back to article Has Apple abandoned CUPS, the Linux's world's widely used open-source printing system? Seems so

The official public repository for CUPS, an Apple open-source project widely used for printing on Linux, is all-but dormant since the lead developer left Apple at the end of 2019. Apple adopted CUPS for Mac OS X in 2002, and hired its author Michael Sweet in 2007, with Cupertino also acquiring the CUPS source code. Sweet …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge

    will drop PPD file support soon

    OK, what do I do with my 4 year old Brother laser then? It's certainly not getting IPP support.

    I guess go back to LPRng then?

    "this relies on the printer manufacturers implementing the protocol correctly"

    Right. And they expect that to actually happen, do they? I have some bitcoin to sell them...

    1. Brian Scott

      Re: will drop PPD file support soon

      Here was me thinking that dropping support for PPDs was Apple's way of telling the open source people to get stuffed. PPDs are very hackable. They are just text configuration files to tie the bits together for any printer.

      The alternative is getting binary blob drivers from printer manufactures that agree with your choice of O/S and processor. Works well enough if you are Apple or Microsoft but stuffs the rest of us up.

      Basing everything on all printers supporting IPP or some variation thereof is of course just a lie told to people who don't understand the industry.

      LPRng? lpd and a couple of filters for me.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: will drop PPD file support soon

        The PDD's dropping decision has nothing to do with Apple. RTM.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The PDD's dropping decision has nothing to do with Apple. RTM.

          Yes, that's what Brian said. RTC.

      2. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: will drop PPD file support soon

        The alternative is getting binary blob drivers from printer manufactures

        Not at all. The manufacturers are perfectly happy to give you a proprietary printer filter, along with a PPD that points to it.

        PPD is just a very complex, poorly documented, configuration file format for printers.

    2. Totally not a Cylon
      Boffin

      Re: will drop PPD file support soon

      I'm in same situation, except it's older....

      Canon A2 format inkjet BJC-5500 I think.

      So, looks like a windows 3 pc resurrected and sneakernet to print posters........

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: will drop PPD file support soon

        Same issue here, HP4100 from 2001 via network. The time taken for my desktop to format & send anything to its PS queues has dropped from many seconds on a flatout CPU originally to a near instant background task. The warm up cycle is the longest delay these days.

        For desktop work, the 'heavy lifting' in print output generation should be performed by the originating host not the print device. A full page 600dpi image takes the same amount of processing now that it did 25 years ago (when desktops had about 1% of current CPU capability) and won't need any more in another 25 years. Having the printer perform the job rendering will also kill off all the cheap inkjets that are little more than a line buffer & print head.

        I've a nagging feeling that this model of moving the print job back onto the printer is driven by 'cloud' operators who don't want to service the required CPU/memory overhead from all their clients.

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: will drop PPD file support soon

          Google Cloud print (inexplicably) dies 31-Dec-2020 so they don’t really care either.

          1. The Empress

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            That's more or less the only reason to use Chrome.

          2. martynhare

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            Google Cloud Print is obsolete because they added the needed printing support to ChromeOS.and most good printer manufacturers added remote printing support that didn’t rely on Google Chrome to work anyway. Some even went as far as offering email-to-spooler gateways.

            It’s all just an unnecessary additional hassle, especially with AirPrint, SSDP/uPnP support built atop IPP. People already have options which “just work” better than Google’s on every OS including ChromeOS.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            Did anybody ever actually use the stupid "cloud" printing crap?

            The entire concept is stupid. If I'm printing something, I'm going to be reasonably near the printer in question. Otherwise, why am I printing it? The only reason I need a physical piece of paper is because I have to sign something and whatever luddite wants me to sign it won't accept a digital signature. Printing is useless if I'm not physically near the printer.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: will drop PPD file support soon

          PS/PCL printers already do their own processing. The problem are both low-end printers, and high-end photo printers which may have many specific settings and may require complex color management processing.

        3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: will drop PPD file support soon

          F'ing HP pulled their support (PCL5 driver) for older Laserjets in Win10 recently. When I originally received my Win10 laptop, I was happy to find that my ancient but highly reliable and fully functional LJ5 was discovered and supported. After an update, no longer. Not only is the driver no longer available on Win10, it's been scrubbed from HP's website. One might almost assume some malicious intent, involving "intelligent expiration" of cartridges through firmware in more modern printers. HP's explanation seems to be that the see no need to support "older" printers, as if age is somehow an indicator of utility.

          Thankfully, some clever netizen had archived the older printer driver package, and has made it available for download. It installed and works just fine, with the one amusing side effect of Win10 now popping up a notice that my toner cartridge needs to be replaced (which it most certainly does not, having had less than 100 pages through it since it was installed).

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            ... I take it the 'universal print driver' that HP had for corporates doesn't do it?

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: will drop PPD file support soon

              Does it just fine, but the PCL5 implementation is borked in some clever way. I should point out that this is a work laptop, corporately managed, which worked just fine with my home LJ5 until it was "updated". Then the printer mysteriously printed only a single line error message about an "unsupported PCL5 command" or something.

