HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

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HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:54 pm

I got an HP 4050N free from ewaste. Yes, it's old, but it works well. However, it came with 16MB RAM (8MB soldered + 8MB DIMM), and I added a 64MB DIMM in hopes that it would stop pausing between pages when printing complex documents (both via LAN and USB/LPT adapter). Here's the kicker - it still pauses when doing this from Windows, same as before. But in Ubuntu 14.04LTS, I was asked how much RAM it had (>32MB is the max option, which I chose), and I was able to print those same pages from Chrome with no lag whatsoever between them. It left the queue much faster. Yet in Windows, I still get that lag, even if I install it to Windows after I've added the printer RAM. And in Windows, RAM options for the printer go from 128MB to 512MB (none of those are correct, so I chose 128MB). Any thoughts? 4 pages from a textbook take ~13MB in the queue, which should be fine with 80MB RAM. I'm using a USB/LPT adapter at the moment, but considering I did the same on Ubuntu and Windows yet had different results, there's clearly a driver issue. Any thoughts?
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:32 am

PCL5 vs postscript perhaps? Or maybe the Linux renderer is just doing a better job than the Windows one of making simple stuff that doesn't tax the onboard processor as much?
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:50 am

Could also be that the Windows driver for the USB to LPT adapter sucks.

Have you tried sharing the printer from the Linux system, and printing to it over the network from the Windows system? Depending on where the bottleneck is, that may be a viable workaround.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:27 pm

I'm using the OS-provided PCL5 driver in both cases. I tried Postscript under Windows at one point, but that actually worked worse for me. (And PS seems to be known for higher resource use in most cases.) And the newer PCL6 drivers tend to not work with these older units either.

Thing is, that lag with Windows also occurs if I go over the LAN. Jetdirect 600N 10/100 card. Though FWIW, the printer (with USB/LPT adapter) shows as being a USB printer on port USB001 - nothing about LPT.

That said, I do have a Pentium M laptop (win7 32-bit) with a parallel port, so I tried that. However, Windows still insists on printer memory options between 128MB and 512MB. Same as on my 8.1 system with the USB/LPT adapter. And when I tried using the Pentium M machine as a print server and printing from the Win8.1 system, the job went through VERY slowly. Actually, same when I went directly through it. (Maybe it switched to the wrong LPT mode?)

However - I installed the Samba package on the Ubuntu machine, shared it over the LAN, and it worked decently well. Still some lag, but it seems like the document left the queue on Windows 8.1 almost immediately, and then the linux machine spent a little more time actually feeding it to the printer. Windows did ask me what driver to use, so I told it to use the 4050 PCL5 built into Windows.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:47 pm

Just in case anyone comes across this by searching the intertubes...

I think the driver Ubuntu was picking was actually postscript. I forced Postscript in Windows and printed across the network, and got no lag or delay whatsoever when printing a 14 page PDF (and the document was more like 2MB in the queue) - and I've found that PDFs in particular tend to be slow when printed over PCL5 to that printer. Seems like PDF translates to PS a lot better, even though I think PS is emulated on the printer, and PCL is native.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:00 pm

HP still offers drivers for download for that unit, perhaps give those a shot? I've never found the pack-in drivers for printers specifically to work very well. Maybe the one exception to that was a Star NX-2430 a few million years ago
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:21 pm

localhostrulez wrote:Seems like PDF translates to PS a lot better, even though I think PS is emulated on the printer, and PCL is native.


PDF is a derivative of PS.

TwistedKestrel wrote:HP still offers drivers for download for that unit, perhaps give those a shot? I've never found the pack-in drivers for printers specifically to work very well. Maybe the one exception to that was a Star NX-2430 a few million years ago


Yeah, the MS printer drivers are pretty bad.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:33 pm

TwistedKestrel wrote:HP still offers drivers for download for that unit, perhaps give those a shot? I've never found the pack-in drivers for printers specifically to work very well. Maybe the one exception to that was a Star NX-2430 a few million years ago

I don't see anything other than universal drivers, and as far as 4050's go, HP's driver site only mentions the 4050SE and 4050 USB-MAC (whatever those are). I think I played with the universal driver, but didn't see any gain from it.

Even though I keep reading that PS is supposedly slower and more RAM hungry than PCL, does it realistically make a difference? And of course, I have 80MB in the printer.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:01 pm

You'll have to do some trial and error with the printer settings. Under the "Advanced" tab under Printer Properties try setting it to spool documents rather than print direct, and also to wait until the last page is spooled. I'd also strongly recommend using the network port rather than a Parallel->USB adapter.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:17 pm

I think spooling is enabled by default, though I changed it to wait until the last page is done.

I primarily use the network jack. I'm going to play with this some more, but I suspect I'll end up leaving it set to PS.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Wed Nov 05, 2014 6:27 pm

The default drivers for older HP printers built into recent versions of Windows are really, really bad. I have a somewhat newer smaller LaserJet, and it supposedly is even supported by HP using a universal PCL5 driver, maybe the default one you get with the OS is a similar driver, can't remembered. Both sucked for various reasons I can't remember off the top of my head. I downloaded the PCL 6 driver for Vista 64 from HP, works like a charm. Since it's a cheapo printer with 16mb of ram the PS drivers did not work well, it failed to print a lot of stuff. Although since I've found there's an option to print PDFs as an "image" instead of just passing it through as a PS file to the driver. Works wonders with older printers that can't handle complex PDFs that well. We have quite a few 10+ year old HPs at work, although nothing as old as a 4050 anymore. And its....challenging.... especially with some older color LaserJets.
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:39 am

captaintrav wrote:The default drivers for older HP printers built into recent versions of Windows are really, really bad. I have a somewhat newer smaller LaserJet, and it supposedly is even supported by HP using a universal PCL5 driver, maybe the default one you get with the OS is a similar driver, can't remembered. Both sucked for various reasons I can't remember off the top of my head. I downloaded the PCL 6 driver for Vista 64 from HP, works like a charm. Since it's a cheapo printer with 16mb of ram the PS drivers did not work well, it failed to print a lot of stuff. Although since I've found there's an option to print PDFs as an "image" instead of just passing it through as a PS file to the driver. Works wonders with older printers that can't handle complex PDFs that well. We have quite a few 10+ year old HPs at work, although nothing as old as a 4050 anymore. And its....challenging.... especially with some older color LaserJets.

At my previous (as of this week) job the software group inherited an HP printer/scanner because of this. Wouldn't work right in newer versions of Windows due to driver issues, but worked fine under newer versions of Linux. Since the only Linux users were in the software group, we were the only people who could actually use the thing any more!
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Re: HP 4050/PCL5 queuing slowly under Windows but not linux

Postposted on Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:53 pm

I'm just gonna leave this here in case someone else runs into this problem. What I ended up doing was PCL5, use all defaults but print after last page is spooled, send graphics as raster (aka Windows renders them first), don't send true type as bitmap, and keep printing optimizations at the defaults (usually on). Works like a charm now, better than PS does. And I can actually send PDFs through PCL5 now without clogging up the printer.

Edit: Or, as it turns out, PCL6 works like a charm. I thought I heard that the newer versions of PCL6 don't work with this old printer, but it seems to (Win8.1). Now if only Windows would let me more easily specify the driver when plugging into USB to LPT rather than auto-detecting...
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