HPLIP

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HPLIP (HP Linux Imaging and Printing) provides printer drivers for HP devices. It also includes scanner and fax support as well as service tools for various multi-purpose peripherals.

Is HPLIP required?

Using HPLIP is recommended for most HP inkjet or laserjet based printers. There may, however, be devices which work with a default CUPS install, which provides adequate drivers or PPD files.

Some devices have features that can only be used when a binary plugin is enabled. This plugin must be installed in addition to the drivers. Hence, it is needed if those features (like better printing quality, faster printing or scanning) are to be used. See the binary plugins section for more information.

Installation

Note
All users who need to manage printers - whether using the web interface or hp-setup - have to be a member of the lpadmin group. Editing the CUPS configuration files with a text editor, however, requires root privileges. For users who just need to print, no special privileges or group membership is required.

For printing support, it is recommended to use the new hpcups driver, which can be enabled with the hpcups USE flag. The old hpijs driver is still included when building HPLIP with the hpijs USE flag.

The default install enables dynamically generated PPD files at runtime. Some printers may still require static PPD files. If hp-setup has problems, try enabling the static-ppds USE flag and rebuilding HPLIP.

For USB printers net-print/cups has to be built with the usb USE flag. This way it makes use of the dev-libs/libusb user-space tool which replaces kernel USB printer support (CONFIG_USB_PRINTER). In case of problems disable the usb USE flag for net-print/cups and activate the kernel functionality again.

To be able to set up a network printer, the 1.5 series of net-print/cups has to be built with USE avahi or slp. The 1.6 series of net-print/cups has dropped slp support and one can choose to build it with USE avahi or zeroconf. To be able to print on a network printer, HPLIP needs to be built with USE snmp.

For some scanner devices, the appropriate SANE backend needs to be activated. To find out which backend is required for the device, go to the SANE project's driver search engine and search for "HEWLETT-PACKARD" as manufacturer. This provides a list of all supported devices including the required backend. For instance, if the device needs the hp backend, the following must be added to the portage configuration to build it when installing media-gfx/sane-backends:

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf
SANE_BACKENDS="hp"
Note
The hpaio backend is provided by HPLIP itself if the scanner USE flag is activated. If this backend is needed no additional configuration needs to be done as the following settings should already be defined in /etc/sane.d/dll.conf.
FILE /etc/sane.d/dll.conf
# Add support for the HP-specific backend.  Needs net-print/hplip installed.
hpaio

Kernel

USB-connected devices require basic kernel USB support. When using the old kernel USB printer driver - which means not using the usb USE flag on net-print/cups - the following kernel options must be set:

KERNEL Optional: USB printer support
Device Drivers  --->
    [*] USB support  --->
        <*> USB Printer support

If preferred this driver can be enabled as module which will be called usblp. This also makes testing the usb USE flag easier as one can simply switch between the two methods by either disabling the USE flag and loading the kernel module, or enabling the USE flag and unloading the kernel module via modprobe. This saves kernel recompilations and reboots; only HPLIP needs to be recompiled for the USE flags changes to take effect. If the module should be permanently disabled, it can be blacklisted to prevent automatic loading at boot time.

Load the usblp kernel module:

root #modprobe usblp

Unload the usblp kernel module:

root #modprobe -r usblp

Blacklist the usblp kernel module:

root #echo "blacklist usblp" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

Parallel-port-connected devices require the following kernel options:

KERNEL Optional: Parallel port printer support
Device Drivers  --->
    <*> Parallel port support  --->
        <*>   PC-style hardware
        [*]   IEEE 1284 transfer modes
    Character devices  --->
        <*> Parallel printer support

The above two methods are usually already enabled within most kernels.

Network-connected devices do not require special kernel drivers but basic kernel network support.

Software

The following table shows the current USE flags for the net-print/hplip:

Cannot load package information. Is the atom net-print/hplip correct?

Install net-print/hplip:

root #emerge --ask hplip
Note
Make sure to set the correct USE flags before installing hplip. For example, for network printers, the snmp flag might be needed. If not specified globally, specify it for the hplip package:
root #emerge --ask echo "net-print/hplip snmp" >> /etc/portage/package.use

Configuration

Printers and faxes

Note
Make sure that the USB printer is plugged into the computer or the network printer into the network socket.

If HPLIP was installed with the qt4 or qt5 USE flag enabled, use the "HP Device Manager" to configure the devices.

Alternatively run hp-setup in a terminal:

root #hp-setup

For a network printer, also specify the printer's IP address:

root #hp-setup -i 192.168.1.27

Afterwards restart the CUPS daemon:

root #rc-service cupsd restart

Scanners

Overall, scanners should just work and will be detected with XSane, etc.

Testing

Printer

After completing hp-setup it should allow for printing a test page. This can be done later as well using the "HP Device Manager" or the CUPS web interface which is located at http://localhost:631/.

Scanner

Use xsane and then press the preview button to ensure the scanner driver is installed and working properly.

Upgrading

Every time after upgrading HPLIP it is advised to run hp-setup -r to remove all printers and configure them again as described above in the configuration section.