              The new driver says it's PCL5, but doesn't work with the LJ5.

              Annoying, to say the least. Took them a while to figure it out at work as well. Bunch of printers just started printing one line error messages for Win10 users. And the smoking gun is the disappearance of the old PCL5 driver from HP's website.

              1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
                Pirate

                Re: will drop PPD file support soon

                The old, working, driver is here (in case others are wondering why their printer stops working after a Win10 update):

                http://www.jeremiahgriffin.com/windows-10-missing-hp-laserjet-driver/

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: will drop PPD file support soon

                  What an annoying website. Nice that there's a workaround driver for people who need it, but thoroughly unpleasant that the guy thought anybody wanted a side of jesus with a printer driver. Ugh.

          2. gotes

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            I'd be mildly surprised if you couldn't find a "compatible" PCL5 model with the universal driver. My 15 year old P2055dn is quite the spring chicken in comparison so I can't confirm if it would work with your old timer, but I tend to assume that old LaserJets should carry on printing forever as long as the hardware is functioning.

            1. Andronnicus Block

              Re: will drop PPD file support soon

              Sometimes in the quietest moments I muse on a variation to the meme that, come the nuclear holocaust, the only survivors will be cockroaches and Laserjet 4 printers - the latter continuing to churn out for eternity page after page with each sheet bearing just one character from the extended ASCII set due to a radiation corrupted printer driver.

          3. oiseau Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            "One might almost assume some malicious intent ..."

            Might?

            Almost?

            Assume?

            Right. 8^*

            Be assured of it.

            There is malicious intent.

            Lots of it.

            O.

          4. rcxb Silver badge

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            HP pulled their support (PCL5 driver) for older Laserjets in Win10 recently

            The whole point of getting a printer that supports a common/standard language like PS, PDF or PCL is that you don't have to give a damn what the manufacturer does. Any old PCL driver, such as those included in Windows base system, or 3rd party drivers (e.g. ghostscript) should work with the printer.

          5. Dazed and Confused

            Re: will drop PPD file support soon

            Mrs Confused fairly modern Laserjet stopped working from her laptop after this week's W10 upgrade. M$'s driver just doesn't make any effort to talk to the printer as far as I can tell. Removing it and re-adding, didn't help at all. Totally F'ing useless, but at least in her case I just needed to go to HP's website and download the latest version. Still could be worse, on one of my PCs an update earlier in the years deleted all the printers and now refuses to let me add any printers at all.

        4. Graham 32

          Re: will drop PPD file support soon

          My impression is the heavy lifting isn't so heavy any more so it can be done by the printer. Printing from mobile devices is increasingly important so moving most of the work off the client makes it easier to support a range of clients.

    3. Glen Turner 666

      Re: will drop PPD file support soon

      CUPS uses PPD files as configuration files. This made sense when it looked like the printers of the world would mostly be PostScript. The configuration information for all other printers could then be munged to fit in a PostScript worldview, and PostScript used PPD files to describe printers.

      But the world didn't end there. Today printers accept PDF and there's a network protocol to inquire about the printer's capabilities.

      So it makes sense for a modern print spooler to have printers which don't work network-connected PDF spoolers like that to at least fit into that worldview. That leads to an API with a set of drivers. For older, simpler printers they can hardcode parameters rather than use IPP.

    4. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: will drop PPD file support soon

      I had to virtualize Windows XP to make a printer work on Windows but so far it works fine on Linux.

      .

      With this? Either I stick to an old version of Cups, probably using Puppy Linux, or say goodbye to this printer on Linux.

    5. xanda
      Mushroom

      Re: will drop PPD file support soon

      "...this relies on the printer manufacturers implementing the protocol correctly..."

      Famous last words indeed.

    6. rnturn

      Re: I guess go back to LPRng then?

      I guess it's a good thing I didn't whack that old LPRng RPM I found on my hard disk a while back.

      > OK, what do I do with my 4 year old Brother laser then?

      The same thing Apple expects you to do with the other products they sell: Junk them and replace them every couple of years.

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: I guess go back to LPRng then?

        > OK, what do I do with my 4 year old Brother laser then?

        The same thing Apple expects you to do with the other products they sell: Junk them and replace them every couple of years.

        Or use Apple, as they're not updating CUPS.

        The support is being removed from the non Apple fork according to the article.

        OS X generally supports harware upto about 7 years (my 2012 and 2013 apples won't get Big Sur, so will probably only have another 3 or 4 years before OSX isn't really usable), Not sure this is much less than the average PC lifecycle?

        iOS is a bit less, maybe 4 years. (Still a lot better than most Android devices).

        Of course, every manufacturer would love you to spend money every year, but I'm not sure it's 'expected'?

  2. Marjolica

    Which model is that?

    I have a Brother DCP-9015CDW, of similar vintage, and it prints using IPP Everywhere fine.

  3. Elledan Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Postscript

    Anyone remember when a Postscript driver was all one needed to print to a (network) printer? Whatever happened to that? Why is there a need for Yet Another Standard?

