Printing and Linux

With back to school sales there are a lot of multifunction printers on the cheap. Essentially the Canon Pixma MP150 or HP PSC1410 are both offered for $89AUD. Generally, this will allow me to get rid of the current Canon scanner and Lexmark P707 combo I have at the moment and give back much need desk space. Given the lexmarks poor quality, annoying drivers and unreliability coupled with expensive cartridges is why I’m looking at the options available.

So a quick shopping list of what I need (no particular order)
– cheap cartridges
– ability to print in linux (although the print server is a Windows box, it is feasable that linux drivers can be avoided)
– good milleage on print media
– durable

The printer will, as it is currently, connected to the Windows machine. Laptop printing will be facilitated by Windows Networking.

Through my investigations I learnt that Epson and HP models are best for Linux printing. Although a little dated, this article about picking the best printer was helpful. Canon’s should be avoided like the plague.

That said, the thought entered my head about the Print Server taking on the task of preparing the print job. Perhaps the linux device would create the print job in a postscript format to which the Windows side would re-render and print the job. This means the linux support is indifferent (but inflexible, you can’t expedite a big print job by connecting your laptop directly to the printer and if the desktop is unavailable so is your printing).

In the article attached Windows to Linux Printing (and Vice Versa) explains about how to set something up along those lines, using CUPS and Samba. It also explains the difference between a print server, spooler, queue and how tasks are delegated between machines and the CUPS/Samba subsystems.

The most important concept is that in the ‘default’ networked printing environment, (platform independent), the client computer has the print drivers for the target printer installed and creates a RAW print file. When the file is ready, it is passed along the printer to the spooler and the spooler organises the printing of the document.

I thought I could implement this on my current setup before purchasing any hardware and learnt that I didn’t have to. Some clever monkey had built a Lexmark driver for the P707 based on the Z55 drivers lexmark have released.

No one had implemented drivers for new canon printers, even support from third party vendors such as TurboPrint and EPS was lacking.

Whilst HP didn’t support the printer directly, they do have drivers for the model down, PSC1400 and someone had used this to get a slowly working version going.

One side note to these requirements is to get a laser printer. The HP Laserjet 1020 is $149 AU and whilst it wouldn’t solve space problems. Again linux support is experimental but being a laser it would be more easy to support with a PCL/PPD type interface.

Decision forthcoming with the next edit. Its just good to know what is out there though.

Leave a Reply