Postscript printer, serial or parallel cable?

Warren Block wblock at
Mon Dec 22 17:17:30 PST 2003

On Sun, 21 Dec 2003, Doug Poland wrote:

> I recently got my hands on a free (woowho!) HP 4050 printer.

That's an excellent printer, and works well with FreeBSD.  (I've got a
4000, and use about a dozen 4050s heavily with a homegrown FreeBSD
printing system at a client location.)

> I'm going to hook it up to a FreeBSD 4.9-STABLE server.  The printer
> has two serial (one male/one female) connectors,

One's serial, one's a connector for auxiliary add-ons (HDD15, I think).

> a Centronix port, and
> some odd looking port that looks like you plug a mouse into it.

I think that one is for the optional IR receiver.  Never seen one of
those for real, though.

> The handbook states that I can use serial or parallel cabling to a
> postscript capable printer but there may be some advantage to a serial
> cable as it is bi-directional.  I've got several newer IEEE
> something-or-another parallel cables lying around unused.   They were
> rather expensive and, IIRC, proported to be bi-directional.

Use the parallel.  Serial works, but there's little to recommend it any
more.  It used to be that serial let you program PostScript directly.
Any more, you'd just run Ghostscript for that.

However, there's a catch.  With both parallel and USB, I've found
printing from FreeBSD's lpd to be relatively slow.  There are a few
other comments on this to be found in Google, but no resolution.  (I've
noticed it with lasers and inkjets and different types or settings of
parallel ports--PIO, EPP, ECP.)

So my suggestion is to first try parallel and test it for speed.  If you
notice it taking a very long time for large data transfers, shop for the
cheapest EIO JetDirect you can find and put the printer directly on your

-Warren Block * Rapid City, South Dakota USA

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