Printer Drivers for Ubuntu

Ubuntu comes with drivers for most of your peripherals, except printer drivers, which normally are installed separately.  In a previous blog I have written favorably about the Canon MX850 compared to the equivalent HP ink-jet all-in-one printers.  Having a good feeling about Canon, I went to their web site and made an email inquiry about a printer driver for Ubuntu.  Here is their reply, "While considering the desire to provide the best possible support for Canon's products, Canon must make decisions on which products to support when new operating systems are introduced.  Currently, Canon has decided to support only the Microsoft Windows and the Macintosh operating systems."

Pardon me, Canon, but Ubuntu and Linux are not new operating systems.  They've been around almost as long as Windows, and the Apple operating system is based on Linux.

Have no fear, though, this happens occasionally and what you'll find when you go looking for a solution is other solutions.  Searching further, for Canon printer drivers, there is a free solution, the CUPS-BNJP Printer Driver, which mimics the Canon BNJP printer protocol for the Canon Pixma printers and works over the network. This also works with the XSane scanning software provided with Ubuntu to allow scanning of documents.

CUPS-BNJP is based on CUPS, CUPS works with other printers besides Canon.  It was built for the Fedora distribution of Linux.  Since Ubuntu uses the Debian distribution, there may or may not be an issue in using CUPS with Ubuntu.  We can check that easily.  If you go to Applications->Ubuntu Software Center->Get Free Software->System Tools and scan through the list of available software, you'll come to two choices: Printing, Printers.   If you click on "Printing,"  a CUPS printer driver is available.  "Printers" on the menu system gives you a GUI interface between CUPS and the printer.

CUPS uses your web browser to view print jobs, manage your printers, and for online help.  However, it makes use of the command line for its configuration.  The printer GUI in the Ubuntu Software Center. according to the software description,  seemed like it depended on some other software for configuring remote printers on a LAN,  if you don't want to install a series of dependent software, or if you prefer not to use the command line interface, you probably want to check out a commercial solution, TurboPrint 2 for Linux.

TurboPrint 2 supports ink-jet printer's from: HP, Bother, Epson, and Canon for all Linux distributions.  For the modest cost of $29 you can be ensured that you printer will function, and pick up a nice set of additional features with the software.

TurboPrint2 features include: high print resolutions, color management that matches screen document color to printed color, printer status monitoring to track print progress and errors, like a low ink cartridge, printing on both sides of the paper, print preview of what your about to print, and intelligent ink management to save ink and extend cartridge life. The one remaining question that I had is will it work on a printer attached to your network, and it will.  This intelligent printer utility has Windows and individual manufacturers printer drivers beat hands down.

The company provides a trial version to see if it will work on your system. You can download from the web and hook it up and if everything works, then purchase the software.  What's not to like!

Given I was not sure about the Cups-BNJP distribution with Ubunutu,  the GUI configuration tool appeared to need additional software to pick up my printer on my LAN,  which meant there may be some additional configuration issues beyond just downloading the software, and  a free trial of TurboPrint was available, I decided to go with the TurboPrint option and give it a try.

TurboPrint Control Center and Printer Monitor

I downloaded the correct distribution for Ubuntu from their website. Clicked on the install button, the install wizard came up and installed the software.  The installation was painless.  The only thing that made me pause was the request to add a printer before other functionality was available.  This is done with the "Add" button in the Print Control Center.  My model Canon was recognized immediately on my LAN and that was it.  I printed a test page, checked the level of my ink cartridges, and was suitably impressed.

Considering I didn't have to read any documentation, install several pieces of software,  or potentially do a command line configuration of the printer.  I was up and running in 5 minutes,  and had some one to turn to for support if any problems cropped up, it certainly is worth the $29 asking price for Turbo Print to me,  so much for printer drivers.


Printer Drivers for Ubuntu — 1 Comment

  1. Small correction – OSX isn’t based on Linux, it’s based on BSD and XNU. XNU is a kernel, and BSD is an operating system. Also, Linux isn’t an OS; It’s a kernel which yes, has been around as long as the oldest ‘windows’ OS, but ubuntu is definitely newer than that. Since 2000, mainstream windows has been based on the NT kernel. Core parts of ubuntu such as gcc actually go back to the 80s, before even linux.