Ack! This site is moving to tomhorsley.com since Comcast's efforts to improve their world's worst customer service ranking apparently include terminating web hosting for their existing customers.

The New Adventures of Old DVD Printing

My HP Photosmart C5580 All-in-One that I used for all my earlier DVD Printing adventures no longer works. It seems to have a fried brain. (The fact that it happened within a couple of weeks of my computer also dying leads me to wonder about EMP from nearby lightning strikes :-)

After poking around on the web for a while, I decided to get an Epson Artisan 725 All-in-One Printer which seems to have everything I could need, and is currently on clearance at the local Staples for about $100.

Among the most valuable feature is network connectivity. This means I can run it from my Windows XP virtual machine and take advantage of the native Windows drivers and printer software (or they can take advantage of me :-).

It also can do virtually everything stand alone from the touch screen console, so perhaps Windows won't need to be involved.

I also see 3rd party linux drivers out there which have reports of making it work on linux.

Aside from 3rd party drivers, there is also epson-inkjet-printer-escpr, an rpm package already available in the fedora repos.

I installed epson-inkjet-printer-escpr, and I can indeed print to normal paper successfully, but the driver doesn't know anything about the duplexer (yes, a $100 printer has a duplexer), so I can't print double sided from linux. It also doesn't know anything about different trays, so I don't know how I'd convince it to try and print to a DVD (but I haven't tried any experiments, mostly because I can't think of what to try).

Next I tried printing a DVD sized image directly from the console. I put it on a thumb drive, plugged it in, and told the printer that my printable DVDs have 118mm diameter printable surface, and a 24mm diameter central gap in that printable surface.

Here is my test image.

And here is the only moderately successful result of that test (Ignore the extra junk from previous test prints). The outer edge of the image is chopped off, and the inner ring is not exactly centered.

Next, I tried the DVD printing software in the Windows XP virtual machine. The user interface is absolutely horrible, and the rendering of the preview image is completely broken, but aside from that, it works well :-). The trick turns out to be this: Click on the Background button to load your previously composed image as the background for the DVD. Do not attempt to use the Image button or fiddle with any settings (other than defining the printable dimensions of the DVD to 118mm and 24mm just as in the console). If you make the mistake of looking at the screen, you will be totally confused. You'll see perhaps the top left 1/4 of your background image, but if you ignore than and just press the Print button, you'll get a beautiful printout like this. My inner and outer rings are virtually perfect at the edge of the printable media.

So, my best option for printing on a DVD at the moment is to use the Windows XP virtual machine.

If I get really bored some day, I may do tcpdumps of the traffic between the virtual machine and the printer and see if I can cobble up a stand alone command line utility to just print a dadgum image on a DVD (but I don't anticipate getting that bored).

Since DVD printing to the HP has been broken since fedora 13, I had to reboot my system to an old fedora 13 partition to print a DVD with the HP. So merely starting a virtual machine doesn't seem like such a big deal :-).

Scanning

Obviously, I used the scanner to scan in the results of the printing, and the scanner also works better either on the console stand alone, or in Windows. On linux, the xsane interface sometimes works, and sometimes gets I/O errors, and I have no idea what triggers either mode of operation. On Windows, the scanner always seems to work.

Memory Card

I also played with the memory card as a way to get the image on the printer, and while I can mount the card over the network interface with a command like this:

sudo mount -t cifs -o rw -o guest -o uid=tom -o gid=users \\\\epson\\memorycard /epson

I can't get the printer to see the new contents of the memory card without taking it out and re-inserting it. Since that is just as inconvenient as moving the card from one device to another, the network access to the card seems hopeless for printing.

On the other hand, for scanning, it works great. You can tell the scanner to save to the memory card, then mount the card and see the newly scanned images, dragging them over to linux for additional processing.

Avasys printer driver

Testing my fedora 16 partition, I figured it couldn't hurt much to completely screw up the printing since I'll be reinstalling from scratch when the final f16 release comes out, so I tried installing redhat-lsb-printing and epson-inkjet-printer-artisan-725-835-series-1.0.0-1lsb3.2 from the avasys site pointed at by epson when you search for linux drivers.

After that, I was able to search for network printers and install the driver from avasys. The printer dialog now shows the different tray and duplex options as well as options for adjusting the position and size of DVD printouts, so this driver seems more complete than the epson-inkjet-printer-escpr driver from the fedora repos. Of course, I haven't actually taken the time to try any of those options yet :-).

Page last modified Sun Sep 18 09:42:14 2011