The MF4690PL and GNU/Linux

New toy in the office, a lovely 27-functions in one scanner/copy/kitchen sink/coffee machine/alarm/foot massage machine. It even prints, except...

If you just bought it, you'll know the printing part is still a bit theoretical. This fancy machine doesn't handle PostScipt. The printer is also so advanced that you can control it entirely from your [MS Windows] desktop—so they removed the cancel button. (Hint: when it starts spewing out Klingon, the power button is at the back left).

Luckily, this printer (and its brother the Canon i-SENSYS MF4660PL) can be got to work under a real operating system, it's so easy that only four sarced goats are required per desktop computer and only five goats and a chicken per laptop.

Yes, yes, but how? What driver?

Real printers talk something called PostScipt. The MF4690PL is not a real printer, it's multi-function gadget-tastic device with an option for removing the stones from horses feet. It talks PCL.

PCL (Printer Control Language) is a second rate language that came out in the same year as PostScript but which has received more updates than a copy of AutoCAD, in a vague attempt to retrospectively get PCL on par with PostScipt.

The i-SENSYS 4690 speaks the lastest versions, PCL 5e and PCL 6. This is good news, it seems that whilst Hewlett Packard were busy illegally wire-tapping journalists, Canon neatly scooped HP's protocol. Excellent, we can just pretend the printing part is an HP Laserjet—but with cheaper refills.

Manufacturer: 'Generic', Model: 'PCL 5e'

If you're on Ubuntu, then: (don't be taken in by the auto-detection finding a MULTIPASS-C2500 and using a 'bjc600' driver)

Hopefully that worked. If not, check you had enough goats.

Side note

The printer is bilingual. You may also use PCL6 as the communication language, which selects the pxlmono driver. Having compared the output in bright sunshine from printing with each of the drivers, I personally prefer the dithering from the PCL5e/hpijs driver. The hpijs driver prints with a random dithering pattern (more visually appealing) and the pxlmono driver prints with an ordered dithering pattern (too artifical).

Good luck, hope you didn't smash your printer (aka Multifuction hat stand) or throw it out of the fourth storey window before finding this page my office colleagues almost did.

Paul Sladen
Last modified: Wed Nov 7 07:20:51 GMT 2007