Printing in GNU/Linux

It’s been a while since I have had any problem with printing in GNU/Linux, but yesterday I needed to print from Beast to give my wife a paper copy of a document. To my surprise, I had not configured the printing… It turned out there was no printer driver for our networked printer for Beast’s amd64 hardware. My wife has been happily printing from a 386 installation of Debian GNU/Linux but I had not enabled “share this printer” from her machine. Fixed that with ssh -Y herPC "iceweasel(firefox) http://localhost:631" without leaving my chair and then automatically I could print on the printer from my system as easily as if it were plugged in to Beast. The alternative was to set up a virtual machine running 386 and sharing the printer from there.

It turns out that this simple sharing of printers in CUPS is due for a change. Apple which now owns CUPS is dropping features/ways of doing things in CUPS that are not used in OS X. As usual, GNU/Linux is flexible and two projects are set up to take care of that functionality as well as some printer driver filters not used by OS X. It’s all good.

I have been printing with GNU/Linux since 2000 and only met two photocopiers and a colour printer with which I could not print. One company wanted money for a “printer module” for the copier even though the device could be seen on the LAN and the other copier used a proprietary/closed protocol. I have always found some way to print with GNU/Linux and I did not need the desperate measure of running some special hardware in the system to interface to a printer. One time a photocopier serviceman provided a USB print server for a photocopier so we could print from our network (and he could get a higher page-count…). It’s all good.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for its huge repository of Free Software and LinuxPrinting.org for information on printing with any particular driver or printer.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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One Response to Printing in GNU/Linux

  1. oiaohm says:

    This is part a case of Apple biting the hand that feeds it. OS X took in cups because in the year 2000 OS 9 was not getting printer drivers from many vendors.

    The change to PDF inside cups is required. PDF support encoding all forms of colour information. Postscript does not.

    This is where people don’t understand the importance of open source. Without open source apple might have disappeared from existence due to no support from printer makers.

    Open source is key to giving chances to be competitive in the software world.

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