Linux, politics, and other interesting things
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.
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.Tags: Most Popular