Category Archives: Printers

Answers to common printer problems.

My Linux Printer

I found a good black and white laser printer for under $80 this fall. It is a Brother HL-2040. It installed easily in Slackware Linux 10.2. The print is great. It works just as well as it does on Windows XP SP2. On my dual-boot PC, there is no trouble using the printer from either Operating System.

It came with half the amount of ink as a new cartridge, but I have printed about two reams of paper, and still going strong. I would have spent nearly $200 on ink for my Lexmark injet printer.

I think it is wrong for ink to cost more than my printer, unless there is value in it. With the Brother I will spend about $150 for a new ink cartridge, but it will be able to do several reams of paper. With my Lexmark, I was lucky to print about 100 pages, using the ink save setting. When the new cartridges cost $30, it costs about $150 to print a ream of paper. I could print about 6 reams of paper for the same cost of ink on the Brother.

Now, the only reason I use the Lexmark, is if I need something printed in color, which is not very often. I will not buy another ink jet printer! Lexmark has enough of my money.

Linux Printing Scorecard

While I believe that Linux is mostly ready for the desktop, there are a few rough edges. Some hardware is just not useable or easy to use with Linux. Printers are items that you will want to investigate before jumping headfirst into Linux. If you cannot print, your PC may be next to worthless. Like other hardware, if the manufacturers do not make drivers, or provide specs so the Open Source community can develop drivers, the hardware may be a paperweight under Linux.

From my experience, most USB devices just work in Linux. The exception is printers. If a printer is specifially designed for Windows, there may be no way to get it to work with Linux. For example, I have a Lexmark Z23 ink jet printer that came with a PC I bought 4 years ago. Lexmark is semi-friendly to the Linuz community and provided a Linux driver. I was able to crudely print using Red Hat 7.2, but once I upgraded to Red Hat 8, then 9, and then Fedora Core 3, it will not print. The OS recognizes that the printer is there, but none of the work arounds on the net work. When I try to print, it ejects a sheet of paper. This kind of printer keeps me tied to Windows, and the need for a dual-boot PC, so I can print.
To avoid headaches, LinuxPrinting.org has assembled a Linux Printer Scorecard of various makes an models and how well they work with Linux.

Check this list before going whole hog with Linux. It is less painful to learn you may not be able to get your current printer to work BEFORE you make the switch.

The simple rule of thumb is if it is a cheap printer that is bundled with a cheap PC, and the ink costs more than the printer, it probably will not work with Linux. The Linux Printer Scorecard will tell you what others have experienced and which printers in your price range are easiest to get working with Linux.

Add/Change Print Driver on the server (Win2000/2003).

You have a printer installed on the server, but you want to change the print driver. If you open your Printers folder on your PC, you will see that the ability to change the print driver has been grayed out. If you go to the Printers folder on the server, you can change the driver there, but this will change the print driver for everyone on the network that accesses this printer. This can be undesirable. These instructions will show you how to add another printer setup that uses the desired new driver without changing the original printer setup.

If your printers are on the network via a print server:

1. At the Server, open the Printers folder and double-click Add Printer.
2. Click “Next”
3. Select Local Printer (do not automatically detect Plug and Play printers)
4. Click “Next”
5. Select “Create a new port” and select from the drop-down menu “Standard TCP/IP Port.
6. Select “Next”
7. Select “Next” again.
8. Type in the IP address of the printer port. It will be the same IP address of the printer port already installed on the server. As you type it in, it will automatically fill in the next line, Port Name.
9. If you were to hit “Next” now, eventually in this process, the server would realize that you were trying to add the same printer that is already there. So here is where you make it different before hitting “Next”. In the Port Name line, add something to the end which makes this printer port name unique from the one already installed, like “Port 2”.
10. Click “Next”.
11. On the next screen, under Device Type, select from the drop-down menu the type of print server that the printer is attached to.
12. Click “Next”.
13. Click “Finish”.
14. Select the print driver that you desire to use for this instance of the printer.
15. Give the printer a name and click “Next”
16. Share the printer out and click “Next” three times and then click “Finish”. This should print out a test page.

When you are finished adding all of the printers you want, your printers folder on the server will have a new printer.
These are all the same printer with the same IP address, just with different port names defined.

At the workstation, to connect to the printer that you just installed, go to a Run Command (Click Start > Run) and type in the following:
\\servername
For example, \\Smith_Co, and click OK. This will open up a window to your server and you will see all of the shared folders and printers on that server.
If you right-mouse click on the printer icon and select “Connect”, it will install that printer locally on the workstation.

Set Form length on CITOH40Q

Set Form length on CITOH40Q

Verify POWER is on.
Lift top cover.
Press MODE/STORE button.
Check that displayed number is 10 for Form Length.
Press MODE/Store button again.
Check that number matches number of lines per page (default is 66 lines per page for 11″ forms.).
Will need to be 42 for 7″ checks/forms.
Press MODE/STORE switch to store.
Close top cover.
Repeat to reverse settings.

