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HP to Use Debian for Linux Development 143

wfrp01 writes: "Bruce Perens gives us the skinny on Linux Daily News. Notice his use of the term GNU/Linux in a business context." Of course, HP's printers are still shipping with Windows-only drivers... and Windows-only configuration tools... and described as "Linux-compatible" in their advertisements.
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HP to Use Debian for Linux Development

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's good to see Debian finally get some commercial recognition. One would almost think that RedHat was the only distro out there.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "GDI" has nothing to do with the interface the printer connects to. There are plenty of GDI printers with USB interfaces. However, the rest of your post explains the linux/injet situation very well.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    that's my guess -- sort of like if someone who used to head another free software project got deeply involved with the decision of his new employer to go with that instead.

    OK, this doe *not answer* the question, though -- I agree, it's strange. Seems to me like Bruce P. would / should be happily pushing Debian at HP :)
    I guess he wanted it to be chosen for reasons other than "well, we hired this former Debian honcho as our Open Source consultant guy ..."

    Cool at any rate. Debian + Gnome + Eazel desktop ... HP workstations should be very sweet, even (one hopes) out of the box :)


  • I'm running HP printers under Linux and I'm very
    happy with them. You can make even more friends
    by supporting your HP scanners under Linux.

    Or at least allow the Linux scanner folks to
    peek into the specs, so they can support your
    scanners under Linux. BTW: what is your main
    business: selling scanner drivers or selling
  • by Anonymous Coward binaries and sourcecode for their own inkjet server. look around before posting. sigh
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:06AM (#232337)
    Of course if you really want a Linux-compatible printer, you buy a Lexmark. Their Z52 Linux driver dropped right in after I installed ghostscript, and even worked with USB.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:14AM (#232338)
    Q: What does GNU/Linux mean?
    A: GNU's not Unix Linux
    Q: Could you elaborate?
    A: GNU's not Unix's not Unix Linux
    Q: That's odd.
    A: RMS says it reminds people about their freedom.
    Q: Of course, thank you.
  • But HP does ship other drivers with their printers - at least Macintosh drivers, and maybe OS/2 (don't quote me on the last).
  • I had to stay out of this decision, because I am obviously prejudiced. HP management went ahead and did the right thing without me.

    Isn't this exactly WHY Perens works with HP!?! To help them make decisions and form their business direction with regards to Free Software?

    Maybe someone can help clarify this. (Bruce?)

  • Bruce was a former head of the Debian project, and thus is obviously biased as to which distribution HP should use.

  • Of course if you really want a Linux-compatible printer, you buy a Lexmark.

    Errr, no. I bought an Optra E312, and it's one of the best decisions I could have made. However, their Linux support is non-existant. For reasons best known to Lexmark, the default setting out of the box is to have PostScript errors turned off, so you don't know *why* something doesn't print.

    I phoned their technical support, who said to use their MarkVision software to turn it on. It wasn't on the CD, but they pointed me to a location I could download it from (the 25MB download is painful when you have to pay for phone calls). So once I'd got it installed, it couldn't see any printers. Turns out, they'd lied to me, and MarkVision for Linux only works if you're using one of their external print servers, and can't help if your printer is directly connected. They sent me some magic runes to try printing, but that didn't work, and after many, many weeks and several attempts, they finally sent me a small binary file to send to the printer that worked.

    The product is great, but their whole tech support infrastructure is entirely geared to Windows and Mac, and they don't have a clue when it comes to Linux.

  • My PhotoSmart 1218 seems to work fine with Linux and Windows. However, having said this, I would like to have HP do some official drivers for this printer to use every drop of the power of this printer- but then, knowing my luck, they don't own all the IP used in those printers and they can't make open sourced drivers for them.
  • by raph ( 3148 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @12:23PM (#232344) Homepage
    As several people have already pointed out, there are official drivers right now [] that work very well with Ghostscript. While these drivers are not quite [] open source, they come fairly close. No binary-only drivers like the Lexmark Z52, these come with full source and rights to do your own modifications. The one restriction keeping them from being fully dfsg compliant is the requirement that they be used only with HP printers. The nice engineers at HP are very aware of the advantages of moving to a true free software model, and are busy shepherding this through the corporate bureaucracy.

    All in all, I'm pleased and impressed with HP's support of Linux and free software. Given the context they're operating in, I'm not surprised that it's taking time to do things right, and I'm willing to grant them that.
  • ...of course in a few years, we'll have:

    "The new GNUNUNU/Linux"

    ...or if they decide to expand it again...

    "The new GNUNUNUNU/Linux"

    ...and when it uses a government plane for personal matters...

    "The new GNUNUNUNUSununu/Linux"

    Okay - this is getting WAY too silly.

