The nightmarish problem of installing a printer

Warren Block wblock at
Wed Sep 22 01:47:37 UTC 2010

On Tue, 21 Sep 2010, C. P. Ghost wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 5:43 PM, Polytropon <freebsd at> wrote:
>> In that case, I would ask myself: Why hasn't it been done already?
>> If your assumption was right, it would already work. As it currently
>> does not work, I would check your assumption. :-)
> I don't know why it hasn't been done up to now. After all, this is nothing
> but an exercise in mapping one set of interfaces onto another set of
> interfaces. We've done this kind of interface matching with with the
> Linuxulator, NDIS is another good example, and the Wine guys are
> doing a great job too. I fail to see a compelling TECHNICAL reason
> why Windows drivers in general (and windrivers in particular) couldn't
> be docked to Unix systems. Of course, legal reasons are a different
> matter.

Technically possible.  The brute-force method would be to run a VM with 
Windows and the real driver, then just capture input and output.  Sure 
it's tricky, but those are just details.

But look at this another way:

It's a difficult and demanding programming job, with lots of details 
that have to be just right, may or may not be easy to find without 
reverse engineering, and an ongoing support headache that will never 
end.  Kind of like Gutenprint; I wonder if they have a perspective on 

What all this effort achieves is support for the most cost-reduced,
bottom-of-the-line printers from every manufacturer.

It's probably more effective to put some emphasis in the Handbook on the 
problems with "host-based" printers (the polite euphemism for 
Winprinter).  The issue is confused by printers that aren't host-based, 
but use proprietary PDLs.

If someone comes up with a working GDI printer emulation layer, that 
would make a great port.

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