For my new office, I bough a rather economical HP OfficeJet 7410, an All-in-one fax, printer, copier, scanner that comes preloaded with duplex scanning and printing, network connectivity (both ethernet and WiFi) and can read all memory cards under the sun.

It's a great piece of hardware, and for the price, a good buy for the soho. It's a nice entry-level machine to have when you cannot afford dedicated hardware.

The problem with that machine is the software that comes for Windows. HP has a tendency to make bloated management software that doesn't do what it should and whatever it does, it doesn't do it very well.

To give you an idea, the installation process takes about 30 minutes. I could have installed a complete linux system in that time. This in itself wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't about 3 different services loaded in memory all the time.

Well, OK, straight printing and faxing is sort of OK. What could have deserved more attention is scanning: HP wanted to have a neat way to send scans from the OfficeJet to any PC that runs the appropriate service. By just pressing the scan button on the control panel, you can cghoose the PC you want to send the scan to, and then select which application installed on your PC should be launched to receive the scan.

It's quite neat and clever when you try it for the first time, but then you start asking yourself soe questions: this is a productivity system. I just want to dump a bunch of papers to scan in the ADF and scan in black & white to make a PDF.

Well, turns out that this is too complicated to even attempt. Whenever you scan, the TWAIN GUI interface is launched, which takes a long time even on a fast machine, then there is no way to just tell it to scan the bunch of documents in one go, on both sides if possible, and then send all that stuff to Acrobat. No, tried it many way, and all of the are unecessarily painful.

The most infuriating bit is that there is no option to scan both sides automatically, although some applications may initiate duplex scanning properly, most others will rely on the TWAIN driver to present that option.

So I'm ditching the bloated HP software and looking at Linux for a solution.

As my main server at the office runs Linux, I went to gather some information about printing and scanning from the command line on the server. Turns out that HP did one thing right: they actively support Linux drivers for most of their products. Actually, they open-sourced a number of unified drivers that allow linux systems to use most of the functionalities of the printers and all-in-one machines they sell.

This being linux, things are not as easy as installing software from a CD, but it's not that bad either.

The goal

So, after this long introduction/ranting the goal of this is to:

  • be able to print from Linux (including duplex printing)
  • be able to print from Windows through the Linux server
  • be able to scan (including duplex scanning) from Linux
  • be able to scan from Windows through the Linux server.

All this using the network connection rather than directly connecting the OfficeJEt to the server using USB. If that's what you would prefer, it is also very simple and I'll try to specify the differences where relevant.

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