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Revision as of 08:32, 15 April 2016 by Rpeters (talk | contribs) (Failure to Print: added work-around for landscape pages)

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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.

Selection Guideance

  • 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:
  • 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.

  1. from the CUPS Administration tab, select
    • Manage Printers -> Set Default Options
  2. check the settings for and adjuxt if necessary
    1. paper size (usually A4 is appropriate)
    2. 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 of print job format under Tools -> Options -> Print
      • deselect "PDF as standard print job (not all compilations of LibreOffice have this option)
      • although this could be done, on a per job basis, via the print dialog Print Properties -> Device -> Printer Language to be changed to Postscript; this mode is buggy for landscape orientation pages

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

--Rod (talk) 13:52, 12 September 2014 (EST)