Reverse image printing problem solved
#93 Henry, Wednesday, 23 March 2011 9:36 AM (Category: Linux)
(Tags: printer pdf hp laserjet cups)

I have two HP Laserjet 1300 printers, one at work and one at home. They work great, work very well with Linux, and don't cost much to run.

Late last year "something changed" and some images started to print in reversed mode. I don't know what changed. I don't know how things just change. Either there was a CUPS upgrade, or I changed the print definitions for this printer in CUPS. Most likely I changed it.

But when the "something changed", it became an irritation.

I am in a number of online swapping clubs, where cds, books and dvds get swapped. You can print the mailing wrappers and ship them out easily. Sometimes you can pay the postage in advance and you can print out the pre-paid shipping labels. It's a nice system. With the cd swapping site, if I print out a plain shipping label, it prints normally with black text on white background. And once upon a time, if I printed the pre-paid labels, they would print the same - black text on white background with the bar codes looking normal. After the "something changed" occurred, and I don't really know when this was, plain shipping labels printed the same, but the pre-paid shipping labels started printing white text on black background, with the bar codes reversed too. Not only did this make things difficult for the post office to accept and scan and ship these parcels, it started costing me a fortune in toner cartridges. I queried the cd swapping club and asked if they had done anything. They correctly replied that they had not, and it must be in my print settings.

I lived with this situation until today. I printed an image of a fish to hang on my door. We were told we were floundering with the current ICP and CCXML and VoiceXML development. And we are. We have no experience with it, barely any documentation, a buggy implementation of VoiceXML, and no understanding of the technicalities and telco beneath it. Yes, we are floundering. And it got thrown in our faces, because this whole project now comes down to us not knowing what we are doing. So I printed an image of a flounder and pinned it to my door.

The image was like an X-Ray, reversed with a black background. After the floundering accusation, I exploded at the printing and went searching for a solution. I found this discussion on the Ubuntu forums and spotted a possible solution deep down in the discussions.

The suggestion was "Change make and model to alter driver for printer to: HP Laserjet 1300-CUPS+Gutenprint V5.2.5 Simplified [en] Current". I went into CUPS maintenance, selected my printer, went into Administration -> Modify Printer, followed it down and then chose "HP LaserJet 1300 - CUPS+Gutenprint v5.2.6". Printed the test page, and it was subtly different and had a border top and bottom this time. Printed the flounder again, and it printed beautifully with a white background and lots of crisp details of the fish.

I printed a cd swap label and it printed perfectly too. Problem solved.

Here's a photo showing the good and the bad. I blurred out the addresses, so now it's pretty ugly too. On the right, is a normal mailing label and it's black text on white background and looks good. On the left is a pre-paid label, and you can see that the important bits are reversed - white text on a black label. That uses a lot of toner to create. And the bar code on the top right that is scanned for the postage is reversed. I don't know how they accepted these. And those tiny little addresses in white on all that black... how can the postmen see the address to deliver them? But they all got delivered.

Sample of good printing and reverse printing