Printer advice

Polytropon freebsd at
Sun May 14 23:47:06 UTC 2017

On Sun, 14 May 2017 23:06:56 +0000, Thomas Mueller wrote:
> from Polytropon:
> > Did you pay attention to this nonstandard part?
> Sure I saw that.  But hp-setup always failed when attempting to
> download that plug-in.

That is actually a big problem. It's usually easier to download
the required parts manually, but I doubt both the
and the HP documentation will explicitely point out _where_ to
download it from. It's also common for manufacturers to stop the
support for certain products, even if that just means some resource
will be 404'd.

> This is part of the reason, along with poor HP support policy,
> why I don't want to ever again buy anything from HP.

When I suggest using HP products, I only do this because I never
had such problems. I try to check as much documentation as possible
_before_ purchasing anything. If the device conforms to existing
standards (such as PCL, PS, or PDF for printer language), there
usually is no need for anything that printer-specific that only
the manufacturer can provide.

> How would I know before buying another printer if it requires a
> proprietary binary plug-in?

Search for the device at (in case it's a HP),
it will be mentioned if such nonstandard parts are needed. Avoid
"GDI printers" ("winprinters") at all cost. Yes, I'm looking at
you, Canon! ;-)

> A few years ago, on visiting HP website, this printer was past
> end-of-life, and no drivers were available even for MS-Windows. 

That is quite common, and it doesn't even affect only ye olden
office laser printers (such as HP Laserjet 4000 DN which stopped
printing in "Windows 10"). Manufacturers are interested in selling
you the same thing over and over, so planned obsolescence will be
achieved through software (or to be precise: the _inavailability_
of software).

> So I can try, but would be very surprised if that proprietary
> binary plug-in were even available.

Make sure you don't need such nonsense. Confirm that the printer
will at least speak one of PCL, PS, or PDF.

> I looked in /usr/ports/print/hplip-plugin/pkg-plist, and couldn't
> see anything for my HP model.
> But hplipopensource was still alive (and well?).

I recently confirmed a HP Officejet 8950 both through that site
and in reality - but as I mentioned, that is an inkpee printer.
There is no explicit mentioning in the hplip package list, but
it works quite nicely. Even the dreaded CUPS auto-detection did

> > > I finally got it to print in NetBSD through cups with a special
> > > PPD file, think FreeBSD might also work with the same PPD file.
> > Yes, the first P in PPD means "portable". :-)
> I think my printing success was due to cups; hplip seemed to play no part.

That is quite possible. CUPS includes lots of printer drivers
on its own.

> > Scanning is not a problem once you have installed hplip and SANE.
> > Fax... who uses fax anymore? ;-)
> Scanning didn't work even with hplip and/or sane.

If I remember correctly, you need to install the SANE backends
library. That one will bring you the model-specific support.

> Now I wonder if, when I get to needing another cartridge, the toner
> for my printer model will still be available.
> If not, I will consider myself blessed because that would mean I
> can give up on this printer in favor of something better.

Shortage on toner supply is a good reason to dump a specifc model.
For example, I'm using several HP Laserjet 4000 DN and I can still
get toner cartridges for < 50 Euro. The moment those aren't sold
anymore will make me unhappy. ;-)

> Besides FreeBSD, I will also have chances with NetBSD and a
> future Linux installation.

All of them use CUPS for printing (and usually application software
will depend on CUPS for anything printing-related). Even Mac OS X
(or however they call it this year) uses CUPS. So whenever a printer
works with CUPS, you're good to go across operating systems. Don't
waste time with nonstandard binary driver plugins, uploadable firm-
ware, host-based control programs or stupid stuff like that. Printers
that require you to use those aren't worth buying.

Again: Make sure the printer conforms to existing standards.

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

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