OpenSUSE not printing on HP 1200

Q I recently installed a version of SUSE (SLICK). It all works fine but for the fact that it will not print from any application. My printer (an HP 1200) is recognised correctly but when I try to print, the jobs are processed and wait in the printer queue indefinitely - any ideas? Also, I am trying to find a flat-bed scanner for home use (not too expensive) that will work with, say, Xandros (or SUSE). Linux scanner compatibility seems a problem. A final question: why is the /dev directory such an apparent mess? Why not have the software interrogate the hardware and create the device files in /dev as required? Extra device files could be manually added if needed.

A It is difficult to say exactly what is wrong with your printer setup without more information. Did a test print work when you first set up the printer? The best source of information is the CUPS error log. Run this command in a terminal:

tail -f /var/log/cups/error_log

If you get an error message about inability to read the file, use su to log in as root then run it again. Now try to print something and you will see messages from the CUPS print system in the terminal. The error messages should help you find the cause. It is possible that the printer is simply disabled (this happens after an error). To fix this, you would clear the print queue and try again. You can do this from the Gnome or KDE print manager, or from the command line with

/usr/bin/enable PrinterName

This should be done as root, and you must give the full path to the command. Scanner support in Linux is good these days, using the SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy) system. The website (www.sane-project.org) has a comprehensive list of supported scanners. If you want a personal recommendation, I bought a Canon LiDE 60 a few months ago. It gives good scan quality and works well with SANE. There is no support for the buttons on the front of the scanner (yet) but scanning from applications gives excellent quality. Many of the device nodes in /dev are created on demand. Plug in a scanner, printer or USB stick and its device node appears; remove it and they disappear. The /dev directory looks busy because there are so many device nodes used by the system, even though users may remain blissfully unaware of them. A static /dev directory used to be the norm, but modern Linux systems use udev to create device nodes in response to hardware detection.

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