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Printer Software Linux

Linux-Friendly Label Printer Recomendations? 188

Posted by timothy
from the whippersnapper-can't-address-envelopes-by-hand dept.
pdkl95 writes "I have been using some small, simple desktop label printers for quite a while now. Unfortunately, it's rapidly becoming clear that my printing needs are for something far more 'industrial strength.' Several of the label printers have failed, and they never really had the management features I wanted. So, does anybody have recommendations on label printers, that can hold up to a quite heavy load? The catch is that I'm printing to them from CUPS under Linux, and it seems like specialty-printers are a windows-centric field."
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Linux-Friendly Label Printer Recomendations?

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  • Try Datamax (Score:5, Informative)

    by raluxs (961449) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:26PM (#28890207)
    We use Datamax I series at work printing from linux. All the configuration can be done with simple ascii characters, also the label fornating.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:31PM (#28890255) Homepage Journal
    I am not that familiar with printing in general, but I know the printer company/brand Brother often (if not always) releases Linux compatible drivers for their hardware. They are great for any standard printer. If you can find any label printers that they make, I imagine it would work very well. It is probably at least worth Googling....
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have a Brother P-Touch hand held that is industrial strength. I can connect it to a computer (haven't tried) but it is more for custom fonts/symbols/barcodes or batch print jobs.

      For Desktop lables I would recommend a Zebra printer. That is what UPS issues to their customers. I do not think you can get drivers from them but it should accept raw output on port 9100. best thing to do is ask them directly.

      good luck
       

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        I have a Zebra printer I got off Ebay and it works great in Linux and CUPS. You just send it files in their EPL format (the programming guide is available online) and it prints it.

        The only problem I have is that I can't seem to get it to work when printing labels from Paypal, but that's some kind of Java problem, not a problem with the printer or CUPS, since I also can't print to my regular laser printer from Paypal/Pitney-Bowes's stupid Java applet.

        • Which distro and java version?

          This sounds like a typical silly programmers problem that causes much trouble on windows pc's running in different languages too. Try installing (another) printer named "Default Printer" or whatever the standard name is in windows...

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            I don't think it's that, because it works fine on my wife's XP laptop where the label printer is called "Zebra 2844" and there's multiple printers to choose from (with the Zebra not being the default).

            I'm running Kubuntu 8.04 and whatever the fully-updated Java version is. I know, this is a rather old distro now, I plan to update to 9.04 as soon as I get a little spare time. Hopefully that'll fix it. It'd be nice however if I could just run a script to purchase the postage and download the label code fro

    • An AC posted one down a bit further.

      (I replied with some links. Haven't used it myself.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kinko (82040)

      Yes, we use the Brother P-Touch QL-550. It works fine with CUPS but we had to install a 3rd party (open source) driver for it that converts the postscript input from applications into the correct raster format for the printer.

      Driver here: http://etc.nkadesign.com/Printers/QL550LabelPrinterCUPS [nkadesign.com]. Brother also release a binary-only driver, but why use that when an open source one works....

      • i bought this printer but for the life of me i couldn't get the drivers to work under ubuntu - what distro are you using?
    • I have a Brother 845CW. It's great that it provided linux drivers, but they are ghostscript based, and if I want to print a photo, it actually takes less time to reboot into windows . . .

      Even printing text causes long pauses before the first page, and more before each additional page.

    • yes, I use the Brother QL-550 for my mountain bike business for all the shipping labels. Yes, you can get CUPS drivers [nkadesign.com]. Industrial strength - I go through 30metre (100ft) rolls of label every few weeks!!! This little printer has been like having another employee and has saved me thousands.
  • Software solution? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rennerik (1256370) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:33PM (#28890287)
    I understand that this may not be actually answering your question, but, if you have *any* Windows systems in your office running XP Professional or Vista Business/Enterprise, you might try getting a label printer for one of those. These OSes come with IIS, and you can easily write a .NET web service that you can then access via PHP from your Linux machine and print labels that way. Yes, a hacky solution indeed, but it works if you can't find any compatible printers for Linux.

