I've been trying to make a Dell 5110cn printer to work from Linux, to no avail.

I've tried sharing the printer from both a Linux and a Windows machine, and in either case, Windows clients can always print fine.

When a Linux client sends a print job that's larger than a few hundred KBs, the printer chokes and prints pages with what appear to be PostScript errors, like:

ERROR: ioerror
  lot's of characters

I've been struggling with this for weeks now, and nowhere have I found an answer or a pointer.

  • How is the printer connected? USB? Parallel? Serial? If there's no method for the printer to report to the print service that it's full, it needs to stop and digest, then it'll continue on... – Avery Payne May 1 '09 at 22:45
  • Ethernet. We've tried USB too, with the same results. – Ivan May 2 '09 at 0:06
  • Ah. What is the printing method? IPP? LPR? Print to port 9100? Are you using CUPS? If so, what print driver are you using to print to it? If not, how are you digesting your print job before it's sent? The specs page indicates that it supports both PCL and Postscript. Have you tried switching to PCL vs. Postscript? I have encountered printers that will not print in one but will print in the other, for no apparent reason - and those were using Windows print drivers. – Avery Payne May 2 '09 at 8:02
  • Seems like I missed mentioning a lot of details :) I tried CUPS, 9100, and Windows sharing. I didn't know you could choose PCL, and I don't know where to change that, but I'll look into it. The driver we've used is the PPD from Dell. Thanks! – Ivan May 2 '09 at 13:49

Ok, well, here's some food for thought:

  • Ditch the PPD. Yeah, that seems counter-intuitive, but really, you'll be fine without it.

  • Use a different printer language. Select PCL 5e as the print language, if possible. Sticking with older, matured protocols allows you to avoid incompatibilities and/or bugs with the implementation of newer ones. You might not get all the features you want, but you'll get something functional.

  • Turn the Windows box into a print server. If you have an LPR service available on your windows box, "Attach" the printer to the windows machine, enable LPR services and point the Linux box at the windows machine, turning it into a print server.

  • Enable Proprietary Driver Support. If you have a "newer" Linux distro, the CUPS service should be able to "detect" the presence of the printer easily. If you are running Ubuntu or Debian, be sure to include support for non-free software, as it's (unfortunately) necessary for stubborn hardware that can't be dragged along for the ride. Ubuntu has a GUI tool in the System menu that allows you to detect hardware that needs non-free drivers, and install the driver.

  • Switch Print Drivers. Here's a dirty little secret - you can use the same print driver on several dozen printers from different vendors, and they will cover different models. I don't know how many times I've had to use "Apple LaserWriter 600" to just get a vanilla postscript driver installed on a Windows box for a non-printing function.

I'm sure there's more, but this is what comes to mind ATM.

  • Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the time you've taken to help me troubleshoot this issue. We're going to try your suggestions (along with other ideas) later in the week, and I'll let you know how it goes. – Ivan May 5 '09 at 17:51
  • Alright, we're making progress. With the PCL 5e driver it works beautifully... but only in b&W. Will keep trying other options, thanks for your response. – Ivan May 12 '09 at 2:12
  • Good to hear you've got some solid progress. I wondered if it was an issue with the driver setup...hope you hammer out all the other details soon. – Avery Payne May 12 '09 at 2:14

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