How to setup and configure a Printer on Ubuntu or Fedora Linux

A couple of weeks ago my father asked me to buy a small printer for home. There I have a desktop that runs Ubuntu. The first thing that struck me was where I was going to find printers that are supported on Linux? I know, the question may seems absurd to many of you, but it was the first time I was dealing with printing and earlier I had faced a lot of troubles with my Ethernet and Wireless NICs. So, it left me wondering if there are any printers supported.

Anyway, before choosing a printer I decided to see how they are actually managed on Linux and came to know about this wonderful Linux Foundation’s initiative - OpenPrinting. I was really happy to see that something already exists which aims to bring printing support on Linux.

Now, you might be thinking that you will have to download the appropriate driver from the project’s homepage and make the printer work. If that’s the case, then you would be happy to know that modern distro’s come pre-packed with a lot of printer drivers. If you have a USB printer then its a fair chance that as soon as you plug it in, the system will automatically configure it and will notify you that it has been setup and you are good to go. Unbelieveable, right? That's why we love Linux .

This is all made possible through CUPS - Common Unix Printing System. Now, you know why this useless looking package, which was always at the top of “to be upgraded” package list, came pre-installed .

Configuring your Printer Manually

If your printer doesn’t work out of the box, then you can manually configure and set it up using the printing wizard provided by your distro.

1) For all distros using GNOME, its in System->Administration->Printing.

2) Now, in order to configure your printer go to New->printer and it will open a wizard. You should see the printer connected, select it and click forward.

P.S.- This printer (HP Deskjet 1000 j110 series) was not configured this way due to unavailability of driver for this model in the local database. I will tell you later how I got it working.

3) It will start searching for an appropriate driver for the connected printer and you should see a wizard to select the model and manufacturer yourself or supply a ppd file or search it on web(openprinting database).

Basically, till this step your printer will either be in a working state or you will know that something more is required to set it up.

This was general overview of getting your printer configured and working on Linux. I will tell you later some other methods and how I got mine working.

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