    On the topic of CUPS and Apple, I always found the bug they had/have in OS X/MacOS with their print spool that caused some PDFs to fail to print correctly quite amusing. In the entire office, certain PDFs would fail to print with any Mac-based system on any of the network printers, merely producing pages upon pages of raw Postscript.

    Whenever this happened, the person in question (including myself, as an unlucky person with a work MacBook) would have to hunt down a colleague with a Windows or Linux laptop and bother them about printing the PDF.

    On the bright side, this meant that I always had a lot of scrap A4 pages to doodle and sketch on :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Postscript

      Postscript errors, the curse of the XEROX. The color machines would add extra fun by printing the document source code in red. One of ours had a 2500 page LCT, and a bad file could wipe out most of a box of copy paper as a result. But, honestly we had way less problems on postscipt/lpd then on the trainwreck that is IPP/Airprint.

      Html has horrific encapsulation problems that ensure that printing reams of gibberish is still a ongoing problem without postscipt. Bonjour both senselessly floods the network constantly, while also being slow and unreliable. And the whole spec seems to have been tacked together by some clods who never worked out of anything but a home office. Instead they build a system that seems to assume that no more than five devices will ever be on the network at the same time, and that the printer you want to reach will always be in the same building, vlan, and broadcast domain.

      and relying on companies like HP, Epson, and Canon to properly implement something based on HTML consistently across all three manufacturers, well lets just say it was _optimistic_ wasn't it? The glass is always hall full, at least as long as they remembered to implement the glass part.

      Also, most of them now have built in wifi that tries to set itself up as an independent wifi network, while only supporting 2.4 ghz, and usually automatically selecting the same channel as your existing wifi.

      But hey, at least it let every manufacturer brand the print options screens on window with code designed for obsolete and insecure version of Internet Exploder right? Because I really need the computers on my local network making insecure http requests to an outside web domain the manufacturer my forget to secure or even renew at any time, don't I?

      Or, for the discriminating admin, put it on a static ip, set it to LPD, and forget about it till the toner runs out. New doesn't mean better if it's not stable.

      Still, for all the grousing, I raise a glass to CUPS. More than once in my life I went back into it's embedded server and pulled the correct static IP settings for a printer that the user had hard reset and dumped the original settings for. Saved the day more than once, and put food on the table to boot. I'll miss it when it's gone.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Postscript

        Colour postscript lasers would take forever to process back in the 90s.. This caught out a person who hung around to be last in the office so he could secretly print out some stuff that he really shouldn’t. He ran out of patience waiting, assumed an error and sent the print job again.

        When the first one came out he collected his flesh-toned picture and left the office. Second print job came out some time later and was sitting on the printer when the early arrivals turned up next day.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Postscript

          Sounds like a "Who, Me?" confession...

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Postscript

            I was one of the investigators.

            1. AVee
              Joke

              Re: Postscript

              Of course. But what was it you were investigating?

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Postscript

      At the time, Postscript was an expensive feature: apart from the licensing fees, it needed significant processing power and memory, which is why it was mostly found on networked printers that already had to incur the cost of a local processor. It remained very much a feature of the Apple world - PC printers were more likely to use PCL 3 (or even ESC/P) - for some considerable time. It was far from a panacea - in the past I've had loads of documents fail to print because the Postscript was too complex for the memory available on the printer or the Postscript levels were incompatible.

      It does seem rather typical of the industry that just at the point at which printing was about to be a boring, solved problem it is in danger of being unsolved.

      1. LazLong

        Re: Postscript

        It remained very much a feature of the Apple world

        And the Unix world. Back when Linux was a pup, PS printers were the printer of choice as well.

        1. rnturn

          Re: Postscript

          The first laser printer we used at home was an LX-29000 from The Printer Works that used a RISC-based TrueImage engine. Worked like a charm for any PostScript files we threw at it. When it died, I had a heck of a time finding something to replace it that didn't either a.) cost twice as much as the LX-29000 or b.) have its PostScript feature implemented in a Windows-only driver (and often both "a" /and/ "b").

        2. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: Postscript

          What's this Linux you speak of.. didn't exist yet. I think my first PostScript printer (at home) was Canon LBP-II that I had hooked up to a DEC running Ultrix 4.3

          1. Never10_use_Puppylinux

            DEC LN03 RS-232 serial line 9600 comm interface Re: Postscript

            openprinting dot org/printer/DEC/DEC-LN03 I believe it was 9600 baud serial 8 bits 1 stop bit, None parity.

