Networks and Printers and the Price of Ink

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Networks and Printers and the Price of Ink

Postby Yogi » 12 Dec 2014, 13:28

NETWORK LAG
I've been experiencing network problems off and on over the past few weeks. The symptom is that when I go to a web page there often is a long delay before it loads. Sometimes it times out and I get an error message. Then I have to try again. And again. And again. This sort of thing can be caused by any number of things starting with the browser and going all the way to the ISP's Internet switch or DNS servers. I own a few computers and several browsers and multiple operating systems. They all had the problem in one form or another so that I suspected it was something common to all of them.

MODEM RIP
One night while sitting here frustrated, my modem died. All the lights stopped blinking. I tried for many hours over a couple days to get the modem working again, but no luck. I had to call my ISP and talk to one of their representatives in India. I was shocked when the modem started working again after he told me to do what I already did a few dozen times. Things went along swimmingly for a few days, but the intermittent network connections started up again. I figured that certainly it was the modem dying a slow death. I got back on the phone with my ISP and talked to the first guy's sister, also in India. At the end of our conversation she determined that the modem was misbehaving and that she could send me a brand new one if I promised to keep my ISP service for one more year. I usually have to problems with them so I agreed, but I had to pay for overnight delivery if I wanted the modem quickly. It was about the same price as a new modem so I agreed. The only problem was that I called on a Friday night and they could not ship until Monday, which meant a Tuesday delivery. OK, I can live without Internet for a few days, right? … Wrong! … So I turned on my officially dead modem late Saturday night and it worked like nothing ever happened. It worked perfectly until the new (refurbished) one arrived to replace it, but it lost all my trust.

ROUTER RIP
It only took a few days before I was back to network lagging problems. At this point I knew it was either my router or the DNS servers. I connected my computer directly to the new modem. The lag disappeared. I researched routers several months ago and found one that met my needs for the low low price of $279. At this time of the year everyone is discounting them to $230 and I figured that must be some kind of a (illegal) price fixing routine. Then I used some other search engine besides Google and found the identical router for only $199. The problem was that Best Buy was selling it for that ridiculous price and I have been boycotting them for several years now – that story is too long to tell here. The compelling part of the deal was that I could order it on line and pick it up at the store near my house. It took them about two hours to bring it out of the stock room and up to the pick up area, but then their e-mail arrived announcing it's availability.

I decided to set up the new router the next morning because that's when I think the clearest. It took less than 15 minutes to get it going and most of that time was spent reading the instructions. I've learned long ago not to use the helpful Installation Wizard software provided. Doing it manually was incredibly easy and I only had to change a few things on the network to let it know we have a new router.

WHAT ELSE?
New modem and new router and back to near normal network connection speeds … what else could go wrong? If you guessed that this would be a perfect time for my wireless (HP) printer to die, you would be correct. It's been around for many years and served it's purpose well. Perhaps it was time for it to die, but the timing was incredibly poor. Back to Google shopping, and this time for a printer. I investigated printers last summer when HP's software drivers failed to do their assigned task, but then I figured out how to get around their software. Frankly I was pretty tired of reading reviews and trying to find rock bottom prices, so I decided to jet on over to TigerDirect (ten minutes from home) and see what they have. They had a wireless Epson WF-2540 on sale. I remembered reading reviews about Epson last summer but could not remember what they were complaining about. I bought the printer anyway along with some ink and paper. In this case I used Epson's Wizard software to install it because that made setting up the wireless part easy. I was amazed at how well the installation went. I was good to go on Windows 7.

I then turned on Windows 10 (a beta version) and was shocked to see the Epson already installed and working. I don't know how they did it, but it's the second time I noticed this phenomena in Windows 10. They also found my network hard drive without me setting it up manually. Anyway, I was a happy camper. The quality of the Epson is excellent but not built like the old HP printer. They just don't make printers like they used to. Then I decided to see how it works in one of my Linux computers.

NOT IN LINUX
I am using Linux Ubuntu. They have always found hardware drivers for me in the past, but, unfortunately, they have no software for my Epson printer. I went to Epson's web site and THEY had “Linux” drivers for my printer. They also had a warning saying they do not support the Linux drivers, so don't go asking them any questions. I was beginning to recall what I read in the reviews several months earlier.

Before installing the Epson drivers into Linux I was advised to install a package of programs called LSB 3.2 or greater. LSB 4.2 was already installed in Ubuntu, but the Epson software did not recognize it. People in tech support forums have run into the same problem and offered some creative solutions. Apparently my Epson's drivers were originally written in 'rpm' format and not the 'deb' I needed. So some software called 'Alien' was used to convert files back and forth between the two formats. The suggestion was to take the 'deb' drivers I had and convert them back to 'rpm' then convert them back to 'deb.' I was lead to believe that worked for at least one hacker. 'Alien' is not provided in Ubuntu. It cannot be installed due to dependency issues. I tried to reinstall LSB at that point, and that too had unresolved dependencies. I don't now what everybody else on Linux is experiencing, but the Epson printer drivers simply could not be installed or retrofitted into the latest LTS version of Ubuntu. This was grossly disappointing given how easy it was to install in Windows.

Back to Google, and this time I was looking at HP printers and nothing else. HP has Linux drivers for everything they make. I found a heavy duty printer that I normally would not buy, but this printer was going for a price I could not ignore. It was about half the retail price, and I could order it on line and pick it up in the store close to my house. I thought about doing that but then I read on and they said it was free one day delivery. It would cost me a minimum of $39 to get a box somewhere overnight. This printer was obviously a loss leader for this big box store. Well, I took them up on their incredible offer and made them ship it overnight. I've been using it for a few days now and it works flawlessly on Windows AND in Ubuntu.