  • This is exactly what we have been working on for HP. Please take a look at
  • by bwoodard ( 4340 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:43AM (#232347) Homepage
    We've been working with HP's LaserJet division to improve support for their printers. Some of the work is starting to trickle over to the DeskJet Printers but that is a seperate division. Please have a look at [] for information.
  • ...or maybe I have become jaded by the number of unjust flames I have seen originating from slashdot...
    You mean "originating from Michael". I'd block his stories in a heartbeat, but today my front page would consist of nothing but that Turing book review and Taco's Bender announcement.

    Taco, please, for everybody's sake. Next time Michael posts some non-sequitor Microsoft bashing, liberally apply a clue stick to his head until he cries uncle.

    ObTopic: Michael, do you honestly think these drivers would appear by some form of source code parthenogenesis? Patience.

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
  • I'd like to see those distributings try and make a GNU-less version of Linux.... good luck...
    GNu components make up such a large part of the entire system (Compilers, All base unix tools)
    It's not justified to not call it GNU/Something
  • I love how the slashdot community continually bitches about how noone respects Linux, noone ports software to Linux, blah blah blah.

    Then, when someone finally does port to linux, then you start bitching because they don't support your particular distribution.

    If there weren't so many targets to shoot for, perhaps you'd have one less barrier to entry for the software providers, one less thing to complain about, and perhaps a bit more respect from the UNIX community.
  • I do, on one of those dreaded 700-series "Winprinters". I run my jobs through the reverse-engineered PPM utilities. They've had color support for well over a year, and have been included in some mainstream Linux distros for a while. Red Hat even has an entry in its Printtool for them that takes care of all the ghostscript-transformation rigamarole.

    And the higher-end inkjets, of course, do PCL and are supported even better.

    It's not great support, and it's not support from HP itself, but you can print to most modern HP inkjets these days.
  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @09:12AM (#232352)
    As for config tools, there's been a Linux version of JetAdmin for some time now; also, their network printers from the 4000-range on up usually have web-based configuration these days which is also Linux compatible (and Solaris, and AIX and QNX and possibly even WebTV and Sega Dreamcast-compatible). Windows and Netware only need more elaborate config tools because with a few exceptions, client machines needed a print server to go through because the printers didn't support a protocol the client OS could speak to directly.

    As for drivers, what's a Linux driver in this case? You can send PostScript right to any networked HP printer made in the last 3 years, and at least half of them from before that. What is missing are supported printcap entries for accessing advanced features like multiple trays, collating, sorting, duplexing and stapling. That would be nice to see.
  • HP has the beginning of some drivers on source forge. I'm using them now to print from my HP Photo Smart 1000. Works pretty good. I still use the cdj550 gs driver for plain old text, as it doesn't use as much ink.

    HP Inkjet Website at SourceForge []

  • I wouldn't go counting on Bruce to affect any of those changes. In an email between Bruce and myself, he had pointed a couple of HP resource out to me to check. A couple of weeks ago I was interviewing for a position at HP and the development manager asked me a question that was in reference to those resources. I answered the question and dropped Bruce's name as the person that had pointed me to the site.

    The development manager then said that Bruce was hired for public relations and that I shouldn't take any advice from him on technical matters.

    From this response I come to the conclusion that this is either a case of sour grapes between this one developer and bruce, that developers as a whole at HP don't put much stock in Bruce or some combination thereof.

    Myself, I didn't get the job, but I found the response to Bruce Perens from one of the developers at HP, shall we say, interesting.

  • You don't usually have to buy printer drivers either.

    As an example with our HP LJ4050N, I got the PPD file from the W2K Postscript driver bundle, and installed it under CUPS. Works great: duplex, alternate paper trays, etc.

    Check out CUPS and the Database []

  • I avoided the Lexmark simply because I couldn't find a driver for it. Bought an Epson Stylus 777 and never been happier -- beautiful colour printing with the minimum of hassle (once ghostscript realised it could in fact use the shiny new driver). Epson seem to have a better attitude towards linux.

  • hey, I have an idea, why not post from your GNU-ONLY system?

    What's that? You can't? Oh, so sorry.

    Maybe we could call it Linux/GNU since a Linux _requires_ the Linux kernel. Oh, yeah guess you conveniently forgot about that part.

    The whole GNU/Linux moniker just reeks of sour grapes for the GNU Kernel still not being useful. Much/most of GNU's increased usage is due to Linux providing the base for it.

    Both GNU and Linux are interconnected. Putting one before another in a name is ridiculous, as it implies that one is more important. It becomes a chiken and egg situation. Linux uses GNU tools, but GNU tools require a base OS to run on, period. Hurd, you say? Feh, still waiting ..

    It is therefore, more justified to combine the two as Linux/GNU than it is to say GNU/Linux. The smart choice is to leave the two names separate, as it recognizes each for it's own essence and contribution.

  • ``It's amazing how few people have hooked up an Oscilloscope, or even a plain voltmeter, to their computer's power supply rails to assess it's quality.''

