I am in no way a big fan of ink jet printers. I think they are cheap and the ink costs way to much. Not only that, but the ink invariably mucks up the print head mechanism rending the printer a paper weight over time. This was a huge problem with Epson printers (I so hated trying to clean those damn things, took hours and wasted so much ink) but not so much HP’s who put the print head mechanism on the cartridge. Still, ink jets are a far cry from laser printers. I have one of those, a trusty HP LJ 4p which has served me well since I picked it up used over 7 years ago; and it was in service for many more before that. This thing has chugged along with the same toner cart that came with it and I have a spare. What I don’t have is a parallel port on any system since my workstation took a dump. Thus it serves me no good right now.
Well this does not make the wife and kids happy that there is no printer to use, especially for homework assignments so it was with an upturned nose I met my wife’s suggestion that we pick up a cheap printer on Black Friday. She had seen a wireless HP OJ 6000 in some add for $60, about half the price. I was skeptical, said sure, and left it at that. So Friday rolled around and she was like let’s go. When I got there I read the box and there was no indication that it was compatible with Linux. Only Windows and OS X on the box, but this is to be expected. So I did a quick search on the web and found a compatibility chart on HP’s support site listing all the distros with support. Of course Ubuntu was at the top of the list stating it could print via usb and network but that setup of the printer, especially for network may not work at all. All the other distros either had printing support or no support listed. Or course my distro of choice Arch was not listed at all. Still, I knew, that if the printer worked with Ubuntu, Fedora, Slackware, and all those other distros listed it sure as heck was going to work with any other distro released at or around the same period as the distro versions compatible. I know this, but perhaps the new Linux user would. Never-the-less, I decided to go with it. I was not overly concerned about getting it to print wirelessly or through the network as I could just pop it on my System76 and share it out through cups.
Well I finally got around to setting this thing up today and man, was there a lot to put together physically. Getting all the tape and plastic off then putting in the 4 different ink cartridges took a hell of a lot longer to do then getting this working with Linux.
I fired up my web browser, typed in localhost:631 and set about working magic with the wonderful program CUPS. I selected to add a new printer and sure enough, a few seconds later it detected the HP which I had plugged in to the usb port. But wait, it was not the usb it detected, it was the newtork printer. Whoa! I could see the IP address which meant maybe there was a web interface. I popped the IP into Chromium and sure enough web administration tools at my fingertips. In a few minutes I had it set up with a static IP through the network and the wireless perfectly configured. Went back to CUPS, set it all up there and was printing out a test page in less than 2 minutes all totaled.
I went to my Meso, fired up the cups interface and was completely configured in less than 60 seconds.
HP what the hell? Setting this printer up under Linux was a hell of a lot easier than any of the directions listed in the manual that came with it and I did not need to install any extra software. None at all! No crapware mucking up my system. I want to print and that is it. I don’t need to monitor every aspect of the printer through some software system. No, I can just go to the web page of the printer and get all the info I need. So why is this not in the manual at all? Why is this hidden from the average user?
More importantly, why is this not listed anywhere on the HP site with regards to Linux? This printer works 100% with Linux and sets up so easily. I practically had to do nothing! Nothing! It’s a shame, that it is, that such ease of use is hidden from us.