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Lexmark Supposedly Supports Linux

I wanted to get a Lexmark Prestige Pro805 printer to work under Linux, due to bad drivers from Lexmark and no driver support in Debian/Unstable I’ve given up and advised the people who purchased it to return it for a refund. I recommend that Lexmark not be considered when purchasing a printer for use with Linux.

The box advertises the URL http://www.lexmark.com.au/prestige for downloading Linux drivers. The driver file is named lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386_ts.deb.sh.tar.gz which makes anyone expect a tar.gz archive of a shell archive of a Debian package. But that’s not what it is at all, in Lexmark-land deb is not the file name extension for a Debian package, but just a random bit of text to identify a file that is somewhat related to Debian, the fact that the “Linux driver for Ubuntu/Debian Package Manager based distros” doesn’t use the string ubu in it’s name is something that would lead a typical Linux user to believe that deb means a Debian package. Similarly the file named lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386_ts.rpm.sh.tar.gz and described as “Linux driver for RedHat Package Manager based distros” is not actually an RPM package or inherently for RPM based distros, it’s just a shar archive that is built and tested for some unspecified version of some Red Hat distribution (RHEL? Fedora? SUSE?).

Now when I execute lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386_ts.deb.sh on an AMD64 version of Linux it opens an X11 window, prompts for the root password, and then fails because an i386 Debian package that it somehow built couldn’t be installed. When I ran the shar archive with the options “--noexec --keep” and examined the files it contained it has a few AMD64 executables – so obviously the software they used to create the installer has some support for AMD64 but they just decided not to use it. It seems that the only way to buy an i386 system nowadays is to buy an embedded system or a NetBook, all Desktops, laptops, and servers run the AMD64 architecture, as most people do a Linux install that matches the full capabilities of their system (IE running AMD64 software on an AMD64 CPU) that means most systems sold in the last few years can’t be used with a new Lexmark printer without an unreasonable amount of work. Sure it is possible to setup a chroot environment or KVM virtual machine for running printer drivers, but I don’t really want to do that – and a significant portion of the potential customers don’t have the skill needed to do so.

While technically their claims about having Linux driver support are correct (they support some distributions of Linux on i386), the majority of new systems won’t work with it unless someone who has good skills spends some time and effort on it. Probably the majority of Linux Desktop and server systems that are in use today use AMD64 and are run by people who don’t know how to setup a chroot so therefore for most real installations it’s not supported. Even for i386 systems installation is unlikely to be trouble-free, when they support RPM based distributions (without identifying which of the many wildly different RPM systems they tested on) and Debian (without mentioning a version number) it seems that the incidence of people running a distribution that is supported is going to be quite low.

Lexmark uses the Linux logo to claim compatibility

Based on this experience I am not inclined to trust Lexmark in future, I will not trust any future claims of Linux support that they may make. The above picture of the Lexmark box shows Tux (the Linux logo), it doesn’t mean support out of the box as you would hope, but instead means support for old systems with some effort.

18 comments to Lexmark Supposedly Supports Linux

  • Hi,

    I’m using a Lexmark E120 and a Lexmark C530 with generic postscript drivers and they are working perfectly. Both printers are listet on
    http://www.openprinting.org/printers/manufacturer/Lexmark
    However I did not see you printer on this list. However it may be possible to use a generic driver for your printer too.

  • Hrm… I still don’t get why a printer needs a
    driver anyway, these days. Normally you’d send
    a postscript file over parallel or serial port,
    lpd or port 9100 to it, and it should print it.
    But I guess *those* days are long gone, in
    favour of binary crap needing “drivers”, like
    in the Windows world…
    At least, my printer is still programmable;
    while it cannot do Postscript yet it can do
    ESC/P, and so can I ☺ but I always wanted to
    buy myself a colour laserprinter some day,
    with proper Unix support (i.e. Postscript).
    Sad…

  • Michael Banck

    The .sh actually has a .deb inside, however it only gets extracted intermittedly out of one of the data files inside the .sh.

    So if you run the .sh installer and either suspend it or look at the right time while it expects user input, there will be a new directory under /tmp with a random file name which also has the i386 .deb in it somewhere.

    You can install that on amd64 with –force-architecture if you have ia32-libs installed and possible extract a couple more i386 libraries (I think libcupsimage or so was needed) to /lib32. After the dpkg -i installation, the driver will work, at least it did with a Lexmark Prevail pro705 where I did the above procedure about a week ago.

    Just extracting the PPD files and cups filter binaries out of the above mentioned .deb did not work, the (horribly) postinst script does lots of opaque magic and I did not manage to get it working.

  • etbe

    mirabilos: Well I guess one minor complication is that it’s a “multi-function printer” so we want to support scanning too. But I agree that things are unreasonably difficult, they should support a standard USB printer interface with PostScript as the language.

    Michael: Thanks for that information. I’m not going to proceed with the Lexmark at this time as it’s too much pain, but I won’t rule out the possibility of buying it again for another try at some later date.

