Printing in Linux

The bane of my existence continues...


My laptop is currently running Arch Linux with Cinnamon as a frontend. My printer is an HP OfficeJet F4480 that claimed to have out-of-the-box capabilities with most distributions of Linux.

Originally, I found that to not be true. I tried plugging it in and assuming it would work (silly me, this isn’t Ubuntu!), and of course it didn’t. A few software installs later, I realized that I hadn’t even installed CUPS. D’oh!

So I ran a pacman -S cups and Pacman happily installed all of the dependencies for Apple’s old Common Unix Printing System, and then the system itself. That wasn’t enough; according to the fantastic Arch Wiki I also needed the hp-lib package in order to install HP-specific drivers. So I have Pacman do that for me as well, then I try to run the utility and the installer can’t find the PPD .gz file.

A half hour of wild goose chases later, I come across the hp-lib package source designed for Gentoo. A PPD file is a PPD file, no matter what distro you’re running, so I downloaded the tarball, extracted it, and pulled the necessary PPD file from the tarball, sticking it into /usr/share/cups/model obediently as the wiki page told me to.

Still nothing.

At this point I’m kind of irritated, but I take note of the error that the hp-lib TUI tells me - something to the tune of being unable to connect to the server.

My thought: “what are you talking about of course my server is runn… oooohhhhhhh”. Lightbulb hit me. CUPS was installed, but the moron running the server didn’t start the service. Double d’oh!

Ran a sudo systemctl start cups.service and re-ran the hp-lib tool. No issues. Printed a test page with no problems. Promptly did a sudo systemctl enable cups.service so I don’t have to worry about this again.


That test page that I printed came out pretty darn crappy looking. The colored portioned all looked good, but the black-and-white parts looked like garbage. I knew for a fact (from being on the Windows side of my laptop) that my cartridge had plenty of ink left, so I went searching on the internet and came across a pretty easy way to un-gunk a printer cartridge.

Step 1: Get water nice and hot in your sink.
Step 2: Fill sink up 1/8 of way with hot water.
Step 3: Dunk printer cartridge head in the water. Let it sit there for a few minutes.
Step 4: Shake the cartridge around under the water until you start to see ink coming out of it.
Step 5: Dry cartridge head with lint-free towel and replace in printer. Print test page.
Step 6: ???
Step 7: Profit!