Can the PDF pseudo-printer in CUPS be configured to emit PDF/A files? If so, how to do it?

I'm using CUPS 1.5.3-5 and CUPS-PDF 2.6.1-6 as provided by Debian Wheezy/7.0.

Despite CUPS PDF Format - Documentation claiming that "CUPS PDF files (application/vnd.cups-pdf) are device-dependent PDF/A files that contain a job ticket information.", at least one online validator claims that a to-PDF print of itself from the web browser "does not conform to PDF/A".

  • What are PDF/A files? Are they just regular PDF files?
    – slm
    Jun 15, 2013 at 15:17
  • @slm Almost. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF/A In short, it is a subset of the PDF format designed specifically for long-term archival.
    – user
    Jun 15, 2013 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


I found this extremely detailed tutorial which discusses how to create PDF/A files. Looking at the tutorial I would assume that a cups printer could be configured to expose a script which could run documents submitted to CUPS through said script producing PDF/A files as discussed in that tutorial.

This StackOverflow Q&A covers how to configure CUPS.


  • I don't see how either of these links answer my question, but maybe I am missing something obvious? I don't want to print to paper, then scan, then OCR, just to get a PDF/A file (especially since I don't even have a color printer); I want to be able to print to PDF/A directly, through the CUPS pseudo-printer which is already there and produces PDF output (also preserving some semantic info), just not PDF/A. One of the answers to the SO question seems somewhat relevant, but even it doesn't seem to say anything about how to make CUPS-PDF emit PDF/A.
    – user
    Jun 15, 2013 at 16:59
  • Please note that although this question is similar to my other one, they are distinct. This one deals with printing directly to PDF/A, the other question deals with already-existing PDF files.
    – user
    Jun 15, 2013 at 17:00
  • @MichaelKjörling - I deleted my answer on the other one, I had them open in 2 tabs in Chrome and thought they were the same question.
    – slm
    Jun 15, 2013 at 17:05
  • The first link shows how to generate a PDF/A file. That method can be rolled into a script which can be called by cups as a pre-filter, that's the general idea anyway.
    – slm
    Jun 15, 2013 at 17:07
  • This link shows 2 scripts (2file & 2dir) which can run when a job is printed to a particular printer in cups, the script will run and put the results to a directory or a particular file.
    – slm
    Jun 15, 2013 at 17:11

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