Lexmark's Linux Secret
With the printer working, we next turned to trying out the scanner. We tried using XSane to detect the scanner, but alas, it went undetected. However, from the printer's touch-screen system, you can use the scanner, save the file to a JPEG or PDF, and email it to either yourself or the recipient all without a computer. This actually makes it easier than having to setup the software on Linux as you can quickly and easily scan the document, photo, or business cards and then have them instantly emailed off. The Pro905 Platinum also allows you to scan the document to a memory device that is attached to the printer via the USB port or memory card slot. All from the touch-screen, you can also configure the scanning settings.
Below are samples from the scanner. One is from the Ubuntu test page that was printed off and scanned using the Automatic Document Feeder. The others are photos from Munich's Oktoberfest and Berlin's Silvester printed off (note: we were using stock printing paper) and then scanned on the flatbed. We were pleased with both the prints and the scans.
With the Lexmark driver installed, the printer worked well under Linux from selecting between the two paper trays to the other options that were exposed. The printing speed was also fast -- to test this portion, I had printed off my annual taxes. The 65 pages printed off in just over seven minutes.
Seeing Tux showcased on the packaging of the Lexmark Pro905 Platinum all-in-one printer (and Linux being mentioned within their user's manual) is certainly exciting and knowing that this sign of Linux support is appearing on all of their 2009 printers and will continue to be going forward. Unfortunately, this Linux support is not yet perfect. Our biggest complaint is the lack of availability of a 64-bit Linux driver for Ubuntu or their supported OpenSUSE/Fedora support either, but the 32-bit driver can be forced to install and work just fine atop x86_64 Linux as we shared in this article. We are told though a 64-bit driver should come with their 2010 printer line-up. It would best to see open-source support within all new Linux distributions for Lexmark printers for the best out of the box experience, but at least Lexmark is stepping in the right direction.
The Pro905 scanner not being detected by XSane on Linux is also unfortunate, but to us really is not much of an issue since the scanner can be so easily operated from the touch-screen panel where one can then directly email off the scanned document or photos, email it to yourself, or save it to a storage device. This touch-screen and its interface is rather slick. It is easy to use, all of the icons are quite large, and there is a plethora of options available for configuring the printer, scanner, and fax capabilities.
Other benefits of the Lexmark Pro905 Platinum include a five year warranty (if the printer is registered within ninety days, otherwise it's just a one year warranty), extremely low print costs at just one cent per page with black ink, the Smart Solutions capability that makes this printer rather extensible from the touch-screen panel, and the overall build quality of this multifunction printer is quite good.
This printer premiered last September for over $400 USD, but at this time, it can be purchased for around $300 USD at Internet retailers like Amazon.com. Right now this feature rich printer can even be found at NewEgg.com for just $270 USD. For those that may not need all of these features, Lexmark's entire 2009 selection of printers from their very affordable units all the way to this high-end all-in-one are backed by Linux drivers.
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