Lat week I got a fancy new printer. I was trying to find something that will work for years and years so I shopped around for a couple of days.
The shopping experience was pretty painful. It’s very difficult to find whether a printer is actually supported in Linux before buying it and trying it out. Still, at the end of the second day I picked an MFC-7860DW – a solid all-in-one with a good feature set and apparently (not clearly though) supported on Linux being a Postscript printer.
On Windows the thing worked pretty much out of the box – pop in CD, have it detect the printer on the network, click install, print. Not on Slackware :)
On Linux I quickly got confused by all the terminology. There on the Brother website for this printer is an LPR driver, a cupswrapper driver (both in rpm/deb formats only), and generic install instructions. Also here and there I found references to brscript, which made me suspect this isn’t actually a real postscript printer.
I extracted the files from the .debs, copied them manually to the destination, and looked at the post-install scripts and ran the commands manually. Printer driver was added successfully to CUPS and I could add the detected network printer, and I could even print a CUPS test page successfully, but nothing else would print. Everything else would come out as pages and pages of garbage.
After many hours of beating my head against the keyboard I installed Ubuntu in a VM and installed the brother deb packages in there and after a minute of fiddling with cups – printing worked, including two-sided (duplex) printing.
This was a particularly busy week for me and I snapped, I could no longer justify spending so much time installing a printer and I figured maybe it’s time to switch to Ubuntu, and I did.
Thankfully though it wasn’t long (less than a week) until I remembered why I was a Slackware user in the first place – it’s conservative, stable, and doesn’t modify upstream packages. Every day I found something in Ubuntu that would drive me crazy. Parts of the screen would be blacked out after resizing certain windows (crazy driver bug maybe, but it worked in Slackware), my USB mass storage phone (with worked in Slackware) would sort of mount when I clicked on it in Thunar but the contents would not be displayed, and the final straw was grub2.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for usability and also I appreciate that sometimes something old needs to be dropped so something new and better can take its place. But it seems to me that grub2 doesn’t fit either of those parameters. It is absolutely a monster to configure (just try to change something simple like the boot timeout if you don’t already know how to do it) and doesn’t give me any benefits as far as I can see. On the web someone suggested a GUI program to configure GRUB2 and that’s when I decided to hell with it. If you’re going to require a GUI program to configure a boot loader – you better bloody make sure it’s installed and accessible by default.
So I switched back to Slackware (Ubutnu was on a separate partition of course) and having a little more patience and a fresh mind I just used the generic postscript driver, which worked, which is why I bought a postscript printer in the first place :)
I wrote it up in case someone else will look for info about this printer on Linux, I will extend that guide when I find more about using this printer’s features on Slackware.