First Impression - Samsung ML-2571N B/W Laser Printer

Published: 2006-10-18 20:32 UTC. Tags: software hardware review

Me and my girlfriend ordered a printer a few weeks ago. Today, it finally arrived.

This is a Black&White Laser printer with network capabilities.

Network Capability

Why network capabilities? Because it's reliable! I'm running a Linux workstation at home, my girlfriend has a Windows XP box. I don't trust her machine being up, serving the printer when I need it. She doesn't trust my machine being up, serving the printer when she needs it. She's probably right :-). This poor machine is a bit experimental.

So, to avoid any computer-related trouble, we bought a printer with network connectivuty that could easily be hooked up in our little apartment-network. The printer speaks 100Mbit/s ethernet and was configured to get an IP via DHCP at start. Excellent!

Size and Weight

It's a nice little machine. It's very lightweight, so there's no trouble keeping it on a shelf above the screen. It's also quite small, so there were no trouble finding a place to put it.

Speed

Very fast! It prints in no time!

Quality

Oh.. well.. it's a black&white printer we'll use for documents, and as far as I can tell, it prints good enough for that.

Linux Drivers

This is where the, ehm, "fun" begins. I do have quite a lot of experience in printing on Linux, especially with CUPS, so I do have some opinions on how Linux printers should behave and how to install them.

When it comes to this printer and its Linux drivers, I'm both impressed and quite unimpressed.

I'm impressed, because there is official Linux support, and not only for Red Hat Linux 7.3 or some other ancient distribution, but for all kinds of distributions.

I'm not impressed, because they have missed quite a few things, and the installation procedure is far from obvious and also full of bugs.

When you insert the CD which claims to contain Linux drivers, you are at first impressed that they ship a autorun file for Linux. Then you are less than impressed by the fact that they have missed the fact that many modern Linux distributions mount CD's noexec. This of course makes the installation fail ungracefully.

Fortunately, I'm experienced enough to understand this, so after remounting with exec, I started the installation program Linux/install.sh.

This fires up a QT-based installation program that first tries to locate a locally connected printer. In my case, it didn't find any such printer since the printer is connected via the network and not via USB or parallell port. It then gives the opportunity to search for network printers. Being curious, I fired up a ethereal to see how it did that, and found out that it broadcasted for printers using, I think, SLP (Service Location Protocol). Clever use of standard protocols! It did find the print after a short while. Impressive!

But after this, I'm unimpressed again. The installation program starts installing stuff. Yeah, that's right. Stuff. It doesn't tell much about what it's installing, and the manual ain't clear on that either. Too much magic.

When the installation program ends, I have two processes running as root doing.. I don't know! The printer has not been added in CUPS. If I try to print from my web browser, I get a well-designed but malfunctioning interface featuring a picture with the printer. I don't know how it got there, and it doesn't work - it tells me the printer is not started.

Oh, my. As usual, hardware manufacturers try to make everything so seamless and smooth that the result is that nothing works.

Here's my recepy on how printer manufacturers should support printers:

  1. Provide packages for the major Linux distributions with the PPD's and any CUPS filters needed.
  2. Provide a installation program that either installs the packages, if there is a package for this distribution, or tell the user a number of specified files will now be installed at a bunch of specified locations.
  3. Let the installation program locate and install the printer in CUPS.
  4. That's all, folks.

I uninstalled the whole thing (there was, and I'm happy and impressed by this, an uninstall.sh shipped on the CD), located the PPD on the CD and copied it into CUPS' ppd directory, then restarted CUPS and added the printer via the CUPS web interface. Works as a charm.

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Comment by Toni

Created Tue, 21 Nov 2006 18:03:03 +0000

Got mine yesterday, and I used cups just because my Slackware worksatation have it instead of apsfilter (?), and I needed to print in a hurry. It was just run the rc.cups script, connect to the cups web interface, add printer, type raw, name samsung. Then print a test page, and it just worked.

Then I did lpr -P samsung file.to.print et voila, I didn't notice any linux CD, and didn't install any PPD. PS advantadges, I supose.

Comment by Carla

Created Mon, 27 Nov 2006 20:29:10 +0000

I've been curious about these, thanks for printing the review. You sure can't count on CNET or any big computer rag to do honest, useful reviews.

One thing about Samsung- some of their B&W laser printers ship with a "starter" toner cartridge, which is one-third the capacity of a standard cartridge. Is this penny-pinching or what? Sheesh. Fortunately they actually tell you on their Website.
http://www.samsung.com/Products/PrinterandMultifunction/BlackWhiteLase

Oopsie, looks like you got Startered.

Comment by riffraff

Created Thu, 30 Nov 2006 01:56:49 +0000

Installed the ML-2571N tonight as a network printer. KDE's Control Center found the IP address, set it to port 9100, asked for a driver...I pointed it to the Samsung CD's PPD file, then KDE built its database. Hit "Test" and everything was fine. So far, everything's gravy. :-)

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