            This was a great addition to my home computer system. 286 PC with MSDOS 6.2 ,1 Megabyte of Memory, and GeoWorks Ensemble 2.x?? I could open a GeoDraw program and create an image then print the image with the output being PostScript file sent serially 9600 baud to the COM1: or COM2: port to the Digital Equipment Computer DEC-LN03 printer. This was the cats meow for sure. I bought the printer from a used electronics-recycle store in Downtown Seattle Washington. I saw the GeoWorks Ensemble on the shelf at a Egghead store and bought it for $99 ?? around 1994 or 1995. This was before Windows95 was released. I showed this program to my boss at Datalight with their product ROM-DOS and thought he could sell ROM-DOS 3.0 DOS license to GeoWorks to replace the need for a license for MS-DOS or DR-DOS. This was around the time frame that MS-DOS had some secret code inside so that Windows95 would not run on another competing Disk Operating System (DOS). Yes, Microsoft licensed Windows95 to Computer Manufactures in an exclusive deal and froze out GeoWorks Ensemble from being pre-installed on computer being sold by the manufacture. evil Microsoft.

            So I had a true multitasking Operating System, a GUI desktop that could have a couple programs open at the same time. Create a document that I could print on a postscript printer. Time frame 1992-95 (I can't remember back that far exactly when)

            Google GeoWorks or GeoWorks Ensemble for some fun history reading

    3. Wyrdness

      Re: Postscript

      The OS X PDF printing bug is still there. I ran into it a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately I'd been sent a .doc version of the file too, so printed that from LibreOffice.

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Postscript

      "Anyone remember when a Postscript driver was all one needed to print to a (network) printer? Whatever happened to that?"

      If we are talking about Apple, AirPrint happened. Meaning that printing Just Works™ without having to worry about drivers.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Yes

    Apple's open source contributions are dwindling to nothing as people's time at Apple is spent iOSifying the Mac and turning it into some kind of Frankenstein's monster.

    Not only software but hardware too. When the Mac becomes an iPad with a different keyboard and display option which runs iOS apps, only then will the beancounter-in-chief be happy as he will have synergised the platform and obtained profit-led revenue diversification savings or whatever the hell it is he does. Shame the Mac will be the height of mediocrity too.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Yes

      Yep, when Apple changed from OS X to macOS the writing was on the wall. I have been saying for ages that Apple wants the same apps on the iThingys as on iMacs etc. I was called all kinds of names for that one... Seems that the move to Apple Silicon will make that a reality.

  5. Falmari Silver badge
    Joke

    What to call it

    So is the fork called MUGS?

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: What to call it

      GIRLS

      (2)

    2. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

      Re: What to call it

      Could go upscale and call it GOBLETS.

    3. Erix

      Re: What to call it

      Maybe they'll upgrade it to JUGS

      1. Falmari Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: What to call it

        Damn I never thought of that I must be getting old.

        JUGS nice one :)

        1. Ken Shabby

          Re: What to call it

          GRAIL

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    IPP Everywhere

    No wonder they are cutting down on the CUPS.

  7. bazza Silver badge

    So...

    Windows it is then.

    1. gv
      Joke

      Re: So...

      Whatever your problem, the answer is never Windows...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        My problem is that everything just seems to work in my Linux-based setup so I need some software-related danger and randomosity in my life.

        1. Oh Matron!

          Re: So...

          I think reality has that covered for you.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: So...

        When you have to print to some specific printers, often it is far better solution than Linux....

      3. Alan Bourke

        Re: So...

        Unless the question is 'how can I run all the business software that exists, and games?"

      4. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: So...

        Whatever your problem, the answer is never Windows...

        Of course not, everybody knows (or should know) the answer is 42 ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      Ahh, the well known CWPS, pronounced like Johnathan Ross saying "craps"

  8. Lee D Silver badge

    I print once in a blue moon. Seriously, it's 2020. I flew internationally last year and didn't need a single piece of paper beyond my passport (which was only ever read electronically anyway). I've been in my new place for 3 years and in that time I've printed maybe 5 sheets of paper, personally. In work, I print as little as possible, and it's ALWAYS only for other people, not me. And those other people could universally NOT have something printed and refer to it on an electronic device. We found out that all their "I must have it on paper because it's 'easier' " nonsense was just that... in lockdown... when they couldn't print and had to work online. Nothing of value was lost.

    My printer is from 2000. No joke. Samsung laser with a parallel port, hooked up through an Intel NetPortExpress (based on a 386SL chip!), to a wireless router. Still works, in 2020, from Windows 10 down to literally Windows 95, and from Raspberry Pi or anything else I configure.

    As a programmer, I see printing as vastly overcomplicated already - there's no way that literally everything shouldn't already be a Postscript-compatible printer nowadays. Ask it supported paper sizes and other options (duplexing, etc.). Present user with options. Send those options back to printer with Postscript of desired document. Done.

    But it's printer MANUFACTURERS that are in the way of that. My printer speaks some weird 20-year-old Samsung-only dialect that I *NEED* a custom PPD to talk, it's all binary, and nothing else will work, and I have to keep the drivers around because they're impossible to find nowadays. Printers both older, contemporary and newer than it all support Postscript. So why didn't it? No idea.

    Nowadays with IPP, Cloud print, Wifi print, mobile device print, etc. there's no excuse to not just talk a standardised document language. Unfortunately that means changing all the printers. Or having something that can convert to each format (which is where CUPS/Ghostscript always shined). CUPS without PPDs is just a recipe for disaster until all the printers speak Postscript.

