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Open source port project in play for print

QSS, the K-12 app software company with clients in both HP 3000 and Unix/Linux markets, has kicked off a porting project for MPE/iX software. Founding partner Duane Percox reports that his company is rewriting open source software to aid in printing documents for 3000 systems.

Mark Bixby of QSS is at work on the porting project. Bixby ported the Apache Web server as well as Internet connectivity software to the 3000's OS late in the last decade, then joined the HP 3000 lab technical staff in the Internet & Interoperability unit. He left HP to join QSS in 2008.

Percox said the project will bring Ghostpdl and Ghostscript to the 3000. The former software can be used as a file format converter, such as printer language-to-PDF converter, the latter can be combined with a printer driver in "virtual printer" PDF creators. The QSS work will focus on including the 3000's common printer language, PCL, in the conversion options.

Ghostscript has been ported to Windows, HP-UX, Linux, OpenVMS and Mac operating systems. The QSS project will be shared with the 3000 community as open source when the work is complete, Percox said.

Many HP 3000 applications use the PCL printer language to send output to print devices. PDF is not supported widely in the 3000 application world, but the standard is omnipresent in the computer industry at large. Ghostscript will give 3000 sites a means to create PDF documents from 3000 reports. The open source solution would have to be integrated with an MPE/iX app, but at least the port project will make it available.

Percox said the work might put pressure on some suppliers of output and print products for the 3000. It gives the sites with a tight budget another option for printing, however.

“This might negatively impact vendors with expensive PDF generation products for the HP 3000,” Percox said. “But Ghostscript is a great feature for the financially-challenged customer who wants full PCL-to-PDF capability.”