View Full Version : Printer Recommendations for Linux?
12-23-2008, 08:54 PM
Since I'm likely to be changing jobs and countries soon, I need to be downloading and filling out lots of government pdf forms. I also need something to print a resume if I need to.
Does anyone have any recommendations for printers at a reasonable cost ? Should I go for laserjet or inkjet ? I don't need color, so I'd be looking at a reasonable b/w printer. Are there any recommended makers, or brands to avoid ?
12-23-2008, 09:50 PM
If you're after a mono laser, anything that has native PostScript support will work well.
I use a Lexmark e250dn (http://www.lexmark.com/lexmark/product/home/2/0,6970,204816596_653293751_877005826_en,00.html?ta bId=1). It has native PostScript support, and the PPD driver for Linux is easily obtained to allow the CUPS/Linux printing system to give full access to the printer's options.
It's a decent price (or at least it was in New Zealand!) and has full duplex support, very quick and high quality printing, very quick 1st page startup time and both USB and Ethernet interfaces.
Oh, and it'll probably work fine with an Amiga too, given a standard PostScript driver!
For inkjets, it's probably best to look at the CUPS web site (http://www.cups.org/ppd.php) to check compatibility before buying.
12-23-2008, 10:19 PM
HP Printers are well supported, including scanner functions.
12-23-2008, 11:12 PM
There are a lot of refurb (or just plain deep-discounted) Samsung ML-2571N units around. For around $50, you get a decent PostScript printer with network support. Official toner is a bit pricey but shopping around should find some refill deals.
Notes off the top of my head:
Initial network setup is easiest done with a sniffer, or by monitoring your DHCP server; it'll just pick up an IP address. If you're using mDNS/Avahi you can then give it a mDNS name. I'm not sure if any of the Samsung utilities are worth bothering with.
There seem to be at least two revisions of the hardware around, possibly also related to firmware, see below. These look identical, but the earlier one runs the fan for a few minutes after a print job, while the later one runs it only while printing. In noticable tradeoff, the new one also draws more current when first warming up (as demonstrated by the office UPS kicking in for a second when sending the first job of the morning, when that unit is plugged into one of the surge-protect-only outlets)...
There are also at least two firmware revisions around, but at last check Samsung doesn't actually make any updates readily available for download. The only major difference I note is that one tried to estimate toner remaining while the newer(?) one doesn't -- or that may be because we've moved on to remanufactured cartridges.
It's really an extremely good value if you just need something that sits on a network and eats Postscript jobs. IIRC there might be one small "bug" in the most common PPD for it that needs editing, but other than that, smooth sailing.
12-24-2008, 07:24 PM
I have some experience with laser printers, though more with Windows than Linux.
B/W laser printing has worked out well for me, in terms of economy, function, and convenience.
You definitely ought to get a true PostScript printer for Linux. I recommend using one with a built in ethernet print server, as it is handy in general. As suggested above, have a look for Linux printing guides (LinuxPrinting.org?).
I have used an Epson EPL5900L b/w laser printer with Ubuntu at home, and this is a bit painful. A verey manual installation. Also, the Windows native drivers are poor. I don't like Epson printers in general.
I use an HP multifunction printer at work, under Windows, and am not impressed. The drivers are rubbish, and the printer has crashed several times in the last three weeks.
In general, I think multi function printers are more trouble than dedicated b/w laser, particularly with network print servers.
I have had good experiences with Kyocera, though have not used them under Linux. Have found them to be fast and reliable, and at least their Windows drivers are good. They are not the cheapest around.
I would be cautious of buying second hand laser printers, as the drums (or other photo-electrics) can wear out, and that is the heart of the printer mechanics. You should get a usage/service history of a second hand laser, and examine a sample of the printer output. Bad photo-electrics will give poor toner transfer to the paper.
Hope this helps.
12-25-2008, 04:46 PM
Well, since HP has been specifically mentioned -- they're highly variable. Some are winprinter junk, others even have full PostScript support built-in alongside PCL. For instance, the LJ3030 multifunction at the office I'm working at is pretty much a dream with hplip*, the scanner function basically works flawlessly (see footnote again), etc. Other models are... not so good, and you pretty much have to research on a case-by-case basis.
The one thing to be aware of is that, with any HP laser, and with for instance the Samsung model mentioned, you're getting a new drum in every cartridge. This is sort of wasteful, but the alternatives are as follows:
* Kyocera is the one brand using a permanent drum. If I understand correctly, this is intended to be used only with the official Kyocera toner that contains a tiny bit of ceramic to slowly 'polish' the drum as you work through the hundred thousand pages or whatever it's rated for. I have no idea how the drum stands up to having envelopes, staples, etc misfed or jammed in it. [Edit:] FWIW, I did research these and IIRC *nearly* all models are straight PostScript machines, except for one or two on the low end. However, above the low end, you're looking at $400+ printers.
* Brother, Okidata, and some other manufacturers offer models with a separate toner and drum. This is sane as far as the waste stream goes, but the problem is that you wind up spending $50 for the printer, at least $30 per toner, and invariably the drum starts going within a year and costs $200+ to replace, plus downtime and headache (if you can't bear to spend >$75 over the best online price to replace it at a retail store).
In office/multiuser environments, I find it's just not worth it to deal with the separate-drum models. People will invariably do at least one stupid thing (or find a way to have one truly heroic jam) with any machine at least once a year. With a drum-in-cartridge machine, you'll have spare cartridges on hand, which, if you purchase remanufactured, are only like $30-$40 per >3,000+ pages. With a separate drum, you're saving $10 per toner that usually only lasts up-to-3,000 pages, then you're spending it back and then some on drums.
For home, if it's convenient to get a Brother (often down to $40/printer retail, most 'quietly' support either PCL or PostScript if you ignore the proprietary drivers) and treat it with kid gloves, that might be an option, but you'll still want to wail and rend your garments when the drum starts to go.
*Aside from the neverending puzzle of getting labels to print with perfect registration, and the fact that the machine it's connected to is still running Ubuntu 6.06 or whichever "Dapper" was, so I don't get to enjoy the full benefits of newer hplip and improved SANE support until I can upgrade the machine. Nonetheless, the scanner with the ADF really does come in handy if you need to do OCR (and gscan2pdf + tesseract now works more-than-survivably for basic OCR of English text)...
[Another Edit:] The particular Samsung I mentioned is a networked, PostScript machine that's often available very cheap; most of the USB-only Samsungs, and possibly that new, trendy, 'piano'-shaped wireless model, use an obscure Samsung language conceptually equivalent to PCL. There seems to be a sturdy open-source filter for it, now, but at no more than $20 difference, it was a no-brainer to get the model that just sits on the network and speaks IPP, lpd, etc. If you want a direct connection Samsung, find the driver first and then pick from the list of supported models.
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