15 Sep 2000 raph   » (Master)

Now it can be told: I am the new maintainer of Ghostscript.

I'll be posting a much more detailed open letter to the development community within a few days, but I'll say a little now. I'm very excited to be taking this on, as I feel Ghostscript is very high quality work, and is an important part of the overall Linux / Unix / free software imaging infrastructure. At the same time, there are some significant frustrations, which I hope to overcome. These include the fact that drivers are messy and often not of high quality. I'm looking forward to working with the IBM Omni and Gimp Print projects, and others, to bring inkjet driver quality to topnotch quality. Also, while Ghostscript is capable of viewing PDF files, it doesn't really subsume Adobe Acrobat Reader - the PDF interactivity features just aren't implemented, and the X display driver has both performance and quality problems. I'm eager to work with people to build the needed GUI tools and integrate them with Ghostscript.

I expect Ghostscript will stretch my graphics abilities to the maximum. Projects on my plate include implementing the full PDF 1.4 transparency and blending model, integrating Libart's high performance and high quality antialiasing, and getting color management going. It should be a lot of fun!

Ghostscript is released under a somewhat unusual licensing model. The most current release is under the Aladdin Free Public License. After about a year, the code is re-released under the GPL. The AFPL is not a free software license under the Debian Free Software Guidelines (or the similar Open Source Definition), but it is fairly similar in spirit. The main freedom not provided by the AFPL is ability to charge money for distributing the code. Free redistribution is unrestricted.

I'd like to move Ghostscript to a simpler all-GPL licensing model, but right now it seems that the current version of the GPL is too ambiguous in terms of whether it allows or forbids dynamic linking with proprietary code. This is a serious problem for the Ghostscript licensing business, and a bothersome issue in general. If the GPL v3 adequately clarifies the issue, so that proprietary code can't be linked against the author's intentions, then Ghostscript will be moved to GPL development. I am talking to Richard Stallman to see if there's anything I can do to move this process along.

I'm a bit overwhelmed right now trying to juggle coding with various administrative tasks, but if you want to work with Ghostscript, I want to talk to you. There's a lot of interesting work to be done, it benefits Linux directly, and it will be GPL at the end of the day. The fact that there's also a stable, profitable business associated with Ghostscript doesn't hurt.

As I say, more details forthcoming later. For now, I'm excited to be here.

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