Why are printers in Linux this amount of a probelm????

To quote the sub-title of this sub-forum;
“Probably the most problematic add-on devices on any system”

The question is WHY? >:(

Specifically, why is Canon such a problem and why isn’t HP?? This is a make or break situation for me switching over to Linux. To suggest buying another printer just because your current model won’t work sounds ridiculous. I may understand if ma specific piece of hardware (motherboard, video card etc.) was problematic, but a printer? ::slight_smile:

HP can be bothered to write decent Linux drivers and have supported Linux for a long time by open sourcing their drivers … Canon didn’t used to support Linux at all (though they are improving support for newer models) … simple as that.

The HP printer drivers being open source means they can (and usually are) included with most distros … so an HP printer rarely need you to install anything at all, generally making them easier to set up in Linux even than in than Windows.

Other manufacturers (even for models where they do provide Linux drivers) often keep their drivers proprietary and closed source, so they couldn’t be included in a Linux distribution without written agreements with the manufacturer … and most Linux distros try to keep closed source code inclusion to a minimum anyway (it’s a simple matter of not liking/trusting code can’t be read and modified).

Hmm. You make it sound like it is somehow Linux at fault for not providing what the manufacturer should have provided in the first place. ???

“Probably the most problematic add-on devices on any system”

The clue is in the ‘any’… and this includes Windows.

Example: I ran a Windows variant for years, right up to Vista. I had a good HP All-in-one printer that performed perfectly well, most of the time. However, roughly on every other update, the printer stopped working. It took months (literally) of searching to find out that, for some reason known only to itself, on update Windows decided to change my printer from a USB connection to PST1, thus couldn’t ‘see’ it. I had to reconfigure the settings every time to get it back - not a big job - but one guaranteed to p*** me off. This on top of all the rigmarole of constantly updating security just so it could function… ::slight_smile:

When I switched to Linux - after a bit of rigmarole, admittedly, I never had the issue again with printing. The HP worked fine as does it’s replacement Samsung laser. Once I learned how to configure CUPS (and with help from here) then it was all good to go.

Look on any printer manufacturer’s site and there are hundreds of different models, ergo hundreds of different drivers, most geared to Windows because that’s where the money is! - but don’t assume that they will all work in Windows because they don’t.

My bet is that somewhere, someone will have compiled a driver to get get most, if not all, printers working in Linux though it may take a bit of forum-surfing to find it.

As has been previously stated, it’s a manufacturer issue - not a Linux one. :wink:


Interesting. It’s been the exact opposite with this i560 with me except when it came to Win7 where I had to jump thru hoops to get the driver package from M$'s site that can ONLY be installed directly from their site using one of their auto updates. The file could not be saved to do a off-line install which is/was ridiculous.

If I was lucky, it worked and the printer worked fine. The only issue is the ink itself and head clogs which neither are software issues.

Ok, one other source claims Brother works great in Linux. Comments on those printers? How about Epson? Where do they stand?

Brother “used” to be a pain, as were Epson (but to a lesser degree) both have improved their Linux support greatly in the last few years … but it’d be easier if you asked about specific models if you want specific answers :wink:

Here’s a handy resource, but not necessarily completely up to date:
but remember that doesn’t necessarily tell you how well the scanner will work.

As I said, best if you can ask us about specific make and model.

but it'd be easier if you asked about specific models if you want specific answers
I did in my other thread. ;) This was not directed to any specific model as I was commenting on that statement that was made. I remember when video cards were that troublesome.

Thanks for that link, too bad it’s kinda ‘hidden’. No search I did turned it up. :frowning:

You didn’t ask about a specific Brother or Epson model

and for me a google search for “printers linux” returns that link as 2nd in the list :wink:

Just a small point with reference to your comment on clogging of print heads. Heads usually clog up through lack of use and then use up a lot of ink in the cleaning process. Do you only print occasionally? And in colour or mainly black-and-white?

It may be worth looking at a laser printer as a replacement if initial costs aren’t an issue (and black-and-white lasers are really cheap)? It makes no difference how long a laser stays idle, the toner is still the same and will last for years and the up-front costs are balanced by no longer having to buy expensive ink.

Toner cartridges can be expensive but I found a firm in Birmingham that sells a DIY re-filling system that’s a piece of cake if you are a ‘handy’ type. I’ve no connection to them, other than as a satisfied customer and I’d be glad to provide a link to anyone who wants it. (Assume it wouldn’t be appropriate to post it direct but via a pm would be ok? - I’ll be guided by Mark on that)


Do you only print occasionally? And in colour or mainly black-and-white?
Would between 5k (a very low) and 20k (a one time high) pages a year make it more than occasional? In color. ;D

No I’m not kidding or exaggerating. In around 13 months (or so) the count off my Canon was around 20,000. That was a one time oddity. I don’t believe I had my Panasonic laser printer yet (that I rarely now use which I see will be another problem >:( ).

I can write volumes on head clogging & cleaning especially with magenta and to a lessor extent cyan. Black & yellow are ok, not sure why. That was confirmed with my source.
I refill my laser cartridge myself also.