Photo printing and Linux

Volume 9, Issue 89; 23 Sep 2006; last modified 08 Oct 2010

When we bought a high-end photo printer, I resigned myself to running a Windows box to drive it. Troubles with VMWare pushed me to investigate more closely and I was delighted to find a Linux solution: TurboPrint.

The back story to this essay is that we bought a Canon i9900 printer (kudos to Canon for reasonable looking, and hopefully persistent, URIs). What I realized is that while I get a lot of enjoyment out of our pictures online, Deb and others would sometimes enjoy them more if they were presented more traditionally.

So I dug around a bit on the net, got some advice from Lauren (who had already picked the i9900), and eventually choose the i9900 too. There's no question, it makes wonderful prints. I mean seriously, knock your socks off, wonderful prints.

But a quick look at Linux support for Canon printers pretty clearly excludes the i9900. I knew that going in and fully expected to have to run a Windows box to drive it.

But I don't have a license for another Windows box, so I thought maybe I could drive it from VMWare. I got all the Canon drivers installed without any trouble, plugged the printer into my laptop, connected the device to my VMWare session, and printed. Can you say BSOD? I knew you could. (I could, I probably should, spend some time reporting that bug, but I haven't bothered yet).

While searching for answers to that BSOD problem, I stumbled across TurboPrint. TurboPrint for Linux is a set of commercial printer drivers that includes support for the i9900 and a host of other high-end printers. They integrate with CUPS and LPR/LPRng and work like a charm.

For a quite reasonable 29.95€, I have a working set of drivers that do everything, right up to the i9900's spectacular 13x19" “A3+ borderless” size. And let's just be clear: photos look good at that size.

Now my dilemma is that if I'm going to print them, and clearly I am, I'm going to want even better control over the images. Anyone know of a good “digital photo editing” book for GIMP users? (I can probably learn to do the mental gymnastics of conversion from one of the Adobe programs if necessary, but if I don't have to do that before I really understand the difference between contrast masks and colorspaces, all the better.)


I don't know how people do color management on Linux. The GIMP never used to know about it (I haven't checked recently, though). Without color management, though, getting truly fine looking prints is *really* hard.

Running Windows, I print with QImage. It's an excellent program for this, though their latest version has changed the UI to a skinned one I loathe. Maybe a Windows box is still in your future after all...

—Posted by Tom Passin on 24 Sep 2006 @ 02:19 UTC #

I recently noticed a new book targeted at GIMP specifically for editing digital photos. It's called "GIMP 2 For Photographers", by Klaus Goelker. I plan on buying a copy, once I've finished my Christmas shopping :-).

—Posted by Randy J. Ray on 15 Dec 2006 @ 10:40 UTC #