NOTE: this is adapted from my course ``Machine Organization I'' (V22.0201.002) Fall 97. Some of this information needs to be updated. Your help in updating this would be appreciated -- send a note to

  1. How you go about printing postscript files?
  2. What are postscript files?
  3. Why do you use postscript?
  4. More Hints.
  5. Some emails from students.
  6. Bottom of Page

How you go about printing postscript files?

The following relates to printing on unix: click here for Printing on Windows.

Basically, every NYU student has access to a UNIX account through their email account at ACF (usually on machines named ``IS*.ACF.NYU.EDU''). When you enter this account, you initially encounter a "mail shell" that assumes that you wish to do email. But you can get access to other services as well. For one thing, you can escape from the "mail shell" by typing "!" (exclamation mark, or "bang", as they call this in computer science). Once you are in unix, you can send your file to any selected printer by typing at the unix prompt

lpr -P<printer-name> <filename>
The <filename> can be your postscript file. Note there is no space between "-P" and <printer-name>. You need to find out the name of a printer that is capable of printing postscript files and which is physically near to you (ask the lab assistants). For the PC lab in Tisch Hall Basement, the postscript printers are called th_hp3si_1 and th_hp4si_1. For 14 Washington Place, it is called wp_hp3si_1 (but you need to pick up the output from wp_hp5si_1 because they are apparently in the process of renaming the printer! Clearly this information (10/15/97) may change in the near future.)

Of course, there are lots of other things you can do within UNIX (e.g, "ls" will list your files and "man ls" will give you help on the ls command). To get back to your "mail shell", you can type "exit" at the unix prompt. How do I print POSTSCRIPT files? Basically, you send the file to a printer that has a postscript driver. This is available on any NYU printer connected to unix machines (your ACF email account is a unix account).

Printing on Windows See the emails of Grech below: First Email and Second Email. Here is a helpful email from another student:

  >    Hi,
  >    I have installed GhostView, and I can read but can't print it out.
  >    My prnter does not support printing of .ps files.
  >    I found another program that can print .ps files.
  >    It's much smaller than GhostView. (only 282K)
  >    It's a Shareware.
  >    Good luck.. :)
  >    Sincerely, 
  >    Theresa F. J.  Yen  
  >    ICQ: 18614420  

What are postscript files?

Postscript is a computer language for describing layout of a document. In this class, we like to distribute notes and homework assignments using postscript files. To print a postscript file, you just send the file to any printer that has a postscript interpreter. All unix-based NYU machines will be able to print such files. We are working to get this ability in the PC labs as well (it can sometimes be done). A postscript file is an ascii file, so you can view it using an editor! You can recognize a postscript file by its first line, which is something like this:
(PS stands for postscript, Adobe is the company that owns postscript, and 2.0 is the version of postscript.) However, the rest of the file might not make much sense to you unless you know the postscript language (actually, the basics of this language are easy to learn). The problem is that postscript is very low level, much like an assembler language. So postscript files are often generated by some program from other files.

Why Do You Use Postscript?

In other words, why don't you just use a regular html file to publish information? For instance, if we use html files, you can just "print" directly from your browser. The main reason is that we usually need "mathematical symbols" like summation, subscripting, etc. Html has limited ability to achieve this. Notice that we usually use postscript files for sample exams, for instance, where it is important that such mathematical notation are easily read. A less important reason is that the html language is limited in its ability to ensure consistency in how a document looks. This feature of html is deliberate. Another file format, "pdf", is the ultimate in ensuring consistency in this sense.

