Selecting a Printer Model

Some programs generate quite generic PostScript output. This output should work on any PostScript printer, or by extension, any printer that's driven via Ghostscript. Sometimes, though, you need to take advantage of printer-specific features, or even just features of a class of printers. For instance, your printer might have a duplexer (hardware that enables you to print on two sides of a sheet), or your printer might print in color but you get black-and-white output even from documents that contain color. In such cases, you may need to define the printer's characteristics, and this task is usually accomplished by telling your software that you have a specific brand and model of printer. For instance, you do this in one of the first steps of defining a printer in OpenOffice.org's spadmin program. Typically, you'll see a large list of printer models, and you pick the one that's closest to your printer.

A few programs, including WordPerfect 8 and the GIMP, support printing to non-PostScript printers. For such programs, printer selection is particularly critical; you don't want to pick an inappropriate driver type for your print queue. If you use a non-PostScript printer for which Ghostscript drivers exist, you have a choice in such cases: You can print PostScript and let Ghostscript create printer-specific output; or you can generate printer-specific output directly. The latter option requires creating a special "raw" printer queue that doesn't call Ghostscript. It may or may not generate better output than a traditional Linux printer queue that uses Ghostscript.

If you use Ghostscript and need to select a printer model from a list, the question of which model to select arises. In most cases, Apple LaserWriter drivers work well with Ghostscript-driven printers. I've also had good luck with QMS magicolor drivers with color printers in many applications. In some programs, some drivers may generate output that includes mode-switching code to kick the printer into an appropriate mode. Such code will usually confuse a Linux printer queue, so it's best to use a printer driver that doesn't generate such code, just raw PostScript.

In theory, CUPS can simplify printer configuration by delivering information on printer capabilities to applications. The applications can then present appropriate printer options—for instance, they might display a duplexing option for printers that are so equipped. In practice, though, most applications aren't CUPS-aware, so they don't take advantage of these features. Some programs are beginning to add at least rudimentary CUPS support, though—for instance, note in Figure 7.7 the option for the printing system, which is set to CUPS.

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