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hpr1864 :: Turning an old printer into a network printer

Using a Raspberry Pi as a print spooler for an old USB printer

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Hosted by Dave Morriss on 2015-09-24 is flagged as Explicit and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format. | Comments (6)


I have a USB printer I bought back in 2005 when I bought a Windows PC for the family. It's an HP PSC 2410 PhotoSmart All-in-One printer. This device is a colour inkjet printer, with a scanner, FAX and card-reading facilities. It has been left unused in a corner for many years, and I recently decided to to see if I could make use of it again, so I cleaned it up and bought some new ink cartridges for it.

It is possible to use this printer on Linux using CUPS for the printing and SANE for scanning. I connected it to my Linux desktop for a while to prove that it was usable. However, rather than leaving it connected in this way, I wanted to turn it into a network printer that could be used by the rest of the family. My kids are mostly away at university these days but invariably need to print stuff when they pass through. I searched the Internet and found an article in the Raspberry Pi Geek magazine which helped with this project.

Full Notes

Since the notes explaining this subject are long, they have been placed here:

  1. HP PSC 2410 PhotoSmart All-in-One printer:
  2. main web site:
  3. CUPS Wikipedia entry:
  4. HP Linux Imaging and Printing (HPLIP):
  5. Scanner Access Now Easy (SANE):
  6. "Converting the Raspberry Pi to a wireless print server" from the Raspberry Pi Geek magazine:
  7. Linux Foundation OpenPrinting work group:
  8. Arch Wiki on CUPS - Linux Server Windows Client:
  9. Internet Printing Protocol (IPP):


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Comment #1 posted on 2015-09-24T10:32:02Z by Jon Kulp

Whoa remote scanning!

Very cool, Dave! I've got an old printer on the network too, but hooked up to my goodwill router via usb. Advantage of using a RasPi instead is the remote scanning. I never even knew that was possible at all, thought you always had to hook up with USB to scan stuff. Then again I never really thought about it that much. Usually I walk over to the University Library to do my scanning b/c they have awesome scanners for public use. Thanks for another great episode.

Comment #2 posted on 2015-09-27T10:51:01Z by Dave Morriss

Remote scanning, etc

Thanks Jon,

I like that routers can run printers like this, but suspect the features are limited. I have plans to experiment with CUPS, perhaps configuring other queues for different sized stationery for example. I also have a very old DEC LN03 monochrome laser printer, circa 1987, which I'd like to hook up if it still works. It needs a serial connection though, so that should be fun :-)

The scanning capability is good to have and has been used more than I would have expected. Quality is not particularly high, but it's good enough for most purposes.

Comment #3 posted on 2015-10-05T18:35:31Z by turtle

Nice show.
Here is a Cups ppd for the DEC LN03
Here is the manual for it
All you need is a usb to serial adapter. Looking forward to hearing about getting it running and putting that on the pi with the other printer.

Comment #4 posted on 2015-10-06T15:03:47Z by Dave Morriss


Thanks Turtle,

I had not got as far as checking drivers and manuals. Very useful.

From my initial researches I wasn't sure whether a serial adapter could drive the printer. I don't know if it needs flow-control for example. However, I shall continue to investigate.

I also have a 132-column matrix printer somewhere in the attic, but I think it has a Centronics parallel connector, so I suspect that could be challenge to get working!

Comment #5 posted on 2015-10-07T14:38:43Z by Bob Evans

connecting to legacy printers

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the timely episode. I am considering using a pi to serve my HP LJ-2200 printer to my home network.

The DEC LN03 uses RS-232/RS-422 for the serial connection. You should be able to use a USB-to-serial converter. I used an LN03 with PC clones and was able to run the serial link as fast as 19200 baud. User manual will indicate how to set serial parameters via dip switches near the data connector.

I suggest verifying the print engine still works by printing a few test pages before trying to connect to a computer. I think there is a small square white button on the back that initiates printing of a test page.

It is probably difficult now to get toner or replacement parts like feed rollers for the LN03. When a nylon gear inside my LN03 fractured, I finally ditched that printer -- after about 20 years of use in a home office.

Be aware that there are a few different LN03 models. Mine was a rare "image" printer that would only accept postscript. The model will determine what driver and settings you need to use.

The LN03 always keeps the fuser unit hot. This is a big power consumer and harsh to the mechanics that transport paper and the photo-sensitive band.

There used to be USB to parallel converters available for purchase. If you can find one of those you might be able to easily connect to the matrix printer.

- Bob Evans

Comment #6 posted on 2015-10-07T19:16:01Z by Dave Morriss

Re: connecting to legacy printers

Thanks for the information Bob.

I haven't checked the LN03 works yet, and it might not since it's so old. I'm pleased to hear there's a good chance of running it from the Pi if it does though.

The university I worked at bought a pair of LN03's with a VAXcluster in 1987, and I had the job of setting them up back then under VMS. I'm pretty sure neither of them were "image" printers. We later bought an LPS17 I think, and a LPS32, much faster higher volume printers with duplexers. I didn't offer to take them home when they were phased out though :-)

I might have some supplies with the printer, but not much of anything, so it might be a short-lived experiment even if it does still print.

I need to check out the matrix printer as well, though I don't really have a use for it any more, and only one box of line-printer paper!

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