    Perhaps that's because:

    1. amazingly few people have access to an oscilloscope. I take it you think that spiky power was the person's problem. If not, that's an awfully expensive method of measuring DC voltages.
    2. dampening in any analog voltmeter or the display updates in the digital variety, using a ``plain voltmeter'' is likely only going to be useful for indicating that the 12V supply is really only 11.9V. I wonder what else in the computer would be adversely affected if that were the case. (It just might spot a flaky power connector from the PS, though.)

    Thanks for the chuckles...

  • Checkout HP's Sourceforge site [].

    They provide an enhanced version of lpd that provides full functionallity for most of their latest printers (i.e. the Color LaserJet 4550, and the LaserJet 8150, which we use here at work). They also provide a gui replacement for lpr, gpr, that allows you to do printer configuration for each print job (i.e. duplex printing, print quality, etc), in addtion to setting defaults. Quite handy.

  • Now if they would only make linux drivers from my HP HPLC...

    Actually, I think Agilent took that department with them when they split from HP, so you'd have to talk to them. I'm guessing they won't get a clue in this regard for at least a few more years, and will instead continue having NT-only HPLC controllers. (or so I understand it).

  • Myself, I didn't get the job, but I found the response to Bruce Perens from one of the developers at HP, shall we say, interesting.

    Interesting point. I will not argue Bruce's skill, but I hear (although in all honesty I have never talked to him) that his personality can be much like Theo De Ratt (of OpenBSD) at times, and thus, abrasive to be around. You can have all the smarts in the world, but in business, politics always comes into play. (I personally hate politics.)

  • You mean "originating from Michael".

    Yes, sorry, my bad, a knee-jerk reaction on my part. I agree, Mike could use a dose of the Advocacy How-To, but then that was the point of my post. :)

    I suspect that the "standard" Microsoft Bashing on Slashdot is par for the course though. Hell, in my first post to Slashdot (which ironically was a "first post") I flamed Microsoft.

    The hordes of Slashdotters flamed me back, and although a good quantity were of the "You suck!" Variety, some actually too the time to produce cohesive arguments, and yes, one pointed me to the Advocacy How-To. I had not read it before. Prior to reading it I was a "Pro-Linux Raving Slashdot Lunatic", and I was hardly open to the idea of using Microsoft Products for anything.

    Now? Well, currently I am typing this in Windows 2000 (Because the Diablo II Beta test for Lord of Destruction won't work under Linux...) and I am no longer the zealot I once was.

    Maybe we can, by the force of calculated persuasion, do this for Michael too.
  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:31AM (#232363) Homepage
    Of course, HP's printers are still shipping with Windows-only drivers... and Windows-only configuration tools... and described as "Linux-compatible" in their advertisements.

    While this is true, HP has pledged support for ALL its printers, heck, Bruce even works for HP now. The fact that the printers are being advertised as Linux-compatible is a big bonus - it gets the name "Linux" out to the public at large. This is called branding.

    We have waited a long time (at least I have) for things like this to come about. Cut HP some slack. They are a big company, it will take them time to change their packaging and processing to include Linux drivers on the discs that ship with the printers.

    I am more of the position: "Hey HP! Thanks for doing this, I am going to support your company because you support my favoured OS!"

    (Maybe I am just over-reacting here, or maybe I have become jaded by the number of unjust flames I have seen originating from slashdot...)
  • I prefer HP-UX hands down to any other Unix.

    I consider HP-UX to be middle-of-the-road myself. It's head and shoulders above SCO or MP-RAS, but that's not saying much. It's about on par with AIX. It can't touch Linux or *BSD in terms of features, although it's more stable on its native hardware, of course.

    With HP-UX, you may pay a bit more, but almost everything you need is right there on the OS install disk.

    Except for strace, and lsof, and /proc, and gzip, and ssh, and perl5, and /dev/urandom (need to install EGD), and GNU patch, and GNU diff, and GNU make, and the ANSI C compiler (costs extra, but at least you still bundle the K&R C compiler so we can build gcc), and the X11 header files and libraries, and Apache (no biggie, everyone compiles it anyway), and a web browser (c'mon, lynx would be good), and dig/host, and fmt (I had to install it from GNU textutils). I can't remember whether lex and yacc are included or whether they're part of the ANSI C compiler kit, but I'm pretty sure they're not standard either. Oh, and how about a version of whois that doesn't have hard-coded in it?

    I can understand not including things like an IRC client, a choice of window managers, etc. But by not including the X11 headers and libraries, HP makes it damned hard to compensate for that.

    (All this is based on HP-UX 10.20 -- in fact, I'm typing this from an HP 9000 model 715/100 running 10.20. 9.0x is even worse. I haven't used 11.x yet.)

  • So it's time for RMS to start using "GNU/GNU/Linux".

    That would be GNG/Linux (Gnu's not GNU/Linux).

    Kevin Fox
  • Try printing in color to a HP Deskjet printer from Linux.

  • Is it really so hard to actually write a printing system from scratch that is of some use to man or beast?