    The options really are continue as we are (too much development nonsense and manufacturer's with binary formats), make all the printer manufacturers change the way they work (never gonna happen, there'll always be one exception), or stop printing.

    Personally, I'd go for the latter.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      I print almost every day, My cousin prints every day. My wife prints every 2 days. Seriously, it's 2020. I'm a lawyer, my cousin is a CPA and my wife a medic. Our jobs require paper trail. You know, good old pieces of material with sign which don't get lost with a simple click of a button and can be read even without electricity.

      KISS, ffs!

    2. Roger Lipscombe

      "Printers both older, contemporary and newer than it all support Postscript. So why didn't it? No idea."

      Because PostScript is a fully-fledged programming language. You can even render the mandelbrot set in it, *on* the printer. That costs money, because you need to put a fairly beefy (for the time) CPU in the printer.

      HP PCL is simpler, but still provides for font rendering (and vector graphics?) on the printer, so you still need something relatively beefy in the printer to do that.

      Manufacturers can save money by doing the rendering on the PC and sending a simpler rasterised image to the printer. Hence the custom printer drivers.

      Plus, I'm assuming that Adobe charged a license fee for supporting PS (and HP for PCL), so there's that, too.

      1. John Riddoch

        Yeah, Mandlebrot in PS is remarkably small for the complexity of the image. I recall sending it to a Laserjet 4 in the late 90s to render, took some time but it printed out OK.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        I remember when the first GDI (Window Print System) machines came out. My dad bought one because it was cheap, but he wanted to print from Linux. It could print text pretty well but it was shit at graphics because the Linux driver obviously didn't support Windows printing… Fortunately I think those printers have disappeared along with GDI.

    3. find users who cut cat tail

      I print often. Proofreading and corrections suck on screen. YMMV.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I see you found a couple of people with no experience of serious proofreading.

    4. Glen Turner 666

      Run your own RIP

      As the owner of an ancient Samsung ML-1510 laser printer: attach a RaspberyPi to it's USB port. A model with 1GB of RAM or more. Now you can configure CUPS to drive that printer directly (for Samsung, via the gdi driver). But CUPS and Avahi can also represent that printer to the outside world as a IPP Everywhere printer (ie, which is sent PDF files, which is discoverable using mDNS). Which means driverless printing and easy printer discovery from laptops, tablets and phones.

      Looking at that another way, it's basically a return to the start of the PostScript era, where the RIP (raster image processor) was a computer separate to the print drum. With the RPi RIP having 1GB of RAM it can print the most complex of PostScript jobs at full printer resolution (for the ML-1510 that hardware is 600 x 600 x 1bit gray but 1GB will also cover 1200 x 1200 x 4bit-gray rasterising and using a RPi to do that was cheaper than a RAM upgrade for my household's other printer, a Samsung SL-M4020ND -- not a recommended purchase).

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Until the current unpleasantness (and hopefully again once the good times roll) I produce weekly hand-outs form my wife's patchwork class. Following online notes on a laptop, even assuming there was a connection in the hall the class was held in, whilst sewing wasn't going to work too well. These days we email out a PDF which the class members will need to print, especially as they'll need to cut out the templates from it.

    6. 9Rune5 Silver badge

      I print once in a blue moon. Seriously, it's 2020.

      I used to be you!

      Then I married and my wife do a lot of online shopping. She frequently prints out return shipping labels.

      Then we got kids, and our family joined a local family oriented sports club, and I burned out my ink jet on some fliers they wanted me to distribute. Hence I invested in a laser. Printed about 700 pages in less than a year.

    7. swm Silver badge

      Musicians need sheet music. (Although I did see a pianist playing from a tablet of some kind.)

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I still like paper boarding passes. Sorry. I just do.

  9. dajames

    Same thing ...

    I was going to say the same as many other commenters here: If CUPS stops supporting PPD files then it will cease to be able to drive many older printer models.

    That can't be a good thing. Landfill doesn't need more printers.

    One of the things I really like about Linux (and Open Source in general) is that it is generally pretty good at supporting older hardware, because it isn't being driven by a hardware manufacturer who wants to obsolete older devices so the punters will have to buy new ones. That support for older hardware is important, and PPD support in CUPS is an important part of it.

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: Same thing ...

      If CUPS stops supporting PPD files then it will cease to be able to drive many older printer models.

      Perhaps, but that doesn't mean that Linux will not be able to use older printers. What CUPS does is to orchestrate programs that tranform input to something that the printer understands. It typically takes several stages.

      I'm pretty sure I could replace CUPS with a simple script, starting with the PS or PDF which Linux applications generate when they "print", through to the binary (386!) Linux drivers that Canon kindly provided last century.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same thing ...

      But if we don't force people to buy NEW printers, how will we be able to make all those printers run SystemD?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Same thing ...

        Never say the devils name out loud, lest he come to visit!

