For General Users
New users of Linux may find that their printer (and scanner) is neither supported nor supportable. Simplest option is to (carefully) purchase a new printer.
- be aware that Linux uses Postscript or PDF technology as the basis for its print sub-system
- printers that use Postscript, PDF or perhaps PCL print languages are readily supportable and likely to remain so
- most entry-level printers do not use those technologies, that require additonal processing resouces, which in turn adds cost
- be prepared to purchase a mid-range printer (or multi-function device).
All of the following pre-purchase research is strongly recommended
- download the relevant driver from the manufacturer's web site
- check for availability of alternate drivers at: http://www.openprinting.org/printers
- install the relevant driver prior to purchase
- in almost all cases this can be achieved without the printer physically present
- seek assistance in a Linux forum if the drivers are not available or don't install
The most reliable tool is currently "system-config-printer". This GUI tool is the default in Fedora and Ubuntu and is also installed by default in openSUSE. It may appear in the start menu under various names:
- Print Settings
Alternative print admin tools include:
- the direct interface to the Linux printing sub-system (CUPS) on your computer is via the URL http://localhost:631
- this is also a fairly capable and reliable tool
- other setup routines are provided in many Distributions
- these might not detect downloaded drivers and are thus less reliable
Can't Access Web Interface
Some distributions require additional privilleges
- add user to group "lp"
- or complete the pop-up authorisation as user "root"
Can't Access Network Printers
A paradigm shift occurred with CUPS 1.6
- SLP must now be installed and configured to use printers controlled via other hosts
Failure to Print
Failure to print, although the driver is installed, can result from unsuitable settings.
- from the CUPS Administration tab, select
- Manage Printers -> Set Default Options
- check the settings for and adjuxt if necessary
- paper size (usually A4 is appropriate)
- paper source (tray (cassette) or manual)
A paradigm shift occurred with Foomatic 4.n
- Applications now prepare jobs as a PDF file, in lieu Postscript
- opensource drivers (PPD files) should have been converted
- binary drivers from manufacturers may not have been
- LibreOffice allows selection Print Properties -> Device -> Prlinter Language to be changed to Postscript, on a per job basis
Printer/Multi-Function Device Recommendations
The following factors might assist preparation of a "short-list"
- HP provide Linux support for most of their devices
- low-end devices would be reliant on continuation of this support, as would be the case with other brands
- Fuji-Xerox have argueably the best colour laser technology
- CP/CM 305 series are the lowest cost models having Linux support
- and are competitively priced, for the capability provided
- Brother multi-functions all support scanning via network
- mid-range models do use Postscript and should be supportable long-term
- Epson printers are often supported
- drivers included with Linux often don't support higher resolutions
- full-function drivers are available from http://download.ebz.epson.net/dsc/search/01/search/?OSC=LX
- most multi-function devices scan via USB interface only and not via network.