HP LaserJet 2840 recommendation from Mike

If anyone is in the market for a multifunction device with a colour laser printing, scanning and fax capabilities, Mike Clements has a good recommendation, the HP LaserJet 2840. This printer is not for the average home user, but if you run a small/medium sized office this printer delivers functionality and features at a very competitive price.

What follows is Mike's thoughts on the device...

I purchased the HP 2840 from Ingram Micro as they offer very competitive pricing within New Zealand. Installation could have been easier, the documentation is a bit average for anything past how to un-pack it and install the software, but once setup is complete it is a fantastic printer. One lesson, remember to leave the SNMP on its default settings (R/W).

This is the only "All in One" device I have ever liked, mainly because of its quality and deep featureset. Here is an overview of what it does:

  • Prints photos
  • Photocopies
  • Scans (flat bed)
  • Fax machine (inbound and outbound)
  • Has a 50 page document feeder for scanning, copying and faxing
  • Built in card reader (SD, CF, XD, MS etc.) that is exposed as a CIFS share on the network (iPhoto even sees it)
  • Internal JetDirect for network connection & USB 2
  • Supports network (IP) based faxing and scanning in colour

Here is a list of things that put it above many competing multi-function devices out there:

  • It is very easy to use.
  • Full control from either a network PC or at the printer (i.e. pick a machine to send your scanned image too).
  • The LCD panel is actually helpful with steps and errors.
  • All the cables you need are provided in the box.
  • Standard consumables supplied with it are a imaging drum (8,000 pages), Black toner (5,000 pages), 3 x colour (4,000 pages each).
  • Consumable use is well measured and reported via web admin page.
  • Errors are tracked and logged (you can email them, send notifications via SNMP to PCs etc).
  • Faxes can forward, stored on your PC or set to auto-print.
  • Configuration is all web based via an easy to use administration interface. The settings can then be backed up to a file for easy restoration.
  • Supports duplex printing via some manual intervention (but not too bad).
  • Print standards support RAW (port 9100) and LPR printing. This makes it easy to setup via CUPS, NDPS, etc. SNMP is used to detect other devices on the network.
  • "Straight through" printing is possible to avoid the bending of photos or transparencies.
  • It has two paper trays; one for photo paper/envenlopes, letter head, etc. and another for your main paper, e.g. A4.
  • Power saving appears to be excellent with no annoying fans.
  • Full software and driver support for Windows & Mac (all features) and a reasonable amount of Linux support (but unsure if this is for all features or just printing).
  • The software suite appears solid, intuitive and unintrusive. This is quite unlike many other HP printer software packages.
  • TWAIN is supported so graphic applications on your PC or Mac that support TWAIN can scan images from the device direct to the application.
  • Installation of the PCL and Postscript printer drivers are separate from the full software package, this makes setting up iPrint/NDPS much easier.
  • Full support for Zeroconf (i.e. Bonjour). As a result it is automatically detected by Zeroconf/Bonjour enabled systems (e.g. OSX, Windows with Bonjour, etc.).

It is not all roses however, there are some downsides:

  • The device is noisy when printing because it rotates toner cartridges. Whilst not painful, it is louder than your average laser printer.
  • Tray 2 (main paper tray) only supports 275 pages. This is not to bad but it would be nice to support a full ream of paper (i.e. 500 pages).
  • The device itself is quite large and will probably not win any beauty contests.

The HP 2840 even does funky things like if you put in a memory card and tell it to print a proof sheet (thumbnails of your photos), you can then mark on the proof sheet which photos to print at what size, and have these photos automatically printed by feeding the proof sheet back into the device.

Honestly this device has really impressed me. It is the printer equivalent to my iPhone/iMac fetish and would be the device I would expect if Apple decided to make one.

Apple purchases CUPS to ward off GPL3 requirements?

Today the lead developer of the CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) project announced that in February 2007 Apple purchased the CUPS source code and took him on as a staff member. CUPS is significant within the *NIX world because it is arguably the most well supported and feature-rich printing system available. Apple has used it within OSX from the outset and personally I feel it is the best implementation of CUPS available thanks to the Aqua interface and the fact that the majority of printers just work without any effort.

There would seem to be no immediate danger of CUPS code being completely closed sourced considering it is currently released under the GPL2 license. What the code purchase suggests is that Apple probably plans on internally re-licensing the code under a closed source license for many, if not all of the platforms that could make use of it, i.e. Mac, AirPort and the iPhone.

Dual licensing such as this is not uncommon by vendors who control the rights to GPL code. It is a good way of benefiting from an open source development model and community whilst still being able to ship a modified version of the code on closed devices or only binary form. License flexibility such as this will become increasingly important as the GPL3 license is adopted as it resolves many of the loopholes vendors used to ship GPL code in what effect were closed devices (Tivoization).

Now that Apple does have a formal stake in CUPS my biggest hope is that they can spare a graphic designer to give the website and the CUPS interface with a much needed aesthetic overhaul and maybe a better logo...

Setting up an Oki C5400 in CUPS

Oki C5400

Officially the Oki C5400 is not supported in CUPS. Fortunately thanks to Ewan McNabb I was able to set one up on a Linux server today. Oki provides a PPD file for download from their site but the HP LaserJet 4 driver works for testing purposes. Printing can be done through CUPS using IPP (ipp://printerip/ipp) and Windows clients can send data to the CUPS/Samba using Adobe's universal postscript printer driver.

Speeding up Samba Printing in Windows XP

Samba Logo

This problem could have been a real pain if I had not stumbled on the solution quickly thanks to Google. A client got in touch with a complaint that the print dialog box in Windows XP Service Pack 2 took a long time to appear when printing to a Samba3/CUPS based printer. Printing the document itself was fine but making any changes to the default print setup caused long pauses in between applying the changes.

It turns out the issue is specific to Windows XP SP2 and the source of the problem lies within the Windows Registry (surprise, surprise). It can be fixed by opening up REGEDIT, browsing to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Printers and removing any references to DevModes, DevModes2 and DevModePerUser. Nobody on the Net seems quite sure what these entries do (apart from slow down Samba printing). On each of the desktops I applied the change to the print dialog box responsiveness improved markedly after a restart. More than likely this issue will be resolved in a future release of Samba but in the meantime it is just something you have to watch out for in XP SP2.