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Brother HL-2140 B&W Laser Printer under Debian 9 only prints blank pages: a fix

Posted 07-04-2017 at 05:28 PM by flshope

I recently installed Debian 9.0 on my primary machine (Pogo2011). This installation is dual boot with Ubuntu 16.04 and each OS booting from a separate hard disk, each with its own Grub installation. The machine had Debian 8.8 previously. I decided to do the Debian 9 installation as a clean install (rather than as an upgrade) because the 8.8 was a bit messed up (let me not go into that here). The Debian 9 install was done from a netinst CD. It appeared to be a textbook-successful install. The post-install configuring went without incident until I tried to install my printer, a Brother HL-2140 B&W Laser Printer.

As soon as I turned on the printer under Debian 9, the printer auto-installed without my having to do anything. However, any print job just resulted in printing endless blank pages. The same thing had happened under Debian 8, but the Settings/Printer application offered a menu of printers and drivers, and I had found a driver other than what the system chose that worked. Under Debian 9, the Settings/Printers application did not offer any such menus or choices. The following steps are what I used to get this printer working.

While working with Debian 8, I had figured out that a driver included in foomatic worked with the HL-2140. However, foomatic wasn't installed with my Debian 9. So I installed it with Synaptic. [N.b.: You want the item labeled "foomatic-db OpenPrinting printer support - database" (but not the one labeled "foomatic-db-compressed-ppds OpenPrinting printer support - Compressed PPDs derived from the database")].

To be sure the HL-2140 was still in the foomatic database, I ran the terminal command:

foomatic-ppdfile -A|less
which generated a list of every printer in the database, including

Brother HL-2140 Id='Brother-HL-2140' Driver='hpijs-pcl5e' CompatibleDrivers='Postscript hl1250 ljet4 lj5gray pxlmono hpijs-pcl5e lj4dith '
This is the same driver that Debian 8 provided. Printer drivers have an extension of .ppd, and the drivers for the installed printers are stored at

with root ownership only. The Debian 9 default driver file name for the HL-2140 is HL-2140-series.ppd. The foomatic driver files are not stored in the foomatic database as .ppd files. Rather, you must run a command (foomatic-ppdfile) to generate the .ppd file. Since I had never gone though this before, I decided to generate the driver file in my home directory (~/Documents) rather than /etc/cups/ppd/. The specific command I ran was

foomatic-ppdfile -p Brother-HL-2140 > HL-2140-series.ppd
I used the same file name (HL-2140-series.ppd) as the Settings/Printers installer file name, intending to overwrite it with the foomatic driver file and hoping the OS would not object to the change. After generating the new driver, I noted the file length was different from that of the default driver (indicating that I did indeed generate a different driver file). Working in my ~/documents directory, I changed ownership of the new driver file with the command

su root
chown root:root HL-2140-series.ppd
I then copied the new driver file as follows:

su root
cp HL-2140-series.ppd /etc/cups/ppd/.
Next, I started the Settings/Printers installer and printed a test page. This time the page printed correctly (not endless blank pages). I also printed a document from Libre Office Writer, which printed correctly. Then, I rebooted Debian and tested the printer again to be sure the reboot didn't reset the driver.
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  1. Old Comment
    Addendum: 06/19/18

    After recently installing Debian 9 with Xfce on my 2003 32-bit machine (I call it Pogo2003 -- see description below), I used the above procedure to get my Brother HL-2140 black and white laser printer working. The same identical procedure worked here as with Debian 9 on my 2011 machine. Just FYI.

    Pogo Linux Altura (purchased 2003)
    CPU: AMD Athlon(TM) XP 2400+ 2GHz (32 bit)
    RAM: 1GiB
    Current OS: Debian 9.4
    Desktop Environment: Xfce4
    Disks: 2 120 GB Maxtor IDE
    My hostname: pogo2003
    Printer: Brother HL-2140
    Posted 06-19-2018 at 07:05 PM by flshope flshope is offline


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