TurboPrint 1.43 for Linux Review
In preparation for the transition from Windows to a Linux based workstation, the main focus is that of peripheral compatibility. Sure Linux is rock solid stable, and has an almost totally customizable GUI, but dammit, if my hardware won't work, what's the point?
When I first made the transition of my workstation to Linux about 3 years ago, a huge compatibility issue was the configuration of my printer. It was an HP DeskJet 722C, a so called 'win printer'. After a few weeks of research for drivers, I eventually gave up on this dud, and swapped printers for a DeskJet 890C. There are currently some drivers available for the DJ 72x, but I have no use for these now. Even after getting a 'real' printer, the setup was quite cumbersome and my results were mixed.
After hearing about TurboPrint, and their claim to provide "Printer set-up and configuration is as simple as on Windows or MacOS", I had to rise to the challenge.
- v1.4 is the first to support the CUPS printing system
- "Intelligent" Printer Drivers
- "True Match" Colour Correction
- High-Quality Dithering
- Multiuser Support
- Network Printing
- Highest Print Resolution
- Additional Print Media Support (glossy/inkjet paper, transparencies, etc.)
Before installing TurboPrint, I checked their list of supported printers for the DeskJet 890c. My printer was there, along with a number of other HP, Epson, and Cannon printers. The list is not huge (it lists 93 drivers), but they claim that more drivers will be coming in the future. If you have another brand of printer besides HP, Epson and Cannon, you're out of luck for now.
TurboPrint for Linux comes as a tarball containing 'install' and 'uninstall' shell scripts, installation instructions, and all the binary software. The installation goes over pretty easily, with little user interaction. It begins by asking the installation language (English or Deutsch), it then verifies the installation directories, and then it completes the installation.
If you want to to change the default directories, you'll have to edit the configuration file 'system.cfg' manually. A neat feature of the installation is that it lists all of the software packages that TurboPrint needs to work at its full potential. It lists what packages these are missing and what they are used for. In my case, I was missing 'fig2dev', used for FIG drawings. Not a problem.
The TurboPrint packages comes with two sets of tools, two text based programs, and their GUI counterparts. For this review, I used the GUI tools 'xtpconfig' and 'xtpsetup'. After the installation, I ran 'xtpsetup', I clicked the 'Add' button, picked my printer from the list of drivers, and I was moved to the 'Edit Printer' window. From this window, you can choose the specifics for your printer, allowing setup of network printing (including Linux/Unix, Windows, and Netware).
For my uses, I chose 'Local Printer' and used the defaults. That's it! After configuring the printer driver with 'xtpconfig', it was time to setup the correct options (print quality, paper size, etc.) When you open up xtpconfig, a window opens up with a number of tabs (Printer, Paper, Graphics, Image, Text, and Toolbox) for the different types of configuration options you'll want. The software is easy to navigate, and has some great features like 'print a test page', printer nozzle alignment, and cleaning the print heads. You remember features like those from the Windows driver right?
Multiple Printer Settings
A cool idea with TurboPrint is the ability to setup a number of instances of the same printer with different configuration settings. For example, say that I wanted to make the default settings to print in grayscale and draft quality (for text documents), and to make another print out in medium quality and true colour (for web pages & graphics). To do this, I would simply create two local printers with 'xtpsetup' using the same drivers, but different Config Name. Then, using 'xtpconfig', I was able to customize each 'printer' with different settings. The default printing would be in black and white, and when I want to print in colour, I can just change the print command used by the program from 'lpr' to something like 'lpt -Ptp0'. Another great feature is that each user can run 'xtpconfig' to customize their printing preferences. These settings are saved in the user's home directory as the file .turboprint.
Free Edition vs. Full Version
You may be thinking, "Hey, this sounds cool, so why should I fork out $20 for a license?" Well, to tell you the truth, you might not need to. The 'Free Edition' (that is, free as in beer) allows you to use all functions of TurboPrint, with some minor restrictions. These restrictions include a logo on the top right corner or each page when using High Quality printing, and with any other type of paper other than 'Plain'. Thus, if you are a private user and can live with these restrictions, you might be able to get by with just using the free version. Otherwise, you can fork over the modest $20 fee for a personal license and use TurboPrint with no restrictions.
All that I can say is that TurboPrint lived up to it's claim. It was as easy to setup and configure my printer under Linux as it would be under Windows. By using existing Linux printer spoolers and ghostscript, TurboPrint provides good compatibility with applications. The bonus of printer maintenance functions makes TurboPrint an awesome tool. The only downside is that the drivers included only support 3 brands of printers. If you printer is supported, and you want to use it under Linux, I definitely suggest you go out and download TurboPrint.
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- Easy to use setup and configuration tools
The Bad - Cons
- Drivers for only 3 brands of printers
The Ugly - Issues
The Verdict - Opinion
If your printer is supported, TurboPrint is a must have.