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hp’s printer support under linux is getting better

Our printer (Epson Stylus Photo R200) died on us Monday night. I talked things over with Tiff, and we decided to go with an all-in-one printer, so she could do copying and such, too (she often could use that for work). One of my requirements was also to get a network-connected printer, so we don’t have to have a computer on to be able to print from one of the other PC’s in the house. We ended up picking up an HP Photosmart 3210, which seemed to be a decent mix of price and features. Price was $260 (at Best Buy), minus a $60 rebate, and a free $20 Best Buy gift card with the purchase. I also had $130 in Best Buy cards already, so it won’t be a very high out-of-pocket expense.

In any case, got the printer home, and plugged it into the network. It went through a self-initialization cycle, which took about 5 minutes. During this, I started the driver install under both Linux and Windows. For Windows, I just popped the CD in, and let it do it’s thing. For Linux, I used the HPLIP driver. Surprisingly (not my experience working with Epson printers under Linux), I had the HP printer fully working about 2 minutes after an “apt-get install hplip hpijs-ppds”. All I had to do was run “hp-makeuri “, plug the URI into cups, and it worked! It also automatically installed a scanner driver, so I can fire up Kooka and scan over the network.. surprisingly simple.

On the Windows box, on the other hand, the install took about 20 minutes total – 10 minutes of installing, 2-3 minutes for a reboot, and about 5-10 more minutes of installing after the reboot. The software works fine, but still, that took forever!

I’m glad to see that HP’s doing some serious work on getting better support for their printers in Linux. I think I’ll be pretty happy with this printer – the output is pretty nice, and it is *fast*.

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