Printing PDF documents from Ubuntu

I use both Ubuntu and Windows applications depending on what computer I am nearest to and consequently I tend to notice things that are present in one operating system that may be absent or difficult in the other.  One example of this is the ability to print a document in PDF format.  Now I know you can easily save or export documents in PDF format from the excellent Office-type suites on either platform but what do you do if, for example, you want to keep a permanent record of a purchase you've made on the web?

The best way to do this would be to print the confirmation as a PDF document, a sort of electronic printout you can save and use anywhere.  On Windows, I use the excellent PDF-Creator which does the job admirably.  Having this installed means I can print emails and web pages as PDF documents giving me electronic confirmations of web purchases when I make them (so much easier than paper copies)

You cannot easily do the same on Ubuntu.  However, getting the same ability to print to PDF is not difficult and only means you need to load a specific printer type. I've provided a list of instructions you can follow to install PDF printing on Ubuntu.
Instructions to install PDF printing on Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat):
  • Open up a terminal window (click on Applications --> Accessories --> Terminal)
  • Install the CUPS-PDF package by typing
    $sudo apt-get install cups-pdf 
  • Add a new printer (Click on System --> Administration --> Printing then click on the Add button on the Printing window that pops up)
  • Select the Generic CUPS-PDF Printer and click Forward.  Ubuntu will find and install the drivers it needs.
  • Edit the text as you wish for the new printer and click Apply.
You're done.   Now you should be able to print to PDF using the Print option of any program and selecting the PDF printer.  However, there are two minor gotchas you need to be aware of:
  1. All output .pdf files from the printer driver are stored in a new folder in your Home directory called PDF.  
  2. You can't set the name of the output file so these are stored with system-defined names from the application you are running.
If you've followed these instructions then your Ubuntu system should now successfully print PDF documents from any Ubuntu application.

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