I got a new printer today. Actually, it’s a printer and scanner and copier, All-in-One sort of device. It is the HP DeskJet F2180, found for Â£30.
It’s replacing my ageing and rather incompatible Lexmark Z45. The Z45 was bought a very long time ago, back even before I started using Linux. Back then, compatibility with alternative operating systems wasn’t a priority and ever since I have been dogged with issues printing from my own machine.
The new DeskJet F2180 cites out-of-the-box compatibility with Mac OS X on Intel, where the Z45 only had a very old and buggy PowerPC-based driver for OS X.
Even better is that HP offer a fully open source driver and software set for Linux/Unix in the form of hplip.
Oh, yeah, and supposedly it works on Windows too. 😉
Straight out of the box, you plug it into the Mac and it will print, provided you chose to install HP Printer Drivers with Leopard (and after adding it in Print & Fax in System Preferences). To use the scanner and other features, however, you need to install their software.
A brief moment of frustration ensued when the software included on the disc wasn’t compatible with Leopard properly. It was also old, PPC-only and used the old CFM binary format from OS 9.
So, I downloaded the latest software from the HP site and that installed without issue, was fully compatible with Leopard and also actually used modern Mac OS X technologies! Shame they couldn’t ship that on the disc.
So, Mac compatibility is pretty good.
Even more impressive was its compatibility with Linux. I plugged the printer into my Kubuntu 8.04 system. A notification immediately popped up notifying me it was installing the printer. A few seconds later, and I’m told it’s ready to print.
Expecting at least some minor issue to deal with, I fired up a PDF and clicked Print. And it just prints.
‘Plug and play’ is branded around far too much – and all too often the experience of such devices is far from plug and play. The F2180 and a recent Linux distro, literally is.
You literally plug it in, and start using it. Even scanning works right out of the box provided you have XSane or whatever installed. In this case, Linux has better out-of-the-box capabilities than the Mac!
I am extremely impressed at how far things have come since I last got a new printer. Serious props should go to HP specifically for making Linux support so damned good. So many manufacturers get it wrong. In this case, HP get it very right.