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Six multifunction printers for Linux

By Joe Barr on December 05, 2003 (8:00:00 AM)

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Have you been looking for an "All-in-one" (aka known as MFP, multi-function printer) for your Linux desktop? So have we, with somewhat mixed results. We found no MFPs in our price range (under $500.00) which are shipped with drivers for Linux. But we did find a number of MFPs which are usable on Linux machines, thanks to free software drivers available either with your Linux distribution or on the Internet. Be warned, however, that not every feature or function of many of the printers we found work with the free drivers. Here's the story on what we found, along with six specific MFPs that work with free software drivers and Linux to consider during your holiday shopping.

Just the fax, ma'am

We found no MFPs where fax (send or receive) worked with the free software drivers for Linux. Fax is a common feature which appears on many MFPs and so the reason for the lack of fax support isn't clear to me.

Are Winmodem's used exclusively in MFPs, or is it something else? For that matter, why aren't there Linux drivers provided by the manufacturers? My own guess as to the answer for both questions is that we won't find out until the next anti-trust case against Microsoft.

LinuxPrinting.org

The single best source of information we found about how various printers work with Linux is LinuxPrinting.org. It lists hundreds of printers from dozens of manufacturers, shows what free software driver works with them, and notes any shortcomings in those drivers. The site does not reference proprietary drivers, even if they come from the manufacturer.

HP maintains two sites in support of the open source drivers they have made available to the community. One is the OfficeJet driver project. This is the project that provides the drivers for scanning on HP MFPs. The other is the hp linux inkjet project. Both are good sources of information about the status of various drivers and features today, as well as news about what may or may not be coming from HP for Linux in the future.

Proprietary drivers

Lexmark is one example of a manufacturer providing closed-source drivers for their products for Linux. And they do provide them for their MFPs, too. Unfortunately, their starting price is over $3,000.00, which is beyond the price range we're covering here. If that's not beyond your price range, you can learn more about those printers here.

There are also ISVs providing proprietary drivers for Unix and Linux for hundreds of printers. ESP Print Pro is one example. But it is expensive, too, with a single-user license selling for more than most of the printers we report on below.

Back in the day

I bought my first personal printer in the early 80s, before the IBM PC had even been introduced. Epson was king, and when I spent over $400.00 to get an MX-80 (or was it the RX-80, it's been too long to be sure) dot-matrix for my TRS-80 Model 1, I felt I had the ultimate in personal computing system.

I'm not sure when HP replaced Epson as the king, but it probably came about as a result of their introducing inkjet printers to the market. HP's printers, like Epson's before them, were known for their reliability and high-quality printing.

That nod to the past in order to say that both firms are still producing top-notch personal printers. I'm not really surprised by the fact that of the six MFPs we've found to present here, three are from HP and three come from Epson. Here they are, with links to both the manufacturer and to LinuxPrinting.org for more information about each.

<CENTER> Model/MSRP </CENTER> <center> Description </center>
<center> Epson Stylus CX3200
$99.99 (after mail-in rebate) </center>
The Epson Stylus CX3200 is a low-cost MFP that handles printing, copying, and scanning duties. You can print your photos at an amazing (enhanced) 5760 x 720 dpi or scan in others at 600 x 1200 dpi. Print speeds are not as fast as the more expensive models, but are still acceptable at up to a maximum 14 ppm in black, and up to 10 ppm in color mode. Naturally, highest quality printing is much slower.

Epson provides drivers for this printer only for Windows and Macintosh platforms. Information on free software drivers for the CX3200 (reported to work perfectly with this printer) is available here.

<center> HP PSC 1210
$99.99 </center>
The PSC 1210 is a low-cost multi-function printer, copier, and scanner. Although the 1210 can do 1200 dpi resolution, the free software driver for it is only capable of 600 dpi. As you might expect from the price, printing speed is not the fastest in town. It goes 1.1 ppm for best color quality and 1.4 ppm in black.

HP provides PSC 1210 drivers only for Windows and Mac OS/X. Information on free drivers for the 1210 (reported to mostly work with this printer) can be found here.

<center> Epson Stylus CX5400
$149.99 </center>
The Epson Stylus CX5400 provides print, copy, and scanning functionality. It is a little more expensive than the CX3200, but for that extra $50.00 you are repaid with higher resolutions in printing and scanning and faster throughput coming out of the printer. Best print resolution is an enhanced 5760 x 1440 dpi. Scanning can go as high as 1200 x 2400 48 bit resolution. Printing can be as quick as 22 ppm in lowest quality black text or as slow as .38 ppm (that's 2 minutes and 37 seconds for 8 x 10 glossy photo).

