This article is part of my series on exploring Linux. In my last article I experienced some of the difficulties of working with a 64-bit OS when there was no Adobe Flash player available. Luckily I found Adobe's beta product that worked beautifully (and just happened to be available for Linux before Windows).
I'm realizing that as I experiment with Ubuntu, I really need to print information I discover. I should setup printing before I try things like handwriting recognition with the touch screen. But I've been dreading this test. I have fairly recent printers (an HP2605dn and HP2600n) and I wonder if there will be drivers to properly support them. To complicate things, these are colour printers - one with a duplexer. They are both acting as print servers over the LAN (one wirelessly). -- see why I'm worried?
Well, my fears were unfounded! This was the easiest setup I have ever done - easier than Vista even. Here's how it unfolded:
- I went to System|Administration|Printing and clicked on "New".
- The system automatically scanned and found my printers (my wireless one didn't respond until the 2nd attempt however).
- Ubuntu recognized my printer and offered to go out and find drivers.
- It found drivers! It clearly stated that they were provided by HP. It gave me all sorts of details so I could have trust in the driver. It told me what features were supported and what testing had been done by Ubuntu, etc.
- It then downloaded them when I was ready, using the package manager I had encountered in the past. No visits to the printer manufacturer site! How cool is that?!
- I was given a chance to nicely identify the printer's name, location, etc. so that I could more easily work with it in the future.
- I was then able to investigate the printer properties. I was able to set default and sharing options. All very clear and pretty. I was able to setup my colour options and duplex printing preferences no problem at all.
- Then it printed!
In truth, there were one or two flow issues. The screens don't hand-hold you very well when downloading the printer drivers. The progress indicator went instantly from 0% to complete. Then I was left at a screen wondering if it was finished - not realizing I needed to click a different button now. Also, the driver for the 2nd printer came in with the first, so there was no need to download it - which the system told me. But the system said I could just continue with the "next" screen but left the "next" button deactivated. It was another flow issue. I just had to cancel the download and choose to use an existing driver.
I am not unhappy with the flow issue at all, and it only lost me 10 seconds or so. But I think this printer installation demonstrated a clear difference between Windows and Linux. I know Windows would never allow a flow issue like that, but there are so many other things wrong with its installation that Linux has licked. Linux provided an end-to-end installation experience (no visiting a manufacturer site). Linux communicated clearly in detail so I knew exactly what I was configuring. At the end, I had a printer published the way I wanted, performing exactly as I expected. No surprises, no mystery. I don't know if this experience can be said about all Linux printer installations, but in my case, I was impressed.
Emboldened, it's time to configure my second monitor for dual-head display! (Actually, I've already started playing, Ubuntu isn't doing so well with this one...)