My Linux Printing Struggle
I’ve been staving off doing it in the weeks since I installed Gentoo, but I finally was forced to configure my system to work with my printer. In a normal system, this might not leave an administrator filled with a feeling of dread, but I print over the network to a shared printer on a Windows server, and always seem to fight a battle to get it to work. Part of my distaste for this operation is leftover from when we used a dlink wireless print server - which helped instill me with a hate for wireless that I only overcame after I setup a wireless access point in our house and discovered that Linux wireless drivers have greatly improved in the past few years.
The time finally came - I emerged cups onto my system, and created a new printer through the Gnome new printer wizard (druid?), and shortly discovered that the driver I had used in Ubuntu was not available. I found one that appeared to be correct, and continued on. Once the configuration was done, I ran into an error which told me the smb.conf file was not accessible or did not exist - which lead me to copying the smb.conf.default file as smb.conf, and then got back on my way . . . to a new problem. This time it turned out that “
/usr/libexec/cups/filter/foomatic-rip failed” which I discovered (I assume I discovered correctly since the problem went away) that I needed to install ghostscript. So, another short compile and I managed to get ride of another error.
At this point, I was able to print, granted there was a delay that varied in duration, but at least I knew that I had gotten the server settings right, but the paper size settings were incorrect. I would set it to US Letter, and it would revert back to the A4 setting it had started with. At first I suspected it might be the wrong driver, and (in a stroke of genius) I remembered that the driver in Ubuntu which had exactly matched my printer had the word “gutenprint” on it. I searched Portage and discovered that this was a package, and quickly emerged it. Having done this, I went through the new printer wizard again, using the new, correct driver. But, my problems continued.
It was around this time that I discovered that attempting to cancel a job that the root account had sent to be printed (a test page) through the “jobs” window would crash Gnome, forcing me to restart X. I also noticed that I couldn’t delete the old printer. When I had consulted the documentation previously, I had noticed a bit mentioning that you could configure cups through a web browser, and went and looked up the port required, leading me to open 127.0.0.1:631 and attempted to configure the printer there.
After giving the page my root credentials, I soon discovered not only could I cancels those problematic print jobs, but also I was finally able to delete the old printer. A bit more probing discovered the option to change the paper size, (which still was A4) and allowed me to set it to US Letter permanently.
After printing a couple of sheets it had already queued in the A4 size, I was relieved to see a properly formatted sheet come out, ending (I hope) my struggles to get printing working on my desktop. I quite like the cups web configuration page though, I’ll have to use it when I setup the printer for my laptop.