Viewing PDF documents

Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat Reader (www.adobe.com) is the most common Windows program available for viewing PDF files, and is available for a variety of platforms including Linux. The Linux version has the same look and feel as its Windows counterpart, with the same features.

Ghostscript

Another program available for viewing PDF files under Linux is called Ghostscript (http://sourceforge.net/projects/ghostscript/), by Aladdin Enterprises (www.aladdin.com). This PostScript language interpreter and development engine views, prints and converts PostScript and PDF files. It can be used as a plug-in point for Linux printer drivers, and is also a program similar to Adobe Acrobat Distiller for PDF writing. Considering that Acrobat Distiller retails for around $550, the free distribution of Ghostscript with this extended functionality is quite impressive. Moreover, Ghostscript is a general graphics engine with several interpreter front ends, including support for a range of popular graphic formats such as TIFF and JPEG.

The most recent release of Aladdin Ghostscript is version 6.0, which can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.cs.wisc.edu/ghost/aladdin/gs600. Version 6.0 supports PostScript LanguageLevel 3 and PDF 1.3 interpreters, and PDF writer improvements. Licensing agreements prevent us from providing version 6.0 on the cover CD; however, the previous version, 5.50, is released under the General Public Licence and is on the CD.

Although Ghostscript interprets Post-Script and PDF files, it does not have a graphical viewing application. Other programs have been written for this purpose, Ghostview being one: it is a basic application that allows different viewing angles. The limitation of its functionality is understandable considering the current version, 1.5, is dated 1993. A more recent program for viewing PDF documents is gv 3.5.8, although it is still quite dated, from July 1997. This program offers a variety of viewing options including portrait, landscape and upside down. Page size can be scaled from 0.1 to 10 magnification. The pages are navigated via a side scroll bar. However, there is no individual page scroll bar, therefore pages must be controlled by dragging the mouse pointer.

We have provided Adobe Acrobat Reader, Ghostscript 5.50, Ghostview 1.5 and gv 3.5.8 on the PC World cover CD.

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Rodney Gedda

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