My Epson printer kicked the bucket a few days ago (RIP) so I headed off
to Amazon UK, and picked the colour inkjet with the most customer votes,
an HP Deskjet 6940.
It arrived yesterday, and I set it up in a few minutes (the hardware,
anyway). The hardest part was inserting the cartridges (I'd heard the
retaining clips break easily if you're not careful). What follows is a
comparison of setting up this printer on both Windows and Linux:
# Windows #
Boot into Windows, and wait several minutes whilst seemingly every app
in the system tries to simultaneously download updates, the tonne of
mysterious "services" all start; and the AV and Spyware scanners do
their startup scans.
Once the system becomes responsive (i.e. enough time to make a cup of
coffee) insert the "HP Deskjet 6900 series" CD, then wait for Autorun
... and wait ... and wait ... then eventually give up, and right-click
on the drive's icon in "My Computer" to select "AutoPlay" ... then wait
some more. That didn't work (despite this disc definitely having an
"autorun.inf"). Oh well...
Give up on Autorun completely, and just run what I assume is the correct
file, called "Setup.exe", and wait some more. Eventually something
starts happening, and I'm greeted by a photo of an empty road
accompanying a "thank you" note and an install button. This is followed
by an install "wizard" that warns me about copyrights; international
treaties; and terrorists (or something).
The next screen is yet another warning, this time about firewalls and AV
blocking the installer (why would they do that, unless it's up to no
good?). Sure enough, hitting the "next" button jolts Outpost firewall
into panic mode, indicating that two components of Acronis Trueimage
have changed (timounter.dll and tishell.dll). WTF? Why is this installer
interfering with a totally unrelated application?
Then I get a screen asking me if I want to automatically check for
updates (oh no ... not *another* update program). At this point I'm
basically just clicking "yes" to everything. Whatever ... just install
the damned printer already.
Finally the install begins with an update check (another firewall
panic), and what the installer claims will be a four-step process. It
briefly "inspects" the system (whatever that means), then gives me a
choice of two install methods - Full or Express (recommended). The least
amount I can install is *200MB* apparently!!! WTF!!! For a *printer
driver*? Gimmie a break. Oh well, I may as well go with "full" (at some
450MB) and be done with it. Don't wanna get short changed, after all.
Then comes the obligatory license agreement, where I have to swear a
blood-oath to sacrifice my first-born to King Herod, or something.
The next bit is far more worrisome, and indeed quite shocking.
Apparently HP want to install some software on my system called "HP
Extended Capabilities", that rather ominously collects information about
*every page* I print and *sends that info to HP* for "marketing
purposes". Good God almighty!
Of course that is not explained fully by the installer (up to that
point) ... I had to go Google for "HP Extended Capabilities" to discover
the grim truth.
This is all the installer told me:
This software can help you receive additional benefits only available to
Once this software is installed, you will have an opportunity to
participate in market research designed to improve HP products and
experiences. An invitation will appear on your screen in a few weeks and
you can choose whether or not to participate at that time.
Customers who do a lot of printing may also receive an invitation to
participate in programs with benefits such as special offers, awards and
enhanced technical support.
This is what I discovered:
The shared information is dependant upon which HP product has been
installed. In general, this information includes:
. number of pages printed
. print mode, media, and text vs. graphics
. install date
. file type and location
. ink or toner use and brand
. product serial number and IP address
. product model
. amount of memory
. additional technical information that varies by product
Participation requires Internet access and approval for HP to receive HP
usage information. This information will be sent to a HP entity that may
be located overseas and will be retained for a period of up to five
years from the date of the last information sharing session, unless you
request deletion of your data.
If approval is given, monthly sharing will occur automatically when
connected, with almost no impact to your computer and Internet
Needless to say, I responded with a definite "no". Someone should
contact HP and tell them to include a "fsck off" button too.
Next I have to decide /where/ to install the software because, unlike
real operating systems, Windows lets ordinary users install crap in
arbitrary locations all over the filesystem. I also unchecked the box
that asks me if I want to dump yet another icon on my desktop.
*Finally* it starts installing files. It looks like it's going to be a
while, so I'm tempted to go get another coffee (assuming there's any
left after all this), but just as I'm about to leave the room, the
installer asks me yet another question - "Choose how you will connect
your device to this computer".