Epson provides drivers for this printer only for Windows and Macintosh platforms. Information on free software drivers for the CX5400 (reported to work perfectly with this printer) is available here.

<center> HP PSC 2175
$199.99 </center>
The PSC 2175 hits the sweet spot of price and performance. It not only does the normal printing, scanning, and copying functions, it allows you to print digital photos directly at the printer, without going through the PC at all. Just put your memory device (Compact Flash, Memory Stick, etc) into the appropriate slot on the printer, select the photos, size, and quality you want, and it's done.

As do other HP MFPs, it has 1200x1200 dpi resolution but in color modes the hardware does internal magic to achieve 4800x1200 printing. This printer can also accept a six-color photo cartridge for increased photo-realism.

HP provides PSC 2175 drivers only for Windows and Mac OS/X. Information on free software drivers for the PSC 2175 (reported to work perfectly with the printer) can be found here.

<center> Epson Stylus CX6400
MSRP $199.99 </center>
The Epson Stylus CX6400 adds the ability to print directly from a variety of digital camera storage devices. It can all write scanned images directly to them.Performance in terms of scan and print speed and resolution are the same as for the CX5400.

Epson provides drivers for this printer only for Windows and Macintosh platforms. Information on free software drivers for the CX6400 (reported to work mostly with this printer) is available here.

<center> HP OfficeJet 6110
$299.99 </center>
This color-inkjet offers Linux users printing, copying, and scanning at up to 1200x1200 dpi (enhanced to 4800 dpi when using photo quality paper). Print speed ranges from .5/2 ppm (pages per minute) for best quality color/black-only to 15/19 ppm for draft quality color/black-only.

HP provides drivers for Windows and Mac OS/X, but not for Linux. Information on free software drivers (reported to mostly work with this printer is available here.

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on Six multifunction printers for Linux

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 05, 2005 07:35 AM
I tried to configure my PSC2510 the same way you guys have,but with little success.
The printer would make noises like it was about to print,then spit out a sheet with some obscure line at the top.

After doing a Google search i came across this howto: http://erkkila.org/tikiwiki/tiki-pagehistory.php?<nobr>p<wbr></nobr> age=LinuxNotes&diff=4
which worked a treat for me.

I didn't even know i could use my wireless printer with Linux so i am very pleased now.

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 02, 2005 06:04 AM
That worked brilliantly for me too and I'm not on Gentoo.

If you're using the Fedora or Red Hat printer configuration GUI. Select "Networked JetDirect" as the Queue Type and 9100 as the port number.

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on August 20, 2005 04:42 AM
It appears that you are trying to print to an LPD printer on a windows machine, hence the error Network host '192.168.1.5' is busy, down, or unreachable; will retry in 30 seconds...

That's a network error--your connection endpoint isn 't available. In order to print to windoze using lpd, you must
* install 'print services for unix' from the windoze control panel>add windoze components (or something similar)
* manually start the above service. If you are the admin of the windoze box, you can set the service to start automagically at boot, which is what you probably want.

LPD, or 'printer' runs on port 515--it's a 'well known port'. See<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/services. You can test connectivity by telnetting to that box/port.

Your device URI should be:
lpd://fqdn/windows_share_name
If you don't have working name resolution on your network, you will have to specify the IP of the print server.

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on August 20, 2005 04:43 AM
Oops, I forgot...
In windows, disable bi-directional printing for the shared printer.

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HP OfficeJet 6110

Posted by: Administrator on December 05, 2003 06:26 PM
I recently bought the HP OfficeJet 6110 and it works great under Linux. Printing works out of the box on Fedora Core 1, for the scanner to work, you have to run service hpoj setup first, and make sure to turn the service on. Those drivers are provided by HP through their HP OfficeJet Linux driver project: http://hpoj.sourceforge.net/. I really like the automatic document feeder on this unit, it makes it possible to copy and scan legal size documents, something you can't usually do without the ADF.

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Commercial interests

Posted by: Administrator on December 06, 2003 04:56 AM

I work for a company, <A HREF="http://www.codehost.com/" TITLE="codehost.com">Codehost</a codehost.com> building commercial and/or proprietary print drivers for Linux [among others; we also support Solaris, SCO, AIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, IRIX].


