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Lexmark's Linux Secret

Michael Larabel

Published on 2 April 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 5 - 43 Comments

Most of the time at Phoronix we focus on looking at the Linux graphics performance of the software drivers and hardware, since traditionally that has been one of the most troubling areas of Linux hardware support. Tides though have turned as AMD continues to back their own open-source strategy with providing documentation and pushing out code that enables open-source hardware support from 3D acceleration to power management, while Intel continues to back their fully open-source model too. Another area of hardware support that has caused much grief for users has been with printer support. Printers are not nearly as complex as a modern-day graphics processor, but the different vendors have not been quick to offer up any Linux support -- and binary-only drivers frequently back the ones that do. There is one printer manufacturer though that as of last year has begun supporting Linux from top to bottom with their entire line-up of printers. Not only are they providing CUPS drivers, but also they are even printing Tux in the corner of every box they ship right besides the Windows and Apple logos. Do you know who we are talking about? Probably not, but it's Lexmark. After months of wrangling within the company, Lexmark has stepped up to become a Linux and open-source friendly company. We are seeing how far this Linux support extends as we try out the Lexmark Pro905 Platinum multi-function printer.

It was in September of last year when we first learned of this new Linux support strategy from Lexmark. Just prior to that point they rolled out their 2009 inkjet line-up and it was at that point when they began supporting their printers on Linux and promoting this support. Unfortunately, they did not get too far with advertising this support. We were not even aware of their Linux support offerings until Allen Shockley, a Lexmark employee who for more than a year was prodding within the company for better support on Linux operating systems, informed us of the news after the fact. Long story short, a few months went by and one of these new Lexmark printers has now arrived. While we are trying out the Lexmark Pro905 Platinum in this article, Lexmark is supporting all of their inkjet printers under Linux. If the Pro905 Platinum, which is an advanced multi-function printer, ends up working fine under Linux, we are sure their other printers should not have any problems with Linux.

The Lexmark Pro905 Platinum arrived double-boxed, but once pulling out the actual printer box, we were happy with what we had laid our eyes on. Right on the top of the box besides the "Works With Windows Vista", "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP", and "Mac OS X Support 10.3.9 - 10.6.X" logos was in fact Tux. The penguin has finally made it on a printer box. Also advertised on the product packaging was the printer's use of four single ink cartridges, 802.11n wireless support, a five-year warranty, the lowest black ink cost at one cent per page, double-sided printing support, and its scan/copy/fax capabilities instead of being just a printer.

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