My Epson Artisan 810 printer died after only two years, right after I put some new ink in it. It hasn’t been used heavily or abused in any way. The ADF broke recently, and now today it is convinced that it has a paper jam even though no paper is caught in it.

Epson’s Linux support seems pretty pathetic to me, so I thought I ought to be able to do better. I recently heard good things about Brother, but their Linux driver situation doesn’t look any better. In fact, maybe worse. The Epson at least has native support in ghostscript. The Brother ships 32-bit-only proprietary blobs that convert ppm to their proprietary printer languages. What’s worse is that they wrap these up in GPL wrapper scripts. (The reviews of print quality haven’t been great either.)

I’ve been hearing bad things about the quality of HP printers recently, and my current HP Laserjet 1320 doesn’t make me excited about buying another HP. Nor does the cost of ink for my old Inkjet. The days of the nearly indestructable Laserjet 4 seem to be far in the past.

I know about the OpenPrinting database, but let’s be honest; most of its entries are for long-defunct printers, with no way to search for printers that are currently being made.

Trying to find a reasonably-priced, reasonably-sized all-in-one printer/scanner/fax with wireless networking that works well under Linux is harder than it ought to be!

Mark Trompell December 19, 2011 04:22

I have a brother printer that sort of works without the propietary driver, if it understands Postscript/’Brotherscript’ it should work, although I recently tried to connect it again and had some issues, probably because of bumping cups from 1.3 -> 1.4 since the last use of the printer.

Jes Sorensen December 19, 2011 05:21

Samsung does some pretty good and very well priced multi-function colour laser products. I currently have a Brother MFC9420CN which is great, but it is big and bulky, so when it dies I suspect I’ll go for one of the Samsungs. I haven’t tested their Linux support but when I browsed the site they did explicitly mention they support Linux.

A couple of friends got the CLX-3175FN version and the print quality is great for sure.

Michael K Johnson December 19, 2011 07:35


+Mark Trompell I was looking at the MFC inkjets, which as far as I can tell don’t support postscript internally. It seems to be the (much larger, of course) MFC laserjets that support Postscript.

+Jes Sorensen It was by downloading their Linux drivers that I discovered the weird binary blob driver — at least with the Epson, the binary blob was required only for network access to the scanner (why?!?) but for the Brother, binary blobs are required for basic printing as well as for both network and USB scanning, as far as I can tell. I’d love to find out that I’m wrong. Thanks for the mention of Samsung; I’ll see whether they have inkjets too.

Late last night, I pushed hard on the back of the duplexer while booting the Epson, and after that it booted without reporting a phantom paper jam. Hopefully, I’ll get to use it for a while, though I think we’ll quit printing duplex on the theory that the duplexer may well be failing.

Jes Sorensen December 19, 2011 07:55

+Michael K Johnson yeah I agree it is frustrating with the binary blobs for Brother’s printers. I have no idea if Samsung does inkjets - I gave up on those years ago, print quality is horrible and it takes forever. I did a comparison on the Samsung clx3185 recently and after 1500+ pages it really ends up at the same price per page as an HP ink printer, but at about 100 times better quality of the print :)

Alan Cox December 19, 2011 09:32

The blobs are annoying because otherwise they are decent kit - and they tend to last. My Dad still has a working BJ-70, and credit to Brother it still works in Windows 7 - unlike the Dhell cheapie inkjet that came with XP drivers and then never got updated and now is all broken links on their website

My current laser is one of the Dell standalone multifunction ones. It’s doing ok and works pretty well in Linux. You have to put a weight on the document feeder to make it copy multiple pages now though.

Joseph S Tate December 19, 2011 11:49

Samsung has a color laser that sold for $80 recently. I’ve got an ML-2150W, and it supports LPR, and JetDirect type protocols right out of the box. It’s a PostScript 5 (or 6?) capable printer, so there are several drivers of various speeds/qualities that ship with cups. Last I ran the numbers (several years ago), inkjets cost ~17¢ per page to run (just b/w, more for photos or color), while a color laser runs at ~6¢/page (including paper). It’s even been easy to find third party cartridges for this beast.

We started printing all our photos through or one of the local drugstores or costco and tossed our last inkjet. Sometimes it would be nice to print in color, but it isn’t worth maintaining an inkjet.

I want a scanner with a document feeder, so my next printer is likely to be a Samsung color laser multi-function.

Michael K Johnson December 19, 2011 13:56

It looks like the only Samsung color laser all-in-one in current production is the CLX-3185FW. Brother has a few more models; I’ll have to compare in detail when I get home.

I’ll have to get creative about placement if I get a color laser all-in-one because they are all too tall to fit where I want them, on a counter with a cabinet above it. But I’m still considering it. Especially if the Artisan keeps working as long as we don’t duplex, I can use it for photo printing at least as long as the nearly-full ink tanks last, and use the laserjet for other printing. I’d retire the slow, cranky Laserjet 1320 in that case…

Jes Sorensen December 19, 2011 14:48

The CLX3185 has a whole range of different models, if you go for the CLX3185N I think it won’t have the sheet feeder on top, so it will be 2 inches or so lower than the 3185FW. Unless those models aren’t sold in the US of course.

Michael K Johnson December 19, 2011 14:54

I definitely need an ADF, preferably a duplex ADF. ☺

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