I should also point out, that Windows installers are rather less than
optimal, and frankly just weird in their methodology. I'm looking at the
install Wizard, which has a progress bar with specific file info running
alongside, and yet during the process it still needs to pop up external
progress bars for individual components, and even a DOS box for one
component called "hpzsetup.exe". This is rather messy; not very
professional; and not exactly conducive to the user easily following
what's going on (typically these external boxes appear then disappear
too quickly to actually see what they're up to). Mostly it just reminds
me of Spyware behaviour:
I was also disturbed to notice that (once again) this Wizard wanted to
"inspect" the system, which apparently means trawling through the
registry looking at unrelated software settings. More Spyware behaviour.
Anyway, back to the show. I select connect "through the network", since
this is a so-called workgroup printer with a built-in print server, and
again my firewall yells about an attempted UDP connection to port 427,
which is some auto-discovery service called "Service Location Protocol".
Fair enough. So for the umpteenth time I hit the "whatever" button and
it finally finds the printer, and asks me if this is the "right one". I
click the "For the love of God please just install this printer" button,
and once *again* my firewall informs me that another unrelated
application's components have changed, this time "dopuslib.dll" from
At this point the Wizard's progress is still only at 9%, and that's as
far as it's going to get apparently, because it b0rks with the message
"The installation was not successful"; generates some log files; reports
the error to HP; suggests I unplug all my USB devices (I don't have any
plugged in); undoes everything it's done so far; then quits.
Oh, and apparently I still have to reboot anyway, even though it failed
Take 2: This time I just *disable* the firewall, thus handily allowing
my PC to be transformed into a zombie node for a spam botnet, and begin
the process all over again, including the obligatory reboot.
This time I get past the "installing device" section, and proceed
straight to the spammy "buy lots of stuff from HP" adverts that cycle
through the Wizard, as it copies 450MB of junk to my hard drive (and
pops up some more external progress bars for good measure).
Progress is excruciatingly slow, and bear in mind this is a 3.6GHz P4
with 2GB of dual-channel memory, and a SATA RAID. I contemplate going
down the pub for an hour, but the fear of missing yet more stupid
questions from the Wizard keeps me glued to my seat. I doze off for a
few minutes, and when I wake up the installer is still only at 62%, so I
just go back to sleep.
Some time later I wake up to be greeted by a "Congratulations!" message.
Yes, they may well use an exclamation point, after all that time and effort.
I'm then greeted by the biggest spinning hour glass I've ever seen (this
thing is *huge*) and the offer to "register my product" - i.e. sign up
for lots of spam. Also, apparently signing up entitles me to 50 free
prints with an online printing service called SnapFish. Er ... why would
someone who's just bought a printer want to then waste time (and
eventually money) on an online printing service? Isn't the whole point
of having my own printer that I can do that myself??? How bizarre. Oh
well, I guess it must've seemed like a good idea at the time ... to some
So anyway, now I'm left with a working printer driver, 450MB of
Shovelware, and an extremely basic looking printer status utility that I
don't need anyway because I can just point any Web browser at the
printer's IP and connect to the print server's Web interface.
Total time: 35 minutes ++ (I dozed off)
Total software installed: 450MB.
So much for the /Windows/ XPerience...
# Linux #
>From the Gnome menu: System -> Administration -> Printing
Type root password (of course, since I am changing system settings).
Click the "New Printer" button, then select the "HP JetDirect" protocol.
Type in the IP number  (shown in my router's "connected devices"
page), and the port number (already correctly set at 9100).
Select the printer make ("HP" is preselected) and model ("Deskjet 6940"
is also preselected).
Give it a common name, description and location (for information
Total time: 15 seconds.
Total software installed: zero.
Yeah ... Linux printing is so "difficult".
Note: CUPS would have found the printer automatically if I'd enabled
UPnP on the router, but I've disabled it for security reasons:
| 'When it comes to knowledge, "ownership" just doesn't make sense'
| ~ Cory Doctorow, The Guardian. http://tinyurl.com/22bgx8
Fedora release 8 (Werewolf) on sky, running kernel 126.96.36.199-63.fc8
02:13:49 up 146 days, 22:49, 5 users, load average: 0.15, 0.20, 0.18