It wasn’t supposed to be this easy

At least, that’s what various people have told me. The it to which I refer was connecting my laptop to a wireless printer.

Here’s the back story: a few weeks ago, our old printer gave up the ghost. I never used it much, but my wife did and immediately ordered a new HP multifunction from a well-known electronics chain. What attracted her to it was the price, and the printer’s wireless capabilities.

It arrived before the end of that week, and my wife quickly set the printer up. I mentioned that I might try to connect my Linux laptop to it, but never got around to it. The other night, I gave it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to do it.

Getting going

On the GNOME panel, I selected System > Administrator > Printers and then clicked Add Printer.

The new printer appeared at the top of the list, complete with its port and IP address. A few clicks later, I had the printer installed and did a test print of the page. After I sent the page off, the printer monitor informed me that printer was low on ink (which it was).

The entire process took about two minutes — a good chunk of that was deciding what to call the printer in my list. In case you’re wondering, I chose Clacker, because it makes a soft clacking noise while printing.

Your experiences might differ

Admittedly, the ease with which I was able to connect to the printer might be related to it being wireless. But I did notice that while making the connection to the printer, the list of drivers that Ubuntu presented to me was quite extensive. I didn’t explore it too closely, if only because it was getting late.

That said, I’ve never had any real trouble with printers under Linux. I’ve used four — an HP DeskJet 500C, an Epson Stylus 640, an HP OfficeJet K60, and the current one. The first two I connected directly to my computers at the time, and they just worked. OK, I couldn’t print in colour but that was not a problem. The latter two, I accessed over the network and via a direct wireless connection, respectively. Again, no problems.

Still, I keep hearing stories about people having trouble with printing under Linux. Perhaps my experiences have been outside the norm. Have yours? Feel free to share your experiences by leaving a comment.

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