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Innovation

Printing via Bluetooth - Linux vs. Windows

I got a good illustration yesterday of how easy things can be on Linux, especially compared with kicking a dead whale down the beach (using Windows). I was working away from my desk, and needed to print something.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor on

I got a good illustration yesterday of how easy things can be on Linux, especially compared with kicking a dead whale down the beach (using Windows). I was working away from my desk, and needed to print something. No big deal, that's exactly the reason why I love my HP Deskjet H470 printer so much, I just have to turn it on and print, no being chained to my desk, fumbling with cables or power cords - not only is it Bluetooth connected, but it is battery powered! Except I had booted Windows, mostly because I had the time to let it install the latest wave of "patches" from Microsoft... and I had not yet configured the Bluetooth printer on Windows (I rarely use it, so why bother?)... but how difficult could it be, anyway? Since I had the time, I might as well do it.

In a nutshell... don't bother. If you can even find the place where Windows deals with Bluetooth devices in general, and then setting up Bluetooth printers in particular, and then find the driver CD that came with the printer... well, after fighting with it for WAY too long, I gave up in disgust and rebooted. But hold on, there's a fly in the ointment... I recently reloaded Ubuntu, because of the new release, and I hadn't gotten around to setting up the printer on that either. So here we go again...

Except with Ubuntu, setting up a Bluetooth printer consists of clicking "System/Administration/Printing", then "Add", wait about 30 seconds for it to discover the Bluetooth printer and decide on a driver for it, and then click "OK". That's it, all done, ready to print. It used to be more involved, but starting with 9.10, if I recall correctly, Bluetooth printers are discovered and added the same as any other local printers.

I thought this might not be a "fair" comparison, or at least I would have to qualify it more precisely, if only Ubuntu handled this so easily. So I booted Fedora 13 Beta, and tried the same thing. Same procedure, same results, same amount of time.

So, there's another example. If kicking a dead whale down the beach is your thing, then just keep on using Windows, and fighting it at every turn. But if real, continuing, useful development is more what you are interested in, and if you want every new release to be really better than the previous one, not just arbitrarily different from the previous one, then you really need to be using Linux.

Oh, and they don't want to dip into your pocket again every time there is a new release.

jw 14/5/2010

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