The Linux Printer Driver Online Petition

I’ve had it! I’ve been locked in for the last time. No longer will I sit idle and allow choices to be made FOR me. I make the choices around here. When I’m in the market for a printer, I don’t want to have to think about which one to get. I want to be able to just go out, browse, pick one, and bring it home. Everything should just work right out of the box right? Wrong! You have to check the Printer Database just to list out printers that you’re allowed to buy…that is, if you want them to work with Linux. I say this is a crock. I say it is a sham. There are more than one operating system on the market, and it is high time that companies…large companies…start to understand this.

You’ve heard it all before I’m sure. My thoughts on this are no where near unique. However, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this. Having been involved with a couple of new user friendly distros of Linux lately, I can assure you that printing is one of the main disqualifiers of Linux converts. It is VERY frustrating for a new user to not get that $200 CANON computer they just bought up and running with Linux when there is no driver for it. In a sense, Canon is dictating what operating system that person must run! To me, this isn’t supportive of capitalism…it locks you into a certain OS. When was the last time you were locked into thinking a certain way and acting a certain way and having choices made for you? The only thing that comes to mind is McCarthism of the 1950’s…and I don’t think that’s a hugely positive stain from America’s sordid past.

How can we remedy this? Perhaps we’re barking up the wrong tree writing emails and letters to the companies. Most of the letters I’ve written fall on deaf ears. The thing that these companies forget is that WE are the consumers…therefore, WE dictate the rise and fall of the market. WE push a product or pull it. Sure, they advertise like hell and try to sway us this way or that…but the ultimate choice lies with US…you and I. The ball is in our court.

Therefore, instead of just writing these emails and letters, perhaps a different type of action can be taken. An online petition.

Let’s see what we can do to shake these manufacturers up. Let’s start a petition where we can each vote and generically address ALL manufacturers and let them know that we won’t take it anymore! Let’s collect as many signatures as we can and show them that Linux is no longer a small player in the market. Let’s force these guys into accepting their responsibility to provide us with a product that works REGARDLESS OF WHAT OS WE CHOOSE. Is anyone with me? If so, drop by the online petition I started today and add your name to the listing. Together, we can make a difference (corny I know…but true). Strength is in numbers. Let’s show them how strong we are.

After signing this petition, spread the word to everyone you know. Emails, links to this article, links to the petition, call people on the phone, snail mail, telegram, morse code, and smoke signal to everyone and anyone you can think of to get support for this. Let’s kick these manufacturers in the proverbial crotch. When the petition hits a mark of approximately 5,000 signatures…I’d say it would be a good time to start sending emails and letters to our printer manufacturers and let them know about our little petition. Perhaps you’re thinking that companies won’t repsond to these things…but rest assured, CNN has responded to these petitions before with apologies for their faulty action…so a printer manufacturer isn’t a far stretch. Spread the word! Let’s make this count!

Visit the online petition and cast your vote!

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

23 thoughts on “The Linux Printer Driver Online Petition”

  1. I’m discouraged to find that the best printers listed on still have issues with inkjets and streaking. It’s absurd. I can’t buy a printer because even if there are drivers I have no way of knowing that they’ll actually work since most people seem to claim otherwise.

  2. I’m on it partner…posting in pclos as we speak…btw, check fatalflame


  3. Even armed with a tank in addition to the petition, you are not likely to get anyone interested this way. Sorry… it’s been tried and tried and tried and tried… etc…. before.

    IMHO the problem is that the consumer WILL NOT purchase OS vendor neutral printers (which do exist)… so instead they come up with petitions etc. because they supported the enemy first and now they feel guilty or are upset about the poor Linux support.

    If you want to send a message, send it with your wallet. Don’t buy proprietary WinPrint 3000…. buy a PostScript capable device instead.

    With that said, I have owned several Epson Ink Jets that work fine with the gimp-print stuff. But obviously, YMMV when dealing with the enemy.

  4. ahhh yes…but we try. And the online petition hasn’t been tried for Linux Printing yet. We’re the first.

  5. I know you’re annoyed but unless you reword the petition all the votes will be wasted.
    A rant attached to the petition attacking the printer manufacturers will not help anyone IMHO.
    I’ve signed it but please change it to be a more reasoned and effective request for support.

  6. well,
    I wanted to sign it but the way your letter is written looks like a rant.
    No company will pay attention to a bunch of ranting kids (no, we’re not kids but it sure sounds like it).
    Sorry, but I don’t think most people will sign it and the companies won’t care about it if done like this.

  7. A heartening news, though: Some newcomers to the printer market actually have a clue and provide Linux drivers. The Samsung 1450 laser printer ($200 or so) works like a charm under Linux and its toner is much cheaper per page than the inkjet cartridges I used to have to buy every other week.

