Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Better Way to Print

Update: Using an old computer with Ubuntu or Mint Linux works beautifully and simply as a print server, and better than anything else I have tried including dedicated print servers.

As Chromebooks come into so much wider use as a replacement for Windows, with its many problems, it is essential for users to deal with Chromebook printing.  Chromebooks are a trouble free resource for seniors, but do not connect directly to printers so far.

The main problem is then that for older printers Chromebooks require another device such as a Windows or Ubuntu computer as an intermediary to be able to print.   (Newer printers do not have this problem but connect to the router,)

I found Windows to be especially unsatisfactory as such a device. First,  Windows no longer had the needed drivers, and second, there appeared to be no way to prevent Windows from disconnecting frequently. (Internet time-outs may have had some effect here.)

So a Windows laptop was finally loaded with Ubuntu and worked beautifully. However, the necessity of having to have the old war-horse laptop taking up space on my desk was unsatisfactory.

So when a Ubuntu Linux stick dropped to $50, It appeared to be a simple way to avoid the last problem.

In actuality it was not quite so simple.

I discovered that Intel had not provided enough memory to do the job. The stick also had problems handling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at the same time.

So what I had to do was to avoid both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and probably a wireless keyboard.

I chose to use an ethernet adapter to plug directly into my router. Then I needed a hub to accommodate keyboard and mouse. Finally, I needed an old display just to set things up plus an HDMI to VGA converter for the last.

I needed to make as much memory available as possible. I deleted all the optional software consisting mainly of LibreOffice.   I use Google Docs anyway.

I set the Ubuntu settings so that display and power would never turn off.

It was a simple matter then to plug in the printer and go to Chromebook settings to activate for Cloudprint.

A side benefit was to have the display at the back of the desk playing CBS News without taking up the space of the old laptop.

Ubuntu worked very well if rather slow for the quad processor in the Intel stick.

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