How to prepare a Ghostscript release

Table of contents

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


This document describes the process that artofcode LLC, the copyright holder of Ghostscript, uses for making new Ghostscript releases. Please note that while the the license allows anyone to prepare and distribute releases in accordance with its terms and conditions, this document is really meant only to document the process used by artofcode LLC. However, the eventual purpose of this document is to describe Ghostscript release procedures in enough detail that someone who knows little about Ghostscript but is generally familiar with the platform on which the procedure is being carried out can execute the procedures correctly. So if you add or changing anything to/in this document, be sure to specify all command lines, file names, etc. in explicit detail.

The release process for the GPL and AFPL branches are similar, though there are some differences in terms of policy and release locations. See the section on GNU releases below for information specific to GNU Ghostscript.

File names below that don't include an explicit subdirectory name are in the src subdirectory.

If you do plan to make your own distribution, please be aware of some items you will want to change.


The GNU and AFPL Ghostscript files are maintained on sites accessible to the public. One specific site hosts the active CVS repository for code, data, and documentation, and the bug report data base; several sites offer distributions with release numbers, intended for wider distribution.

Development sources and bug reports

The primary repository for GNU and AFPL Ghostscript is Please check there first for any news about releases or current work, and for information about where to download ghostscript and how to access the mailing lists. CVS access is through

It may also be helpful to read the SourceForge AFPL Ghostscript home page (


Stable, beta, and development releases are all available from

Stable releases are also distributed from or

Development releases are also distributed from

Release numbering

Ghostscript uses a two-part (major.minor) release number. The second part of the release number is a 2-digit decimal fraction: it counts 00, 01, 02, and so on through 99.

Release numbers appear in the following places in the Ghostscript files:

Before a release

The current release number in the development code must be set to the desired value. The increment from just after the previous release (see below) is sufficient for minor updates. In the case of major changes or a new stable release, the number will need to be bumped; this is generally done as the first step of preparing a new release.

After a release

After making a release the release number in CVS is incremented. Thus versions built from cvs are always marked with a future (or unused) release number to avoid confusion.

Additionally, After an N.00 or N.50 stable release, a branch is made in cvs so that development can continue independently of changes to the stable series. When this happens, the minor release number is incremented by 10 (or 20) on the development branch (and by 1 on the new stable branch, as above) to avoid collisions.

While incrementing the release number after making a release may seem counter-intuitive, it ensures that, at any given time, the version number alone is sufficient to distinguish between the current CVS state and a numbered release.

Making distributions

This document only discusses source distributions. Source distributions currently can only be made on Linux systems (but it probably wouldn't take much work to support other Unix systems). Ghostscript as distributed also often includes executables or other packages for the Windows and MacOS environments, but artofcode does not always produce these, and this document does not discuss them. For more information about Windows packages, please contact; for more information about MacOS packages, please contact

To make a source distribution, you will need the scripts and data files in the toolbin/ directory. The instructions below generally assume that you're invoking the relative to the top level of the source tree. To run the scripts, you will need reasonably current versions of Tcl, freely available from Scriptics (, and Python, freely available from

The instructions below also refer to some files that are deliberately omitted from the public distribution, because they are not freely redistributable. You will need to provide similar files for your environment.

data/*/*.ps (PostScript files) - needed for smoke testing

Preparing the source code

If necessary, update the release number by incrementing it as described in Release numbering above.

Update references to the date for release:

We recommend using a UTC release date to avoid timezone skew.

Also in doc/News.htm, update the number of the highest closed bug and the list of open bugs.

Check in gscdef.c that the definition of GS_PRODUCT includes the appropriate one of "DEVELOPMENT RELEASE", "BETA RELEASE", or neither, and does not include "CVS PRE-RELEASE".

Run the source-consistency checks from the test suite:

toolbin/tests/ --gsroot=.
Where the argument of --gsroot is the path to the top level of the source tree. Fix any problems it indicates, and commit them to cvs.

Check for patched configuration parameters, #define TESTs, version/date inconsistencies, and mismatches between the working directory and the CVS repository by running:


This program compares the result of various greps against a check file, writing the results of grep on one output file and the differences from the check file on another. See the source code for the default file names. The important one is the check file, toolbin/pre.chk. pre.tcl also verifies that the right information is in the following places:

If necessary, run

toolbin/pre.tcl update

to update the version and revision date in the doc files, and then run


again. To confirm that everything is updated. You may have to commit to cvs after the update to satify the script that all the dates are correct.

Check the consistency of the source code with the makefiles by running:

toolbin/gsmake.tcl check
This script assumes the top level makefile is named 'makefile'.

