Can I use an HP printer

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Fri Feb 9 07:32:48 UTC 2007


  Your HP 4550N is a real commercial printer with a PostScript interpreter
in it, that is why you can just send the print jobs directly to it and the
printer will
do the work of rasterizing them.

  Bob doesen't have a PostScript printer like your 4550N  His is a cheapie
home "winprinter" that has no engine in the printer and can only do very
processing.  It definitely ain't going to understand PostScript fed to it,
and likely
not even ASCII.

  For Bob to get his printer to work means he's going to have to install
and a special driver that interprets the intermediate output from
Ghostscript into
something that the 2600n can digest.

  Here is a driver that someone wrote that can do this:

  I assume it's somewhere in the FreeBSD ports.

  What Bob needs to do to get his printer to work involves hours of labor
and a lot of knowledge of how the various pieces fit together under FreeBSD.
If he was installing it under Linux he could use these instructions:

but I'll repost the warning from that page here:

"...the printer works like a charm, but for printing photos
the colors are horrible - at least with the default settings and the driver
dated May 18..."

In other words, after a Herculean effort he is only going to end up with
that works.  Not something that works well.

If he just bought this printer the smartest thing he could do is take it
back to the
store and get a better printer that could speak PostScript - like your
4550N.  It
will be a bit more expensive but it's not cost-justifyable in a business
to waste the labor getting a non-PostScript printer to work with a UNIX like

I myself have an Epson C84 inkjet in my home that has the same issues.  I
it knowing all this full well, and I did in fact spend the time to get it to
work, and
it does work well.  Since we only use the thing probably 6 times a year to
color (we also have a PostScript laserjet at home) I decided that since my
labor was
free that I'd rather spend my money on something other than a printer, so I
a cheap printer.

But, since that purchase a year ago I've seen at least 5 of these printers
in excellent
shape at the local Goodwill store.  So I have to conclude that a lot of
people out
there have gone down the non-Postscript route, found it wanting, and said
with it and went back to the store and got a real printer.

The other thing that they don't tell you when you go the Ghostscript route,
that unless you have a screamingly fast CPU, it takes a long, LONG time for
the driver to rasterize a page in your computer!


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Chris Hill" <chris at>
To: "Bob" <jwillson at>
Cc: <freebsd-questions at>
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 8:14 PM
Subject: Re: Can I use an HP printer

> On Tue, 6 Feb 2007, Bob wrote:
> >   I recently purchased a Hewlett Packard Color LaserJet 2600n printer.
> >   It works perfectly under Windows XP but I cannot get it to work under
> >   FreeBSD 6.2.
> >   I have set it up as a network printer on a LAN and it has it's own
> >   permanent IP. I can ping the IP  but that is all I can do.
> I have been using HP printers under FreeBSD for years now. Since your
> printer has an IP, I presume it has a JetDirect card.
> >   Can this printer actually be made to work or am I wasting my (and
> >   your) time even trying?
> You may need to set up some things in /etc/printcap. Here is the
> relevant portion of mine:
> # HP color laser
> lp|snow|snowball|lj|ps|HP ColorLaserJet 4550N:\
>          :sh:\
>          :sd=/var/spool/output/lpd:\
>          :mx#0:\
>          :lp=:rm=snowball:rp="auto":
> I'm using lpr, so I had to enable that in /etc/rc.conf. I also had to
> manually create the directory /var/spool/output/lpd. The snowball part
> is a hostname for the printer, which you can set up in /etc/hosts or a
> split DNS. (My printers are named after Devo songs.)
> HTH.
> --
> Chris Hill               chris at
> **                     [ Busy Expunging <|> ]
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