For pretty much the first time in my life, I’m finding I really need a printer at home. In past times I’ve been quite happy to sneakily print off everything at university, at work, etc.. Several years ago I rescued a chunky old HP laser printer from the skip at work and that served me well for a few years… and then it died. Now I’m working from home a lot and this is becoming a real hassle, but budget is tight.
So, can anyone recommend a very cheap mono laser printer for home Linux usage? I have few requirements:
- I don’t need colour printing.
- I don’t really care how fast (or slow) it prints as long as it isn’t terminally slow.
- I don’t care what interface it uses (USB, parallel, whatever) as long as it works.
- I don’t have any preference on manufacturer, maybe you do, hence me asking you!
- Needs to be reliable, I can’t face having to fiddle with it every few pages. This is the sort of printer where I would like to give it a 100 page manual to get on with.
- Needs to work in Linux (and BSD as well would be nice).
- My primary usage will be manuals and code listings, but I would want to run off the odd letter or my CV now and again.
- I’ll be buying it mail-order so any recommendations for local shops will not be useful for me (I don’t live in Hampshire), but they might help other people in the LUG.
Perhaps there are other requirements I should be specifying? If so, do say, and I’ll clarify. Like I say, I’ve never had to buy a printer for myself before.
I shall also post this to the Mailing List and summarise any responses from there.
:::: — Andy Smith
Ah – rescued printers! My LaserJet 4P was rescued from a skip too, and works great under Linux. It’s a bit noisy and much slower than modern lasers, but it was free!
More helpfully, a fairly authorative guide to printers under Linux can be found at www.linuxprinting.org. It will at least tell you if a printer works under Linux, if not how much it costs and what interface it has. Probably a good starting point.
:::: — Tony Whitmore
How about this one: Samsung ML-1440
- 8MB RAM — this seems a lot for budget lasers
- Says it works on lots of OSes so obviously not a “WinPrinter“
- 270 sheets in the feeder, that’s pretty good for what I’ve seen
Looks fairly decent and sturdy, but has anyone had any horror stories? It seems scarily cheap for what it is..
I (Peter Salisbury) bought an ML-1250 from DABS and it works really well and cost around £95 (update, near identical ML1210 currently £80 inc VAT at DABS 23.Dec.2003). Some things to be aware of:
- Setting margins is a pain (maybe that’s all Linux printers) see my Linux Log for details of how I went about it
- The default Debian/sid/KDE driver doesn’t let you print multiple copies (again see my Linux Log for the one I used.
- It scrunches envelopes – I still use an old Epson ink-jet for that
- You can very easily top up the toner cartridge (http://www.refilltoner.com/index.htm)
Alternatively there is the Minolta-QMS !PagePro 1200W
- Got a good review in the September 2002 edition of PC Advisor.
- Only comes with a 150 sheet feeder. The review noted this was rather flimsy as well, but it doesn’t look any more flimsy than the Samsung one.
- Costs £26+VAT more.
:::: — Andy Smith
Mailing List Updates
Here’s a quick summary of the main points that came up during the email thread.
Hugo Mills made some very good points about the difference between cheap and mid-range printers:
- Most decent printers will tell in the documentation or advertising blurb what the “duty cycle” is, sometimes called “pages per month”. This is not a slightly odd measure of printing speed, but a measure of how fast the parts wear out. The printer will officially need mechanical attention (normally replaced rollers) after that point.
- My printer is a Brother HL-1270N, based on the same Canon engine as the HP LJ4s, and has (I think) a duty cycle of 50,000 pages. You will find that a cheap laser (sub-£200) will have a duty cycle much less than that.
- I would strongly recommend buying a small-workgroup printer, such as the LJ4 (actually, I think they’re making LJ6es these days) or the Brother HL series. Buy a cheapo printer, and you’ll be buying another one in 2 years’ time. Spend about twice as much, and you’ll basically have a friend for life. :)
- My printer’s spec: 600dpi laser, Postscript (4Mb RAM, upgradeable with SIMMs), 250 sheet paper tray, 150 sheet output tray, 10/100 Mbit Ethernet port (IPP, LPR, FTP, POP3, others; HTTP and telnet config interfaces), can’t remember the speed, but it’s either 6 or 8 ppm. Duty cycle 50K sheets, I think. Toner £50 for ~6K sheets. Cost, £450 two years ago.
My thoughts on this were basically:
- I appreciate what you’re saying Hugo but at the moment I simply can’t afford to spend £400+ on a printer. […]
- To be honest if I bought a 600dpi laser printer today for £120 and it did what it said on the tin for 2 years I’d be reasonably happy with that. £120 spent 2 years ago is easily forgotten. :)
- Course, what I have to worry about is that it might not do what it says on the tin, or might fall apart after 6 months. For example, the Samsung looks incredibly cheap for its specifications. What’s the catch?
Brian Chivers chimed in with some support for the Samsung:
- A friend of mine has one of those printer’s and they are great […] When I set them up 2 years ago, it was so easy and she’s just changed a toner in one of them, which isn’t bad considering it’s used in an office enviroment.
As did Stuart Metcalfe:
- We’re using one of these – highly recommended as a little workhorse! Running on an RH8 samba/CUPS server ATM and works well with WinXP and Linux clients. Print quality’s good and speed is reasonable.
- The price is good too – we can’t match/beat it or I’d offer to sell a new one to you.
However, John Lewis cautions:
- Looks too good to be true ;-(
- 8mb ram is too small for any graphics printing so increasing that would be a first priority.
Unfortunately, that model printer comes with 8MB RAM and is not upgradeable in any way. I guess that’s one reason why it is so cheap. To be honest though, I cannot find a printer anywhere near the same price range that even offers that chance to upgrade past 8MB. Most of the sub-£300 laser printers I can find actually come with 4, 2, or in many cases only 1MB of RAM anyway! I intend only to print documents; 8MB should be OK, I think.
Nick Chalk suggested:
- Another option might be a good second-hand machine.
- I bought an HP Laserjet 6MP from a company clearance about a year ago. It was UKP 50, with 14,500 pages on the clock; it was in good condition, and included a toner that hasn’t yet run out.
A good suggestion, but as a relative newbie in the printing world and someone just looking for a quick and easy solution, I’d rather buy something as opposed to try and find a second-hand bargain.
Thank you all very much for your advice. I shall try my luck with the Samsung I think, and will report back on how it turns out.
Philip Stubbs 2003-12-31
My Samsung ML-1210 from Dabs, (£50) arrived today. My only complaint with the lack of a printer lead. However I had a spare USB cable to hand.
I installed cups and failed to get the printer working. I then tried reading the documentation that came with the machine, but that was RedHat specific and I use Debian. I then went to www.linuxprinting.org but that just confused me even more. I downladed the ghostscript source, before realising that gs supplied with Debian already had the required driver.
I was starting to get anoyed at this point. I then found a site that recomended foomatic, so I downloaded foomatic-gui, and thirty seconds later I had a test page printed. I am now very happy. I have a brand new USB laser printer, working in Linux for the price of replacment cartridges for my old inkjet