Re: why cups so rarely works "out of the box"
Richard Lyons <email@example.com> wrote:
>Perhaps there is something basic that I have missed, but I do not
>understand why cups fails to work when first installed in most cases. I
>have done this several times on various boxes now, and well over half
>the times, cups sends raw postscript to the printer. Can anyone
>explain why the installation of bog-standard epson or hp printers
>should be so unreliable?
Cups depends on PPD files to describe printer features to users, ie tray
selection, print modes, etc, and to invoke various filters used to
convert the input into a form that the printer can use. As shipped,
many of these PPD files are simply wrong. If the PPD file has
incorrect specifications, the printer may work on occasion -- so
optimists will claim that they haven't had any problems -- but it will
fail frequently and/or provide inferior results to demanding users.
These problems are easy to fix. If documentation were available
providing a "howto" for editing the PPD files, moderately savvy people
who are familiar with a given printer could write a decent PPD file,
share it with the world, and in time everyone would have reliable
printing. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a place to share CUPS
ppd files, and to the best of my knowledge, there is no "howto" that
explains what should and should not be in a CUPS ppd file.
Perhaps I'm simply paranoid, but I believe that the "cups" problem
wouldn't exist in a purely GNU world without commercial motives. We
would all get together and share our resources and pretty soon cups
really would work out of the box. Of course, we don't live in a purely
GNU world. We live in a kind of "caldera" world where commercial
interests are constantly seeking to "own" pieces of the "action". I've
been monitoring some of the linux "printing" websites for several days,
and scarcely anytime passes before someone recommends a commercial
solution to the "cups" problem. Perhaps it's not coincidental that
some of these same websites continue to promote PPD files that don't
work as advertised for the target printer. Drawn in by the hype and
promises of glory, the naive users fiddle in vain for several days
trying to make a broken PPD file produce good results, and they finally
get fed up and call for commercial support. In some cases, however, and
in one case that I was involved in, the powers-that-be decided to
abandon -- not just cups -- but linux altogether.
In summary, perhaps some of the debian users can suggest how we could
set up a website to share NON-COMMERCIAL printing information on cups or
any other linux printing system, so that these problems can be
aggressively and TRUTHFULLY resolved. Incidently, I don't believe it's
sufficient to simply post cups ppd files that work and then expect
future users to rely on google searches to find the information later.
Contrary to their best intentions, even google has fallen prey to
commercialism, and reliable informative usenet postings on any given
topic are usually buried on page 53 in any given google search nowadays.
I often prove this to skeptics by asking google to find the "best
prices cat shit" and then sit back and watch the many pages of offerings
-- including the omni-present webvendor titles "We have the best prices
on cat shit" or "Cat shit in stock ready to ship". Usenet discussions
could help resolve the problem, but we need a repository of solutions
that users could readily consult without rooting around.