Fix any problems and commit to cvs.


Edit your top-level the Makefile to set


This will help catch compilation problems.


rm obj/*
make -j2 >& make.log

and look for warnings and errors in the log file.

Do a smoke test, updating the example paths as necessary:

./bin/gs -I./lib -I./fonts -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH toolbin/
./bin/gs -I./lib -I./fonts -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=bitcmyk\
  -sOutputFile=/dev/null -r600 -dBufferSpace=100000 toolbin/

This reads files named


(Edit toolbin/ to use other test sets.) Watch for crashes, unusual error messages, or anomalous displayed output. If there are any problems, start over from the beginning of the process.



cvs commit

to ensure the repository is up to date.

Execute either (for the main HEAD branch)

toolbin/ -j <previous_tag> -r '-b' -v <new_version> > doc/Changes.htm
or (for a non-HEAD branch)
toolbin/ -j <previous_tag> -r '-r<branch_tag>' -v <new_version> > doc/Changes.htm
toolbin/ -j gs7_20 -r '-b' -v 7.21

This consolidates all the CVS logs since the previous release in a readable format. Note: the tool currently in the distribution is not very branch-aware (nor is the 'cvs log' command it depends on) so the extra complication of the -j and -r options are required when generating the Changes for a non-HEAD branch of Ghostscript. Note that the -r option should be an empty '-b' when generating logs for the cvs main branch due to variations in naming.



This updates doc/History#.htm from doc/News.htm and doc/Changes.htm. Then run

cvs commit

again to check in the Changes and history files.

Making the source distribution

First, tag the versions of the files in cvs with the release version number.

cvs tag gs#_##
If you've already tagged this release (e.g. in making an earlier release candidate) you'll need to add the -r and -F options after 'cvs tag' to force moving the tag to the new revisions of changed files.

Pull a fresh copy for distribution from the cvs repository:

cvs -z3 -d <ghostscript cvsroot> export -r gs#_## -d ghostscript-#.## gs

Generate the text versions of the README and PUBLIC documents:

cd ghostscript-#.##
lynx -dump -nolist doc/Readme.htm > doc/README
lynx -dump -nolist doc/Public.htm > doc/PUBLIC

For the unix source distributions only, generate the configure scripts. From the top level directory, run

make distclean
This should create links to and in the top level directory and invoke autoconf to create the configure script.

Also, run autoconf in the ijs subdir to create the configure script for that package.

Move back to directory containing the distribution code and make the source archives with:

tar cvzf ghostscript-#.##.tar.gz ghostscript-#.##/*
zcat ghostscript-#.##.tar.gz | bzip2 -c > ghostscript-#.##.tar.bz2

This creates the files

ghostscript-#.##.tar.gz (main archive)
ghostscript-#.##.tar.bz2 (main archive)

The important issue is that the tarballs unpack into a directory of the same name, and that the code be a pristine copy without build or CVS housekeeping files.

It is also customary to make a archive for the convenience of windows developers. See below.

Testing on Windows

For Windows testing, you will need, in addition to the files listed under "Preparing the source" above:


The following procedures rely on a large number of MS-DOS batch scripts that are not discussed here: they are unlikely to be generally useful.

Mount the Windows partition on /c, and create the /c/work directory if needed.

Make the zip archive of all files needed for a Windows build, and copy it to the Windows partition:

cp /c/work

Boot into Windows. Unpack the archive:

cd \work
unzip -oq

The gs###.bat script creates some necessary directories, sets up PATH and GS_LIB for testing, and makes the gs#.## directory current.

Build with the Borland compiler:

config bcwin32
copy /y /b ..\gs\makefile
erase obj\*.*
make > bc.log

Smoke test the executables (both gswin32 and gswin32c), as described above for source distributions. Then build with the Microsoft compiler:

config msvc32
copy /y /b ..\gs\makefile
erase obj\*.*
nmake > msvc.log

Smoke test these executables too.

Building with the Watcom compiler doesn't work, because the wmake or wmakel program runs out of memory. However, if it did work, this is how to do it:

config watcw32
copy /y /b ..\gs\makefile
erase obj\*.*
wmake -u > watc.log

Boot back into Linux. If testing in Windows revealed problems, edit the source files as necessary, and go back to "Preparing the source code."

