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Configuring a Printer in Ubuntu

In the Linux world, configuring a printer has traditionally been a challenge. For years, newcomers to Linux have been repeatedly challenged and even bludgeoned with terms, commands, and phrases such as CUPS, lpd, and “edit/etc/cups/printers.conf as root.” Users often had to edit fairly complex text files by hand and spend a good deal of time learning how to insert arcane instructions just to get a printer to work. Things have changed with Ubuntu, however.

Making It Easier with Printer Configurations

Although you might still encounter some challenges, Ubuntu has made configuring a standard home printer much easier with the Printer configuration application. Using the application, you can configure both locally attached printers and those that reside on a remote networked system. You can run this application by pointing your mouse to the System > Administration menu, and then clicking on the Printing option, as shown in Figure 4-12.

Selecting this option will bring up the Printers window, as shown in Figure 4-13.

Notice that no printers are defined. You are about to change this.

The Printer configuration application allows you to add printers, as well as modify their settings. You can also use this application to add and configure your printers. In the upcoming example, you will add a new printer and then view its settings.

Gathering Information

The most important thing to remember when configuring a printer is to not get ahead of yourself. Before you start clicking on icons and running anything, make sure that you have completed the following steps.

  1. Obtain the make and model of the printer. In our example, we add a Lexmark Z33.
  2. Plug in the printer, and turn it on.

Launching the Wizard

Once you have properly prepared to install your printer, click on the New Printer icon. The system will then automatically search for any new connected printers and will launch a New Printer wizard, shown in Figure 4-14.

In most cases, the wizards will be able to detect an attached printer automatically and will include it in a list of devices on the left. Select the device with your printer’s name, and then hit forward.

At this point, you will have to choose a printer manufacturer. If your printer has been automatically detected, the wizard will choose a manufacturer. Click forward.

In the next screen, you’ll be asked to choose both a model and a driver. For autodetected printers, both should be automatically selected, and the default driver should work. You can always change it later. If no driver is selected, scroll through the list of options by manufacturer. Figure 4-15 shows that a driver for the Lexmark Z33 (using the Z32 driver) has been selected.

Sometimes you may not find the exact model or driver for your exact printer, as this case shows. For example, the printer being used is a Lexmark Z33, but the Z32 driver is selected because no Z33 driver exists. Generally, if the driver does not exist for your exact model, choose the closest one, and then test it. If that doesn’t work, try other drivers.

Click Forward to proceed with the installation. If you need to install a custom driver, click the Install Driver button. You can see this button in Figure 4-15.

Finally, you can enter a description and location for your printer, as shown in Figure 4-16. Click Apply to complete the process and set up your printer.

Mission Accomplished!

After you click Apply, you will see your printer’s name under the Local Printers heading. You can click on it and then print out a test page. Do so, and make sure that the page prints correctly. If you find that the page prints well, you are finished. You can now print from the applications you have installed. For example, you can print from OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, or even the command line.

Remote Printing

You can also configure your Ubuntu system to send print jobs to a remote print server. If, for example, you have a Windows system with a printer attached on your network, simply choose the Network Printer radio button and specify the host name or IP address of the Windows system. You will then have to specify a connection protocol.

If your Windows system is sharing a printer, you will have to specify Samba, which is the standard way to get Linux and Windows systems to communicate with each other. You will still have to specify a print driver, as described earlier.

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