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Old 09-22-2003, 07:08 AM   #1
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Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: slackware 9.0
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Unhappy Linux Printing Slow speed woes

I am relatively new to Linux and have been experimenting with setting up a Linux home network (1 server + a number of Xterms).
The one thing stopping me from moving away from windows now to Linux is printing.
I have used slackware, Mandrake 9 and currently Redhat 9.
The printer is a Canon S400 inkjet.
Redhat automatically detected and set it up with ease.

However, as has happened before, it seems to be so woefully slow that if this is common for inkjet printers, I can't see why anyone would transfer from windows to Linux - even because of the cost.
For example, I decided to print out a small config file - a2ps-site.cfg. It is only one and a half pages of text. It printed out fine but it took 2 &1/2 minutes to print out just the first page!!!
The time was the same whether the printer was set to work through a generic driver or through CUPS (Redhat installs, generic, lprng and cups drivers

That to me is nothing short of ridiculous for just text.
I transferred the file to a windows directory and it took 35 seconds to do both pages in windows!!
Is this what most people's printing experience is like with Linux or are there printers that print at some sort of normal speed compared tio windows?
I have searched around the net but can find very little about slow printing in Linux.
I have heard some rumours about Linux printing being slow but I wonder if there is anyone out there who can tell me what the real story when it come to Linux printing speed.

Any advice is much appreciated.
This really is the one thing stopping me from continuing to explore Linux for the future.
Old 09-22-2003, 12:13 PM   #2
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: 63123
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I use SuSE 8.2Pro and my prints are quick and painless.
Also, dont believe rumors. They are usually people who gave up
and are trying to blame linux for their failure. I dont use red hat, but maybe if you post some specifics, ie) what you did to set up the printer exactly. Also, Does the printer itself print slower, or does it take longer for the printer to START printing?
Old 09-22-2003, 10:31 PM   #3
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Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: slackware 9.0
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Hello jinksys

Thanks for the reply.
What printer are you using?
I wonder if you could tell me how long it takes to print a CUPS test page out on your printer from the time it starts printing.

Re your questions.
When I installed redhat and rebooted the first time, it detected my printer and set it up automatically for me.
It uses the gimp-print driver for the Canon S400 and by default the Generic Unix LPD Print system for printing.
However, you can change that to CUPS easily and it makes no difference to print times.

As far as printing goes, the times I gave were actual printing times from the moment the printing draws down the paper and begins to print!!
There is no discernable difference between windows and redhat in terms of connecting to the printer.

I have since tried to change driver options eg. the dither algorithm from adaptive hybryd to very fast; image type from line art to continous-tone photographs etc - all with only minor differences.
I went back to defaults of the driver and ran a CUPS test page through and an A4 redhat testpage through. They both printed perfectly but it took about 3 & 1/2 minutes to print each one!!
It appears to me from the sound of the printer as it prints that it is doing something (like a dither) at the end of every line and just advancing a single line at a time - if that makes any sense!

I would have thought using Suse or Redhat should make no difference since don't linux distributions just use the same gimp-print drivers for printers? I may be showing my ignorance here.
Old 09-23-2003, 02:47 AM   #4
Registered: Aug 2003
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I've had similar problems a few months ago with my printer, here's what I've done to fix it. The first two things are what I think is wrong - your parallel port is mis-configured, causing it to switch to a slow compatibility mode, and your printer is waiting between head sweeps for the print output to be spoon-fed from your box.

- Check your BIOS config, make sure your parallel port is using the I/O address, IRQ & DMA you think it's using, and make sure the parallel port is in ECP or EPP mode (assuming your printer is on a parallel port.)

- Make sure the kernel knows about your printer's I/O address, IRQ and DMA. This information is usually in /etc/modules.conf, though different distros have different ways of manipulating this file - by hand, using automagic tools like kudzu, etc. You can also specify the parallel port parameters to the kernel in LILO.

- Switch drivers. In my case, there were several drivers available for CUPS that worked with my printer (an HP DeskJet 850c). Using HP's official driver improved both speed and output quality considerably. It also made it easy to switch from speedy draft modes to slower high resolution/color modes. Of course, since you have a different printer, I don't know what drivers are available for it.

- Also power-cycle the printer - sometimes mine gets stuck in some weird state that causes print speeds to slow to a crawl.
Old 09-23-2003, 06:11 AM   #5
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Thanks for the information.

My bios is set correctly.
I/O = 378, IRQ = 7, DMA = 3 and Parallel port is enabled for ECP/EPP.

However my /etc/modules.conf file only has 5 lines, with no reference to the printer (3 alias lines to do with network card, usb controller and sound and 2 other lines to do with sound).

Redhat has a system tool called info center which shows you all the info on interupts, dma etc.
Under interrupts there is no listing for IRQ 7 at all and no listing for DMA 3.
I don't know whether this might fit with what you are saying.

How do I find out what I/O IRQ and DMA the kernel is using if any?
And how do I set one up for the printer (lp0) in modules.conf?

I have been thinking of changing to a HP printer because I know HP support Linux with a dedicated driver. But It would be good If I could get my Canon to print at a reasonable speed first.

Also, I'm not sure I know what you mean by "power cycle" the printer - do you mean off/on or what?

Your help is much appreciated.


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