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Ubuntu and Brother HL-2170W

I picked up a Brother HL-2170W wireless laser printer at OfficeMax a while back to replace my empty HP ink jet. For the price per page, laser is without a doubt the way to go.

I had done some searching while I was at the store because, as a Linux user, I’m big on cross-platform. (Obviously, or I’m not going to buy it.) I read a lot of mixed stories about this printer, but at the time Lucid (10.04) was coming out and I figured that a number of the issues would be addressed and I had a good chance of it working. Besides, it was a wireless printer so nearly any generic driver should work.

I brought it home, unpacked it, and set it up. Connecting the printer to the wireless AP was a breeze — simply connect the printer (via wire) to either the PC (via USB) or the router (via ethernet) and do the config using either the web interface (built into the printer) or the software. I had tossed the instructions immediately upon opening the box — this is one case where you’re probably going to want to refer to them. At least until that first test page comes out okay.

So I got the printer hooked up, on the wireless network, static IP set up, and off I go to install the drivers on the machines.

Ubuntu: Recognized immediately. Going to System > Administration > Printing and click Add brought up the add printer screen where the printer showed up after a few moments. Though the installer showed some lag, I attributed it to having to communicate with the printer during the setup.

Windows Vista: Installation of the drivers from the CD was grudgingly slow. It must have taken me the better part of half an hour start to finish.

Printer performance? I was immediately impressed. But my mind changed after a few days: This printer choked on graphics. A page of text would come out immediately, but any page with a graphic on it could take up to 20 minutes. Then for the sake of troubleshooting I tried it on the Windows machine. Came out in moments.

Something was definitely amiss. But I left it as it was for a while, until I finally got tired of waiting 20 minutes per page to print shipping labels for 15 boxes one day. So I put Windows 7 on my machine. Problem solved. (Note — the printer ships with a second drivers disc specifically for Windows 7.)

So now, a few months later, I am a Linux user once again and ran back into the same problem: The incredibly slow graphics printing. Only this time, determined to find a solution. I only had to look so far as this post. Citing a fault in the cups drivers for (at the least, this printer model), a solution was explained using a generic driver instead of the [presumably broken] cups driver:

1. Log on to the cups web interface: http://localhost:631/admin (for username and pw I used an account with sudo privileges).
2. Select “Add Printer
3. From “Other Network Printers:” I selected: LPD/LPR Host or Printer
4. under “Connection” put in: socket://IP_of_the_printer:9100 (of course, substitute in the IP of your printer)
5. Name, description, location: fill those out as you wish.
6. Sharing: I did not check this box.
7. Make: Select Generic and click Continue
8. Model: Generic PCL 5e Printer Foomatic/hpijs-pcl5e (recommended)
(this model is the closest by name to what Johnny_vc told me to use. I figured mine is different because I’m using Lucid)

Nick (below) adds this: Make and Model: Brother HL-2170W Foomatic/hpijs-pcl5e (recommended)
If you find the Brother selection, try it and see if it works, otherwise the Generic as above is known to work.

9. Click “Add Printer” and you’re done.

Works for me too. After doing this, you can view and edit the properties of the printer via System > Administration > Printing. Printing speed is back to normal.

Also, I strongly recommend you have your printer assigned a static IP address, either on the printer itself or using DHCP address reservation.

UPDATE: I encourage users to try the instructions contained in the blockquote above first, if their printer does not appear or performance is bad. Make sure you know the LAN IP address of your printer or it won’t work. I just tested this with a stock 10.10 install and I was able to print without installing anything else.

Feedback and comments are welcome, as always.

Make and Model: Brother HL-2170W Foomatic/hpijs-pcl5e (recommended)
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