Binary plugins

There are some devices which require a binary plugin to use all functions the device provides. A list with devices requiring a binary plugin including the reasons why it is needed is available at the project's homepage. Gentoo currently does not support the binary plugin. However, hp-setup tries to automatically install the plugin.

The installed files are out of portage's control and are located under /usr/share/hplip/data/firmware/, /usr/share/hplip/data/plugins/ and /usr/share/hplip/prnt/plugins/. For installing just the plugin without configuring printer queues hp-plugin is available.

If installing the plugin with hp-setup or hp-plugin fails, the plugin installer is available for download at the openprinting site. To install the plugin the downloaded .run file has to executed in a shell:

root #sh hplip-version-plugin.run

Afterwards follow the instructions of the installer similar to hp-setup or hp-plugin.

Troubleshooting

Printer not found

Problem: hp-setup or HP Device Manager discovery does not find network printer.

Solution: Check that net-print/hplip has the snmp USE flag enabled and SNMP is enabled in the printer settings.

Printing paused

Problem: Printing does not immediately start after submitting a job.

Solution: Check the CUPS printer administration interface and make sure the printer is not in a paused state.

Error on install "File "./plugin_install.py", line 78 except ImportError, e:"

Problem: The following error occurs:

root #hp-setup -i 192.168.1.27
[...SNIP...]
 
----------------------
| INSTALLING PLUG-IN |
----------------------
 
Verifying archive integrity... All good.
Uncompressing HPLIP 3.12.10a Plugin Self Extracting Archive.....................................................
  File "./plugin_install.py", line 78
    except ImportError, e:
                      ^
SyntaxError: invalid syntax
error: Python gobject/dbus may be not installed

Solution: Python 3 is set as the main python interpreter. HPLIP currently does not work correctly with Python 3. Switch to Python 2 by using eselect python to fix this.

This is further documented at Launchpad bug #718069

HPLIP ebuild upgrades do not upgrade binary plugin(s)

Problem: The HPLIP ebuild itself does not upgrade the binary plugin(s) when the ebuild is upgraded. A symptom of this problem: segmentation faults might occur when starting XSane. (i.e. The HP LaserJet M1522nf requires a binary plugin for using the scanning feature.)

Solution 1: Following the upgrade instructions should take care of this as hp-setup tries to upgrade the plugin. If there are still problems HPLIP comes with hp-plugin which can be used for installing the plugin. As a last resort one can download the plugin from OpenPrinting and install it manually.

Solution 2: Lately, running hp-info (with HPLIP built with the qt4 or qt5 USE flag) via a user terminal will eventually auto detect the version conflict of the binary part of the installed driver and ask the user to automatically upgrade, including issuing a prompt for the root password via a qt4/qt5 widget prompt.

Printing weird characters

Problem: The printout contains weird looking characters.

Solution: The printer likely cannot handle Postscript Level 3 output. To work around this, edit the printer's PPD file and change *LanguageLevel: "3" to *LanguageLevel: "2".

See Launchpad bug #277404 which was opened in 2008 and Freedesktop.org bug #19640 for more information.

Note
Launchpad bug #277404 has not been fixed as of =net-print/hplip-3.13, and the PPD file installed is still being assigned "LanguageLevel 3" when specific HP printers do not support level 3.
Note
Even Microsoft Windows prints using Postscript Language Level 2. Even though the graphical interface might state Level 3, the graphic interface is wrong and instead the code is hacked to print at Level 2.
Note
Sometimes using Infinality can create some unknown issues. If nothing works, try disabling Infinality.

SANE/XSANE not finding hpaio scanner

Problem: SANE or XSANE can still not find a hpaio-based scanner.

Solution: SANE/XSANE SANE_BACKENDS or media-gfx/sane-backends used to require hp or the hp USE flag. Currently, the 'hp' sane-backend appears no longer needed for accessing HPLIP hpaio devices. Also, if no SANE_BACKENDS devices are specified within the /etc/portage/make.conf, almost all sane-backend devices are compiled by default during compilation of media-gfx/sane-backends package. This appears to go against the main purpose of the USE flag function and inhibits a very long compilation on x86 platforms.

It may be prudent to still insert SANE_BACKENDS="hp" (or at least some driver even though it is not needed) within the /etc/portage/make.conf file or within the package USE flags. There also used to be an older SANE_BACKENDS="sane_backends_hp" format, so ensure that the configuration is adapted towards the newer format.

More current and relevant areas to check for resolving this specific problem: make sure the user is in the scanner, usb and/or lp groups of the /etc/groups file. If scanimage -L and the HPLIP hp-scan work as root, something must be awry with permissions. If even scanning as root fails, especially with HPLIP's hp-scan, check to ensure the plugin is properly installed/updated and the device is connected.

One more area to check when all of the above is set up correctly: make sure the user can read files within /etc/sane.d/ (specifically the /etc/sane.d/dll.conf file).

Note
Neither HPLIP's hp-scan -g nor SANE's scanimage -L reported any useful information concerning this permissions problem.

When all else fails, strace (as provided by dev-util/strace) may provide more in-depth feedback, but explaining how to work with strace is out of scope for this document.

See also

External resources