HP Deskjet and Ubuntu – a sleeper nightmare

Let me start off by saying, “What a Mess!” About 2.5 weeks ago (probably 3 by the time I post this!) I bought an HP Deskjet 2050 printer at Walmart, it was cheap, had a flatbed scanner, came with “full” ink cartridges, and only a USB connection option. It was $49.00, $20 more than the printer that looked identical, but was not a flatbed scanner. I thought that HP of all companies would have linux support, even for newer model printers, oh there is support for it… If you can find it. (I’ll be putting up a separate post with plenty of links and re-written documentation for installing this and other HP printers in Ubuntu in the next week or two, kinda busy this weekend, so doubt it will get done before next week)

First thing I did was to go to HP’s website and download a driver, I wasn’t even going to fool with the included CD (actually not sure it even had one). I found it within a minute or two, all seemed good. Installed the driver and plugged the printer in, everything went fine. I believe I even printed something that day just clicked print and it spit right out! Well, next to happen was my wife is using my ChromeOS CR-48 netbook and wanted to print something, so I went to look into setting up Google Cloud Print. I figured, yeah cloud print, that should work… Google has two operating systems in their pockets and both are linux based, piece of cake to use cloud print with linux, right? wrong…

Google Cloud Print requires a Windows computer running the beta Google Chrome browser (or a Mac, but why would you want to use a Mac?) (an fyi, the Linux Chrome Browser only comes in Beta!), a bit confused and disappointed (happens a lot with Google these days), I thought, oh well, good thing I have 5 or 6 Windows Virtual Machines setup already! I popped onto a Win7 VM and setup Google Cloud Print and told my wife “Good to Go!” only took me 30-45 minutes to figure all that out and set it up (I forgot to share it with her gmail ID the first go round!).

Success! it printed!
I love first try attempts that work out great!

So next I had to fill out some paperwork for work and email it back, so I printed the pages that needed signing and filled them out, then tried scan them back in… the scanner would not scan (using simple scan) unless I unplugged the USB cable for 10 seconds or so, then plugged it back in… (more on that at the end of this post, I have a theory). Well after 3-5 pages of this over 1-2 hours, out of about 12 pages, popping the USB cable out stopped working. I wasn’t sure why it needed it in the first place, I had checked to make sure the printer was not attached to a VM at the time… So instead I tried setting it up to scan off the Win7 VM I was using for Cloud Printing (just a note, this was all happening maybe 4 days after the cloud print setup), the scanning application from HP worked fine until I was done. Weird though, again if I did not use the printer for an hour or two, or the VM was paused, or the screen saver came on, I had to unplug the USB cable again…

ok, so history done, up to my issue that started last night…

Actually the issue started on Saturday, but I was pre-occupied and didn’t really try too hard to get it resolved. My wife sent something to the printer from the netbook, I started up the VM for the Win7 Cloud Print, and it never printed. The first document just says “In Progress” and the date submitted was showing 3 days ago when I deleted it. I’ve powered off the Printer for 30+ minutes, I’ve rebooted my computer 4 times, leaving it powered off for about 8 hours once, popped the USB cable, nothing worked. I tried printing locally from Ubuntu and still nothing comes out, just says “Processing”. I did some digging online and found some “directions” for setting up the printer in linux, most of which was on HP’s website, and I never did any of it, including downloading the driver source files and doing a Build, Make, Install on them. So I started following the directions (did not build the driver, it seems to be installed and functioning, as Ubuntu can tell if it is plugged in or not and shows the correct device name), and found a huge list of dependencies that it says to install, I tried it and sure enough I did not have most of it installed on my system yet. About 78MB worth to be specific. I let it run, and noticed a new kernel was available, so I updated that while I was at it… 3 reboots later (not necessary, just kept trying to get things working) and I have no change in the current situation.

So, right now I have no working printer at all, not even scanning is working. It shows it is online, I have enabled it, shared it, allowed internet printing on it (none of which I did when I installed it, only did that after it stopped working).

Now, I’ve had some time to think about it, and I have been having USB issues with Ubuntu the entire time I’ve been running it. My USB webcam and Skype have fighting matches everytime I reboot my system, it never detects and adds the webcam as a valid hardware device, I have to manually configure the microphone each restart, and the video sometimes requires I unplug the webcam and then plug it back in and restart Skype. Other USB devices (I have a USB wireless headset and KB, external drives, my android phone), have all had issues that has required me to restart the computer or plug and unplug the device over and over several times.

This made me think I should run “lsusb -v” on my system to take a look at the devices that the system thinks I have. Well the command does nothing, it just hangs and never runs or finishes running, I have to kill the process AND the terminal window process to get it to stop. I missed this in the printer issue above, but I tried running the hp-setup app that came with the driver and it hangs on detecting the printer when I select USB as the connection type, as well.

So I have determined that the issue is with my Ubuntu installation and the USB service (this occurred to me actually right before I started typing this up). I have not yet started looking into the USB issue and will be doing so tonight. I’ll post a second post instead of updating this one with any results I find out, or if I nuke and reinstall… as a note if I do reinstall, it will not be Ubuntu 11. Also planning on typing up a how to properly install an HP printer on Ubuntu 10.10 x64 guide too.


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