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Revision as of 23:41, 6 September 2018 by Rpeters (talk | contribs) (Troubleshooting: added sub-section Firmware Upgrade)

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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

  • printers that were manufactured after 2009 and connect via Ethernet or wifi are likely to be usable without drivers
    • this is potentially the best support for Linux
    • from CLI, run "driverless list"
      • only printers that report an interface of "ipp://<blah.blah.blah>" are likely to be usable driverless
      • see below for an outline of setting up driverless printing
  • if a printer must use a driver then 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



The most reliable tool is the command line tool "lpadmin".

The print sub-system used in Linux, CUPS, is heading towards driverless printing. To try driverless printing run the following commands:

$ driverless list

will list applicable powered-on printers on your LAN - only those having URL beginning with ipp:// are likely to work driverless

Then execute

# lpadmin -p <parameter> -v <parameter> -m everywhere -E

see man lpadmin for suitable - p parameter. The -v parameter must be the exact ipp:// URL reported by "driverless list"

"driverless" printing can also be configured via the webbrowser GUI, URL http://localhost:631

  • in this case it is essential to use the ipp:// style URL for the network printer
    • copy and paste it from output of the "driverlees list" command, if necessary
  • in the next page, select manufacturer
    • at least two solutions should be found for a printer model "ajax fancy printer"
      • ajax fancy printer some driver of some sort
      • ajax fancy priner driverless
    • highlight the latter, then click on "modify printer"

A widely deployed GUI printer configuration tool is "system-config-printer". It is the default in many distributions but currently does not handle driverless printing. It may appear in the start menu under various names, eg:

  • Print Settings

Alternative print admin tools are included in the administration menu of some distributions

    • these might not detect driverless printers or downloaded drivers and are thus less reliable

Firmware Upgrade

Apart from the abiility to print without a specific driver, Driverless printing can have other advantages:

  • might find more capabilities and options in a printer than are included in the Linux driver

A Firmware upgrade to the printer might have advantages:

  • enable driverless printing, whereas not previously available
  • increase functionality eg
    • page sizes
    • duplexing
    • resolution

There will always be a risk that a firmware upgrade will fail and render the printer unusable

  • UPS can generally support inkjet printers during the upgrade
  • but Laser printers draw much more current for the fuser

Can't Access Web Interface

Some distributions require additional privilleges, that are controlled by the parameter "SystemGroup" in the file /etc/cups/cups-files.conf

  • make a note of the groups permitted via that parameter
  • 8under usual user administration, add user to one of those groups (other than root)
  • or complete the pop-up authorisation as user "root"

Can't Access Network Printers

Major paradigm shifts occurred with CUPS 1.6 and again with CUPS 2.2.

  • "avahi" must now be installed to provide DNSSD services and find network printers or print servers
    • it must also be installed on computers that are operating as print servers

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 might 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
    • drivers included with Linux often don't support higher resolutions
    • full-function drivers are available from
    • most multi-function devices will scan via network interface, as of mid-2017
    • Epson's procedure for client/server scanning gets other brands working too

--Rod (talk) 16:32, 3 May 2018 (AEST)