    It sucks that manufacturers don't really make printer drivers for a lot of high-end equipment for Linux, but I suppose that's the nature of things, when the vast majority of people who would need them tend to only use Windows or OS X.
    • by b4upoo (166390)

      I loath the idea of being forced to use Windows of any flavor. And I resent hardware sellers that have product that is unfit to run from a Linux machine. If a product is fit for sale it should be usable on an OS that a lot of people use exclusively.

    • by speedtux (1307149)

      It sucks that manufacturers don't really make printer drivers for a lot of high-end equipment for Linux

      High end equipment generally uses Postscript and standard printing protocols; they don't have to make "printer drivers". Printer drivers are the domain of low-cost consumer hardware.

      but, if you have *any* Windows systems in your office running XP Professional or Vista Business/Enterprise,

      Are you kidding? Even if setting up these things on Windows weren't such a PITA, the cost and complexity would defeat

    • by deniable (76198)
      IIS and .NET? Why don't you just install LPD? Heck, XP and Vista come with a mostly compatible implementation of Samba. Try that.
  • Brother PT-9500PC (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:34PM (#28890299)

    I use the Brother PT-9500PC a lot. Very well supported under linux, they have their own driver page. Connects by USB.

  • Yes, Indeed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bruciferofbrm (717584) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:35PM (#28890309) Homepage

    Try Sato America.

    http://www.satoamerica.com/ [satoamerica.com]

    They are industrial oriented. You can get all sorts of solutions, of which the most universal would be serial based. You can connect those up to almost anything with a serial port, fill it up with large rolls of labels and drive it all in your own code if you want to.

    Yes, I know, their own software is Windows based. Don't let that be the stumbling block.

    Two jobs ago I worked at a luxury goods manufacturer and we printed items tags on a SATO serial printer off of our main frame. Its just a matter of sending the right control codes over the serial port.

    • by reiisi (1211052)

      Can you put up a how-to?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ctxspy (94924)

      I also use SATO at a high volume distribution company. These printers are rugged and dependable, although not cheap.. We print literally thousands of labels per day, and some of our printers are still going strong after 10+ years.

      We use the M84Pro with 203 dpi heads. They also have 300+ and 600+ dpi heads (more expensive, but higher resolution). We also have one of the MB410i (mobile printing!)

      They are capable of 1d & 2d barcodes, several fonts, raster graphics, lines, etc.

      You can get modules for ser

  • Zebra (Score:5, Informative)

    by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:36PM (#28890323)

    Labels come in most shapes and sizes. I believe we're using the LP2844 at the office; I'd have to double check but I believe UPS and FedEx send these out to their customers as well.

    They are rugged. CUPS prints to them trivially. Labels are not terribly expensive, and they are fast.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I second this. I have that same Zebra printer and it works great in Linux/CUPS. Mine's even USB.

  • by SIGBUS (8236)

    If you're willing to do your own output generation, Zebra Technologies [zebra.com] provides programming references for their printers.

    • As several people have already mentioned, Zebra printers are excellent, particularly if you plan on generating your own output (as noted above). While not Linux, we currently generate our own output from an iSeries for various label media across several different zebra printer models.

      Their reliablity and operation is rock solid and hassle free (just ensure you select a printer that is best suited for the media you are using). The ZPL programming reference guide that they make available I found to be quite

  • Many of the Zebra ( http://www.zebra.com/ [zebra.com]) printers have parallel and serial interfaces, so if you have the capability to roll your own driver(which you may have to do, unless you can find one out there already), that may be a good choice. The ZPL language takes a little getting used to, but I wrote an app that talked to a Zebra over serial a couple years ago, and once I got the quirks worked out, it was great!

    One recommendation if you want a really nice looking label: Get a copy of Zebra's software(maybe

    • Holy shit (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      Q: Can anyone recommend a Linux-friendly label printer?

