of using their compiler.

How to build Ghostscript from source (Mac version)

Traditional MacOS

There are additional Mac-specific source files in a distribution separate from the rest of Ghostscript. In addition to the standard Ghostscript sources, you will need the following files:
Source files as a StuffIt archive
How to use and build MacGS*.sit.bin
Fonts (properly not to build MacGS but to install it)

If you don't have a program to expand and unpack these files, get the free StuffIt Expander program from your favorite Macintosh archive.

In the standard method of building Ghostscript, these files except the JPEG are unpacked into one big directory; the JPEG stuff is unpacked into a directory called jpeg-6 under the main directory. The Macintosh stuff is also unpacked into its own directory, called "Mac Specific". However, if you like you can set up all these files in this hierarchy:

Suggested Macintosh hierarchy
Ghost Dev
     files   (All *.ps, *.htm, and other non-build files)
  fonts   (Fonts)
  src   (*.c, *.h, *.mak)
  jpeg-6   (JPEG files)
  Mac Specific   (Mac files)
  MPW Build   (Empty directory used for building under MPW)

Once everything is laid out, look at the file Worksheet in the "Mac Specific" folder for complete steps to build the system with either MPW or CodeWarrior.

Some versions of CodeWarrior on the PowerPC have a code generation bug that causes the compiled Ghostscript to occasionally produce bad output. To avoid triggering this bug, do not use the "Use FMADD & FMSUB" Code Gen option. We recommend using the following options (for CodeWarrior 4, all patches applied):

Code Gen:
Struct alignment: PowerPC
Traceback Tables: Inline
Target Processor: 750 (or as appropriate for your system)
Store Static Data in TOC
Schedule Instructions
Peephole Optimization

Global Optimizations:
Level 3

Rhapsody OS

Currently, building with Rhapsody is only supported with non-display devices, such as pdfwrite for converting PostScript to PDF, raster file devices such as pbmraw, and printers. For this environment, use unixansi.mak with these additional definitions in the make command line: SYNC=nosync STDLIBS= DEVICE_DEVS= (yes, there is really just a space after the second and third '=').

How to build Ghostscript from source (Unix version)

Before issuing the make command to build Ghostscript, you have to make some choices, for instance

Be sure to check the sections on tool-, OS-, and hardware-specific issues for notes on your particular platform and compiler. In fact, that is the first place to check if you build Ghostscript and it crashes or produces obviously incorrect results.

The multi-architecture makefile

Especially if you are working in a Unix environment with multiple CPU types, operating systems, and/or C compilers, you may find the file all-arch.mak useful. This user-contributed file includes "wrappers" for the Unix makefiles for many different common environments. The author of this file notes:

This makefile allows you to execute

	 make `hostname`

on any machine on a network, without having to examine the Makefile for a specific target name. Also, some of the targets in the Makefile incorporate special changes in compiler options for certain files, to work around compiler bugs that Ghostscript has been so good at exposing. Having that special handling written down in a Makefile proves very convenient.

I don't do "make install" until I've done

	cd lib
	../bin/gs ../examples/

and verified that the famous tiger can be correctly displayed. Also, the "make install" step is careful to first remove any existing $(BINDIR)/gs, then install a new gs there with a hard link to gs-x.yz.

That way, each installation makes gs a synonym for the latest release, but earlier ones remain in place in case backtracking is needed, which I've fairly often wanted to do when investigating changed behavior, or a suspected bug.

When I've been experimenting with a new feature, such as GNU readline support, I change the setting of GS from gs to ngs (new gs), so as not to break any existing programs by the installation of an experimental version.

Setting up "makefile"

The files src/unix*.mak are the makefiles for Unix platforms, and you choose one based on what compiler you use. To build Ghostscript, however, you must use the simple command "make", which must find the file "makefile" (or "Makefile"). If your system supports symbolic links, set up "makefile" like this.

GNU gcc:      ln -s src/unix-gcc.mak makefile
Non-gcc ANSI C compiler:   ln -s src/unixansi.mak makefile
"Traditional" C compiler:   ln -s src/unixtrad.mak makefile

If your system doesn't support symbolic links, first finish all changes to the compiler-specific makefile, then make a hard link, omitting the -s switch.

The makefile distributed with Ghostscript selects the following devices to include in the build:

Devices included as distributed
Type    Devices

Display   X Windows
Printers   H-P DeskJets, LaserJets, and color DeskJets and PaintJets; Canon BubbleJets
File formats   Group 3 & Group 4 fax; JPEG; PCX; PBM, PGM, PKM, & PPM; TIFF; PostScript images; PNG; distilled PDF, PostScript, and EPS; PCL XL ("PCL 6")

The unix*.mak files explicitly compile and link the JPEG, PNG, and zlib libraries into the executable. If your Unix system already includes the PNG and zlib libraries -- probably in /usr/lib/libpng.{a,so} and /usr/lib/libz.{a,so} -- and you would rather use those copies, change the definition of SHARE_LIBPNG and SHARE_ZLIB from 0 to 1 in the relevant unix*.mak file before compiling. Note that if you do this, you will get non-debug versions of these libraries even if you selected DEBUG in the makefile. At the insistence of some users, we have also provided the ability to do this with the JPEG library (SHARE_JPEG), but should not use it: in order to be compatible with Adobe interpreters (which do not follow the JPEG standard exactly), Ghostscript has to compile the IJG code with the non-standard definition

#define D_MAX_BLOCKS_IN_MCU 64

and since shared versions of this library will not have been compiled this way, you awill get errors on some valid PostScript and PDF input files.

