I hate printers. In fact, I know a lot of PC owners hate printers. For a long time they were really the bane of many home computer users. Initially every application needed it’s own drivers for every printer type, then we got unified drivers but they were crap, and so on and so forth. It’s gotten better over the years, but windows printer drivers are still bulky and annoying.
I suspected the one big area of Ubuntu I’d have to bleed to get working was printing. I’ve played with CUPS previously and an HP LaserJet 4L (a long time ago), and it worked but it wasn’t always ideal. So I settled down today to spend three hours making Ubuntu drive my HP PhotoSmart C4585.
Holy crap was I wrong.
5 minutes. Literally. Googled for ‘HP PhotoSmart Linux’, found that HP have developed their own open source printer drivers. That looked like a good sign, filled in a few fields on the website and it told me the drivers are already in Ubuntu. That sounded good. Did an apt-cache search hplip and apt-get install hplip only to discover the drivers were already installed. So, opened System, Administration, Printing, told it to search for a printer, it found the PhotoSmart, installed the config, printed a test page.
I am literally gobsmacked.
It even happily drives the scanner as well (using XSane, also already installed). The printer driver is less annoying than the Windows one (just hides away), and the only thing I’m missing is a display of how full the ink cartridges are, but the Windows one estimates that badly anyway.
So, well done HP, well done Ubuntu, and well done open source printing. Now I have to find something else to do for 2 hours 55 minutes.