      Typical Slashdot answer: You can get a label printer from X company. If you install the software and loop the output back into a terminal you can hack the control codes and design your own printer driver.

      Buzzword answer: Using a cloud service, you could upload your printing needs via a lightweight AJAX interface and have the results mailed to you.

      Sane answer: Get a cheap Windows PC and choose from the many supported label printers.

      Of course, the sane an

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Chyeld (713439)

        Since the sane answer doesn't actually answer the question (i.e. list a Linux friendly printer) and since by the time the sane answer is posted, there are several answers which aren't the strawmen you posted which do, I think a -1 troll would be appropriate.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

          If you went to the doctor because of chronic headaches, you might be satisfied with a prescription for pain killers.

          But it doesn't really cure anything but the symptoms.

          • by Chyeld (713439)

            I have to say this, you are true to your nick.

            If you go to your doctor and say "Hey doc, it hurts when I do this!", despite the humor, it is not a valid response to say "Well stop doing that!"

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Don't be an idiot. The loopback thing was a helpful suggestion on how to use their Windows-only software to design attractive labels, and then print those in Linux. If you don't want fancy labels, you don't have to do that.

        As it is, Zebra printers are already supported in CUPS/Linux, so there's no barrier here. The only problem is that their value-added software for making pretty labels is Windows-only, but that doesn't keep you from using the printer in Linux. I use my Zebra printer all the time in Lin

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by palegray.net (1195047)
        Actually, you're the one trolling. The submitter indicated that he's already gone through several units. I've purchased very dependable label printers that worked under Mandrake (yes, when it was still called that), and I happen to know more than one person happily churning out labels these days on Ubuntu. With zero configuration required, zero headache. Freakin' Easy Button. You can easily find serviceable units used on eBay for a fraction of what you'd pay for new ones, and even those aren't that bad con
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Stop being such a dickhead. Often there is a perfectly usable solution for Linux, but there's no real marketing. You know the good kind of marketing, that actually tells you of your options. So you ask a large group of people likely to have the answer and you might find one. Or you might not, but now the odds are pretty good there isn't one. Linux compatibility follows no sane pattern, the exact same class of printer or even cheaper can work flawlessly and the big name printer is a damn paperweight. Brand i

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by egcagrac0 (1410377)

        Really? How about "You buy X, set it up in CUPS (like you specified), and it just works, just like you want it to."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        Sane answer: Get a cheap Windows PC and choose from the many supported label printers.

        Right, the OP couldn't possibly have a valid reason to want to run his printer on linux.

        I've never seen a cheap Windows PC. I network my systems and count the manpower required to keep them stable and secure.

    • YAG! (Score:1, Redundant)

      by reiisi (1211052)

      Yet Another Great!

      Can you put up a how-to?

  • zebra (Score:4, Informative)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:38PM (#28890351) Homepage

    I use zebra printers with a couple of clients - Linux + CUPS, no problem. You can find them online dirt cheap, just clean the rollers with alcohol to get them printing good.

    • I'm going to second (or third) Zebra printers. All configuration is done via regular ASCII codes, they are operating system agnostic, and they last a long time (eight years and counting for the ones I use at work).

      • I 532nd zebra.

        Zebra's work on anything, you can copy raw ascii (or UTF-8) data to an LPT port if you want. I've had Unicode labels coming out of an zebra connected to an iSeries (the zebra had its own network card and just connected via a TCP port), which may not sound like much but that's because you've never tried to do this crap in RPG...
  • I've rolled my own "driver" for a rollfed color label printer before.

    It's a lot of work and it sucks and you should just buy Bartender and use Windows.

    I don't say this lightly, but it really is much easier. Only roll your own if bartender absolutely can't do what you want.