GOTCHA
Too good to be true? Well, yes, of course. The printer comes with a supply of ink, but it's a short supply just to get you started. HP, of course, wants to sell me ink directly, but I've never gone that route before. I always got the discount refurbished ink cartridges, which might explain why my old printer died. It turns out I need three color cartridges and one black. The total best price for all four is $116. That is $17 more than the price of the printer. Yes, I can print 1500 colorful pages (@ 5% ink density), but a lot less if I decide to print photographs instead. I looked and looked and could not find the official ink any cheaper. I could buy smaller cartridges for less, but the bottom line is that if you count the ink alone, it's going for about $2500 a gallon. It is now perfectly clear to me why they discounted the printer so much.

PS
And by the way, if anyone wants a nearly new Epson printer:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/191446759008?ss ... 1555.l2649
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Re: Networks and Printers and the Price of Ink

Postby Kellemora » 12 Dec 2014, 17:59

I'm crying in my beer today too Yogi...
I broke one of the installs on my newest computer. My fault technically.
I added a proprietary video driver, since none was in the kernel.
Without thinking this morning, I just hit YES install updates without checking them.
One was a new kernel, so I ended up with a black screen.
Try as I might to install the video driver from the command line, it just wouldn't let me.
So, after three hours of messing around, I just reinstalled the OS.
I of course copied the home directory out of the partition and copied it back again, then had to change permissions.
But at least I'm back up and running.
I have not installed the proper video driver yet.
Waiting to see what problems this new kernel causes with the video first.

It's a good thing I don't drink beer, because crying into it would water it down, hi hi...

By the way, on printers, the drivers which worked in Debian6 do not work in Debian7, but it is not the drivers fault.
Cups was changed in Debian7 which also affects Ubuntu and Linux Mint as well.
Hundreds of BUG reports over it too!

TTUL
Gary
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Re: Networks and Printers and the Price of Ink

Postby Yogi » 12 Dec 2014, 20:01

nVidia seems to cause havoc with Ubuntu and probably other distributions as well. I've been using the Linux shell to manually install the newest drivers direct from the nVidia website and have had to reinstall (read that to mean recompile) the kernel modules each time it was updated. I've been doing this for well over a year and considered it a royal pain in the butt to be forced to recompile the kernel every few weeks just so I can use nVidia drivers. Then, I ran across a note somewhere that the "latest' drivers happen to be in the repository

    sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
is all I have to do to get the latest from Ubuntu. It turns out that command does indeed install the latest drivers that Ubuntu has approved, which happen to be three or four generations behind what nVidia offers as current. The good news is that the old drivers work well and I don't have to recompile anything.

AND, the irony of it all is that I can update the nVidia drivers in Windows without even having to reboot the computer.
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Re: Networks and Printers and the Price of Ink

Postby Kellemora » 13 Dec 2014, 12:09

I've never had a problem with any of my computers which use Nvidia.
I install the Nvidia system, so see it when I reboot as a splash screen.
I don't get this with Radeon and have to rebuild the kernel.

My new motherboard uses Radeon 8370d, which I'm not using at the moment.
I'm letting the default driver already in the kernel handle it now.
I don't have as many resolutions to choose from, and the mouse pointer disappears over some buttons. But I don't want to end up having to reload the OS again.

Both Ubuntu and Linux Mint have the proper drivers, so I don't know why Debian doesn't, since they are all built on the same kernel and platform.

I had the proper driver available, just could not figure out how to get it installed from command line.
If I tried at user, it only got so far then said it couldn't and asked if I was Root.
If I tried as Root, it only got so far and said it couldn't access the driver folder, permission denied.
How can Root have permission denied, to access a folder placed in the Root directory?

After wasting too much time trying to do it the right way. I just copied my /home directory to another partition, reloaded the OS TWICE, first try stalled. Then copied the /home directory back again.

I know, you are going to ask WHY don't I have /home as it's own partition.
I did that once, and since I run three or four different OSs, it caused problems.
A program run in Linux Mint has different dependencies than the same program in Ubuntu or Debian.
Or, if you do not have a certain program in lets say Mint, Mint may remove unused dependencies. So when you boot back into Debian, a program crashes, missing dependencies.
So I just leave /home where each Distro puts it.

Backing up /home can be a problem with later distro's too, because some of the files cannot be copied, especially Keys. I quit copying the /etc folder as well. You overwrite the /etc folder of a new install, and the system will crash, hi hi...

One thing I learned back when I was running Windows, is once you have everything working properly on a machine, Freeze It. Because if you upgrade anything on the machine, several other things must be upgraded along with it, which can become expensive if you have several programs. Also, some older machines just didn't have enough RAM to handle the new upgrades and it slowed to a crawl.

This is how I wound up with so many old computers, all working perfectly, just way out of date.
And how it messed me up a little also, when old files generated from proprietary programs on the oldest machines, were not readable by the same program on the newest machines. I failed to follow the upgrade steps from one to the other each step of the way.

Almost lost years of massive genealogy files because of it too!
Thankfully, the Linux program Gramps had conversion filters for every FTM from DOS to FTM for Windows and their newer FTW files. I don't particularly like Gramps all that much, compared to FTW, but FTW could not read my FTM files, unless I purchased a transitional program, which may not run on today's computers.

I have my newest computer back up and running, but it cost me a days work in the process.
I had other computers to fall back on for most things, but not set up for accessing some datafiles I need for my job. Mainly because I must register my computers IP address with them first, and prior to trying to log-in. They have high security there every step of the way.

TTUL
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