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Wednesday·24·November·2010

Useful but Unknown Unix Tools: Convert UTF-8 text files to PostScript with paps //at 02:23 //by abe

from the Keysinging dept.

Sometime you get an UTF-8 encoded text file you want to print. But most text to postscript converters (often invoked automatically by your print server) can only render ISO-Latin-1 text files properly and so you get the notorious ä et al on your printout.

This is especially annoying at PGP/GnuPG keysigning parties where nowadays most people have the names in their UIDs encoded in UTF-8.

Fortunately there is paps (Debian package), a Pango based commandline tool to convert UTF-8 encoded text files into PostScript.

See the paps home page for a neat example.

Update 02:10 (CET): Funnily the explicitly as HTML entities “Ô and “¤” written “ä” above got rendered as “ä” in Liferea, but only in the Planet Debian and Planet Symlink feeds, and only until I put that “ä” in this paragraph, because both got converted to their ISO-Latin-1 8-bit equivalent bytes, so that without the “ä”, “ä”, converted to 8-bit ISO-Latin-1 characters looks also like an UTF-8 “ä”. And Liferea seems to guess the character set somehow and if it validates as UTF-8, it uses UTF-8 even if it isn’t UTF-8. This is a strange Planet.

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Debian GNU/Linux is my favourite Linux distribution, being stable, flexible, consistent and having a great community. Although I'm not the biggest bug report writer, I try to contribute by staffing the Debian booth at events, carrying the necessary hardware there or even organising the whole booth.


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