Linux equivalent to Windows FinePrint: KPrinter

Q I have a very useful utility on Windows called FinePrint, which buffers print requests and enables me to preview them, reorder them, delete pages from them, save them, print them 2-up, 4-up, double-sided, booklet... and so on. I would be lost without it. Is there anything remotely similar available for Linux, which batches print requests and allows them to be manipulated before they are sent to the printer?

A Not only is there something like this available for Linux, but you may already have it installed! KDE's print program KPrinter offers much of what you describe. When you print from a KDE program, click on the Properties button in the printer dialog and you'll see options to do things like printing two or four pages per sheet. KPrinter can be used with non-KDE applications - most programs have an option to set the print command, which usually defaults to lp or lpr. Change this to kprinter and all print requests will go through the KDE print system.

If you want some of the other features you mention, you will have to use the command line the possibilities you mention are all there, and then some, but without a controlling GUI. The best program I have found for this is a2ps, the Any To PostScript filter. This is provided with most distros and may already be installed on your system. As the name implies, a2ps takes data in (almost) any format and outputs it as PostScript, ready for sending to your printer. The filter part of the description is the interesting part, because a2ps does more than translate one file format to another, it also lays it out according to your specification. Running

a2ps -4 myfile -d

will print myfile four pages to a sheet and send the results to the default printer. As a filter, a2ps is ideal for inclusion in a pipeline, taking its input from one program and sending it to another. If you use this as the print command for a program

a2ps -=booklet | kghostview -

it will process the program's output according to the user option booklet and send it to KGhostView. You can then preview the layout before pressing the Print button in KGhostView. User options are a powerful feature of a2ps. Set in the user's config file at ~/.a2ps/a2psrc, they enable you to group a number of settings as a single option, a sort of option macro. You will find full details of this in the a2ps info page - run info a2ps in a terminal or type info:/a2ps into Konqueror's location bar.

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