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$Header: /cvsroot/mpdist/mpdist/README,v 1.3 2002/10/15 19:09:31 richbastard Exp $

README for mp, mptool and mimep. PostScript pretty printers.

Version 3.7.1 October 2002.


1. What is mp?
2. What is mimep?
3. Installation.
4. How mp works.
5. Trouble shooting hints.
6. Authors.

1. What is mp?

The mp distribution now consists of two programs, mp and mptool.

The mp program will pretty print various files for you. It can be used
in conjunction with a mail reading utility for producing a pretty print
of your mail items. It can be used with a news reading tool to pretty
print news articles. Digests can also be printed, and this version can
pretty print ordinary ASCII files as well. Support for personal organiser
printing was added into the last released version. There are numerous 
configuration options to allow you to adjust the way mp generates it's

The mptool program is a graphical frontend to mp. It makes it easy to
configure the printout of your documents without having to remember lots
of complicated command line arguments. It also supports drag and drop of
text from other Gtk+ applications.

See the manual pages for more details on these various options.


The latest version of the mpdist distribution is available from:


There is a mailing list for people interested in mp. It is:


To get added to the list, send a request to:


2. What is mimep?

The mimep program allows users to print multimedia messages composed with
any UA respecting the MIME standard. It can print most of the bodyparts
composing this kind of mail (gif, jpeg images, text/plain, text/enriched,
postscript files ...). To achieve its goal, mimep builds a LaTeX document
from the MIME message. Afterwards, it converts it into a "dvi" file, then
into Postscript, outputting either to a file or to a printer.

There is a mailcap_example file in the .../mimep directory which should be
copied to ~/.mailcap, if you don't already have one. Note that the mailcap
file is setup to call other programs (like xloadimage and ghostview) to
display various MIME types. You should configure this file accordingly for
your site (ie, xv and ghostprint as possible alternates).

See the mimep manual pages for more details on the various options available
with this program.

Mimep uses two other well known software distributions. If you don't have
them, then they can be obtained from the following sites:

  LaTeX    - anon ftp from in the pub/tex directory.
  metamail - anon ftp from in the pub/nsb directory.

3. Installation.

See the file 'INSTALL'

4. How mp works.

When mp processes a file, it first reads the designated prologue and
extracts data from the following lines:

   %%PageLength nn    - the number of lines per page
   %%LineLength nn    - the number of chars on a line
   %%NumCols nn       - the number of columns per page

Then it reads the input files and reshapes them into PostScript using the
following structuring conventions:

      %%Page: ? 1
      (1) newpage     <- physical page #1
      (1) 1 endcol    <- logical page #1, 1st col on this page
      (2) 2 endcol    <- logical page #2, 2nd col on this page
      (3) 3 endcol    <- logical page #3, 3rd col on this page
      (1) endpage     <- physical page #1
      %%Page: ? 2
      (2) newpage     <- physical page #2
      (4) 1 endcol    <- logical page #4, 1st col on this page
      (5) 2 endcol    <- logical page #5, 2nd col on this page
      (3) endpage     <- physical page #2
      endfile         <- end of first or only input file
      %%Page....      <
      ....            <- 2nd input file, if any
      endfile         <
      ...             <- more, if any
      %%Pages: nn

Prologue files need to supply the above procedures, which may be empty.

The following prologues are supplied with mp:               standard prologue           alternative prologue, page nos. bottom right          alternative landscape mode prologue file.             standard prologue, landscape, 2 columns            Filofax prologue            Franklin Planner prologue            ProPlan prologue            Time Manager prologue           Time/System (International) prologue.           Time/System (Partner) prologue

5. Trouble shooting hints.

* From Mark Valentine <>
  Possible problems with mailp. On some hybrid systems (such as MIPS' RISC/os),
  testing for the existence of /usr/spool/lp isn't sufficient to determine the
  spooler to use. On our systems, for example, the directory exists, but we use
  only the Berkeley spooler (it's a site-specific decision which one you use).

* From John Macdonald <mauxci!eci386!>
  setscreen tells the printer how to generate greyscales. Depending upon
  the screen angle and the dot density (45 and 106 above) you get differing
  patterns for the "grey" (a mixture of black and white portions that gives
  the impression of grey).

  There are various tradeoffs in these choices (hence the red-books
  recommendation). Small dot density gives grainier greys where the fact that
  it is built up from dots is quite evident. High dot densities allow for
  fewer levels of grey.

  The default for LaserWriters provides 33 grey levels with somewhat visible

  The 106 45 setting provides only 9 grey levels, but much a smoother

  The default is more valuable if you are doing special effects like gradual
  changes in darkness and image reproduction.
  The alternate is more valuable if you use only a small number of distinct
  grey levels.
  If you have a postscript printer that is more than 300 dots per inch,
  it is quite possible that the manufacturer chosen default has a better
  appearance than the 106 45 explicit setting, since the number of spots
  per inch that are possible with such printer is much higher than with
  a 300 dpi printer. It is also possible that there is a similar sort
  of trade-off in their choice between levels and graininess, but it will
  be at a much finer level - magnifying glasses might be necessary to
  determine the best one.

  For further details, see Byte, July 1990, Don Lancaster "PostScript
  Insider Secrets"

* From Bertrand Decouty <>
  As with patch #5 to v2.5, mailp (and friends) are now installed using
  symbolic links, as opposed to hard links. This is a potential problem to
  UNIX systems which don't have symbolic links.

* From Bjorn P. Brox <>
  The /backspace definition in the PostScript prologue files won't work on
  all PostScript variants using Type1 fonts. The problem is that the
  backspacefont proc is using a feature in real PostScript: A CharStrings
  entry does not have to be a Type1 encrypted charstring, but can also be
  a function. If this is a problem, then replace:

    /backspace { -600 0 setcharwidth pop } bind def


    /backspace <6f0878dde70d23b542> def

6. Authors.

See the file 'AUTHORS'