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Installing Printers under Linux

Locating the Correct Driver

Note: we recommend you always check before you buy that Linux drivers are available for your chosen printer

The best way to find the correct printer driver is to use the web. You can use your favourite search engine with a string such as "linux install printer <printer name>". Alternatively, you can go to sites such as Open Printing which allow you to search for available drivers by manufacturer / model.

Note: remember that if you are using a Debian based distro (-such as Ubuntu or Mint), you should look for a .deb file, whereas RHEL and Fedora users should look for an .rpm file

Note: Drivers can also be found via the vendors:

Once the correct driver is located, you should be able to install it directly from the web

Installing a Local Printer

Providing you connect your printer direct to your Linux computer with a USB cable, then most versions of Linux will simply recognise it and install any required driver for you!

If, for some reason, the printer is not automatically configured when you plug it in, you can follow the instructions in the next section: the only difference for a locally attached printer is that you need to click on the "Local" and not "Network" option to locate it.

Installing a Network Printer

If you have more than one computer in your home, rather than buying multiple printers (-or physically unplugging it and moving it to the new host when required), you can buy a network-enabled printer that you can just plug into your network or router so you can print from any client. These days (August 2011) virtually anything other than budget printers come network enabled.

Note: due to the perverse trend towards Wi-Fi, you will often find printers with Wi-Fi support but no socket for a wired LAN! If you use the latter, make sure before you buy that the printer has a (RJ45) ethernet port

This section will show you how to install a networked printer under Fedora (-although all distros using Gnome should be the same).

Start by following your printer's setup instructions and plugging it into your LAN. With the printer online, go into the "User" menu and select "System Settings":

The Fedora User Menu

A window will display containing a number of icons: double-click on the one for "Printers":

The System Settings Window

The "Printers" dialogue box will display, showing the currently installed printers. This will be read-only, until you click on the "Unlock" button, then enter the administrator password:

Printer dialogue / Unlock Icon

Once the password has been entered, the padlock icon will change and the plus and minus icon will show as active. To add a new printer, click on the "+" icon:

Add Printer Icon

If you are installing a network printer (-i.e. not one that's directly connected to your computer), then chose the "Network" option (-if you are installing a locally attached printer, then choose "Local" instead).

Linux will then attempt to search the network for available printers - and this may take a few seconds. Any printers found will then be displayed in the right hand pane:

Listed Network Printers

Note: if your printer is not listed then check it is switched on and connected to the network or PC

Select the printer you require in the right-hand pane then click the "Add" button to add it:

New Printer Added

If all went well, the new printer show now be listed in the left-hand pane. If you wish to make the printer your default one, then select the printer in the left-hand pane and check the "Default" box:

Setting a Printer as the Default

Finally, with all the changes now made, click the "Lock" button to ensure no one else can change them by mistake:

Printer dialogue / Lock Icon

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