I finally took the time to connect my Hewlett-Packard PSC 2355 printer to my Dell Ubuntu PC. Finding the driver on the Web, installing it and activating the printer took only a few minutes. But the process is still much easier in the world of Windows XP. Here’s why.
With Windows, the Wizard menu system generally walks you through the driver install process. The vast majority of printers work with XP (I can’t say the same for Vista since I haven’t tested that). In most cases, setting up a printer with XP requires a few clicks of the mouse.
Things are slightly different in the Ubuntu world. I went to the menu system (System/Administration/Printing) and clicked on the “New Printer” icon. The Dell PC accurately identified my printer (HP PSC 2355). So far, so good.
Then, a few tricky items. The driver for the printer wasn’t available on my local PC so I had to fetch it from the Internet. With a Google search and a little luck, I found the driver. But I encountered some confusing terms and acronyms (PPD… etc.). Fortunately, this searchable online database helped me find my driver really quickly.
For Linux users, this stuff is a breeze. But for those who are trying to make the transition from Windows to Ubuntu, setting up a printer should be far easier.
In fact, Dell and Canonical should reach out to consumer printer manufacturers (HP, Lexmark, etc.) to find a way to have the most prominent drivers shipped with Dell PCs. Sure, Dell competes fiercely with HP in the PC market. But by working together on Ubuntu support, HP and Dell could pump up their respective hardware sales to Ubuntu users like me.
Linux does do a good job of recognizing most printers (especially HP), but sometimes the driver is not installed and you’re right in that it should be easier. Fortunately, if you’re a KDE user like I am anyway, there is currently work going on for a project at the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) to create a framework / service that can fetch the drivers for you and install them in a couple of clicks. Once it’s done KDEPrint will recognize a printer and offer to fetch the driver for you and install it from LinuxPrinting.org (which is where I assume you found your driver).
“In fact, Dell and Canonical should reach out to consumer printer manufacturers (HP, Lexmark, etc.) to find a way to have the most prominent drivers shipped with Dell PCs.”
Uh, no. This won’t happen.
Several years ago, and for many years before that, Dell worked closely with HP for printer support, and sold HP printers.
Then Dell went into the printer business. HP was not pleased and the entire relationship ended.
Every Dell printer I know is a re-branded Lexmark. Also a fierce HP competitor.
However in addition to sak’s comment, which is good news, linuxprinting.org’s entire printer database is built into Debian (Ubuntu’s progenitor) and Fedora.
It really hasn’t been a problem for several years now. Ubuntu probably has the driver somewhere in its repositories, or maybe your printer is too new.
Yes it can be tricky. However, with supported printers, including my HP, printer setup is just as simple, if not more so than with XP.