Ink Jet Printers

Ink Jet Printers are deceptively inexpensive, often around $50, or “free” with a computer bundle. The expense comes with the ink. If you have one with both black and color cartridges, you can end up spending $25.00 or more for each cartridge. The price to print one page is very high. The cartridges seem to get smaller with every new model.

Thankfully, if you have one of these printers, you can minimize the expense by adjusting the print quality to a “draft” setting. If you are only printing pages for your own use, this is a great ink saver. If you need to print higher quality, such as a business letter, or resume, you will need to adjust the print quality. Some printers do not hold this setting when you change ink cartridges, so be sure to make sure this setting is where you want it. On Lexmark printers the default seems to be “use the ink as fast as possible”.

There are ink re-fill kits, you probably have received lots of spam about them. Lexmark and other printer manufacturers say that use of re-fill kits or off-brand ink cartridges will void your warranty. The re-fill kits can be messy, and the ink has caused some printers to gum up.

Older printers that worked great on Windows 95 and 98 are not supported, and will not work, on Windows 2000 or Windows XP. Ink jet printers also tend to be less useful for operating systems other than Mac or Windows. Hopefully, as Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems become more mainstream, manufacturers of “inexpensive” printers will support the free and low-cost operating systems. Be sure to find out what printers will work with your operating system of choice out of the box.

To avoid these issues, spend a little more up front for a laser or laser jet printer. They cost more, but their ink cartridges, which also cost more, last a lot longer. One can shake the ink cartridge of a laser or laser jet printer and get another ream of paper printed. Ink jet printers will probably not do a ream of paper even if set on draft mode. Printers that are more useful in a business context, are also more likely to have support in the Linux and Unix-like operating systems.

Printing Problems

Printing is one of the most common problems all computer users have. The best way to handle the problem is to start with the most common problems first, such as,

  • Is the printer plugged in/turned on?
  • Is the printer connected to the computer, correctly?
  • Is there paper in the printer?
  • Does the printer have ink?
  • Did I click the correct button in the program?
  • Did a Windows printer dialog come up, did I click “Print”?
  • Is the Printer configured correctly in the operating system?
  • Is there a paper jam?
  • Is there a problem with a previous print job?
  • If it is a network printer, is there a problem with the network or print server?
  • Is there enough ink in the cartridges or is the printer ribbon okay?
  • Is the printer cable firmly plugged into both printer and computer?
  • If there is a print switch, is it hooked up correctly and set to print to the proper printer?
  • Are there any other devices sharing the parallel port? There could be compatibility problems. Are these devices set up correctly? This is usually not an issue for USB printers.
  • Is the printer cable more than six feet long? Sometimes the signal to the printer degrades if the printer cable is too long.
  • Some printers require a bi-directional printer cable so they can communicate with the computer with messages about low ink, no paper, etc.
  • Is there a printer icon in the printer folder for this printer? Is it configured properly?
  • Are there any leftover print jobs in the print queue?
  • Is the program that you are trying to print from set up properly? Is it compatible with this printer?
  • Try printing a test document from a different program, such as Notepad or Wordpad.
  • If there is another printer cable available, try it, if it works, then there is a problem with the first cable.
  • If there is another printer available, see if you can print to it. This will ensure that, in general, printing works on this computer.
  • If there is another identical printer available, try it, if it works, there may be a problem with the original printer.
  • Check the manual for any printer settings that must be made at the printer.

Computer Solutions

Answers to common computer questions. I will post answers to some of the most common questions I have received as a computer support professional.

Any kind of problem solving, whether it is a mystery novel, crossword puzzle, or computer problem, they all involve starting with the simple and moving to the more complex. Think of this as “narrowing the focus”.

A good example is a puzzle. Most start with turning all the pieces picture side up, then trying to put the sides together. Then one finds objects to put together. This is why the sky is usually last, it is the biggest part, and it all looks the same. but by finding a cloud or area of similar color, the focus is narrowed and bit by bit the picture is completed.

This may help explain why when you talk to a computer professional that they ask you all the same questions you just answered, or just went through yourself. This is because they want to make sure they have covered all the bases. Quite often, a review of the basic questions will reveal that something very simple has been overlooked.

Once the quick and the simple tasks have been tried, one must exercise their patience and persevere until the problem is found. An experienced support person will have a lot more items to review before they enter new territory. You may think that when they talk to themselves and mutter in exasperation that it is time to panic. Unless your support person is running in circles yelling, “The sky is falling”, you know that they are not panicked. It is not time to panic until your technician panics. You may be worried and stressed over the situation, but a good support person will re-assure you and keep you informed of your options.

I am sharing here some useful information that may save you a service call, and unnecessary stress.