It Just Works: a happy tale of Linux and printers

Amid the infinite number of monkeys typing away about Windows vs Google vs Chrome vs Microsoft vs Apple vs blah - can we take a break at some point, please? - some nice things happen.

Amid the infinite number of monkeys typing away about Windows vs Google vs Chrome vs Microsoft vs Apple vs blah - can we take a break at some point, please? - some nice things happen.

As in, I bought a printer and it worked.

To be more precise: I bought a £50 Samsung ML-2240 mono laser printer, new, from Amazon. It arrived two days later. I unboxed it and plugged it into my Ubuntu 9.04 installation. It thought about it for a bit and emitted a selection of messages, but it proceeded smoothly, I only had to make one choice and that was it. It worked perfectly, first time. I then plugged it into a Windows XP laptop, and lo! The same experience.

(That one choice? Ubuntu didn't have a ML-2240 driver, so I had to choose between an ML-2250 and an ML-1640. As the instructions called the printer an ML-1640/ML-2240, that was easy.)

As someone who's come from that forgotten land where printers just didn't work because - and there was normally a combination of the following - the RS232 was set up with the wrong baudrate/parity/stopbit/startbit/connector/handshaking, the printer's language didn't match the driver, the driver didn't match the OS, the driver was buggy, there was no driver for the OS, the driver was on the wrong sort of floppy, the driver was on a floppy that couldn't be read by God himself, the application needed its own driver, the printer was configured for EBCDIC, the printer had been configured by an alien, the parallel cable was broken, the parallel cable was so heavy it had pulled the interface card out of its socket, there was a mouse stuck in the print head (yes, had that). And laser printers cost as much as a car.

Now none of the above apply. The downside is, due the current economic conditions and the change in the market, I did have to buy my own printer. Normally, there's a steady stream of the things through the publication and one can abstract a unit for long enough to do whatever one wants to do. Now you don't see one for months, so it had to be my flexible friend and I. This alone is enough to get me drummed out of the tech hacks' union, so don't tell anyone.

Nonetheless, for Linux and Windows (I'll try it on my Mac later), the Samsung ML-2240 gets this skinflint editor's choice. Print quality is... well, you don't want to use it for detailed graphics. For text, though, it's perfect.

Should I be this happy? Yeah. I think I should. Genuine progress, even in small ways, is worth a smile.

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