If the X11 client header files are located in some directory which your compiler does not automatically search, you must change the XINCLUDE macro in the makefile to include a specific -I switch. See the comment preceding XINCLUDE in the makefile.

Currently Ghostscript is set up to compile and link in a generic Unix environment. Some Unix environments may require changing the LDFLAGS macro in the makefile; be sure to check the Unix section for your specific tools, operating system, and hardware.

Ghostscript uses ANSI syntax for function definitions. Because of this, when compiling with cc ("traditional" C), it must preprocess each .c file to convert it to the older syntax defined in Kernighan and Ritchie, which is what most current Unix compilers (other than gcc) support. This step is automatically performed by a utility called ansi2knr, which is included in the Ghostscript distribution. The makefile automatically builds ansi2knr. The ansi2knr preprocessing step is included in the makefile rule for compiling .c files. ansi2knr creates a file called _temp_$$.c to hold the converted code, where $$ is the process ID. If for some reason you want to change this name, it is defined in a script file ccgs.

Tool-specific issues

gcc 2.7.*

Some of the issues in using gcc are very specific to the particular computer, the particular version of the operating system, and the particular version of gcc available to you. You can check the version of gcc with the gcc --version command.

An optimizer bug in gcc versions 2.7.0, 2.7.1, and 2.7.2 causes the compiler to generate incorrect code. The makefile works around this, but we recommend that if possible you use either an earlier or a later version of gcc; for instance, gcc 2.5.8, gcc 2.6.3, or later which don't have this bug. Note, however, that gcc has other problems on some platforms, so please read the section for your specific platform.

GNU make

Current versions of GNU make have no problems, but GNU make 3.59 can't handle the final linking step in some cases; if this happens, use the platform's standard make, typically /bin/make.

OS-specific issues

386 Unix


Digital Unix (Alpha)


On FreeBSD systems, in the top-level makefile (unixansi.mak, unix-gcc.mak, or unixtrad.mak), change the value of STDLIBS from -lpthread -lm to -lc_r -lm before building.


To create RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) files for Ghostscript N.NN:

Bruce Babcock <> has made available everything needed to build Ghostscript under Linux Slackware 3.*, Red Hat 4.* and 5.*, and Debian 1.* and 2.0; the files include instructions and shell scripts to build and install Ghostscript, as well as all the source and font kits and patches needed:


SCO Unix/Xenix

SVR4 Unix

System V Unix platforms


Hardware-specific issues

Alpha with gcc

H-P Apollo

AT&T 7040 R3


DECStations with Ultrix

H-P RISC workstations

Intergraph Clipper


NCR 3550

Pyramid MIServer-S

See "AT&T 7040 R3".

IBM RS/6000 with AIX

Silicon Graphics




VAX with Ultrix

How to build Ghostscript from source (OS/2 version)

Note: This section was contributed by a user: please e-mail Hermann Ulrichskötter <> if you have questions or problems.

The following instructions are for building with emx 0.9d/Fix2. Be warned that with this version of gcc/emx, compiler optimization flags '-O' or '-O1' will produce non-working output.

Before compiling or linking, execute md bin and md obj in the gs directory to create the directories for the binaries.

First, build the standard configuration:

Now, if you wish, you can edit OS2.MAK to suit your needs, and then perform nmake -f .\src\os2.mak clean and then nmake -f .\src\os2.mak.

How to build Ghostscript from source (OpenVMS version)

DEC C runtime library versions 5.5 and newer have an exit function that is compatible with all other C systems, but some older ones don't; we don't know whether the exit function in VAX C is compatible or not. If you get error messages from VMS when auxiliary programs such as genarch or echogs finish executing, find the line in stdpre.h that reads

/*#define OLD_VMS_C*/
and remove the /* and */, changing it to
#define OLD_VMS_C

Some versions of DEC's X server have bugs that produce broad bands of color where dither patterns should appear, or characters displayed white on top of black rectangles or not displayed at all. If this happens, consult the usage documentation for how to work around X server bugs using X resources; also report the problem to DEC, or whomever supplied your X server.

You may also wish to turn off the use of a backing pixmap with Ghostscript, either to work around X server memory limitations or bugs, or to obtain faster displaying at the expense of no redrawing when a Ghostscript window is restored from an icon or exposed after being occluded by another window. Again, the usage documentation tells how to do this.