We currently only function on the high end devices, but I, myself, am working right now on support for devices closer to the price range defined here [in fact, the work I do may end up functioning for devices well inside this range].


If you have a Canon high-end device, you can grab free drivers from <A HREF="http://canon.codehost.com/" TITLE="codehost.com">http://canon.codehost.com</a codehost.com>.


We also have somewhat-less-free drivers for <A HREF="http://ricoh.codehost.com/" TITLE="codehost.com">Ricoh</a codehost.com>, <A HREF="http://kyoceramita.codehost.com/" TITLE="codehost.com">Kyocera Mita</a codehost.com>, and a bunch of variants thereupon, demos of which are available at their respective oem.codehost.com pages.


It just seemed a little unfair to mention Lexmark's offerings but leave out all the other major manufacturers, many of whom use us for support.


<A HREF="mailto:chunky@icculus.org" TITLE="mailto">Gary (-;</a mailto>


PS I guess I oughta add some kind of "I don't officially speak for Codehost, and am merely a humble coder"

#

Excellent article

Posted by: Administrator on December 05, 2003 06:20 PM
Thanks for the heads up. I just installed the Epson multifunction on a box and thought I had to install windows to get it to work properly. I should have checked. Now, I can the constant freezing.

Thanks again. Very helpful.

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hp psc 2210

Posted by: Administrator on December 06, 2003 07:51 AM
Works great under Suse using CUPS. Scanning works with packages accessing HP device support.

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My Trouble Finding Quality

Posted by: Administrator on December 08, 2003 04:37 PM
.
Hi everyone, just a word of warning for anyone in the market for one of these units.
.
I originally bought one of the HP's, but when I got it home I discovered that there was dust stuck to the inside surface of the glass where I could not clean it. I exchanged it three time at Staples, they all had the same problem. The dust is hard to see with your eye, but certainly shows up as spots all over a scan. I contacted HP, they suggested it was a problem with that batch, and replaced it with another one that I found had the same problem. Then they took it back and sent it in to be cleaned properly, but when I got it back again the situation was even worse! HP didn't seem interested in fixing the problem, so I took my refund, and started looking at other manufacturers.
.
I now have an Epson CX5200. I had to go through 3 of these units before I got one that had _almost_ no dust stuck to the inside surface. I will say that even the worst of the Epsons I had was _far_ better than the best of the HP's regarding internal dust. In addition to the better dust situation, I found the Epson to be a far superior product for the following reasons:
.
- Higher quality materials, better and thicker plastic than the brittle stuff the HP is made of, and the glass is thicker and more solid, you can knock on it and it sounds good (unlike the HP)
.
- The Epson has a real foam press under the glass cover instead of a fake one made of plastic included on the HP.
.
- It sounds sturdy when in operation, while the HP sounds like it could self destruct.
.
- The CCD on the HP contacts the glass while scanning leaving marks!
.
- The Epson is standards (TWAIN) compliant, while the HP requires proprietary software, and HP's windows software requires you to install Microsoft IE (yuk). Also the HP software just doesn't work very well, it won't remember even basic settings like DPI between scans, while the Epson software for Windows works well and has some great and useful innovations.
.
- Better overall design
--> Opens wider for easy access to interior
--> More compact and better exterior profile
--> Paper trays fold up out of the way
--> Individual ink cartridges for each colour
--> Straight through feed (can the HP even do this?)
--> Has scanner lock mechanism for moving (HP doesn't)
--> Has hardware "Stop" button to halt an operation
.
- Epson includes USB cable
.
- The Epson is possible to open and self-service (HP has special screws and secret snaps)
.
- HP considers interior dust to be acceptable. While Epson didn't do anything to fix the problem, they atleast did not say it was "withing acceptable tolerances".
.
.
That last point just blew me away, HP actually provided me with their official manufacturing specs for what they consider to be "Ok" as far as internal dust, it was "Dust and Particles - Max 0.25 mm with less than two particles in a 6.5mm diameter zone.". According to that spec, it is acceptable to have a maximum of 148 particles that would show up on a scan within an area of 4x6 inches (a standard photograph). As far as I am concerned, advertising a scanning resolution of 1200dpi while they allow for debris that will show up at 300dpi is just plain dishonest and false advertising. Imagine if a camera company allowed for dust inside their cameras!
.
As a side note, I want to mention that Canon scanners appeared to be completely dust free upon close examination, which is no surprise considering that they are primarily a photo and imaging company. Unfortuanately, their units are not Linux compatible, so I could not consider them an option. This may change, when I contacted them, the Linux person there said it was in the works...
.
In conclusion, Epson was my final choice and the unit has performed flawlessly for almost a year now, but make sure you check closely for dust while you can still exchange it at the store, and call Epson and complain if you find any! I hope somebody finds this report useful, I feel better now.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)
.