    Quit your bitching and do it then.
  • I know that work is going on regarding Linux support for HP printers. The one major frustration I still face is the lack of support of the HP PhotoSmart S20 scanner (the USB one).

    It's a neat little scanner, producing pretty decent quality scans (not as good as the new Nikon scanners, but ...). However, unlike it's SCSI predecessor, it doesn't use HP SCL, and there's no documentation, making completely useless under Linux - no support in SANE.

    Anybody know if this situation is ever likely to change or how one might obtain documentation to fix it ???


  • You send an HP printer ASCII text, you get output. You send it PostScript, you get output. You send it PCL, you get output. I don't see the problem.

    *Management* is another matter. But you can talk Telnet or HTTP to recent JetDirect firmware loads and the JD neither knows nor cares what OS the traffic comes from. And I'm slowly tinkering up a gadget to do much of what JetAdmin does, but (a) more portably, and (b) without hanging on a useless splash screen for 69 minutes while it fiddles around doing God knows what.

    It took a while to find, but there's a CDROM full of PCL and PJL info that cost less than $10.00 with shipping. Go forth and write good stuff.
  • Huh? My only printer is a DeskJet 682C. It works just fine with Linux. What's the problem?
  • by Flower ( 31351 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @09:06AM (#232371) Homepage
    Yes, you can get a HP printer working on a linux box. But, if you want a printer like a 970Cse to get the same print quality under linux as under windows you are SOL and that nice link you provided isn't worth squat.

    I've been to the support pages and inquired about linux drivers. A few months ago, I got a variety of reasons for not having linux support for DeskJets. One of them being that linux was considered a varient of unix and printers on unix systems were considered to be outputting 50k+ pages a month. More than what the DeskJet was spec'd for. Didn't matter that I informed them I was using a linux box as a workstation. I then started e-mailing for developer support and got nowhere there. I even took the time to examine the comments in the latest Ghostscript code and found that the developer had an extremely difficult time getting info from HP to build a better driver.

    HP deskjets, according to a technician I met at a recent tech conference, informed me that deskjets have a proprietary way of mixing ink on the page to produce high quality output. It's an example they use to explain why their print quality is better than say Epson even though the competitor may have a higher number of dpi on their product. This jives with the Ghostscript comments I read.

    Getting the same bang for your buck with a laserjet is no big thing to do on linux. It's when you try to do it on a DeskJet that linux just can't compete and that issue rests solely on HP imho. Providing support on getting linux to run on a PC is one thing. Getting them to develop quality linux drivers for their consumer printers is another.

  • You forgot lexmark.

  • Spoken like a true Sun bigot.

    HP is supporting Linux because it makes financial sense to do so, just like it makes sense to support Windows NT/2000.

    This very question was raised at a meeting with a senior manager when I was an HP employee back in '98. His response, "... as long as we are making $10 billion a year in the Unix market, HP-UX will be around."

    I guess I'm biased, having worked for HP before, but I've been doing Unix admin for 10 years on just about every Unix ever made and I prefer HP-UX hands down to any other Unix.

    HP-UX is the most fully-featured out of the box Unix there is. Have you even installed Solaris recently? Hmm, no Solstice, no Veritas, no nothing. Might as well be SunOS 4.X, because with Sun, even the basics are extra. With HP-UX, you may pay a bit more, but almost everything you need is right there on the OS install disk.

    Let's face it, HP isn't making billions per year in the Unix market by having a sucky Unix. They may not be number one right now, but things can change quickly. Sun better look over their shoulder, because while they spend all their time fighting Microsoft, HP and IBM are gaining ground again.

    All IMHO, of course. :)

    - Necron69
  • What really annoyed me about HP-UX when I was using it was when they installed a program called 'patch' which only printed off a message like 'patch is not installed'.

    This succeeeding in totally confusing install scripts looking for a patch.

  • I had an old 6020i CD-R (back in '96)... had it replaced under warantee because it started producing nothing but coasters (and discs were still $3-5 at the time). The remanufactured one I got ended up the same way... so now it is just a slow 6x reader (more like a 4x with the slow seeks). Last year I found a class action suit against HP/Phillips for my drive (along with a couple other models). Signed up.

    About two weeks ago, I came home to find a brand new Phillips CD-RW (32/8/4 or something) waiting for me... of course it happens to be an IDE drive, not SCSI... and I've long since replaced my CD-R with a nice Plextor CD-RW unit, but hey, now my linux box get upgraded from the old Sony 4x reader.

  • Had mine for years, never had a problem with it. I've burned a couple of hundred disks with it, too. You have some weird heat/dust problem in your box? Or, try hooking it up to a different power cable. Could be a dodgy power supply.
  • So it's time for RMS to start using "GNU/GNU/Linux".

    Shouldn't that be GNUNU/Linux?

    or GNUNUNU/linux

    or for you mathematicians:
  • HP has also Mac drivers... even some of MacOS X.
  • by Dr. Blue ( 63477 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:56AM (#232379)
    HP's printers are still shipping with Windows-only drivers... and Windows-only configuration tools... and described as "Linux-compatible" in their advertisements.

