The Printer

There’s something anachronistic, something almost wrong about using an electronic device to produce a hard copy of a document. Perhaps in response to this fundamental wrongness, I have always found printers to be the least enjoyable piece of computer hardware to interact with.

Many years ago, when I was single, I did not own a printer, for I had achieved a level of enlightenment which rarely required me to use a computer to produce a physical artifact. Unfortunately, this state was less enlightened than might be desired because when I did need to do so, I had to get in my car and go to the copy shop down the road. I decided this state of affairs was acceptable.

Then I took on a roommate. His level of enlightenment was different than mine (whether higher or lower is left as an exercise to the reader) and so he purchased a printer. It was a networked laser printer, a Brother HL-2270DW. He presented it to me with a bargain: if I would make it work, it could be my printer, so long as he could print from it when he desired. Astute readers will recognize this bargain as a form of indentured servitude, but seeing as he had already bought the printer I decided to give it a go.

My networking setup was a tad complicated (that’s a story for another time), but I was able to set it up such that anyone on the network could print from it. My roommate could use his MacBook and it would automatically discover the printer and print from it fine.

I was using a Linux desktop, and my level of success was somewhat more marginal. I am listing the steps here, in case they are of use to anyone else. If you would like to read the denouement of the story and skip past the technical bits, I do not blame you.

Getting the Brother HL-2270DW to work with Arch Linux

Note: I’m using Cinnamon. If you’re using another DE, there will probably be some slight differences.

Step 0: Reset the printer

For some reason the printer was not connecting to the wired network. I needed to do a factory reset. To do this:

  • Turn off the printer (the power switch is on the right hand side near the back)
  • Hold down the Go button and turn the printer on. All the LEDs except Ready should light up.
  • Release the Go button. All the LEDs should go dark.
  • Press the Go button 6 times, then wait. All the LEDs should light up, then the printer should restart and it will be back to defaults.

Step 1: Install the things

There’s a lot of ideas and wisdom floating around online about how to get this printer to work. There’s even an AUR package which requires multilib support. Ignore all these things.

  • Install the following packages:
    cups system-config-printer foomatic-db foomatic-db-engine foomatic-db-nonfree foomatic-db-nonfree-ppds foomatic-db-ppds
  • systemctl start org.cups.cupsd
  • systemctl enable org.cups.cupsd

Step 2: Get the printer IP

By this point the printer will have connected to the network. Look at your router’s DHCP table. If you have multiple devices and you’re not sure which one’s the printer, you can put the IP in the address bar — the printer runs a webserver (username admin, password access).

Step 3: Connect to the printer

Open the Cinnamon menu and type “print”. Select “Print settings”.

In the box that opens up, select Add and then select Network Printer.

Assuming that the Deep Magic that is CUPS has done its job, it should see your printer. It will look something like BRN and then a long number (for the curious, that number is the MAC address of your printer).

You will then be prompted to select a driver. You have many to choose from because you installed All The Drivers in Step 1. I have found the Brother HL-2240D (foomatic/hl1250) driver to be entirely acceptable (I tried getting a PPD for the 2270, but getting it to work as well as the 2240 one does out of the box proved to not be worth the effort).

(If the Deep Magic has proven either insufficiently Deep or Magical, the next step is to manually connect to the printer by IP address. You will set the Device URI to lpd://x.x.x.x/BINARY_P1 and see if you can connect that way.)

Step 4: Reward yourself

Print a test page. Assuming it works, grab your beverage of choice. You did a great job today!

Final thoughts

That roommate is long since gone (as is that house), but he was true to his word and the printer is mine. I like having a networked printer, as it is more convenient than a printer which must be connected via USB. I like having a laser printer, as I have never found an inkjet printer that will last much longer than its first cartridge.

The printer is currently not hooked up, as I had to repurpose the printer stand to build a second, makeshift desk in order to put together my work from home configuration. I am slightly trepidatious of the day when I will reconnect it. If the Deep Magic fails me, I will be sure to update this post with the latest information.

2 thoughts on “The Printer

  1. I, on the other hand, have always loved and valued a reliable printer–not so much the ones that work for a week and then the ink stops flowing. Our Epson with ink tanks instead of cartridges is GREAT!


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