Almost every desktop printer works easily with Windows, but finding a Linux driver can still be a frustrating task. Think your desktop printer just won't work with your open-source OS? Don't be so sure -- we'll show you how.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 8, 2005

3 Min Read

Printing Problems from GIMP

GIMP, or the GNU Image Manipulation Program, is freely distributed software designed for image-related tasks such as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. If GIMP won't print, change the print instruction in: [right-click open document] > File > Print > Setup printer

  • Printer Model: Determine if your printer is in the list. If yes, click on it. If no, go to the PPD file step below. Command: lp -d printername GIMP should have picked up your printer name in the shortest form, such as "IP3000." The -oraw suffix after printername added by GIMP is not necessary for use with CUPS. PPD File: Use this if your printer is not listed in Printer Model List. Find the ppd file for your printer, and add it including the full path. For example: /usr/share/cups/model/canonpixusip3100, where /usr/share/cups/model/ is a typical CUPS directory path. If the PPD files aren’t on that path, log in as user and: locate *.ppd. Look for .PPD files which are listed in a path with cups in it. Click OK. Then either Print and Save Settings, or Save Settings on the Print screen.


If you can't find a good print driver for a specific printer anywhere by using the above instructions, or you simply don’t feel like putting in the time, check out a print-driver utility called TurboPrint For Linux. It costs about $30, covers a very wide range of printers (including HP, Brother, Canon and Epson), works well, and often enables all the functionality that the vendor built into a printer. In my case, for example, TurboPrint helped me gain the ability to do duplex printing.

To try it out, download the TurboPrint limited-function demo and install it. It’s available as both an RPM and a tarball. I recommend experimenting with the trial version first, since if TurboPrint doesn't work for you, there isn't much point in paying for it.

Here's a screen shot of TurboPrint's printer configuration page:

By the way, if you get a "Media Tray Empty" error message when trying to print the test page, hit the Output button (see the illustration above).

One missing function in TurboPrint is "Check Ink Quantity." So if you do get TurboPrint, you should leave the iP3000 (or other model) printer entry in the CUPS printer selection screen, and leave your Canon Printer Monitor (or other vendor) software in place. Then the easiest way to check the ink quantity is to switch to the regular print driver, open the monitor, and see what it shows.

TurboPrint vs the IP3000 Canon Japan driver? I doubt if you'll notice a difference between the two for printing text or line art. But for photo images, it's a matter of preference. While the IP3000 driver gives bolder colors, the TurboPrint driver gives what I think is a flatter, more natural rendering of flesh tones. Judge for yourself: In the shots below, the IP3000 Canon Japan driver output is on the left, and Turboprint is on the right.

Also, you can switch back and forth between different print drivers for the same printer. But be careful: The print server will get flaky if you do too much of this. A reboot is probably the simplest solution. The alternative is login as root, kill


and all printer-specific processes, restart


, and finally restart the printer.

Good luck with your Linux printing! If you have any questions or comments, join me on's Recipe forum.

A. LIZARD is an Internet consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been writing for technology magazines and Web sites since 1987.

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