    Gee, maybe they figured that Linux users could actually use the Internet and get the Linux drivers. You are aware that HP is the only printer company (at least that I know of) that is officially supporting Linux, don't you? Do a search for "linux" on the HP web pages and you get a lot of stuff. Do that on the Epson pages and you get zip. Look here [] for the actual open source drivers on sourceforge.

    This was precisely the reason that I bought an HP printer recently when my Epson finally gave up the ghost.

    So to Bruce: Know that at least in this one case, the fact that you're there and that HP is supporting Linux has helped an actual sale. Even if you insist on the silly "GNU/Linux" moniker, I can still respect that! :-)

  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @09:04AM (#232380) Homepage Journal

    Someone should create a form based template with a generic based letter with something like...

    To whom it may concern:

    After searching for a logical solution for my company we came across your product, and purchased it. Upon attempting to use your product we learned afterwards it was not compatible with our non Microsoft based network of computers.

    We are a Linux, and BSD based shop, and had been looking forward to adding your products however its sad to see a company like yours still hasn't gained insight that other operating systems have gained ground on a commercial level to rival Microsoft.

    Sadly we are returning your product after we wrap it back up, and hopefully in the future we'll see drivers for other operating systems, in which we're sure many companies will find useful.

    Yours truly

    Sounds cheesy as all hell, but I'm sure customer service reps, and sales people would surely respond after getting slashdotted with a shitload of emails telling them to wake the fsck up.

  • I have a LaserJet 5M and I can configure it using WebJetDirect config for linux.
    so there ARE config tools.

    Line printers took text and printed that text, fancy PS and PCL printers also take text and if it is just text, it prints that text just like a line printer would. But it just so happens that to tack on some funky scalable fonts and graphics, a language was added that the printer could interpret and then act on as something much more than just ASCII. As far as lpd is concerned though, it's just the delivery man and could'nt care less what format the job being sent is or what the printer does with it.

    My point is, lp does'nt really need to be any more complex with decent (real) printers.

    Just one of many reasons no-one in their right mind uses Linux for output to paper.

    I just bought a Xerox DocuPrint P8ex laser printer for around $410 au. It's a very nice 600dpi, 8ppm, PCL printer that thinks for itself (ie. has a brain and does'nt need any Megacrap OS to drive it).

    I installed Progeny Linux 1.0, and hey what do you know, I was printing from Abiword, Netscape, The GIMP, Gedit and bash just like it was coming from Word, IE, Photoshop, Notepad and It was a peice of piss.

    I could never get my old Lexmark 1100 GDI/WinPrinter going in Linux at the time, including checking Ghostscript. What a slow peice of crap that printer is anyway and why bother! Buying a WinPrinter is about as logical as buying a Win"MODEM", why bother! I personally could'nt care less if crap MODEMS and printers designed to be as cheap as possible to the OEM and encouraged by MS to lock users into their "OSes" are becoming supported in Linux, I won't dare buy another peice of hardware that claims to be something it is not. My CPU is not for modulating or demodulating or telling a stepper motor in a printer to move its dumb arse.

    If you want some good stuff, go the extra mile, do the research and buy the good stuff and forget the cheap crap. []

    Cisco rekons Linux printing is pretty cool.

  • while i tend to see pretty much constant complaining about HP hardware (printers, etc.) in linux, everyone seems to forget that Hewlett Packard has been a pretty good supporter of linux for a while now...

    i recently picked up another computer for my house and got a great deal on a Kayak PII-450 w/ SCSI. At first I was scared about hardware support but there's extensive documentation about all elements of their boxes. [] was a great resource for me, as well as HP's own documentation on linux support for various models.

    and in case you're wondering, that site also has info on making stuff like your printers work. so stop whining and check it out, or for christ's sake write your own!
  • I just installed mandrake 8.0, and it had a choice of 3 Lexmark 5700 drivers. I chose the one with color, and it worked without a hitch.
  • I think they are using Helix-Gnome for their development desktop too.
  • Oh my god, the source forge link is SNF2!
  • by twos ( 83031 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:13AM (#232387) Homepage

    There is HP WebJetAdmin for Linux [] here.
    And of course the old standby telnet is very useable under Linux.

    As for drivers, the LJ 5/6 drivers that come with the last few RedHat releases work fine for me.

  • I don't know about that. That GNU is not cute and cuddly. But Tux would look cute with some GNU dog tags. :)
  • Upon attempting to use your product we learned afterwards it was not compatible with our non Microsoft based network of computers.
    No research? ..... Did you look for a driver before you bought it?
  • Of course, the Lexmark 5700 I got I spent a while trying to find a driver. Found one that was a ghostscript hack that worked, but didn't do any color and was kind of a pain to set up.
  • How is this parent post +3 funny? You just wait until I meta-moderate you baby!

