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More Than HPLIP Service for Linux

Linux-Friendly Printers

  • August 13, 2007
  • By Carla Schroder

Printing on Linux has traditionally been possible mainly thanks to the efforts of heroic Linux developers, with little support from printer manufacturers. The recalcitrance of so many hardware manufacturers to support Linux and other non-Windows platforms still baffles me--is there something about us that repels them? They take our money happily enough, without feeling any obligation to deliver any actual value in return. I would wish an itchy pox upon the lot of them if I were less saintly. I would also wish an itchy pox upon Linux users who don't research their purchases a bit more carefully.

But I don't really want anyone to have itchy poxes (well, almost no one), and reality is what it is, so today we're going to look at the excellent Hewlett-Packard Linux Imaging and Printing subsystem for Linux (HPLIP).

A number of printer manufacturers are now Linux-friendly to varying degrees -- Samsung, Brother, Epson, Konica/Minolta, and Canon all offer their own Linux drivers, or support CUPS (Common Unix Printing System). Some support only a few models, and some are more generous. Using vendor's drivers doesn't always translate to better quality: You're often better off using CUPS' Foomatic or Gutenprint drivers. I have a special fondness for the TurboPrint drivers for color inkjet and photo printers, which are often better than even the Gutenprint drivers. Yes they cost money, about $30 US. Yes it sucks to pay extra for drivers when they should be included with the printer, especially when most of them support Mac OS X, which uses CUPS just like Linux. But it's cheaper than buying a new printer.

Visit Linux Foundation Open Printing for more information. This site replaces the old familiar Linuxprinting.org.

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