[Desktop_printing] Kicking off the Open Printing Summit

Robert L Krawitz rlk at alum.mit.edu
Fri Jan 6 15:24:18 PST 2006

   Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2006 14:53:09 -0800
   From: "Bastian, Waldo" <waldo.bastian at intel.com>

   >5. More?

   I think the printing summit will offer an excellent opportunity to
   discuss whether it makes sense to work towards a certification &
   branding program for Linux & Printers. The key ingredients for such
   a discussion would be input from printer vendors and Linux
   distributors and their position on such an initiative. The printing
   summit will be a unique event where representatives of both will be

   If sufficient support exists for the general idea of a
   certification and branding program the technical implications could
   be considered: What would be meaningful technical criteria to
   decide whether a specific printer model is supported on a specific
   Linux disitribution and is it possible to define technical
   certification criteria in such a way that they can be applied to
   printer models and distributions in isolation, as opposed to
   specific combinations of printer model and distribution?

>From my experience, some kind of certification/branding would be an
excellent idea.  A lot of people buy a printer and then ask us
(Gutenprint project) whether it's supported or not; that question
almost always leads to unhappiness on both sides.

Vendors are constantly releasing new printers.  In a lot of cases,
they're functionally identical to some other printer from the driver's
perspective, but that's not always the case.  Sometimes an existing
driver will work, but changes to ink formulations may produce
different results.

There are some issues here:

1) The technical criteria to use.  What's acceptable to one person
   might not be acceptable to someone else; if there's a color
   problem, it might be fine for most people but not for people who
   are more finicky.

2) Auxiliary printer functions.  A lot of printers are multi-function
   devices, with fax, scanning, and copying built in.  From what I've
   seen, many users expect that a working printer also implies that
   the other functions will work, but that's not always the case,
   since the folks who write printer drivers aren't the same people
   who do SANE.  Another problem that sometimes happens is that
   vendors will release specs for the printer but not for the
   scanner.  I suspect that these devices are produced by two
   different organizations within the company with different levels of
   friendliness toward FOSS.

   A related problem is that sometimes there will be some auxiliary
   printing functionality, such as printing to CD's.  A particular
   printer might work quite well, with certain functional exceptions.
   Whatever scheme used needs to factor that in.  The same kind of
   issue, of course, exists for roll paper, manual feed (to enable
   printing to boards that cannot bend, for example), and so forth.

3) Paper and ink types.  Vendors generally want to see their inks and
   papers supported, and generally don't much want to see third party
   supplies supported.  I suppose vendors don't care too much about
   specialized third party supplies such as premium inks and papers
   (which cost more than the OEM supplies and have very limited
   markets), but there can be a lot of controversy over cheap third
   party inks and refilling.  I'm not going to get into the technical
   merits or demerits here, but there could be some issues here in

I'd personally really hate to see distributions (and architectures,
for that matter) thrown into the mix.  That's going to contribute to
fragmentation of the Linux community.  It's also going to get too
complicated for end users, especially with installable drivers and
driver updates (for example, we were very successful in releasing
updates to Gimp-Print 4.2 that added new drivers).

Robert Krawitz                                     <rlk at alum.mit.edu>

Tall Clubs International  --  http://www.tall.org/ or 1-888-IM-TALL-2
Member of the League for Programming Freedom -- mail lpf at uunet.uu.net
Project lead for Gimp Print   --    http://gimp-print.sourceforge.net

"Linux doesn't dictate how I work, I dictate how Linux works."
--Eric Crampton

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