  10. Dinanziame Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The curse of an uncool technology

    Printing is on the way down, so nobody wants to be the one maintaining the required systems. I was delighted when I realized I could print directly from my phone out of the box thanks to Google cloud print. Alas, I've heard it is going away, because Google can't even bother to just... maintain... it.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The curse of an uncool technology

      Install the Mopria app or the specific printing app for your printer.

  11. _LC_ Silver badge
    Alert

    CUPS sucks

    CUPS sucks. Even if you don't think so, there's one thing that should get you thinking:

    You can run practically every Windows software under Linux now, by using Wine. This includes games with the VERY COMPLICATED Direct-X acceleration. Yet, even after decades, the rather simple and very important support for printer drivers has been left out deliberately. You can install the drivers, but then there's a piece of the puzzle missing once it comes to the actual printing. Printer drivers are not hardware drivers (USB, parallel port, network), so that is not the issue. Somebody doesn't want Linux to support Windows printer drivers. Somebody doesn't want Linux to support decent printing to begin with. CUPS is the - scripted - result of that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CUPS sucks

      CUPS might not be perfect, but it works for me with a mix of modern printers and some so old they never got a windows 7 driver. In my house, it even seems to be more reliable than printing from windows 10 machines.

      I've never needed to install WINE, so why should I have to install WINE to be able to print, *and* why should I have to send a couple of printers to landfill because there's no windows driver available from the manufacturer's website, even though the printers are still working and it's still possible to buy ink and toner?

      1. _LC_ Silver badge

        Re: CUPS sucks

        With todays ink-jet printers (which have become cheaper in upkeep than laser printers and some even faster) there are a lot of maintenance tasks that are being handled through the driver. Cleaning the print-head(s), cleaning paper feed rolls, aligning the print-head(s), size of the dots, amount of time it takes the ink to dry, etc. pp.

        CUPS has always been designed as a "fire and forget" system. It gets the basic task done, as long as everything works fine. It won't inform you about important issues, however. When things go wrong - it leaves you stranded.

        If you compare a modern printer driver from Windows with what you can(not) do using CUPS, you'll find out that there are tons of things missing. This is also one reason, why the development of proper Linux printing drivers has been so laggard. You either have to reinvent the wheel by doing your own thing or write an extra stripped down version for CUPS. Both approaches suck.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CUPS sucks

          If you compare a modern printer driver from Windows with what you can(not) do using CUPS, you'll find out that there are tons of things missing

          Good. I don't want to download 150Mb of cruft just to print. I want a driver that hides in the background and doesn't bother me. I don't want something that sits in the system tray and flashes ads for toner at me. I don't want a gaudy "wizard" gizmo that appears every time I try and print something.

          Even if I lose some of the functionality, I'll live with it. I can tell when the toner is running out...because the page gets fainter. Or the printer itself tells me. Given I have to go to the printer anyway to collect the output it seems like it's just a convenience to have the computer tell me the same information.

          1. _LC_ Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: CUPS sucks

            "I can tell when the toner is running out...because the page gets fainter."

            Again, I can tell the "corner" you are coming from. This is NOT the corner, where most people can be found in.

            In case of an ink-pisser, when the ink runs out - the print head DIES and you can throw away your printer (in most cases).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: CUPS sucks

              the print head DIES and you can throw away your printer

              In any event, you don't need software on the PC talking to the printer to tell you that. You can quickly figure it out on your own.

              1. _LC_ Silver badge

                Re: CUPS sucks

                Not when you have them standing around in a big university and you're supposed to administer them.

          2. LDS Silver badge

            "I don't want to download 150Mb of cruft just to print."

            That depends on what printer you've bought. Consumer printers come with silly utilities. Pro ones come with useful ones. For example, my photo printer comes with a utility to build ICC profiles using a color calibration device, media management and accounting.

        2. AJ MacLeod

          Re: CUPS sucks

          None of the stuff you've talked about should be part of the driver anyway - given the embedded processing power available for mere pennies these days, there's no reason why the printer itself shouldn't handle all that maintenance stuff.

          Oh - and while you're at it, make sure the printer has at least some form of readable display to tell you what it's doing, also mere pennies. There are few things more annoying than looking at one of those horrible HP or Canon inkjets flashing random uncaptioned lights because there's some unspecified problem...

          1. _LC_ Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: CUPS sucks

            "... given the embedded processing power available for mere pennies these days, there's no reason why the printer itself shouldn't handle all that maintenance stuff."

            You need to assist it by inserting pages that you have folded before and such. You need to validate the print head alignment, etc. pp.

            You are apparently "not acquainted" with the issues.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: CUPS sucks

              You need to assist it by inserting pages that you have folded before and such. You need to validate the print head alignment, etc. pp.

              And none of those things can be handled by the driver without human intervention. What's your point?

              1. _LC_ Silver badge

                Re: CUPS sucks

                Yes, exactly. The driver notifies you on what to do and you have to assist it. For aligning the print head, for instance, it prints various patterns and you have to choose the smoothest ones and "report them back". This is then stored in the printer to realign the head.

