5.2. Preconditions for Printing

5.2.1. General Requirements

  • Your printer must be supported by SUSE LINUX. To see whether this is the case, consult the following sources:

    SUSE Printer Database

    http://cdb.suse.de or http://hardwaredb.suse.de/ (click Englisch to get the English version).

    The linuxprinting.org Printer Database

    http://www.linuxprinting.org/ (The Database http://www.linuxprinting.org/database.html or http://www.linuxprinting.org/printer_list.cgi)



    The SUSE LINUX Ghostscript Driver List

    /usr/share/doc/packages/ghostscript/catalog.devices This file lists the Ghostscript drivers enclosed with the respective version of SUSE LINUX. This is important, as the web pages sometimes refer to a Ghostscript driver not included in SUSE LINUX. For license reasons, SUSE LINUX comes with GNU Ghostscript. In most cases, GNU Ghostscript offers a suitable driver for your printer.

  • The printer has been properly connected to the interface over which it will communicate.

  • You should be using one of the standard kernels included on CD, not a custom kernel. If you have problems with your printer, install one of the SUSE standard kernels first and reboot before looking further into the problem.

  • The Default System is installed to make sure all required packages are available. As long as you have not uninstalled any of the packages of the standard system, things should be ready. Otherwise, install the Default System with YaST. None of the Minimum System selections are sufficient for printing.

5.2.2. Finding the Right Printer Driver

PostScript printers do not require a special printer driver (see Section 5.1.2. “Processing Print Jobs”). Other printer types need a Ghostscript driver to produce the data. For non-PostScript devices, choosing the right Ghostscript driver and the right options for it has a big influence on output quality. The Ghostscript drivers available for specific models are listed in the sources mentioned in Section 5.2.1. “General Requirements”.

If you cannot find a Ghostscript driver for your printer, ask the manufacturer which printer language your model understands. Some manufacturers supply special Ghostscript drivers for their printers. Even if the manufacturer is not able to provide any Linux-specific information on your printer model, he can still provide the following information to facilitate the selection of a suitable printer driver:

  • Find out whether your printer is compatible with a model supported by Linux. You may then be able to use the driver for the compatible model. For printers to be compatible, they must be able to work correctly using the same binary control sequences. Both printers must understand the same language on the hardware level without relying on additional driver software to emulate it.

    A similar model name does not always mean the hardware is really compatible. Printers that appear very similar on the outside sometimes do not use the same printer language at all.

  • Check if your printer supports a standard printing language by asking the manufacturer or checking the technical specifications in the printer manual.

    PCL5e or PCL6

    Printers that understand the PCL5e or PCL6 language natively should work with the ljet4 Ghostscript driver and produce output at a resolution of 600x600 dpi. Often, PCL5e is mistaken for PCL5.

    PCL4 or PCL5

    Printers that understand the PCL4 or PCL5 language natively should work with one of the following Ghostscript drivers: laserjet, ljetplus, ljet2p, or ljet3. Output resolution is limited to 300x300 dpi, however.


    Printers that understand the PCL3 language natively should work with one of these Ghostscript drivers: deskjet, hpdj, pcl3, cdjmono, cdj500, or cdj550.

    ESC/P2, ESC/P, or ESC/P raster

    Printers that understand ESC/P2, ESC/P, or ESC/P raster natively should work with the stcolor Ghostscript driver or with the uniprint driver in combination with a suitable *.upp parameter file (e.g., stcany.upp).

5.2.3. The Issue with GDI Printers

Because the printer drivers for Linux are usually not developed by the hardware manufacturer, it is crucial that the printer can be addressed with one of the common printer languages (PostScript, PCL, and ESC/P). Normal printers understand at least one of the common printer languages. However, GDI printers only work with the operating system versions for which the manufacturer has enclosed drivers, as they can only be addressed with special control sequences. As these printers cannot be addressed with any known standard, their use with Linux is impossible or difficult.

GDI is a programming interface developed by Microsoft for graphical devices. There is not much of a problem with the interface itself, but the fact that GDI printers can only be controlled through the proprietary language they use is an issue. A better name for them would be proprietary-language-only printers.

On the other hand, there are printers that can be operated both in GDI mode and in a standard language mode, but they need to be switched accordingly. If you use Linux together with another operating system, it may be possible that the driver set the printer to GDI mode when you last used it. As a result, the printer will not work under Linux. There are two solutions for this: switch the printer back to standard mode under the other operating system before using it under Linux or use only the standard mode, even under the other operating system. In the latter case, it may turn out that printing functionality is limited, such as to a lower resolution.

There are also some very special printers that implement a rudimentary set of a standard printer language, such as the commands needed for printing raster images. Sometimes these printers can be used in a normal way, as the Ghostscript drivers normally only use commands for printing raster images. In this case it may be impossible to print ASCII text directly. This should not be too much of a problem, however, as ASCII text is mostly printed through Ghostscript and not directly. However, printers that first must be toggled with special control sequences are problematic. This cannot be done with a normal Ghostscript driver, but requires a specially adapted driver.

For some GDI printers, you may be able to obtain Linux drivers directly from the manufacturer. There is no guarantee that such vendor-made drivers will work with other or future Linux versions.

In any case, the above is only true for GDI models. In contrast, printers that understand one of the standard languages do not depend on a particular operating system nor do they require a particular Linux version. However, they often produce the highest quality of output when used with a vendor-made driver.

To sum all this up, SUSE LINUX does support the GDI printers listed below. They can be configured using the printer configuration module of YaST. Be aware that their use will always be rather problematic. Some models might refuse to work at all or their functionality might be limited, for example, to low-resolution black-and-white printing. SUSE does not test GDI printers, so cannot guarantee this list is correct.

  • Brother HL (720, 730, 820, 1020, 1040), MFC (4650, 6550, MC, 9050), and compatible models

  • HP DeskJet (710, 712, 720, 722, 820, 1000) and compatible models

  • Lexmark (1000, 1020, 1100, 2030, 2050, 2070, 3200, 5000, 5700, 7000, 7200), Z (11, 42, 43, 51, 52), and compatible models

  • Oki Okipage (4w, 4w+, 6w, 8w, 8wLite, 8z, 400w) and compatible models

  • Samsung ML-(200, 210, 1000, 1010, 1020, 1200, 1210, 1220, 4500, 5080, 6040) and compatible models

To our knowledge, the following GDI printers are not supported by SUSE LINUX (this list is not complete by any means):

  • Brother DCP-1000, MP-21C, WL-660

  • Canon BJC (5000, 5100, 8000, 8500), LBP (460, 600, 660, 800), MultiPASS L6000

  • Epson AcuLaser C1000, EPL (5500W, 5700L, 5800L)

  • HP LaserJet (1000, 3100, 3150)

  • Lexmark Z(12, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33, 82), Winwriter (100, 150c, 200)

  • Minolta PagePro (6L, 1100L, 18L), Color PagePro L, Magicolor 6100DeskLaser, Magicolor 2 DeskLaser Plus/Duplex

  • Nec SuperScript (610plus, 660, 660plus)

  • Oki Okijet 2010

  • Samsung ML (85G, 5050G), QL 85G

  • Sharp AJ 2100, AL (1000, 800, 840, F880, 121)