  • As a hardware manufacturer, of course this makes sense: they can get the support of the, uh, vast hordes of Linux users who want to use their printers? Best of all, it's next to free: shove bare-bones drivers out the door, proclaim it Linux-friendly, watch a few programmers fill in the blanks for them, suck that back in and redistribute the drivers they barely wrote. Worst-case scenario, they just got their name plastered across a website with a lot of eyeballs and won themselves some goodwill. Win-win situation for them.
    So not to interrupt the public autofellatio session, but shouldn't you wait until a relevant (read: not sinking ship) software house moves over to open-source their products?
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) <> on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:17AM (#232393) Homepage
    What most people mean by this is the non-postscript printers -- the inexpensive inkjet models which for the most part lately have turned out to be WinPrinters.

    Hey HP: If you really want us to believe you when you say you are jumping into the whole open source thing, how about contributing (GPLed if you like) ghostscript drivers for your deskjets? A lot of us would sit up and take notice if you did, and it really can't be that hard to do (given that you guys have all of the documentation we don't).

    I prefer HP's inkjet technology, but support for Epsons in ghostscript is far better.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @09:17AM (#232394) Homepage Journal
    I used to work in IBM Printing Systems. We cranked out a "Driver" for our network printers. Basicly it was a Perl program (Because IBM allows the release of "Script Files") that uses Perl::Gtk to read a file generated from a PPD file for the printers and generate an interface that allows the user to configure the printer. A filter script was then added (for LPR:NG) and another perl GUI type program was added which would pop up a dialog and allow the user to select printer settings before printing his document. A lot of work for a PostScript printer, heh.

    My eventual goal was to port the whole thing to C++/Gtk--, non-LPR:NG based setups and the other UNIX systems we supported as long as Gtk was available on them. All the stuff I did was very prototype-level code and it doesn't seem to have advanced at all since I left the company. You can find the drivers at

    Of course, IBM Austin's been cranking out a lot of printer drivers by porting the old OS/2 OMNI driver to GhostScript. If you watch freshmeat or at all, you'll see new releases of this driver announced at regular intervals.

    Driving printers is a major area where Linux lags behind Windows and OS/2 -- I got to work on those archetectures as well, while in PSC, and the design of the printer subsystem is actually pretty slick. X has Xprt, which seems to do approximatley the same thing, but no one has adopted it. Fortunately we're starting to see movement in this arena at the widget library level, which is better than nothing. I'd still like to see an elegant print rendering system that doesn't require any specific widget set to work, though.

  • HP just released a Linux printer driver for the 932C? Where can I find it? Doesn't show up on HP's website with the other drivers.

    I also like the 932C - have been using it with some lower res HP printer driver under RedHat 7.0. And apparently I'm a trendsetter in this thread, since I don't work for HP. <g>

  • HP's been making alot of bad decisions lately (besides closing operations in this state and offering to move me to kentucky, YEAH RIGHT, let me get right on that).

    Just curious - what state is this? I'm from Oregon and HP does a lot of work there.
  • I don't know what you guys are looking at, but there are a million billion printer drivers for HP printers. Why would they bother to provide Linux drivers when support already exists and the GPL'd drivers are being actively developed?
  • I'm just waiting for the first "it's all them damn H1B's taking all our jobs rant rant rant"

    I work for HP in the UK. We hear the "it's those damn H1B's" rant in reference to the Brits who have been pushed back across the Pond and are now looking for jobs back in the UK.

    I know what you mean about cheap HP printers not working under Linux -- but that's the same for all cheap printers, not just HP. Low-end printers are so impossibly cheap that half of the smarts aren't in there, they're leeching off your main CPU for processing. Nasty Windows drivers for these WinPrinters might sound like a good idea when they give you a I use Windows - but if I buy a printer, I get one that supports Linux, just to make sure it's not one of these accursed WinPrinter abominations.

  • Isn't that the truth ... the last HP product I ever bought was a HP 7110i CDRW ... I had it replaced *3* times during my waranty period ... and about a month after that period expired it broke again ... I complained and told them I wanted a 7200 series as a replacement not another crappy 7110 series but the service guys refused saying "These units are really very good." BULLSHIT! :) Send me one that works then [end rant]
  • Nahh, I've had this server it was in for 4 years and at the time I bought it was very top dollar. (
  • Hey I hacked your so-called "l33t" firewall. You really need to learn how to properly set up a firewall. I mean I don't know *anything* about firewalling but I could probably do a better job. Not that it was worthwhile in the first place. All it had was some sick German porn and crappy MP3s, all of which I had anyways.
  • Of course, HP's printers are still shipping with Windows-only drivers... and Windows-only configuration tools... and described as "Linux-compatible" in their advertisements

    shoot, if a printer is networkable and speaks postscript, are the tools for printer configuration that ship with linux not good enough already? Not trying to be a troll, just an honest question.

