Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

HP Color LaserJet 2550L

Saturday, August 14th, 2004

HP Color LaserJet 2550LMy old laser printer died, and a few days later I stumbled over a good offer on a Hewland-Packard HP Color LaserJet 2550L, which I promptly bought. I got it for around $440 plus VAT.

It is a colour laser printer, with four separate toner cartridges mounted on a carousel, and as the sites says, it works perfectly with Linux. The printer supports both PCL6 and PostScript Level 2.

My model is the smallest of the series. It has USB 2.0 and parallel port interfaces and a 125 sheet paper tray that opens on the side of the printer. Other models have an internal HP JetDirect print server, and a extra 250 sheet paper tray that is mounted below the printer.

I downloaded HP’s PPD file for it to get all the available options. The PPD file has to be copied to /usr/share/cups/model/ and CUPS restarted before the printer is setup. Otherwise the model won’t appear in the list. The printer can also be configured as a “HP Color LaserJet PCL6” printer, but that won’t give you all the possible printing options.

The first message CUPS displayed for the printer was “Starting ESP Ghostscript…” which baffled me a bit, since CUPS shouldn’t need to use ghostscript to process the print jobs, since it is a PostScript printer. The answer is that the internal PostScript engine in the printer is ghostscript, and that was the startup message that appeared.

I have only two grievances about this printer: its size and the noise. The printer is absolutely huge, requiring a space of at least 50x70cm with some extra space around it for cooling. It is not a printer you can put on a shelf. It requires a table. I was surprised at first, but the internal space in the printer is entirely taken up by the carousel with the four CMYK cartridges and the imaging drum, so it couldn’t really be much smaller.

The noise is a result of the cartridge carousel. There is an initial noisy phase for any print job, where the carousel is turned to bring the correct cartridge into place, and if it is a colour print job, the noise continues throughout the printing phase, as the printer changes between the four cartridges several times for each pages. There is an option in the PPD file for “Print Color as Gray”, and that will not only print faster, save wear and tear on the printer, but also lower the noise level quite a bit.

My HP LaserJet IIIP died suddenly

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

I had an old — very old — HP LaserJet IIIP which has served me quite well, but yesterday it wouldn’t turn on. No lights, no fan, nothing. As dead as a norwegian parrot!

It might have blown a fuse or lost the power supply, I don’t know.

Technical manuals for this kind of printer is hard to find, and in any case they’re not online. I’d have to buy it, and I’m not really in the mood to throw money after such an old beast.

I guess it is time to look for something newer. A native PostScript colour laser printer would be nice, preferrably silent and cost effective. Something like the HP Color LaserJet 2500 would be very nice indeed.

Atheros 802.11g PCMCIA card

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

I have a couple of no-name 802.11g PCMCIA/Cardbus cards, which I use in two different laptops, both running Debian Linux (testing). They are marked “WLB2054PCM” on the front, and “Model GL245401-1A1” and “FCC ID: 07J-GL245401-1A1” on the back.

The card is identified by cardctl as:

product info: "Atheros Communications, Inc.", "AR5001-0000-0000", "Wireless LAN Reference Card", "00"
  manfid: 0x0271, 0x0012
  function: 6 (network)

and by lspci as:

0000:02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5212 802.11abg NIC (rev 01)

The Atheros chip-set is supported by the madwifi driver, which is not a part of the standard Linux kernel, but it can be downloaded from For me it compiled and installed without a hitch.

When the driver is loaded, it gives this output:

PCI: Enabling device 02:00.0 (0000 -> 0002)
ath_pci: cache line size not set; forcing 32
ath0: mac 5.9 phy 4.3 5ghz radio 4.6
ath0: 11b rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps
ath0: 11g rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps 6Mbps 9Mbps 12Mbps 18Mbps 24Mbps 36Mbps 48Mbps 54Mbps
ath0: 802.11 address: 00:03:2f:1e:33:72
ath0: Atheros 5212: mem=0x20000000, irq=3

As is evident, the card comes up as ath0, not as ethN.

The card is not known to the pcmcia-cs tools, so I had to add it manually to /etc/pcmcia/config-2.4 by adding these two stanzas:

device "atheros"
  class "network" module "ath_pci"

card "Atheros WiFi card"
  manfid: 0x0271, 0x0012
  bind "atheros"

This causes the driver to load automatically when the card is inserted into the laptop.

I had added a stanza for ath0 to /etc/network/interfaces, but the card was still not configured automatically when inserted, even if the driver was loaded. I had hotplug installed on one of the laptops but not on the other, but neither hotplug would ifup the card without some manual intervention. After some research I discovered that if I added the following to /etc/network/interfaces, hotplug would configure it automatically when it was inserted:

mapping hotplug
        script grep
        map ath0

With all this in place, the card works perfectly. I have still, after well over a month of using it continuously, to experience a problem, a dropped association or a lock-up.

UPDATE 2004-08-06:
I just updated to the latest driver, with no problem whatsoever. The output was:

ath0: 11b rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps
ath0: 11g rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps 6Mbps 9Mbps 12Mbps 18Mbps 24Mbps 36Mbps 48Mbps 54Mbps
ath0: mac 5.9 phy 4.3 5ghz radio 4.6
ath0: 802.11 address: 00:03:2f:1e:33:72
ath0: Use hw queue 0 for WME_AC_BE traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 1 for WME_AC_BK traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 2 for WME_AC_VI traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 3 for WME_AC_VO traffic
ath0: Atheros 5212: mem=0x20000000, irq=3