  • Andres Salomon

    I had an older Lexmark which also claimed to be supported by Linux; except I spent a few hours flailing at the binary drivers, and could only get them partially working (w/ really poor quality printing). Avoid Lexmark if you’re using Linux. I replaced it with an HP multifunction printer, and that has been working great ever since.

  • Tim

    HP printers have had excellent Linux support for years.

  • etbe

    Allen: I haven’t and I won’t. I will probably do what Andres and Tim suggest and buy a HP product instead. HP products tend to work well without the need for such things.

  • Aren’t there movements afoot to replace PS with PDF as a native printer language? Either way, I agree, you should be able to just fire the doc at the printer and have it print.

  • Simple Issue

    Well, simple issue has simple answer: email the CTO. Problem solved.

  • etbe

    Emailing an executive at a large company probably isn’t likely to get a result. They have people reading their email for them and it get’s put in the dissatisfied customer pile by someone who can’t tell the difference between a random whinge and a clear and factual statement of a product deficiency.

    Anyway I believe that Lexmark employees are aware of this post and will do whatever seems appropriate to them.

  • Dutch Kuykendall

    The lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386_ts.deb.sh.tar.gz driver worked for me on a Lexmark Pro805 printer on all Ubuntu Linux derivatives until 9.10 came along. At which point I get the following error “Incorrect password given, Please retype”.

    Since no one wants to be stuck on an outdated destro, the Lexmark Prestige Pro805 is still a show stoper.

  • Brad

    I have the pro705, and am running 10.04 64 bit ubuntu. I spoke with a level 2 tech at lexmark and he emailed me these directions which make it work via usb. They stated they are “working” on the 64 bit drivers, but are having issues with connecting via wifi.

    1. Get the latest driver. Here’s the link – http://www.downloaddelivery.com/downloads/cpd/lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386.deb.sh.tar.gz
    2. Untar driver. “tar -zxvf lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386.deb.sh.tar.gz”
    3. run in terminal “./lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386.deb.sh –noexec –target lexmark”
    4. a “lexmark” (from –target) directory was created, “cd lexmark”
    5. run in terminal “tar xvf instarchive_all –lzma”
    6. run in terminal “sudo dpkg -i –force-all lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386.deb”

    I called their “Pro Tech Support”, and emailed accusing them of false advertising. They specify the versions of Windows that it works with, therefore they are obligated to meet the same standard with Linux.

  • Michael Banck

    Brad,

    > I have the pro705, and am running 10.04 64 bit ubuntu. I spoke with a level 2 tech at lexmark and he emailed me these directions which make it work via usb.

    Can you pass me the contact details of that Lexmark tech, I would like to get in touch with them. My address is mbanck@debian.org, thanks!

    Michael

  • Paul

    I followed Brad’s advice, above, with my Pro705 under Lucid, but still kept being asked for a password it wouldn’t accept. However running their script (Brad’s step 3) as sudo, ie

    sudo ./lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386.deb.sh –noexec –target lexmark

    it worked fine, including the ethernet connection. Good bit of kit too.

  • I followed the installation instructions from
    lexmark-inkjet-09-driver-1.5-1.i386_ts.rpm.sh.tar.gz
    for my openSuSE 10.3 64bit

    it seemed not to have worked as the URI entered into /etc/cups/printers.conf
    by the installer was file:/dev/null which is nonsense of course.
    I tried installing it on my laptop (openSuSE 11.1, 32bit) and the printer
    worked fine (if you do not consider that the system went extreme busy
    for 10 seconds or when printing a only text mail from thunderbird).

    Comparing both printers.conf, I found that the URI has to be
    DeviceURI lxnet://00200077E262
    mac-adress of the printer is 00:20:00:77:E2:62

    The one thing left to do was to create the missing link for cups
    ln -s /usr/local/lexmark/lxk09/bin/lxnet /usr/lib64/cups/backend/lxnet
    that the installer forgot.

  • Scott

    Hi – managed to get this working on my Linux Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. I just installed Linux recently so still very much a novice (pretty comfortable in Windows though). After quite a lot of struggle, I found a link that helped:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1477154

    In my case, I only had to go to step 2 and it worked for me. I didn’t have to do all those other steps much to my relief.

    Hope that helps…

  • mozbius

    Wow Scott! Thank you! I’ve started to follow your instruction for my Lexmark Prestige Pro805 and it went smooth like butter on my i86 system!

    * Go To www.lexmark.com
    * Find Your Printer
    * Click On Drivers and Downloads
    * Click on the Unix tab
    * Download “Linux driver for Ubuntu/Debian Package Manager based distros. lexmark_inkjet_09_driver_1.0_1.i386_ts.deb.sh.tar.gz”
    * Opened a file browser with the file in view
    * Right Click the file and click “Extract here”
    * Opened a terminal where the file got extracted
    * Typed in terminal:
    sudo ./lexmark-08z-series-driver-1.0-1.i386.deb.sh
    * Entered my password in the terminal window that shown up
    * Waited a little bit.
    * Installation GUI (kind of like in Windows) shown up
    * From there everything was just like under Windows until my wifi printer was all setup no usb cable required.