Adding a printer to Linux Mint, LMDE or Ubuntu: an Encore

Some time ago I blogged about the difficulty of installing printers under Linux Mint 12 and Ubuntu 11.10, a post that to date remains the most popular on this blog.

After messing about with installing printers again, I’d like to expand upon that post.

Recently I felt the need to change the OS on my primary laptop, a black Macbook 2,1.

Until then I had been using Linux Mint 12 and despite coming with the somewhat unpopular Gnome-Shell it had proved quite stable and usable.

This time, instead of moving to the latest regular Linux Mint release (currently Mint 14, Nadia), I decided to install Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), the distribution that I use on my desktop in my office. LMDE, however proved less than ideal on the Macbook so I’ve since replaced it with Ubuntu 12.10.

When it came to installing printers under LMDE and Ubuntu I had hoped that I would not encounter the frustration I blogged about last time. Unfortunately the same problem exists under both distributions, so once again I was forced to utilise the Gnome 2.x printer configuration application, system-config-printer described in my earlier post.

As it turns out, I actually prefer the old Gnome 2.x printer application rather than the newer Gnome 3.x one that ships with Gnome-Shell, Cinnamon and Unity.

Although built upon GTK 2.x, it retains all the features that were present under Gnome 2.x (such as printer properties and the ability to easily delete jobs from the print queue) that for some reason seem to have gone AWOL in the Gnome 3.x printer application.

Unfortunately although the app is installed by default under Mint, LMDE and (I believe) Ubuntu, it does not appear in the menu for any of these DTEs

On the upside, there are at least two ways an application can be added to the menu with relative ease.

Problem: Gnome 2.x Printers Application does not appear in menu for Cinnamon, Gnome-Shell or Unity.

Solution 1: One way to add this application to the menu is to fire up the Alacarte Menu Editor (also called Main Menu) and add an entry for the printer application by hand.

Procedure: Check to see if alacarte and system-config-printer are installed by opening a terminal and typing the following:

$ sudo apt-get install alacarte system-config-printer

Now, Alacarte should be accessible under Accessories in Cinnamon or by searching in Gnome-Shell or Unity.

Failing that, it can be launched from the command line by typing the following command:

$ alacarte

Next, navigate to the sub-menu where you would like to add the new launcher, I use System Tools | Preferences.

AlacarteClick the ‘New Item’ button, add a name, comment and the command ‘system-config-printer’, find a nice icon (something like /usr/share/icons/gnome-colors-common/scalable/devices/printer.svg should do).

Alacarte2

Finally, click OK and you should be good to go.

Solution 2: A second, more elegant, way of making sure you have easy access to your printer settings is to add a .desktop file to your ~/.local/share/applications folder. This file is read by your desktop environment and a menu entry is automatically created for you.

I won’t go into detail on just what .desktop files are and how they are interpreted by your system, as Joe over at the Linux Critic blog has a great post titled the Anatomy of a .desktop File that does just that and I encourage you to go and read his post.

What I will do here is show you how to do what I have done on my system.

Procedure: First, open a new file called system-config-printer.desktop in your favourite text editor. As we know we need to save this file in our ~/.local/share/applications directory, lets go ahead and open it there straight away.

$ gedit ~/.local/share/applications/system-config-printer.desktop

Next copy and paste the following into the file.

#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open

[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Type=Application
Terminal=false
Icon[en_AU]=printer1
Name[en_AU]=Printers (Non-Gnome Shell Config)A
Exec=system-config-printer
Comment[en_AU]=Traditional Gnome Printer Management Application
Name=Printers (Non-Gnome Shell Config)
Comment=Traditional Gnome Printer Management Application
Icon=/usr/share/icons/gnome-colors-common/22x22/devices/printer.png
Categories=Settings

Finally, save the file and exit your text editor.

Which ever of the above solutions you’ve followed you should now have a new Printers menu item under your Preferences sub-menu. If you don’t, go ahead a log out and back in again.

Configuring Synaptics Touchpad on a Macbook Under Linux

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything up but today I’ve got a couple of little touchpad tips.

My current everyday machine is an old Macbook 2,1 that I’ve had for quite a long time, just over 4 years if memory serves me correctly. Now most of the time I really enjoy the Apple hardware in this machine, if not the software. There is, however, the more than occasional time that I need to make the hardware play nice with the software I choose to use. Most of the time it’s not a case of a piece of hardware not working at all but – because it is Apple after all – it working in a way I don’t want, or mostly working but not just not perfectly. The Synaptics touchpad is one of these devices.

Today, after finally getting the shits with accidentally getting somewhat near the touchpad with my palm and again finding myself editing the wrong damn sentence of my PhD thesis, I got my google fu out to find a solution.

And what a solution I found. So good, in fact, that I need do nothing but direct you towards it as all I did was to pretty much take the configuration provided and drop it in the correct place. Job done.

However! Before you all get too carried away with Synaptics goodness lets just really quickly solve a problem I’ve found under Linux Mint once or twice. Namely, how does one configure touchpad options that Gnome Shell/Linux Mint does not reveal in the GUI? Shame this nice little solution will be well and truly superseded by what follows. Oh well.

Problem: In Linux Mint 12 with Gnome Shell, the GUI installed by default provides access to only a few of the settings that the Synaptics touchpad supports.

Solution: Installing the package  gpointing-device-settings installs ‘Pointing Devices‘ settings GUI.

Procedure:
$ sudo aptitude install gpointing-device-settings

Right, now that’s out of the way, if you came here to really configure your Synaptics touchpad you’re going to want to get to many more settings than are revealed through gpointing-device-settings, and for that you’ll need a commandline and synclient. What you really want to do, however, is head over to the useless use of cat blog and read the excellent post on ‘Tuning the Macbook touchpad in Linux’.

Adding a printer to Linux Mint 12 or Ubuntu 11.10 with GnomeShell

After installing Linux Mint 12 the other day, today I set about reinstalling my printer which is usually a process of a few clicks of the mouse. Unfortunately GnomeShell that ships with Mint 12 (and, I believe, Ubuntu 11.10 if Unity is not your bag) ships with a broken printer configuration tool that, believe it or not, doesn’t let you install a printer.

On the upside, there is an easy solution to the problem, read on.

Problem: Mint 12/Ubuntu 11.10 has a bug in the printing configuration tool that inhibits installation of new printers and displays the following error.

“FirewallD is not running. Network printer detection needs services mdns, ipp, ipp-client and samba-client enabled on firewall.”

Problem is, FirewallD is a Fedora specific daemon and no matter how long we wait, it’s not about to start under Mint, Ubuntu or Debian.

Solution: In Ubuntu/Debian/Mint printers can be installed using the traditional printer dialog which can be accessed from the command line with using the following command:

system-config-printer

Solution2: Printers can also be installed by using the CUPS web interface which can be accessed by pointing your browser at http://localhost:631/

Note: The CUPS web interface is available from any distro that has CUPS installed. You will, however, need to know the root password for those distros that utilse a root shell rather than sudo.

Many thanks to the good people (especially altair4) over the Linux Mint forums from where this solution was sourced.