Weird Problems – Printing Bar Codes

We have a very good laser printer here on the farm, but we ran into a  strange problem today when attempting to print a shipping label to return a defective TV set. (Square Trade warranty, they rock!)

There are many different types of bar codes in use. Indeed the Federal Express label that Square Trade emailed us has 3 different types on it.

The problem we had, was in trying to print the PDF417 style of error correcting, 2D coding. It’s a cool bar code, because even if it’s damaged, it can still be read.

Bar code example from barcodefaq.com

Bar code example from barcodefaq.com

So, opening the Adobe .PDF file that they sent, using the built in document viewer that comes with Mint, I printed the label to my Canon laser printer.

Document Viewer

Document Viewer

Trouble was, when the bar code was printed, it was just a solid black rectangle, instead of the collection of little squares that it should consist of.

Before I knew it, I’d printed 30 pages of the same label, trying every printer setting offered in the printer’s page setup. No good, it would only print it as a solid rectangle.

Thinking it was a problem with my printer, I printed the PDF file from my lone Windows 7 machine, and it printed perfectly!

It seems to be a resolution problem with either the document viewer or the Linux printer driver for my Canon printer. Only time and further experimentation will tell…