Developing printer drivers for high-resolution and photo-realistic printing on modern inkjet printers (e.g., by Epson, Canon and HP) is a very demanding task. While printer drivers for mainstream platforms are made available by the printer manufacturers the RISC OS platform has been left behind without being able to drive the most recent printers with satisfactory results.
Luckily, there is an active group of people developing Linux drivers for these printers: This is known as the Gutenprint project (originally known as Gimp-Print) supports hundreds of printers and is constantly updated to support new printers as they become available, with a strong emphasis on Epson printers.
Gutenprint for RISC OS is a RISC OS printing solution based on the latest stable release of the Gutenprint library (version 5.2.5). It integrates into !Printers, offers support for more than 1450 printers and can be used like any other printer driver to print from RISC OS applications (e.g., Draw, ArtWorks, OvationPro, Impression).
27-Jun-10: Gutenprint for RISC OS release 2.40 supports 50 additional printers compared to release 2.32 (and 650 additional printers and printing to CD compared to version 2.20).
The Gutenprint drivers support high-resolution printing with photo-real print quality and offer colour correction for different media types (e.g., glossy photo-paper, overhead transparencies, etc.) as well as user-defined colour correction (e.g., brightness, contrast, saturation, ink density). They also support additional features like paper tray selection and printing to CD.
Please note that for top photo-real quality printing via Gutenprint Epson photo printers are recommended. The Canon drivers still offer superior quality than the standard RISC OS drivers but do not offer the same quality as the Epson drivers.
There are several reasons to upgrade from Gimp-Print to Gutenprint: First of all, Gutenprint supports a huge number of new printers on top of those supported by Gimp-Print. But even if your printer is already supported by Gimp-Print and you are not planning to buy a new one soon, there are additional benefits from upgrading to Gutenprint:
New users are asked to donate to become supporters of the project. For the time being, only supporters of the project have access to the full Gutenprint for RISC OS software distribution.
Existing Gutenprint for RISC OS users are asked to make another donation of £15 to upgrade to Gutenprint 2.4 from earlier versions.
The Gutenprint code is free open source software that is published under the GNU General Public Licence. This licence allows the code to be copied, modified and reused but requires derived software to be published under the same licence. Therefore, the GPDriver2 application that implements the RISC OS printer driver is freely downloadable from my web site including source code. However, in order to cooperate with the RISC OS printing system it requires an interface layer that is currently available to supporters of the project only. In the long run it is well possible that the system will become a completely free RISC OS printer driver that can be shared by everyone, but for the time being, only those who donated can use the software.
Users who make a donation receive the download password for the web site.
Gutenprint requires at least RISC OS 3.5 and potentially a lot of memory (depending on printer model). For the most memory-hungry models, 64MB of RAM is a good start, but you will probably need more for full-width high-resolution printing (before anyone asks, this is because of the memory requirements of the Gutenprint library - the RISC OS specific components are happy with much less memory). A fast processor is certainly a good idea, too. Do not expect too much if you do not have at least a StrongARM. An ARM9 or XScale is recommended for regular high quality printing unless you have a lot of patience.
Please note that the resource requirements depend on many factors, most notably:
Printing a 10cm by 15cm photo at 1440 dpi Photo quality on an Epson Stylus R340 takes about 30 minutes on an Iyonix and requires about 27MB of memory. Printing a full A4 photo at the same quality takes more than an hour and requires 46MB of memory.
Credits are due to Robert L Krawitz, Michael Sweet and all the others of the Gutenprint team for creating this excellent piece of software. The printer icon used as the bases of the Gutenprint logo above was created by Richard G. Hallas.
There is a mailing list to discuss this project. It is run by FreeLists.org and can be found here.
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|Last modified: 27-Jun-10