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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sun, 30 Mar 2014

Printing with the HP LaserJet 1020 works again with Fedora 20, and I don't know why

I was ready to give up. But what's great about Fedora is if something's broken, sometimes waiting is all you need to do.

Your problem will be resolved somewhere upstream. And Fedora gets newness from upstream faster than almost anyone (Arch notwithstanding).

So I was able to print to the HP LaserJet 1020 from Fedora 18 and 19 but not Fedora 20.

It has much, much more to do with the HP LaserJet 1020 printer than it does with any part of the Linux operating system.

The 1020 is a cheap, cheap printer, and part of that cheapness is expressed in a lack of onboard firmware. Unlink "normal" printers, to use the HP LaserJet 1020 you must push firmware from the computer to the printer before each use.

Of course Windows takes care of this. The HPLIP package does it in Linux. Or at least did it. In Fedora 20 I had trouble even getting the printer recognized. CUPS wouldn't see it. Then HPLIP wouldn't either.

A few days ago I plugged the laptop into an HP OfficeJet?? 6500, or something like that, I found around the office. I didn't have to do a thing. Fedora auto-configured the printer, and I was off and proverbially running.

That meant USB printing WAS working (network printing to HP printers has always worked immediately and perfectly).

So this week I was about to install HPLIP directly from HP. Maybe that would make a difference. I had the .run file unpacked.

And then something I could file under "hopeful" happened.

I had plugged the laptop into the HP LaserJet 1020, and for the first time Fedora seemed to autoconfigure it.

Except that when printing to the newly autoconfigured printer, nothing happened. The jobs went through, but no lights flashed, no paper moved.

But having the computer -- and Fedora 20 -- actually acknowledge the HP LaserJet 1020 just might have meant that I was halfway to printing.

I still thought that maybe the HP-packaged HPLIP was the way to go. And I even started running it. From home. Where my Internet connection is less than optimum. Slow.

While the script was busy clearing my Yum cache (for reasons that escaped me then and now), I decided not to wait and stopped the script.

I had pulled Fedora's HPLIP package off the laptop a week before in preparation (though I do think HP's own .run script will remove a distro-packaged HPLIP before installing its own).

But instead of waiting what would probably be a half-hour to an hour for the HP script to clear the Yum cache, download all the repository information for the necessary dependencies and then install itself, I decided to reinstall HPLIP from Fedora's own packages.

After installing Fedora's HPLIP, I ran it (via hplip-gui, if you want to get specific). This time HPLIP found the printer and configured it.

Firmware must have changed hands at some point because a test page and then a real page both printed like they were supposed to.

Wary of the potential for a one-off jinx, I rebooted and tried to print again.

It worked.

So now that I have printing out of Fedora 20 to the troublesome HP LaserJet 1020, I've hit the Linux-distribution trifecta:

  • 3D hardware acceleration works
  • Suspend/resume works (with the Catalyst driver)
  • Printing works to a troublesome firmware-challenged printer

I'll write a "completed the trifecta" post with links to how it all happened as soon as I can.

But just so you know, hitting the trifecta? It's good.