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My New Printer
Posted by Arthur on Wed 11 Apr 2007 at 06:11
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I recently purchased a Brother MFC-5860CN multifunction printer (print/copy/scan/fax) and was quite pleased to discover that with Brother's GPL'd drivers the machine is 100% compatible with the Debian machines on my LAN. It was stated to be 100% compatible, which is why I bought it, but ya just never really know until you try.

The .debs provided don't all work as downloaded as they rely upon lpadmin which AFAIK isn't something you'll find in a current Debian repository, but following the workaround instructions in Brother's FAQ's does the trick. (Basically, you unpack the offending .deb, edit the scripts in /var/lib/dpkg/info/ commenting out instances of lpadmin calls, and then dpkg --configure the package.) It's crude hackish, but it works.

Within the scanner support scripts they use usleep, another little critter you won't find on a typical Debian workstation. Fortunately, Debian's sleep isn't limited to integer arguments, so you can do things like sleep 0.01 without your refrigerator catching fire. A little vim time brings those scripts to life just fine. I feel an itch to rewrite them completely.

I had to dig some 64 bit libraries out of the RPM's in order to make the Scan key functions work with my AMD64 machine, but they now all work.

The PPD from the Brother lpr package wouldn't install for some reason, so I had to extract that and drop it into the right place on all machines. dpkg to the rescue once more. :-)

The ugliest part: Once I realized that it wasn't going to be a few dpkg -i's to get it all working I started taking notes so I could write up a proper article here, but by the time I was done my notes were well beyond usable. Fortunately, I have another 32-bit workstation that's a sacrificial lamb, so as soon as it's done with its current task I can dive in and properly document the process for the i386 architecture. Some poor soul will be searching for the information some day and might as well find it here.

I'm just really thrilled to have a 100% functional multifunction device, and one that isn't from HP, whom I thoroughly detest. Hooray for Brother and their support of Linux, even if it is a mite kludgy just now.


Comments on this Entry

Re: My New Printer
Posted by andmalc (206.172.xx.xx) on Wed 18 Apr 2007 at 15:39
Interesting step of hacking the info files in the deb. Have to remember that one.

Why do you detest HP? Their multifunctions work great on Linux and driver support is right up to date. They even have their own version of Debian.

[ Parent ]

Re: My New Printer
Posted by Arthur (66.28.xx.xx) on Thu 19 Apr 2007 at 01:59
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I detest HP because I know the company from the inside. "The HP Way" is dead and gone, and the only institutional memory of it belongs to the old timers now nearing retirement who mourn its loss. The document still exists, but the practices, policies, and procedures that are in place today do not reflect it.

Once upon a time, HP was driven by innovation and fully committed to the highest of product quality. They built the products they themselves wanted, and if there was a market for them, fine -- if not, they'd keep right on building for their own internal use. They were a manufacturing company. Today HP is driven by and committed to shareholder interests, with perhaps the most outwardly visible sign of it being the Carly Fiorina circus. She was clearly unqualified for the position, but was good for PR. The stock market is driven by appearances and perceptions, after all, and the new HP had sweater bumpers. They are now a holding company, focused solely upon ROI.

HP abandoned its founders' principles, the principles that made it great, and not because those principles were no longer sound, but because they got in the way of making as much money as possible as quickly as possible for the directors and executives. I cannot support that.

It may well be that I'm just waiting to be disappointed by my new Brother multifunction wonder widget, but I've had great experiences with their products. I actually know nothing of Brother as a company, don't know it from the inside as I do HP, but my experience with their products as an end user leads me to believe that this machine will still be ticking along happily in ten years, whereas my expectation of a similar HP unit would be a service life of four or five.

Maybe I've simply chosen to accept the devil I don't know. Time will tell.

[ Parent ]

Re: My New Printer
Posted by Anonymous (88.66.xx.xx) on Tue 24 Apr 2007 at 18:31

got the same printer, installed it on ubuntu 7.04, installation was easy (i could use the .deb files without any problems!) and everything is working fine, except one thing:
the printing speed. it's taking about 1 minute for a din a4 page (only black/white, no pictures!) while copying(=scanning and printing!) this document only takes 24 seconds...
how fast is your printer on linux / any ideas how to fix this?

[ Parent ]

Re: My New Printer
Posted by Arthur (66.28.xx.xx) on Tue 24 Apr 2007 at 18:49
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When you're copying or scanning, CUPS isn't involved. CUPS does a lot of things but it's very slow. I haven't spent a lot of time fooling around with this printer or with CUPS, but once upon a time when I had a nice Epson I found LPRng to be much faster than CUPS at getting the data over to the printer.

I assume that the Brother isn't lying when its display reads "Receiving Data", which is what it reads through most of a print cycle. I have no idea how to fix it, but I suspect that a native driver would probably be much faster than a filter. Not that I know of a native driver.

[ Parent ]

Re: My New Printer
Posted by Anonymous (88.66.xx.xx) on Tue 1 May 2007 at 18:58
thanks for your reply,
i know that copying is a standalone function.

i meanwhile wrote brother and they told me that there's no way to fix the low printing speed when using linux ):
i'll send my mfc back, already ordered a HP multi device :-)

[ Parent ]