  • I have a feeling that there will be a lot of posts for ZEBRA printers, and I have to agree. You'll need to format your labels with ZPL code, but it's fairly simple and straightforward once you get the first one configured. A majority of my company's customers use the 105SL model printing from RHEL 4/5 systems and Fedora releases. Definitely CUPS compatible! One of these customers actually has four of that particular model, and they print out 100,000+ labels every couple of weeks.

    I haven't had many ha
  • Please define where is the border between "desktop label printer" and "industrial strength". Are Dymo printers "desktop"? Are CNC mills "industrial strength"? What kind of labels are those anyway? Would it be easier to order the labels in bulk from someone else, providing eps templates and receiving rolls of pre-printed numbered labels?

  • More info needed... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by bigdweeb (204273)

    It would be helpful if you posted more information about what you're trying to print labels for and what size/shape/environmental requirements there are for the labels.

    I can give you an example of what I have done for labels in the past though. I had a requirement to create thousands of labels for our inventory system. The only requirement was they had to be barcode readable and printed on small labels so we could tag our network equipment with them. The solution I came up with about 4 years ago (and is

  • ZEBRA = Your Friend (Score:2, Informative)

    by soutener (820034)
    we run our erp on linux and we have 10 zebra 105 SLs all work great, each one prints about 100 - 200 4x6 labels a day and i have a couple more that only do hangtags and they print out about 500 - 1000 hangtags a day (we make t-shirts)
  • Zebra (Score:2, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269)
    Not only can you print from linux (it's ascii text sent over port 9100), you can also run linux on the fucking printer itself.
  • Datamax is solid (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @08:20PM (#28890797)

    We currently use DataMax I Series printers (specifically the DMX-I 4208 model). We've also used Zebra printers in the past. These are heavy duty printers using roll-fed label media (there's an option for a custom cutterhead, so you can actually have a label length specific to each print job).

    These things are built like tanks and they have been amazingly trouble-free. You'll pay a price corresponding to this level of reliability but we've found them worth it. We print literally thousands of labels a month in critical line-of-business applications. The printers function much like laser printers in terms of their capability--all points addressable printing, DPL (equivalent to HP PCL) rendering language, integrated IP networking, self-hosted web administration pages, and so on.

    Now the (few & relatively minor) downsides. I cannot comment on their Linux driver support. We use Windows Seagull drivers to host ours (Datamax doesn't make their own drivers, last I checked). Also we had to get 1 firmware update and 1 driver update to resolve a couple of infrequent but otherwise knotty problems.

    There's no way to have multiple label media pre-loaded and software programmable (the equivalent of a cut-sheet laser printer's addressable drawers).

    Oh, and they come with a decent manual. How many printers do that now?

    • Now the (few & relatively minor) downsides. I cannot comment on their Linux driver support. We use Windows Seagull drivers to host ours

      Translation: I completely ignored your question and simply expounded about something I like with no relevance at all to your inquiry regarding good solutions for Linux. But don't let that get in the way of me influencing your decision, despite tossing my two cents worth in about something I'm admittadly unqualified to comment on.

      Maybe I should be more patient with this

  • glabels = requires a gnome desktop due to dependency issues, or,,,

    OpenOffice and these label templates WorldLabel_dot_com [worldlabel.com]
    • by tuxgeek (872962)
      "OpenOffice and these label templates WorldLabel_dot_com [worldlabel.com]"
      Good link, Thanks much!
      I've used OOo Calc for this task but hacked my own templates.
      Nice to see a good variety of templates for this task have been made available.
      At any rate, OOo Calc makes this a no brainer.
      • by FudRucker (866063)
        what i like about OpenOffice is it is found on most all Linux distros and with those label templates is you can print labels on any printer so no special label printer hardware is needed, glabels is good too for the same reason any printer will work...
  • I buy labels on 8.5 x 11 sheets. The label sizes don't matter. You can use any label you want.
    Set up a OOo Calc spreadsheet. The first column is your left border. Next is your left label. next is the right label. Next is right border.
    Top row is top border. Then set the next 10 or so rows as label heights.
    Getting a clear picture how this is done?
    Set your column and row to show border lines and print one to see how close you can get to a factory label sheet.