  • So it's time for RMS to start using "GNU/GNU/Linux".

    It's all part of RMS's strategy: we'll now call it "only" GNU/Linux...


  • Has it occured to anyone that Microsoft may be dictating the unavailability of drivers?

    I believe that a desktop OS cannot be complete in a home/small office setting without support for low end printing (i.e. DeskJets). Microsoft has been known to perform manipulative practises like this in the past, what is to say they are not collaborating with HP to slow the deployment of Linux DeskJet drivers. Hmmm...any other conspiracy theories?

  • Even though I'm not a fan of converting digital stuff into paper format, I find Dot matrix printers to be the best for cheap printing. You can get one for free or for $10-15 at a thrift shop, the ribbons last much longer than ink jet carts while not costing $300 like a toner cart and they make that beautiful noise that drowns out the ten billion fans I have running on my boxen.
  • ...or GNU/WindowsXP
  • Anything else than what they have now would be great! Anyone else notice that their drivers have turned into full-bore applications? They're memory intensive, take an hour or two to install, and need superfluous 16-bit, ugly windows that run everytime you need to print something. That's not a driver, that's an application!

  • We have an HP OfficeJet G55xi at my work that came with a TurboLinux Server Lite CD. I don't know if it actually works since we are an all Windows shop and I don't have enough spare HDD space to make it worthwhile to dual boot :( but I would guess that they wouldn't ship it if it didn't work. Of course I got a CD-RW a couple months ago that shipped with burning software that wouldn't recognize the drive, so it's hard to say sometimes.

  • oh but i love non-sequitor Microsoft bashing! :)


  • He only mentioned parallel, which would not include USB.

    Just to clear this up: I'm referring to interfaces that connect directly to a workstation (such as LPT parallel, RSxxx serial, SCSI, and USB) as opposed to interfaces that connect to a network (FireWire, FC/AL, and Ethernet). Printers for the consumer market tend to lack PostScript in favor of raw bitmap printing using an undocumented protocol.

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:25AM (#232411) Homepage Journal

    shoot, if a printer is networkable and speaks postscript, are the tools for printer configuration that ship with linux not good enough already?

    Last time I checked, a CMYK (i.e. color) laser printer cost well into four figures, too much for a home consumer's budget. Many of the CMYK inkjet printers are often called "GDI" printers (i.e. Winprinters), which means they connect through a parallel port and speak not PCL, not PostScript, but a proprietary language whose only primitive is horizontal strips of pixels one print-head tall. This is why you need (1) Ghostscript to render PS files to bitmaps, and (2) the printer driver to send the bitmaps to the printer. Printer makers often neglect to specify the interface from the computer to the printer, making it hard to develop (2).

  • HP's hplc's all use the HPIB board for interface, correct? well, HPIB is exactly(?) the same as GPIB, which is built into linux. So, it should be very easy

    Yes, HPIB = GPIB. But it gets better: as of version 8.04, all there systems will have LAN based interfaces; no more HPIB cards. You can control the instrument with just a NIC. Of course, my LC/MSD still has their 16 bit ISA HPIB card and it will cost ~ $20K to upgrade the hardware+software to the LAN based version :-(

    Will mass spec for food
  • by stilwebm ( 129567 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:28AM (#232415)
    The problem is that many (maybe even all of the current HP models) low cost inkjets (and some lasers from other brands) use a host based print engine to reach the highest resolution and color depths, and especially the best speed. Most are limited to about 300x300 in DOS, Linux, or any other operating system that doesn't have the drivers to print full speed and full resolution. Because networked printers generally are used by workgroups, they are more expensive and capable of higher loads, and thus have more processing power built in. But for ink jets (and many other parallel/USB/single user printers), you can use the host computer to do complex processing to offset costs. But Linux cannot do that processing unless the printer manufacturer releases the details necessary to process the print jobs.
  • That's because Mandrake is the best Linux distribution available -- seriously.

  • When things like motherboards, hard drives, and whatever other hardware you can imagine started coming out with stupid "Windows Compatible" stickers on them, I thought to myself "how stupid!".

    Hardware doesn't need to be "Whatever Compatible". The software should be able to support the hardware.

    It'd be like Chevron claiming that Techroline is Ford compatible. Would all Chevy owners start crying foul?!?!? I think not. But if Chevron wants to be stupid enough to cater to just one automobile maker, it would only go to show their ignorance.

    Are Linux and Windows Pentium compatible? Yes. The software dictates the compatibility, not the other way around.
  • Troll.

    Besides, how else would you do it? That's the Unix way is to cruft things together.

  • Of course, HP's printers are still shipping with Windows-only drivers... and Windows-only configuration tools... and described as "Linux-compatible" in their advertisements.

    Of course, if HP did supply Linux drivers, you'd bitch if they weren't open source, or bitch that they didn't work right... and you'd bitch that no one needs a configuration tool, just give me a text file to edit.

