Sunday, December 18, 2011

Epson WorkForce 545

My wife wanted a new printer (as the old HP has been acting up), so gave a visit to a local office electronics shop after running a few product searches.

The printer should support Google Cloud Print (as both my wife and I carry Android phones), and also should be supported by CUPS. I ended up getting Epson WorkForce 545 which is an all-in-one wired/wireless unit, simply because HP does not have a good impression on me anymore, and because I never used Kodak printers.

After a few trial-and-error sessions, it was reasonably easy to figure out how to configure it.

I first tried to connect it via WiFi. One glitch was that there didn't seem to be any way to learn the MAC address of the unit (the WiFi router is configured to talk WPA/WPA2 but also to filter connections based on MAC). I however was happy to see that its panel display offered to print diagnostic after it failed to connect and there was its MAC address printed there. After that, it was easy to configure it to authenticate to the WiFi router.

As the unit will sit immediately next to the router, however, I decided to disable WiFi altogether and give it a wired connection with fixed address.

After connecting to the network, interestingly, it was much easier to configure the unit to work with the Google Cloud Print than with CUPS.

A newer Windows box of my wife (I think it runs something called Windows 7) found the printer without me doing anything in particular; just being on the same network segment seemed to be enough, and then the Windows box installed the printer drivers itself.
Visiting the IP address I gave to the unit with the web browser, there were a handful of controls, and the top one was to make it work with Google Cloud Print. It just redirected the browser to for OAuth and I had the printer associated with my Gmail account. From there, I can share the access to the printer with my wife's Gmail account and with my work account.

As I do not print much (and nothing at home), this was the first time I added a network printer to CUPS. After blindly trying random URLs like http://ip-address-of-unit:631, ipp://ip-address-of-unit/, etc., finally figured out that this particular model (or perhaps recent Epson in this class in general) wants to be connected with socket://ip-address-of-unit as its URL, but I did not see this documented anywhere.

An older Windows box my wife uses to control her computerized weaving loom (I think it runs Windows XP) was a different issue. It didn't see and did not want to connect to the wired printer, even though it could see my Linux box that is running samba. Adding an entry for it in /etc/samba/smb.conf was a simple task after figuring out what needs to be done (which unfortunately took too long for my liking). In the printer's section I needed to add use client driver = yes for it to work.

By the way, at the office electronics shop, I saw the new models of Kindle family (including the Fire), Nook color and the Nook tablet. Somehow Fire looked too thick and unwieldy to me, while Nook tablet looked slim and very nice. I didn't buy neither, though...

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