[buug] Best XP emulator?
rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Mar 18 11:58:00 PDT 2009
Quoting Zeke Krahlin (pewterbot9 at gmail.com):
> Being Linux compatible is no assurance that the printer will produce
> pages even half as good as Windoze. I know from personal
> experience...had I purchase a printer eight years ago, that was on a
> Linux compatible list. Sure, it printed out as expected...but the
> result was far inferior than what i got with Windoze.
Indeed, a number of printer manufacturers decline to even minimally meet
the needs of open source developers -- which means they're not willing
to make technical specs and example code available except (perhaps)
under NDA, which of course precludes use of that information in open
source development. Please note that this isn't just a Linux thing, but
impairs open-source driver development on _any_ OS. The only reasons you
perceive it as a Linux problem are that (1) the Linux community strongly
resists long-term reliance on proprietary driver code and favours
open-source drivers, out of self-interest, and (2) hardware manufacturers
are motivated by the nature of the market to release (at least)
proprietary drivers for the then-prevalent versions of the Microsoft and
Apple OSes du jour.
(Note that that those proprietary drivers are often really buggy, are a
major source of OS instability -- though not with printer drivers -- and
tend to be brittle and unmaintainable.)
In those cases, on Linux you have your choice of either using the
manufacturer's proprietary Linux driver, if there is one, or waiting for
the coder community to adequately reverse-engineer the hardware without
the manufacturer's help. Specifically in the case of printers, there is
a third option: extract the relevant PPD file from the proprietary
driver kit for MacOS X, which uses the same CUPS printing software used
these days on Linux.
(That may not be good enough on some extremely junky software-dependent
"GDI printers" such as HP PPA-type printers, and certain cheap Lexmark
inkjets will have problems because of a proprietary printing language.
The fact that a printer is on a "Linux compatible list" means only that
somebody is known to have coaxed some level of functionality out of it.
However, bad signs are present if: (1) It's from an uncooperative
manufacturer. (2) It's a very recent model, leaving little time for
reverse-engineering. (3) It's a low-end printer. The cheapest and
nastiest inkjets tend to be most likely to be regarded by their
manufacturers as valuable trade secrets. Go figure.
By the way: Friends don't let friends buy cruddy injets.
> Which was one of two major reasons I could not eliminate a Micro$lut
> OS from my system.
Well, without getting a decent printer, anyway. ;->
Used to be in olden days, people would tell me "I can't consider Linux
until there's good support for my $10 el-cruddo PCI winmodem." I would
reply "Sorry to hear about your problem", while thinking "Wow, that
winmodem, if ground sufficiently finely, might make a surprisingly
strong espresso, which would be its best and highest use."
The modern equivalent is the highly proprietary low-end inkjet that's
sold for almost no money and probably at a loss, because they know
they'll make a fortune from you on expensive proprietary ink cartridges.
Some manufacturers, such as Lexmark, have even been known to put
circuitry in their cheap inkjets to ensure that you get only partial
usage out of offbrand cartridges, and had the gall to bring DMCA
litigation against third-party cartridge manufacturers that
reverse-engineered the cartridge handshake protocol.
Anyway, if you ever _do_ buy another printer, you know which listings
you should check, preferably in advance of purchase rather than after.
Doing so will have the corrolary advantage of helping you avoid printers
that are turkeys on other grounds, too.
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