    A little experimentations you will soon have a l

  • http://www.google.com/search?q=HP+sp400 [google.com]

    It's a handheld wireless printer/scanner that prints directly onto boxes, no labels required. Pretty slick.
    These were developed for UPS but anyone can buy them (if you have the money to burn.)
    No mention of Linux drivers, etc. however.
  • I've used a variety of printer types (Intermec, Zebra, Datamax) and they all have worked using plain text drivers. You can hook them up via serial/parallel/IP and just output text to the correct port and you can print labels. Print whatever you want. Printer format (i.e. printer commands) varies by manufacturer, so you'll have to program the correct formats. But after learning the printer language everything is trivial.
  • IT's old tech, but, Panasonic and Okidata still have dot matrix printers out there. The advantage is that you could put a bunch of labels on a roll and let them rip just by sending ASCII out to the serial or parallel port.

  • I remember there being a nice Seiko label printer driver for OS/2 and there might have been other label printer drivers. I know they won't be current but it would be a good start where there is nothing today. I used to print to the Seiko from Star Office using that label printer driver.

    LoB
  • We've been using Dymo LabelWriters (both 300 and 400 series) under Windows and Linux for printing oil sample labels for quite some time now. Even in a workshop environment they seem quite reliable. I'm not a big fan of the printer drivers under Windows (they're prone to causing exceptions in .NET land for random reasons), but the CUPS drivers under Linux seem fine.
  • I have seen people say it before, but if you buy a more serious barcode printer than a Dymo thermo printer; like an Intermec, Zebra or Monarch they support (their own flavour) of an ascii based printing language. The downside is lock-in. once you got it working for intermac's (IPL) it probably will not run directly on Zebra's (ZPL). These printers are made to Always work, and in general kan handle quite a lot of physical abuse. You can most of the time put in special labels or ink transfers to make the la
  • by rapiddescent (572442) on Friday July 31, 2009 @05:11AM (#28893651)
    I use the Brother PTouch QL-550 for all the labels for my mountain bike business. You can download CUPS drivers and also a set of OpenOffice ODT templates for all the reel-sticker sizes. I use continuous feed label and the printer has a wee razor sharp cutter to slice off the label. These are used as shipping labels that I create automagically in openoffice writer templates. I've even done one for the CN22 customs label for sending goods out of the EU. The sticky label is cheap and can come in various flavours - I use 30 meter rolls (100ft) at a time. We also make promo stickers for bike frames using it.

    There is a useful summary page here on how to get it working. [nkadesign.com]

    We use linux for all our mountain bike parts operations by the way.

    • It's just a shame there's only one P-touch tape printer that's actually supported under Linux using "official" drivers -- the PT-9500. My PT-2450DX is sitting here gathering dust while I learn enough Libgd to write a driver library.

      For anyone who's currently engaged in an argument with a PT-2450DX: the protocol is basically the same as the PT-9500PC in "CBP-RASTER (PTCBP)" mode. The documentation for this particular mode is on .

  • The printers from Zebra are very good. You can use the desktop TLP2844 printer for almost any industrial application as well. Printing from Linux might work through CUPS somehow, but the printer language (EPL) is quite easy and depending on your requirements it might be worth writing a small app. You can take a look at this application which writes labels (barcodes and corresponding numbers on small lables, source code available): http://www.emilda.org/index.php?q=emilda-print [emilda.org]
  • your local lowes, and see which label printer they use. lowes store terminals are all linux.
  • On a related note... I currently launch a copy of Windows running on an old laptop or even from VMware or VirtualBox to drive my cheap USB multifunction printer device from Linux. The drawback is that I have to print to ps or pdf files first and transfer them to the Windows box for printing, rather than printing directly.

    Is there a way to turn that setup into a network postscript printer that can be printed to directly from *NIX? The regular Windows printer sharing still relies on the clients having the lou

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