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HP psc 2410

Posted by: Administrator on December 08, 2003 05:47 PM
I just bought an HP PSC 2410 photosmart printer. and it does work flawless in Linux-Mandrake.

it is very similar to the 2175 except it has a backlit color lcd screen to view photos from your flash media, and limited photo manipulation abilities from the printer itself, heck! you could use this print without a computer if you needed to! also, I don't know about the 2175 but this model has a slot for xD memory (which, I needed) for the 299.00 it costs directly from HP with no tax and free shipping, it is a bargain!!!

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Two refinements

Posted by: Administrator on December 08, 2003 06:35 PM
The ascendency of HP over Epson was due to the rise of the laser printer -- which HP pioneered. It is still their best profit-center last I heard.

-----

The fax system in these machines is probably not a winmodem since they are not really on the system bus -- they are attached by parallel port or USB. This would make the high CPU usage of a winmodem quite inefficient. This does make your comment about the next antitrust case interesting, however.

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HP psc 2510

Posted by: Administrator on December 09, 2003 04:04 AM
I recently purchased the HP PSC 2510 for under $500 dollars. It has a wireless/wire lan hook up and consequently just worked with linux. I'm so happy with it. I even have my own home grown access point. As far a the quality of the printer it seems great to me. Of course my last printer was a cannon bjc 70 so what do I know. The wireless has been working seamlessly. I can't wait for all devices to work like this. No proprietary drivers, no questions, no searching google.... Heck i hardly even had to follow the instructions.

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Administrator on December 17, 2003 05:43 AM
What do you mean, you've got your own home gruwn access point? Do you mean you are somehow using your PSC2510 as an access point? My employer just purchased me a 2510 and I'd sure like to know how you did that, if indeed you did.

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Administrator on December 22, 2003 05:37 AM
I just got this printer and am trying to set up networking. What did you specify as the URL for accessing the printer? I'm using CUPS, and typical choices are:

file:/path/to/filename.prn
http://hostname:631/ipp/
http://hostname:631/ipp/port1
ipp://hostname/ipp/
ipp://hostname/ipp/port1
lpd://hostname/queue
socket://hostname
socket://hostname:9100

I've tried various combinations substituting the IP address of the printer for "hostname" in the above examples. However, the printer configuration says:

"Network host '192.168.1.5' is busy, down, or unreachable; will retry in 30 seconds..."

Yet I can ping this address successfully, and my router shows that it is the printer that is at that address.

Also, I didn't see PSC 2510 in the list of supported printers, so I used "HP PSC 950 Foomatic + hpijs".

Can you offer any advice?

Thanks,
Keith

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Administrator on January 13, 2004 06:04 AM
For the first problem, just type in the IP address without anything else on the line. This should allow you to communicate with the printer.

For the second problem, do you have the most recent version of hpijs (v1.5)? If not you could use the driver for the HP psc2210.

I recommend downloading off of sourceforge the hpijs 1.5 drivers. here is the URL http://hpinkjet.sourceforge.net/

Good Luck,

Eric

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Re:HP psc 2510

Posted by: Administrator on October 02, 2004 05:18 AM
Try "direct printing to TCP-Port", choose the IP of the printer, make a scan and it will be recognized at port 9100 or 9200. After installation (choose type HP psc 2500) it works with CUPS - no problem. Always use hardcoded IP-adresses and no DHCP in home-lan. This is much easier and it works.

Good luck!

Dirk

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printers

Posted by: Administrator on July 27, 2006 12:20 AM
would these still be considered the best options? (higher models ofcourse)

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Dot matrix printer drivers

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 61.2.37.228] on August 31, 2007 12:46 AM
Any drivers available for use with dot matrix printers such as TVSE MSP245 or the Epson series, when using linux operating systems?

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