Printing a PDF file. Who knew it could be such a pain!
A few times over the last couple of years, I’ve needed to print a shipping label with a UPS or Fedex bar code on it.
My normal routine would be to open the label that was sent me, usually from Amazon.com or other online retailer, using the document viewer that’s built in to LInux Mint.
Every time I tried to print from the Document Viewer, using my Canon laser printer, it would print out a huge blob of black where the bar code should be.
I tried many times over the last couple of years to figure out why this was happening. The document always looked fine in the print preview screen, but would print out, a mess! I tried tons of settings on the printer, in Linux and everywhere else I could think of, with no luck.
Then yesterday, needing to print an Amazon return label, I drug the .pdf file into my Firefox web browser. Of course Firefox is able to open these and many other file formats. Holding my breath, I pushed print, and then headed in to my wife’s office where the networked printer lives. Viola! The label printed perfectly.
Moral, why did I try so hard to fix Document Viewer, when Firefox would print it out just fine!
If you have a networked printer like we do, an easy way to make changes to your printer settings is to use CUPS, Common Unix Printing System.
CUPS is actually built-in to Linux Mint. If you find it is not installed, you can of course go to your Software Manager and install in manually:
After CUPS is installed, open your favorite browser, we recommend Firefox, and enter the following in the address bar:
This will bring up the CUPS main menu:
CUPS Main Menu
We have a Canon document centre. Laser printer, plain paper fax, and scanner. With all of our medical stuff going on, the fax gets used a lot!
Using the web interface, anyone connected to our network printer, can change settings, cancel print jobs or any other feature supported by the software and your printer.
CUPS Printer control panel
So try CUPS, and make your printer configuration and usage easier!
I’m sure you are familiar with the standard Linux printer setup, found in the Menu:
But did you know that you can also access your local or network printer right from your browser?
Web based printer setup
It’s easy, just open your browser and head to http://localhost:631 to access your printer driver directly! This is quite handy, since your browser is probably open all the time anyway.
Because we use a networked laser printer, it makes it easy to check on, or modify print jobs from any computer on the farm running Linux.
Using the extensive built-in help files and tutorials, you can even learn how to control your printer from the command line. This is handy if you have used SSH into another computer on your network, and wish to print directly from that computer.
An acquaintance interested in trying Linux told me today, during our conversation about golf, that he was afraid to try it for fear his printer with integrated scanner and fax wouldn’t work.
Fear not though, for the vast majority of printers, Linux is quite capable of interfacing with them just fine!
Even if Linux doesn’t recognize your machine, the generic printer driver will likely work. Last year, being sick and tired of spending more for printer ink than the printing was worth to me, I bought a Canon laser printer.
What I picked up was a small-business, Canon plain paper laser printer with fax machine and scanning build in. One nice feature of the new printer, was that it was WiFi enabled, so it didn’t need to be connected directly to a computer. Instead, I put the printer next to a phone jack. We seem to have need of sending and receiving lots of faxes on the farm, and is one of the reasons we bought this machine.
As with most high end printers, even though the default printer driver worked fine for printing; a visit to the Canon web site found a Linux printer driver made for my machine. Having the package from Canon, lets me make further adjustment to the print settings. The setting most important to me, was the ability to automatically do 2 sided printing. The Cannon has a built-in duplexer for 2 sided copies and prints.
So don’t let a fear of peripherals not working, keep you trying Linux. Printers, scanners, and the like will work just fine!