Saturday, 26 May 2007


My random choice of printers sort of worked. The laser printed OK, but the colour inkjet stubbornly refused to cooperate. However, a quick trip to the Brother website provided me with the information I needed to make both printers work. Brother provide suitable Linux drivers for most (all?) of their printers. I guess many other manufacturers do the same.

I downloaded the RPM package for the HL2030 laser printer which gives the basic files for using the printer on a Mandriva Linux system. I also got the RPM for the CUPS wrapper which integrates the driver with the printer manager. Installation is easy: run rpm -i package.rpm for the two packages from the from a root user prompt. There was no driver for the DCP-115C but Brother suggest using the MFC-210C driver instead. Happily, this seems to work just fine.

Once the drivers (and wrapper) were installed, I started up the "configure your computer" utility. This is like Windows Control Panel but you need to be the root user (administrator). Going to the printer section of the utility, I removed the printers I had set up when I installed Linux and started an automatic search for printers. All I had to do was remember to choose the MFC-210C when the search failed to find a driver for the DCP-115C.

Choosing a distro

The first problem is which version of Linux ("distro") to install. Ubuntu has a good reputation and one of the nicest looking GUIs straight out of the box. But it seems to take the "free software" philosophy very seriously which seems to mean that there may be problems with some features like programs for mp3s or video. Instead I've opted for Mandriva which has a reputation for being user-friendly. OK, maybe I was influenced a little by Mandriva 2007 Spring being given away on the cover of a Linux magazine :-)

Installation was easy and it co-exists with Windows XP quite nicely - when the PC starts I get a choice between Windows and Linux. The installation program automatically freed up some disk space for the Linux files and Windows wasn't bothered by having less space than the last time it booted up.

First problem is my printers - a Brother HL-2030 laser and a Brother DCP-115C colour inkjet, scanner & copier. Their names are recognized by Mandriva automatic printer configuration software but there seem to be no drivers. So I've picked off the list a couple of printers which had the closest sequences of letters and numbers. Let's see what happens!

Why move?

Prompted by the advent of Vista which requires 1Gb of RAM just to run the GUI properly (to get the "wow!" factor that Microsoft was so keen to promote) I have decided that I should work out if I can migrate to Linux.
This is the the record of my attempt. If anyone else is reading this, all suggestions and advice will be gratefully received.

Why bother?
1. Just the thought of Windows Vista gives me the heebie-jeebies!
2. Nostalgia - I used Unix professionally for many years.
3. I'm a reactionary b#st#rd who resents large corporations taking over my life and/or extracting large amounts of cash from my wallet. As there are many, excellent, cheap, or even free, programs available for Windows it's the taking over of my life that I hate the most.

So, here goes...