More Hints

Some Emails from Students

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 20:13:44 -0400 From: Joaquin Grech To: basic algorithm Subject: more help for postscript files (.ps) Hi! If you have a computer at home, or access to one, you can download a postscript viewer (and also print and change...) [COMMENT BY CHEE: to print, you need a postscript printer] I use gsview for windows, quite simple but free :) On unix you could use the program ghostscript, I have no idea if it is installed on the unix machine at nyu. I think it is loaded with 'ghost' [COMMENT BY CHEE: sometimes it is called "gv" or "ghostview"] Anyway, it is good to have a postscript file viewer, there are a lot of .ps files around. There is also other format: .pdf it can be open with the program I just told, or with free acrobat reader ( This one does not open postscript files. Joaquin Grech --------------------------------------------------------------- ! C r e a t i v i t y M u s t S u r v i v e ! --------------------------------------------------------------- ! Fido: 2:341/19.67 Euronet: 25:928/100.67 ! ! Internet: ! ! Http:// Ya me direis :) ! ---------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 21:07:10 -0400 From: Joaquin Grech To: Chee Yap CC: Subject: Re: mistake Hi! Hmmm, not really, you don't need a postscript printer to print postscripts documents. My printer is not postscript. What happens is that if you have postscript printer, it flies when printing this documents, and I think it have several more features, i am not sure because I don't have one of those wonders :) The program that I said, gsview, when you go to print, setup the printer... ok let's see Open the file. Then go to print (file/print or the printer icon) You'll see a list of printers, if you have one of those, perfect, select it. Most likely you won't have any of those, so use the default windows printer which is a software emulation for postscript. So for that, select the 'device' mswinpr2 (wayy down the list of devices) Then on 'queue', select your actual printer Click ok and you are printing a postscript document :) For unix you could do it too, but i have never print .ps on unix so i have no idea how... Joaquin Grech Chee Yap wrote: > Joaquin, > > Thanks for the information about using > the free Ghostview software for viewing > postscript! > > COMMENT FOR THE CLASS: you can certainly view > postscript files at home if you have > a home PC and the free Ghostview software. > But to print postscript files at home, > you normally need what is called a "postscript > printer". Usually such printers are a little > more expensive than non-postscript ones because > postscript printers need to do some extra > processing to print. But I think the prices > are way down these days (I have not checked > recently). > > On my unix systems, the software > and printers should be available automatically. > Test it out on acf5 (where all of you has > a class account). It should be called "gv" > or "ghostview" (just say "gv XXX" where XXX > is your postscript file). > > --Chee >
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 15:57:43 -0400 (EDT) From: Alice Dao To: Chee Yap Subject: print .ps file in multimedia lab Prof. Yap, here's the steps for printing postscript file in multimedia lab in the education building: 1. First, download the .ps file to the desktop (using Fetch or whatever program is available for transferring file). 2. Next, open "Adobe Type Utility" from "Applications" 3. Then click on "Downloader 5.0.5" 4. On the menu bar, click on File, then click on "Download Postscript File" 5. A window will pop up asking for a .ps file, select the file you have downloaded, and click open. The file will automatically print out. The part that frustrated me a bit was I didn't even get to see the file before it was printed. But that's all right, it printed! Alice
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 17:58:30 -0400 (EDT) From: Ruhiny To: Chee Yap Professor Yap, You can upload the file to your own email account, and use the "lpr" print command to print it, i have no trouble printing it. Just want to let you know. Thank you for your time. Ruhiny
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 17:54:56 -0400 (EDT) From: Michael Hom To: Subject: postscript viewer Professor Yap: I discovered an alternate method to view the postscript files. If everyone could go to and go to the "search" page, enter postscript. Choose the first hyperlink to "Imaging and OCR tools." Scroll down until you see "RoPS 32" It is a shareware postscript viewer. It will work on windows 3.1 and win95. This program allows the user to view the PS file (similar to a PDF file). However, printing is not very good. The program allows you to copy the text of the image (OCR about 85-90 percent accuracy). You can then paste the text into any text editor (Notepad, MS Word, etc...). Then, just print from there on. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close. ************************** Michael Hom E-mail: Home Page: ( NEW & IMPROVED!!! )
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 17:45:17 -0400 (EDT) From: Wai-Hang Lam To: Wai K Lam Cc: Subject: Re: assignment 1 and printing problems On Tue, 16 Sep 1997, Wai K Lam wrote: > I have printed the homework successfully at the Tisch Hall LC lab. You > need to send the postscript file to printer th_hp4si_1 for it to work. It > is the only printer that I know of that can actually print it. You need > to download the file into your unix account and print it from there. > > Wai K. Lam > I've just try to print the file in the lab at Tisch Hall. Both th_hp4si_1 & th_hp3si_1 work. For those who don't know: - For IS accounts, to select a printer go to "ACCOUNT" --> "ENVIRONMENT" from the main menu. - To print a file, go to "FILES" --> "PRINT" from the main menu and type in the file you want to print out. Hope this helps, Jackie
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 17:12:06 -0400 (EDT) From: Kristjan Varnik To: Chee Yap Subject: Re: assignment 1 and printing problems On Tue, 16 Sep 1997, Chee Yap wrote: > I discovered that the acf labs are not > capable (at present) to handle postscript > files, but they will try to work on a solution. > you can print the ps file in the washington place labs using lpr, they recently installed the driver or whatever
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Adapted from course V22.0201.002, Machine Organization I, Fall 97.