                1. AJ MacLeod

                  Re: CUPS sucks

                  I've set up more printers than I care to remember, hence the part of my request for a screen which provides useful communication. This is NOT something that the driver should be required for, it's simply stupid to insist on displaying instructions on a computer screen (which might well be nowhere near the computer in question.)

            2. Down not across Silver badge

              Re: CUPS sucks

              You need to assist it by inserting pages that you have folded before and such. You need to validate the print head alignment, etc. pp.

              My networked lasers (monochrome and colour) Just WorkTM and need no asissting. Their LCD panel tells if they're low on toner. In fact the LJ4700 display showsthe level of each colour toner so you can predict when its likely to run out.

              And it doesn't matter if I print one page in 3 months or 30000 pages in one month. They work the same. No dried up heads, no "oh I'm out of ink", when the cartridge still has plenty in it.

              Granted, they were made back when HP still made decent printers.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: CUPS sucks

            If we're doing a wishlist, can we have ( after decades of existence ) paper trays that you can put paper in and the printer be able to take one sheet at a time.

            My last (HP ~£30) printer, which was finally thrown against a wall and then in the bin would either refuse to acknowledge that paper was in the slot, or would pull the whole wad through.

            1. _LC_ Silver badge

              Re: CUPS sucks

              This is a well-known HP deficiency. If you search for it, you will find instructions and videos on how to fix it cheaply.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: CUPS sucks

                Bugger. I already chucked it out.

        3. LeahroyNake

          Re: CUPS sucks

          'With todays ink-jet printers (which have become cheaper in upkeep than laser printers and some even faster) there are a lot of maintenance tasks that are being handled through the driver. Cleaning the print-head(s), cleaning paper feed rolls, aligning the print-head(s), size of the dots, amount of time it takes the ink to dry, etc. pp.'

          Ok umm cheaper in upkeep and all this maintenance? You do know cleaning and aligning printheads wastes ink and if you leave most inkjet machines off for more than a week they usually have dried up nozzles / more waste. As for speed.... the pagewide with a huge print head that costs a fortune is very delicate, one or two blocked nozzles and it's awful.

          I think I still stick with my MP C305 laser thanks, it's not super fast but a set of toner costs around £160 and it can print over 10k pages for that. Drums last around £60k as well. You can buy a pre-loved one for £250.

          Yes I hate ink. (HP, Canon, Kip and Oki certified lunatic / large format engineer)

          1. _LC_ Silver badge

            Re: CUPS sucks

            "... Ok umm cheaper in upkeep and all this maintenance? You do know cleaning and aligning printheads wastes ink and if you leave most inkjet machines off for more than a week they usually have dried up nozzles ..."

            Your information is "dated". Things have changed.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: CUPS sucks

          "If you compare a modern printer driver from Windows"

          I'd have to buy and install Windows for that. I think I'll leave it, thanks all the same.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: CUPS sucks

      Please read the comments about HP printers. Many, many perfectly good printers were sent to recycling because makers would not supply a W10 driver. FU Priter makers and FU Microsoft.

      How many other perfectly good devices failed to work on W10? Is there some conspiracy to make you spend money you don't have on new fevices? YES, YES and thrice YES.

      Microsoft does not support my ancient brother printer yet MacOS does without having to find the driver, download it and then install it. On MacOS, it just happens which is the way it should be.

      1. _LC_ Silver badge

        Re: CUPS sucks

        With Wine (and Linux) you can select the Windows version, which it is supposed to be "emulating" for a specific program. This goes back to Win95, unless I'm mistaken.

        There is always the option to set up a VM and run an old version of Windows in there. Since most VMs support "suspend" (that is, instant restart where you left off), this isn't as bad as it sounds. It is still an ugly crutch, though.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: CUPS sucks

        I have a 15 year old Canon IP8500 working with 64bit Windows XP drivers. Took a bit of prodding to get them installed, but it worked in the end.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: CUPS sucks

      "You can run practically every Windows software"

      That's everything that Windows supports which might not be some older hardware. Windows has form for this.

    4. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: CUPS sucks

      Somebody doesn't want Linux to support Windows printer drivers.

      Yes, me.

      I refuse to install any Windows crap in my Linux box.

      Much less a Windows printer driver.

      O.

  12. herman Silver badge

    Paper freedom

    Welcome to the paper free world. Our IT upgraded the printers to a print anywhere system that requires authentication with your ID badge, which never works and resulted in a print nowhere system. The upshot is that I cannot remember when I last printed something - must be more than 3 years ago.

    I also tossed my last home printer away a few days ago. It has been sitting in the store room gathering dust for about 10 years.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PDF printing?

    Maybe there's no work on CUPS because all modern printers just use PDF? What features are missing from CUPS? Which printers do not work?

    1. fajensen Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: PDF printing?

      Mine. Whenever my wife needs to print.

      Due to some wierdness in CUPS on Linux Mint 19, three very similarly-named printer instances show up, of course only one works. The one that does work, is as a rule never the default printer.

      This is a network printer. It seems that Something (systemd?) discovers the printer, it then sits there, ready and working, then when it goes to power save mode or something and drops off the network, some half-assed placeholder is left to "represent it" but this is never used again.

