I have a niche Java app that I use extensively (since it's Java and thus basically cross-platform, and since it can cater to my needs), and its job is to produce a printed page with text on it.

However, I need to distribute those printed pages electronically, and thus I installed the printer-driver-cups-pdf package, which gives me a PDF printer, and thus I can distribute PDF's to my team members.

However, these "printed" PDF's are enormous. A 2-page PDF is easily 800kb, and three pages are well over 1MB. This is a problem, since I cannot easily e-mail 10 of these documents to someone quickly.

Exporting a page with around the same amount of text within LibreOffice results in PDF files at least 10 times smaller.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

I cannot use image compression, since these pages contain only vectors.

Incidentally, I am using Ubuntu 15.10.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: I have already tried Ghostscript with various -dPDFSETTINGS=/ settings. That, however, does not work, since it only applies to raster images. I have also tried converting to/from SVG, PS and EPS. I am still stuck with preposterously huge vector PDF files.

  • IIRC you don't need to use the CUPS PDF printer. There should be a save to file option in the print dialog anyway.
    – muru
    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:53
  • @muru That depends on how the program handles the printing, I would not assume that. Mar 8, 2016 at 12:58
  • @muru Unfortunately, because this is a Java app, it uses a Java print dialog, which has no Save-To-File option. I am still stuck with printer-driver-cups-pdf ...
    – etsnyman
    Mar 8, 2016 at 12:58
  • Maybe you could try adjusting the CUPS PDF resolution via the CUPS web interface (https://localhost:631), or use Ghostscript or something to compress the PDF: askubuntu.com/q/113544/158442
    – muru
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:02
  • 1
    @MeerLin can we just delete these off-topic comments?
    – muru
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


cups-pdf has been broken for a long time. It produces very large PDF files that encapsulate images and do not support text selection (for copy-paste).

A decent alternative is the Tea4CUPS virtual printer.

It works well most of the time for me, but sometimes printing with Tea4CUPS will abort -- in those cases, I resort to the Ubuntu built-in Print to File option.


Maybe ghostscript can help you compress your PDFs, as it will reduce their size and also optimize them for viewing them on screen rather than on paper:

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/screen \
-dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=out.pdf in.pdf

Alternatively maybe the answers to this question might be helpful.

  • Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, because these files contain only vectors, the new files that ghostscript creates are even larger. Sorry, but I did try that...
    – etsnyman
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:04
  • @etsnyman Did you have a look on the link I provided? Mar 8, 2016 at 13:05
  • Yes, I have looked. Everything there seems to compress/optimize rasters, not vectors.
    – etsnyman
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:07
  • @etsnyman mention what you have tried in the question, then.
    – muru
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:15
  • @muru I did specifically mention that I cannot use image compression as it will not work. I didn't feel like listing the 5-6 different options I have tried.
    – etsnyman
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:21

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