    They're just saving themselves time and money, and letting the h4x0rs do the work. Seems pretty smart to me.

  • Huh? What alternate universe did you get your copy of Debian from? Or more importantly, where do I get a chicken like that?

    Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Debian, but its installation can't touch those of Mandrake, Red Hat, and SuSE. While the install has come a long way, it is far from "chicken-friendly". The closest I've seen to claiming that title was Mandrake 8.0. Of course, I wasn't all that impressed with what the install left me with, it was definitely the easiest I've ever seen.

  • Amen! It amazes HP-UX has lasted this long. HP even pushes MS's Windows on HP hardware more than they push HP's Unix on HP hardware.

  • by boaworm ( 180781 ) <> on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:08AM (#232430) Homepage Journal
    > Of course, HP's printers are still shipping with Windows-only drivers... and Windows-only configuration tools... and described as "Linux-compatible" in their advertisements

    Isn't that the way is usually is ? Things are not Linux compatible.. linux is -compatible instead :)

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:41AM (#232436) Journal
    Well, if HP and Bruce are serious about the "real" name, I should start seeing GNUs [] spray-painted on the sidewalks next to IBM's penguins, right?
  • In general, I've found that inkjet printers (independent of manufacturer) are poorly supported on Linux. Lasers usually have common command languages that make them easy to support (PS*, PCL*), while every inkjet manufacturer seems to make up their own.

    I am aware that ghostscript "hacks" exist for a lot of them, but in my experience they're mostly just that - hacks.

  • by egjertse ( 197141 ) <<gro.ttuf> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:11AM (#232439) Homepage
    Dealing with printer drivers on Linux, I've had the most success using the CUPS [] printer system. It replaces the standard Unix lp* tools, adds a neat web interface for printer configuration, ships with a heap of drivers supporting most of available laser printers. Support for spooling via samba is also possible.
  • Look here [] for the list. Most multifunction models supported...
  • It has been my experience that most enterprise enviroments seem to gravitate tward comercially supported distributions (ie: redhat, with a specific single company behind it), primarily because there is a liabiility issue with doing otherwise. "If something goes wrong, who are you going to sue?". This was the argument I got when I was told the company I work for would deploy only Redhat Linux (ie the distribution).

    I wonder if HPs choice here will affect what is deployed into enterprise enviroments...?


  • That was the argument I got from our business teams. I'm sure there were a few lawyers among them because you're right. It definately is a lawyer argument...

    You're right. I don't know of a software company gettig sued in that context either, but in the telecom industry, when a phone switch goes down, the FCC gets upset, imposes fines on the owner of the switch, then the owner of the switch gets upset and the switch vendor incurs financial penalties for the system's failure to operate. The switch vendor then seeks to place blame on the componant vendors.

  • by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:55AM (#232447) Homepage
    They already have. [] Here's a link [] to the project. You'll need Ghostscript 5.5. They've released it under a modified BSD license. []
  • When I worked for HP (several years ago) we provided one of our customers with a very nice web-based database interface that ran on a slackware distribution. We had to keep it sort of quiet among our co-workers, since we worked out of a sales office, and I'm sure that plenty of people would have loved an excuse to try and sell an HP-UX solution to the customer. Of course, the customer wouldn't have been interested in buying additional hardware for a solution that was implemented using obsolete (pronounced "free") equipment anyway.

    Last I checked, the box was still running, even though the project was scrapped and the sysadmin moved to a different position over two years ago.

  • HP-UX seems to be a much-maligned OS for no good reason.
    I think it may have had to do with the GUI (OpenVue?)... being a GNU/Linux user, I was drafted into doing sys admin work on a couple of HP-UX & SGI boxes during a co-op job. Everybody loved the SGI's, and sat at the HP's only when absolutely necessary. Granted, everybody also got a woody when Pro/E was available for NT...

    God bless those Albino Ninjas...
  • And the standard answer is no-one, since all the license agreements are brutal and hard to contest. Really this is such a cop-out. I can't think of single off-the-shelf software vendor that has been sued successfully for producing crap.
  • by RALE007 ( 445837 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @08:16AM (#232471)
    It's good HP is facing Linux now. I work for them (up until 3pm today, THANKS FOR THE LAYOFF CARLY!) and it's been a real pain in the booty explaining to people that no the hp equipment isn't supported for linux, but "most likely" it will work or there's a driver with your distro. HP's been making alot of bad decisions lately (besides closing operations in this state and offering to move me to kentucky, YEAH RIGHT, let me get right on that). The quality of support on products has gone to null, the products themselves aren't as good as they were (at least with the lower end stuff). One thing that's been hp's niche is what the name says, expensive but you get what you pay for. Now it's kind of hit and miss as far as the quality goes. Anyways, my bloody point is it's nice to see them making a decision that heads in the right direction. My advice to any /.'s though is stay away from anything HP that's priced the same as the competitors, it's junk. The stuff you lay down some green for is still the quality products you've come to expect from HP.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming