Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Solution to Printing Blank Pages Problem in Linux

This isn't an overly technical post but I hope it saves someone hours of frustration printing on Linux. 

In my case the problem was a combination of broken generic printer drivers and a bad default value for the "Print Quality" setting. As a word of caution, according to the Anna Karenina Principle odds are your problem is its own unique snowflake and this wont help you print.


  • You are trying to print from Linux. 
  • The printer starts, makes printing noises, but only a blank page (i.e. one with no ink on it) comes out.
  • You verified your printer works by printing from another OS. If you have not, do this. If your printer still prints blanks on Windows/MacOS, you have a printer problem, not a Linux problem.


The solution is two part; both parts were needed to actually see ink on paper.
  1. Install printer-specific software.

    The drivers that came with CUPS and claimed to support my printer didn't work. For HP printers, you need to sudo apt-get install hplip, and run hp-setup. If you have another brand printer, look here for help.

  2. Change the "Print Quality" setting to something else.

    The setting is in the CUPS web interface. Go to http://localhost:631 (you may need to log in with a local account) -> Administration -> Manage Printers -> Your Printer's Name -> Administration Selection Box, pick "Set Default Options". Clicking that will take you to the following page:
Change the Print Quality setting to something else. Try all the values. For me Normal Grayscale worked, Normal Color did not.

Try all the Print Quality options. Hopefully one of them prints. Yes, the setting is hard to find to and obscure, but hey, at least you didn't have to edit another config file!

My next post may be about trying to get network printer sharing to work between Linux and Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which was its own struggle.

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