SUMMARY: troff printcap

From: Tsacoumis Perry (
Date: Mon Feb 01 1993 - 19:39:25 CST

Sorry that it has taken a while for me to respond.
To all who responded, thank you very much.

First, the original posting:

>I need to send troff output to one of my laser printers. But I cannot
>determine how to set up the /etc/printcap file. Of course, I'm not sure
>whether it's a problem with the printcap file or with the command
>line. Any comments and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Now, a summary of the responses

1. Some people recommended writing a filter program to perform the translation
from n/troff to PS. The name of that program would be placed in the "tf=" line
in the /etc/printcap file. But, this approach is time-consuming.

2. A couple people recommended using some Public Domain tools. For example, said this:

" In order to get PostScript from troff you need one of the following
" packages. Some will cost big dollars, others are public domain.
" NewsPrint has otroff filters $$$ from Sun
" dwb documenters work bench $$$$$ from AT & T
" groff GNU troff - almost 100% troff compatible Public Domain
" psroff I don't know much about this one Public Domain
" anything else you can find (Ed Arnold) has this to offer:

" Several public domain translators have been mentioned on
" sun-managers
" which can do this:GNU groff,psroff,pscat,cat2ps,thack,troff2ps. You
" can probably find these via Archie, or email to
" who posted a summary on this subject last August.

Finally, for my experience:

I ftp'd 'psroff' from /pub/comp.sources.unix/Volume20 on -- with the 4 patches (with thanks to I compiled it with little or no problems.

But, since I am a novice Sun Manager (more of a Sun User), I am still unable to
get it to work. There are quite a large number of switches that need to be set
in the header files (e.g., defs.h) and other such files (HEADERSIZE, etc),
probably because it is so portable to a wide range of platforms and
environments. In fact, it is probably *too* powerful for its own good. Also,
our particular environment might be configured in an especially peculiar way
which may not be documented in the provided notes. For one thing, the
documentation mentions to use the command:

     % tbl TEST | troff -t -Tlj | troff2ps -t | lpr -t -Plw

But, the system complains that it doesn't know how to handle the filter for "t"
(I forget the actual error message). And, even when I leave out the "-t" (and
play around with the flags), it still doesn't seem to work.

To date, I am unable to perform ascii-to-postscript conversion. In particular,
I have nroff-formatted documents that I would like to print (preferably) to our
postscript printer. So far, no luck, but I will probably pursue with the
parameters a little more. Then, if all else fails, I'll probably end up
picking up some other Public Domain tool out there (we don't have c++ yet). Of
course, if any of you helpful persons out there should have a
recommendation.....!! ;-)


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