    So if this initiative does not take care of the problem, then maybe good old competition would.

    Join the movement, buy only printers that are marked “Linux compatible” on the box, like the Samsung.

  8. Agreed … needs less inflamed ranting and more diplomacy. Maybe find those stats that show linux usage has surpassed Mac usage and note that ‘if market dictates what we support’, then they’d better pick up Linux and drop Mac, because Linux has a bigger market share. Wish I could remember where I saw the numbers putting Linux at #2 above Mac …

  9. Wish you all would have been there when I started the petition…I can’t reword it now :/

    I would have been open to criticism…I apologize if I’ve hurt the attempt in any way. My only thought was to help.

  10. Vanity and chasing after wind.

    But if it makes you feel good…

    I’ll guarantee you that if you get 10 million people to sign this.. it STILL won’t do ANYTHING to change the current situation. In fact, if you get 100 million people, it won’t change anything.

    This isn’t about diplomacy… or about signatures, it’s about people NOT buying because of lack of Linux support.. and frankly, people are buying anyhow. So there is NO motivation for the vendor.. only COST.

    A better approach is to talk to vendors about the advantages of open source. That way others can take their driver to Linux at no cost to them.

    With time.. as with Epson and a few others… their own employees will make skunk works drivers for Linux. But that doesn’t make them open source, so support for them tends to come and go (the Espon drivers are a good example of this).

  11. provides vendor report cards:

    I agree with cjcox. The best way to deal with this is to buy products that do what you want. It’s like training an animal. First, you find an example of the desired behavior; then you praise them endlessly for it. The carrot works better than the stick.

    In this case, there are manufacturers who produce quality printers and explicitly support Linux (HP) or at least don’t discriminate against it (Epson, Lexmark). Thank them and buy their products and recommend them to all your friends and tell them why.

    From the perspective of a person who is converting to Linux, who bought their printer before they knew that it would prevent them from switching their OS, it makes more sense to generate some attention to the problem and maybe some bad press for the offending manufacturer. There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It can be effective. Just make it professional and civil. When you get a high enough number of signatures, make it very public. Send it to industry magazines and journals. This will amplify the number of signatures by the number of times it is reported.

    Good luck!

  12. First off, I support this claim completely. However, I have to admit that I think this campaign is focusing on only a small subset of a much bigger problem; the Microsoft Tax. The choice of these companies to provide drivers for Windows is a direct result of the marketshare that has been handed to Microsoft via computer manufacturers. In order for a level playing field to be created, Johnny User must be able to walk into a CompUSA and buy a computer without having a copy of WindowsXP tied to the sale. It all start here!

    On a similar note, I’d just like to add that even if printer manufacturers were to release drivers that covered the full scope of their product line, my bet is that those drivers would be freedom-restricting binaries. Although this scenario would lend itself to the adaption of GNU/Linux, it would be in conflict with the goals of the Free Software movement. Therefore, I’d suggest appending this criteria to the petition.

    All the best,

    Adam Kosmin

  13. Adam,

    I didn’t even think of that! Good point. However, I can’t add or subtract from the petition once it is online so…crap!

    Oh well…I guess if it get’s enough attention, we can re-write it and do it again.

  14. Even een printer kopen…
    Hmz ik gebruik Linux als OS en niet alle printer fabrikanten geven hun sourcecode vrij zodat er een driver voor Linux gemaakt zou kunnen worden. Je kunt dan ook niet zomaar even een willekeurige printer kopen, en thuis aangekome

  15. The repercussions for the big computer companies if this works are huge! Go Linux!!

  16. I have always had pretty good luck with HP and Epson.. But then I never print anything much other than a test sheet to make sure it works.

  17. Many of you may have read my last post on this subject regarding action that needed to be taken in the form of a petition for Linux and printer manufacturers and their lack of drivers. In a sense, they hem us in to a Windows environment by not allowing

  18. I just discovered that there’s a utility called mtink (which is not in Fedora yet, afaik).. and the utility was cool.. why? it is very similar to the original driver of Epson..

  19. Agreed. My Samsung ML-1710 laser printer purchase was based on how Linux compatible it was. Can’t beat having compatibility right out of the box. Plus the printer works like a champ. Instead of bitching for drivers, let companies know why you’re buying their competition, and why you would have loved to purchase their product but opted for the competition. Petitions don’t work. Ranting doesn’t work. Lost sales do work.

  20. When people talk of Linux drivers, this should not be about closed-up, proprietry drivers created only by the hardware manufacturer.
    I think that the goal should be more for open-source drivers, not specifically Linux ones which may or may not be open-source. If a printer (or any piece of hardware) has an open-source driver, then not only Linux users would benefit; overall there would be a much better result for all users.

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