Parallel Port Printers

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Such printers are now old and only woth pursuing for special features, such as:

  • capability for larger than A4 paper
  • stock of consumables available


Few contemporary computers have a parallel port. Possible options

  1. some may have a neader on the mainboard, to which a parallel port sccket, having "flying" cable, from '90s vintage computer may be plugged
  2. USB-LPT adapter
  3. printer server

Printer cables conforming to iEEE 1284 use twisted-pairs, for higher data transfer rates

  • these will make a difference only for ECP or EPP capable printers


Settings in the computer's BIOS or device menu and the printer should be set to the highest capability that both can handle. The following capablilities are listed in increasing order:

  • Stnadard Parallel Port (SPP) - for pre-1994 printers
  • bi-directional - typically in mid-90s printers
  • EPP
  • ECP

USB-LPT devices may not be configurable and tend to support higher modes only

  • these may not work at all with SPP or bi-directional printers


Linux distributions circa 2011 do not activate modules required for parallel port printers, by default. If upgrade to a later distribution is not feasible the following modules need to be loaded via "insmod"

  1. In 3.x kernels the modules required are named
    • ppdev ('parport' in 2.6.x kernels)
    • lp

Recent distributions have reverted to automatically loading the five modules that are now required for a parallel port when one is detected.

If configuring the printer manually in CUPS, the nomenclature for parallel device is now:


--Rod --