Building the Windows distribution

Extract the sources from ghostscript-N.NN.tar.gz then repackage in a zip file as follows:

zip -r gsN.NN/doc gsN.NN/examples gsN.NN/icclib gsN.NN/ijs gsN.NN/lib gsN.NN/src
Unzip converting the line endings to CRLF:
unzip -a
Then finally zip up the sources to the distribution file:
zip -9 -r gsN.NN
This method is reasonably portable, and does not convert binary files such as examples/annots.pdf.

Unzip The directory must be named gsN.NN.

Extract the AFPL fonts ghostscript-fonts-std-6.0.tar.gz or GNU fonts gnu-gs-fonts-std-6.0.tar.gz into a directory fonts adjacent to the gsN.NN directory. The fonts are needed in this location for building the distribution archive later.

You will need the command line Info-Zip zip program available from Alternatively, the command line version of WinZip (wzzip.exe) can be used by replacing the Info-Zip command line options -9 -r with -ex -P in winint.mak.

You will need WinZip Self-Extractor for building the self extracting archive. This is commercial software. You may need to update the path WINZIPSE_XE in winint.mak.

Unzip the jpeg, libpng and zlib libraries, then make ghostscript as documented in Make.htm.

Run the command nmake archive. This builds the distribution archive gsNNNw32.exe and an ordinary zip file in the parent directory. If you do not have WinZip Self-Extractor, you can use nmake zip to make only.

Finishing up

Upload ghostscript-#.##.tar.* to SourceForge (by anonymous FTP to, directory /incoming), and then post it using the "File Release" facility in the AFPL Ghostscript project. If this is a stable AFPL release put it in the ghostscript module. If this is a GNU release, put it in the gnu-gs module. If this is a test release or beta release, put it in the gs-devel or gs-beta module, respectively. If you are adding executable builds or source archives for other platforms to an existing source release, please use the same release date as the source release, not the current date.

If doc/C-style.htm has changed, put it on

Beta distributions

Do the steps for distributions in general.

Upload ghostscript-#.##.tar.* to

Send an email announcement to the gs-test list announcing the new release.

Public releases

Do the steps for distributions in general.

Create a directory at In that directory, store the following files:

(Note that the link names are somewhat inconsistent: some of them retain the version number of the file being referenced, and some of them use the Ghostscript release number. This is a historical artifact that might be changed someday.)

E-mail the release announcement using:

To: gs-announce

Edit the Web pages in cvs and commit to reflect the new release. The Wisconsin server should update automatically.

After releasing

Update the release number by incrementing it as described in Release numbering above.

In gscdef.c, edit the definition of GS_PRODUCT to include "CVS PRE-RELEASE".

Edit doc/News.htm to remove all the content.

GNU Ghostscript releases

artofcode LLC re-releases each stable AFPL Ghostscript branch under the GPL--as GNU Ghostscript--when the next major stable AFPL release comes out, or after one calendar year, whichever comes first.

GNU code

To make a GNU Ghostscript release from AFPL Ghostscript, update the LICENCE file to reflect the new status of the code. In general there can be no recipe for this as it depends on the niceties of ownership and permisison attached to each piece of code. However, a previous GNU release can serve as a guide.

There are also generally some portions of code (usually drivers) which are limited to GNU Ghostscript only. These may want porting to the new version before release.

Once the license change is complete and the codebase has been updated to satifaction, follow the release process as described for AFPL Ghostscript above to test and package the new version. The distribution methods are parallel to those for the AFPL, with the GPL releases generally going under a separate header. For example, on the wisc ftp site upload the file to

After releasing (GNU)

E-mail the full URL and the md5sum of the new archive(s) to

It may also be helpful to have the Free Software Foundation review the code before release to see whether it meets their standards for distribution from the website.


artofcode LLC distributes a package of the base 35 PostScript fonts, and a package of other miscellaneous fonts. As with the Ghostscript code, each package is released both with the AFPL and with the GPL; however, unlike the Ghostscript code, artofcode releases these versions simultaneously rather than with a one-version delay.

To make the font packages, run the command

toolbin/makefonts #.##

This creates the following files:


The first two of these use the AFPL, and should be uploaded to The other two use the GPL, and should be uploaded to For the GNU release, also see "After releasing (GNU)".

Copyright © 1999-2002 artofcode LLC. All rights reserved.

This software is provided AS-IS with no warranty, either express or implied. This software is distributed under license and may not be copied, modified or distributed except as expressly authorized under the terms of the license contained in the file LICENSE in this distribution. For more information about licensing, please refer to For information on commercial licensing, go to or contact Artifex Software, Inc., 101 Lucas Valley Road #110, San Rafael, CA 94903, U.S.A., +1(415)492-9861.

Ghostscript version 8.00, 21 November 2002