I recently purchased a new Epson Wireless Multi-function printer to replace my ageing Canon IP4200 printer. One of my primary criteria for the printer was that it needed to work with Linux, as we rarely use Windows at home.
The 3 major manufacturers Canon, Epson and HP all provide some kind of Linux driver for their printers, but seam to provide it as a also have offering. The Canon printer I had previously included drivers, but these were not as good as the Windows drivers in term of features and quality.
The Epson drivers are supplied by their partner Avasys (Avasys Linux printer drivers for Epson All-in-Ones – Multifunction Inkjet Printers.
This particular model is at the top end of the home user costing up to about £200 depending upon where purchased. For this it includes a scanner and printer (with copier function). You’d expect something special for that price and I’m pleased to say it doesn’t disappoint. The main thing about this printer is photo quality printing which is excellent. Many printers can create good quality prints, but this one seams to do particularly well. As well as using the standard Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) inks this adds Light Cyan and Light Magenta.
Another feature that I wanted was the ability to print to CDs, which only a smaller number of printers supports; one annoying feature of my previous printer was that whilst it had CD printing this was not included in the Linux printer drivers. On the Epson not only does this work with Linux, but can even be used from the memory card slots or from a scan (eg. of another CD).
The printer is wireless. Although the instructions provided in the box say that the wireless needs to be configured through windows, the printer can be added to the network through the menu on the printer. It supports manually entries as well as the easy push button install WiFi Protected Setup (WPS). Unfortunately it does not have bluetooth despite showing the options (greyed out) on the panel. Bluetooth printing can be useful for printing from mobile phones, although it’s not something I would expect to use much anyway.
The printer supports SD/xD/MS/MS Pro and Compact Flash cards as well as PictBridge (direct camera connection to USB port). There is a colour LCD screen that can be used to preview these before choosing which to print.
The printer includes as paper tray which can take A4 paper and small photo size paper at the same time. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a manual paper feed option which means swapping all the standard paper for photo when you want to print A4 photos, but that’s not too much of a hindrance.
The instructions seam to suggest a maximum paper size of 90gsm, but I think that is just because that is the standard grade for Epson paper. I printed to 160gsm card without any problems.
Scanning is good quality and works over the network to Windows or Linux (using the supplied software) or direct to SD card etc.
There are also some novelty features, such as being able to create lined paper, or create colouring pictures from a photo. The later is good fun for children to have colouring pictures of themselves etc.
As far as the printer goes I can’t find much to fault it. Yes it’s expensive, but you get a great quality printer for the money. It works just as well with Linux as it does with Windows and the quality is excellent. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good quality Multi-function printer.
Installing the printer drivers and scanning software under Ubuntu Linux
Drivers for Linux are not included “in the box”, but they can be downloaded and installed from Internet. The Epson website doesn’t list them at first, but in the FAQ for printers and linux drivers it refers to the Avasys website. The following instructions are for Ubuntu Linux, but install files are also included for RPM and as source code.
Installing the printer driver
Download driver the driver from The Avasys printer driver page
** Update 2013 **
The printer driver is now available from Epson driver download page
Choose the Debian version.
Install the downloaded LSB file (from Synaptic) – on my system I had to use synaptic to allow install of unauthenticated packages
Install the downloaded Epson printer driver using Ubuntu Software Centre
Download the Image Scan! software from: Avasys Linux drivers / software for Epson All-in-Ones – Multifunction Inkjet Printers.
Scroll down the web page to find the the Image Scan! for Linux software
Install the three packages:
edit the file /etc/sane.d/epkowa.conf
and add the following line in the network section:
(replacing the IP address with the address assigned to the printer)
Run the software from the Ubuntu menu under
Graphics -> Image Scan! for Linux
The PIPs software is not necessary, but can be installed to provide monitoring of the printer.
I was unable to get the PIPs software to install under the 64bit version, although it could be installed on a 32bit Ubuntu distribution.