      I had this problem on my own computer and I eventually managed to fix it but it took several hours af trawling through the nether dungeons of CUPS.

      I am sad to say that the *easiest* way to fix it is to do a backup, then a clean reinstall with Linux Mint 20, then restore from the backup! The Windows Way!!

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: PDF printing?

        ... seems that Something (systemd?)

        Ahh ...

        What you have done is found yourself face-to-face with the scourge of the Linux world: systemd.

        Not a Something ...

        Think a maintainer approved windows registry-class virus inside your Linux installation.

        Very unfortunate Mint jumped on to that wagon so I jumped off.

        Move to Linux Devuan and you won't have any more Cups related issues.

        O.

        1. sitta_europea Silver badge

          Re: PDF printing?

          "...Move to Linux Devuan and you won't have any more Cups related issues."

          A couple of years ago I tried Devuan linux. A few weeks dealing with the undisciplined cr@p on the mailing lists was more than enough for me so I went back to Debian and uninstalled systemd.

  14. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    IPP.

    ...relies on the printer manufacturers implementing the protocol correctly.

    Ah, right. Implementing cross-platform print support is on the too hard pile so the cunning approach is to palm the hard bit off onto someone else.

    That always works...

    It's also not driverless. You've just moved the driver to the printer and rebadged it as "firmware"...where it's very unlikely to ever be updated.

    1. jason_derp Bronze badge

      Re: IPP.

      "It's also not driverless. You've just moved the driver to the printer and rebadged it as "firmware"...where it's very unlikely to ever be updated."

      But...but why do I have to lock my printer up behind a L2 switch with port isolation to keep it from dialing into the internet every couple of days?

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: why do I have to lock my printer up behind a L2 switch...?

        Can DHCP be switched off on the device?

        These printer companies that get a fee for every page printed don't like it when you disable their telemetry ;-) Did they seek advice as to whether they could use my customer's LAN/WAN for such purposes?

        And why is it that they always seem to set them up to use colour wherever possible?

        1. jason_derp Bronze badge

          Re: why do I have to lock my printer up behind a L2 switch...?

          Yeah it's an HP Laserjet. Doesn't matter what I do it will always dial out to the internet regardless. Locked it away in it's own little pocket for its own good. A wise man named Wendel said: "Don't put your printers on the internet, people!"

  15. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    An upgrade is coming...

    Beware of "upgrades." Today upgrade means:

    - Someone found a bug or exploit so instead of fixing said bug, the feature that contained the flaw will be removed instead of fixing the bug.

    - Dropping hardware support; your hardware all of a sudden stops working.

    - Add analytics. Being monetized.

    - Add a new ad SDK; ditto.

    - Brick your device - You need to buy their "new" model at twice the price you paid for your now new brick.

    - The most insidious - Your software stops working when it is "upgraded" to a the "new" subscription service. You are now billed monthly

    and are surprised to now see a recurrent charge on your credit card bill.

  16. Tom 7 Silver badge

    The only thing I print these days are recipes and return labels

    And I only print the recipes because the touch screen wasn't deep-fryer proof. Next time I'll use treacle toffee to fix it to the wall,

  17. jason_derp Bronze badge

    Maybe a controversial opinion, but CUPS has always been an enormous nightmare for me anyways. The one thing I hate about any project is the "fiddly" bits, and CUPS is 100% fiddling. The UK had to make it a member of parliament to keep it from being locked away for all the fiddling its involved in. Maybe now it can be turned into something that doesn't require a degree to get it to work (in practice, not in theory, there's a large difference there), or it can be abandoned entirely and something functional can be made?

    On the other hand, it might not matter in the next five years or so once Windows officially reveals that (to the surprise of nobody) they're just going to become another distro of Linux, so there's that.

  18. The Empress

    Airprint works better on Mint anyway

    It's hardly a benefit struggling with CUPS when it will never work right.

  19. rich_a

    Schadenfreude

    I always feel a sense of schadenfreude that my wife has constant trouble printing stuff out from her idevices and MacBook to our old crappy laser printer shared over the network by CUPS. She normally gets fed up after several attempts and then emails her crap to me to print it out. I never have any trouble at all on Windows, Linux or Android.

    "But this software is maitained by Apple!" I keep telling her when she has one of her rants about how shitty the printer is.

    Sadly won't be able to use that excuse any more...

    However thank you cups for continuing to make our decade-old laser printer sing. Cheap third party cartridges and the lack of ink that dries out make it an absolute bargain to print out, and it's always there waiting to splurge out more pages full of crap.

  20. Mr Flibble
    Headmaster

    Plumbing the depths?

    At the Linux Plumber’s conference in August,

    Who is this Linux Plumber?

  21. gargantua

    I run MacOSX 10.13.6 with a HP Laserjet 1300 Printer / Cups+Gutenprintv5.2.13 and it works. Just in case people are on a similar platform and want to try it...

    The Gutenprint MacOSX information page says later versions of Gutenprint have problems with Catalina and beyond. All the best, Rox

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