You can precompile any Type 1 font into C, then compile and build it into Ghostscript, as described in the fonts documentation. If you do this, then add "$(PSD)" to FEATURE_DEVS in OPENVMS.MAK:

$ FEATURE_DEVS = "$(PSD) $(PSD) $(PSD) $(PSD) $(PSD)"

Specify the font names with ccfonts1:

$ ccfonts1 = "Courier Courier_Oblique Courier_Bold Courier_BoldOblique"

If this makes the line too long, add another line of the same form, such as

$ ccfonts1 = "Courier Courier_Oblique Courier_Bold Courier_BoldOblique" $ ccfonts2 = "Times_Roman Times_Italic Times_Bold Times_BoldItalic"

Building with GNU make on OpenVMS

Note: GNU make on OpenVMS apparently has bugs that make it stop with an error when building Ghostscript version 5.80 or later. Until further notice, use MMS or MMK for building Ghostscript on OpenVMS. See below for details.

As of Ghostscript version 5.0 you can use GNU make -- with the file OPENVMS.MAK and some auxiliary .COM files -- to build Ghostscript on OpenVMS. Use the command:

make -fopenvms.mak "OPENVMS={VAX,ALPHA}" "DECWINDOWS=[1.2]"

That is, specify either VAX or ALPHA as the value of the OPENVMS parameter, and either "1.2" or nothing (blank) as the value of DECWINDOWS. (The value "VAX" just means that you want to use the VAX C compiler: it doesn't imply that you are running on VAX hardware.) In Europe and other parts of the world where ISO standard paper sizes are used, append "A4_PAPER=1" to that line to make A4 the default paper size at run time.

If you haven't a prebuilt copy of GNU make, you'll have to build it yourself; as of Version 3.76 (but not earlier) it is said to build properly under OpenVMS on both VAX and Alpha. The kit is available at the Free Software Foundation's ftp site and its mirrors. See

Building with MMK or MMS on OpenVMS

As of Ghostscript version 5.68 you can use MMK or MMS to build Ghostscript on OpenVMS. MMS is a utility available from Compaq (Digital); MMK is a free program largely compatible with MMS.

Building Ghostscript with MMK or MMS uses the file OPENVMS.MMK and some auxiliary .COM files. To build Ghostscript with MMK or MMS, use the command:

where ### is either mmk or mms.

Specify VAXC=1 for the VAX C compiler, VAXC=0 for the DEC C compiler. Specify DECWINDOWS1_2=1 for DECWINDOWS 1.2, DECWINDOWS1_2=0 for other DECWINDOWS versions. In Europe and other parts of the world where ISO standard paper sizes are used, add ,"A4_PAPER=1" just before the final closing parenthesis to make A4 the default paper size at run time.

To download MMK (source code, and VAX and Alpha executables), visit

Other environments

Environments lacking multi-threading

All environments mentioned here by name have multi-threading capability. However, if your environment doesn't, you can remove all need for multi-threading by setting SYNC=nosync in the top-level makefile. Note that you will not be able to use any so-called "async" drivers (drivers that overlap interpretation and rasterization) if you do this. No such drivers are in the DEVICE_DEVS* lists of any makefile that Aladdin distributes.

Plan 9

Use unix-gcc.mak, editing it to define


You will also probably have to edit many path names.


David J. Hawkey Jr. writes that he built Ghostscript 4.03 and 5.0 under QNX 4.22, 4.23, and 4.24 using Watcom C 10.6 and that "it works quite well, after figuring out the /etc/config/lpsrvr directives, except for color printing to my HP DeskJet some-number-or-another". Here is a concise presentation of changes based on the ones he made for Ghostscript 4.03.

Original lines    Change to

INSTALL = install -c
  INSTALL = cp

datadir = $(prefix)/share   datadir = $(prefix)/lib



EXTRALIBS=   EXTRALIBS=-lXqnx_s -lsocket

XINCLUDE=-I/usr/local/X/include   #XINCLUDE=-I/usr/local/X/include

XLIBS=Xt Xext X11
XLIBS=Xt_s Xext X11_s

After the line
#include <sys/param.h>

add these lines:

#if defined(__QNX__)
#include <unix.h>

After the line
#include "time.h"

add these lines:

#if defined(__QNX__)
#include <sys/time.h>

Modify the line beginning
#  if defined(Plan9) ||

to begin

#  if defined(__QNX__) || defined(Plan9) ||
Here is Hawkey's lpsrvr as an example.
# lpsrvr
# Defines the print queues and their devices
# Queues

# ink-jet: Ghostscript interpreter for mono DeskJet - LaserJet works
#          better than DeskJet!

        co=/usr/local/bin/gs -q -sDEVICE=laserjet -sOutputFile=- -dNOPAUSE $(spfile) | cat > $(device)

# Devices



Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Aladdin Enterprises. All rights reserved.

This file is part of Aladdin Ghostscript. See the Aladdin Free Public License (the "License") for full details of the terms of using, copying, modifying, and redistributing Aladdin Ghostscript.

Ghostscript version 6.0, 3 February 2000