The nightmarish problem of installing a printer

Polytropon freebsd at
Fri Sep 17 18:40:01 UTC 2010

On Fri, 17 Sep 2010 18:10:56 +0100, Frank Shute <frank at> wrote:
> I'm not going to tell you how to print with CUPS as it's too
> complicated and fragile for my liking.

If you have a printer that understands at least SOME standards,
maybe you want to look at apsfilter instead of CUPS; apsfilter
is a lightweight, but still powerful collection of printer filters
that supports many standards.

> Have you thought about using lpd(8)? If your printer can understand
> Postscript (and I believe HP Laserjets can) then this can be a fairly
> simple process as you just send the raw PS to the printer with lpr(1)
> via a spool and filter.

If the printer can understand PCL, as many HP Laserjet products do
(at least the professional ones from "office class" product lines),
you can also use apsfilter for that. In this case, it's even to be
considered an overhead as apsfilter uses gs (ghostscript) to turn
the PS input into PCL. A short read of "man gs" should give you all
you need to know about how to use PCL for your printer.

Oh, and professional office-class printers usually are networked
printers, so no need to mess with silly USB. :-)

> Most Unix applications can produce Postscript or PDF (which can be
> converted to PS with ps2pdf which comes with Ghostscript) and LaTeX
> can produce PS with dvips.

Postscript is *the* default output format for printing in UNIX in
general, as well as in X.

For LaTeX, there's pdflatex to produce PDF output directly, a very
useful tool for automated document production and printing. (Yes,
you don't need "Acrobat Reader" to print PDF files, you can just
use "lpr *.pdf" to get a stack of PDF files printed without any
further interaction.)

> I recommend LaTeX for all users, especially university based users who
> are going to produce thesis/technical docs.


> If your printer can't speak Postscript then you have to use
> Ghostscript and something like apsfilter with lpd.

As I mentioned. Sadly, there nowadays is a whole bunch of printing
stuff, obsoleting one unified system that is to be used for printing.
What comes to my mind? Of course CUPS, hpijs, Gutenprint, Foomatic,
Gimp-print, several deamons and datafiles... what a mess - it's almost
like "WIndows". Sorry.

I would like to have ONE thing that is used for printing, and that
does support ALL printers, and that does not force the user to
search the web (bah!) for some arbitrary binary files. Of course,
that's what printer manufacturers seem to want: Incompatible,
non-standard and complicated crap, requiring bloated software to
run. That's not how UNIX experience should be.

My take: Whenever possible, get a professional printer. Think BEFORE
you buy it. Even used (!) office-class hardware is acceptable.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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