Foomatic 4 brings PDF workflow to Linux
The OpenPrinting working group at the Linux Foundation has released version 4.0 of the Foomatic printer database. The most important new development, the result of decision taken at the 2006 Printing Summit in Atlanta, is support for the Portable Document Format (PDF) in the printing work flow, rather than the traditional PostScript format. The Foomatic filter, which renders print data into a printer-specific format, now accepts both Postscript as well as PDF, and the Foomatic driver database generates PostScript Printer Description (PPD) files suitable for the PDF workflow.
However, in order to print PDF rather than PostScript, further changes have to be made to the printing system. The current version 8.63 of Ghostscript still requires patches, which can be found in the description of the PDF workflow on the OpenPrinting website. Also on the site are links to some scripts needed for the CUPS print spooler. Ubuntu 8.10 already includes a preliminary version of Foomatic 4.0 and all KDE/QT and some Gnome/GTK applications already send PDF directly to CUPS. In other current distributions, users will have to wait at least one more release cycle for the changes to be implemented.
The change in the print work flow from PostScript to PDF brings the Linux printing system one step closer to Mac OS X. Among the advantages PDF offers over PostScript are better standardisation and colour support, as well as easier post-processing. PDF has established itself as the standard, both in professional printing applications and on the web.
This story was corrected after comments in the forum by Till Kamppeter, who integrated Foomatic 4.0 into Ubuntu 8.10.