[nycbug-talk] printer recommendations?

Miles Nordin carton at Ivy.NET
Wed Apr 16 17:16:02 EDT 2008

>>>>> "jr" == Josh Rivel <josh at rivels.org> writes:
>>>>> "cs" == Charles Sprickman <spork at bway.net> writes:

    jr> it doesn't do PostScript, so it's Windows only, I
    jr> can't print to it from my aging G4 PowerBook either (OSX
    jr> 10.4.whatever)

That seems bogus.  I've never had such problems.

In fact almost the reverse is true, because people like to use very
old printers sometimes, and it would be nice to update the PostScript
software independently from the physical printer.  The printer
probably has no software updates at all, or stops getting
software-updated long before it stops functioning.  Also there are
font consistency problems, while now that ghostscript has taken over
Unix, for better or worse everyone has the same disgusting crappy
builtin fonts, which inshallah are also installed into plain X and
XRender X (but probably not.  maybe on mac?).

If I had a Postscript printer I might still run it through
Ghostscript.  The old reasons for Postscript are gone now:

 * printers having bigger memory and faster CPU than the 68k mac
   desktops, so the page rendering job could be handled as a batch job
   on one expensive server-like machine shared by everyone rather than
   ten client-like machines.  It was normal for printers to have eight
   times as much memory and three times as much CPU power as the box
   running pagemaker, and for bigger printers i bet the gap was even

 * slow interconnects between desktops and printer.  fonts and
   ``preambles'' were cached in printer RAM, or even on printer hard
   disks.  This takes language complexity.

 * software licensing.  Adobe was very stingy with postscript and
   almost seemed to use loading it into printers as a copy protection
   strategy, as well as a justification for licensing fonts

all that's in the past, so there's no architectural justification.

The only maybe-nice thing about it that remains is that you used to be
able to ask the printer in a standardized way to describe its
shape---the number of trays and paper sizes and stuff.  But that never
really worked very well for me on the Mac---you still had to hunt for
a PPD and install AFM's for all your fonts---and the Unix printing
subsystem has always been unidirectional, not bidirectional like old
Macs, so on Unix it never worked at all.

I think, aside from no justification, also, no real practical need for
postscript in the printer.  For OS X please have a look at:


There are some ghostscript-based drivers in the Mac OS, but these guys
have more of them.  They do indeed work much better on the low-end HP
printer I have than the awful drivers HP provided, and they don't try
to hard-sell you ink cartridges either.

I am not up-to-date with Unix printing having never dug into it since
LPRng and the LaserJet IIIsi, but it looks to me like it's quite
advanced now and definitely doesn't require (or even want?) Postscript
in the printer.

    cs> I keep a 4Mv and 4MPlus running at work

yeah i just bought a duplexer and an A4 tray for my Laserjet 5 at
home.  but it was probably dumb of me.  work has all newfangled
printers, and they are really fast.

(do those cheap printers everyone suggested really all meet Marc's
duplexing requirement?)

    cs> I don't know if HP has gone to shit since I bought this,

yes, yes.  emphatically yes.  Their expensive ($2 - $3k) mono printers
seem mostly okay to me when I've bumped into them (most people have,
right?), but their cheap printers, and their things which are not
printers, and also their ``multi function'' units including the very
big expensive ones, are lurching spring-spewing pieces of astonishing
garbage with ponderous bug-ridden software that constantly make me
feel like someone is playing a joke on me.  Please buy anything,
anything else, if for no other reason than just for the sense of
adventure.  For example i think there is an okidata printer I saw in a
catalog which can print on strips of 8.5"-wide paper up to six feet
long!  Adventure!  

unless you care more about having a good laugh than about printing,
faxing, or scanning.  then buy HP.
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