This isn’t exactly the straight forward method but then there isn’t one either.

I believe you are fortunate enough to have a dot matrix but unfortunate enough to own a Wep 800 DX (80 Column) dot matrix printer. Let me tell you, there is no *.ppd (printer driver) that works with this model. You can check the Linux Open Printing database, it lists all WeP models printer drivers as Paperweight (meaning, no support).

Hence the only way to stick to (linux && your_dot_matrix_printer) is to make use of virtualization: VMware shall answer your prayers.

Considering you have a dual boot system, you can use tutorial written by Mohammad Azimi.

Let me summarise it for you, there are just 2 parts to it.

  1. Get Vmware on your Linux system
    which involves…
    – you should get vmware up and running
    – Create a new vmware virtual machine and guide it to use your existing partition /disk of windows installation. (Read the tutorial carefully, for you must know whether you have 2 disks with one of them running windows or just 1 disk running both windows and linux).
  2. Set up a new hardware profile
    which involves…
    -Booting into your physical windows partition and creating a new hardware profile for vmware
    -Installing SCSI drivers (azimi provides the link to download them on the tutorial).
  3. Adding a parallel port to the virtual machine running your existing windows partition, which I will tell you how to at the end of this post.

FYI: When I did this myself, my existing windows although loaded up in vmware and it never stayed put, meaning it shutdown once loaded! So thinking back on all the things (read: abuse) I had made that installation of windows go through, I figured it’s worth a try to install a fresh copy and that worked! The freshly installed windows loaded fine in vmware recognized all the vmware virtual hardware.

TIP: Even if you didn’t face my problem I’d suggest you to keep the windows start up to minimum if you want windows to run fast within vmware. Because if you are having a gazillion startup items and 512MB memory of which 256 your host linux system uses, then you might as well give up the hope of running up MS Word and completely forget about the printing part.

So it’s advisable if you have 1gig of RAM and 512 of it alloted for the virtual machine.

Ok so now how-to add printer to vmware windows.

Step 1: Edit the settings of the virtual machine, add a new parallel port. Remove the text “Auto Detect” and put in “/dev/lp0”.

If you try running the virtual machine now, vmware is going to complain that such does not exist. Apparently, there is not dev/parport0 (atleast not in OpenSUSE 10.3), but fear not you can create it.

Step 2: Do “sudo mknod /dev/parport0 c 99 0 -m 666” in the terminal and and.. not so quick foo! also do “sudo /sbin/rmmod lp”.

Step 3: Now boot up the virtual machine, windows should recognize the parallel port and install the necessary drivers.

Step 4: Once in windows, Go to Start>Printers and Faxes>Add new Printer. Follow the screen instructions, it might complain that it couldn’t find the printer, never mind, proceed ahead and provide it the path to your wep windows printer driver, and of course you can take it from here I believe 😉

Since keeping running vmware all the time can be taxing on the CPU (those with 1Gig of RAM), Save your stuff and access if via word or some other word processor in your windows and then print away 😀

TIP: Since VMWare complains of parport0 not found every time you run it (after every reboot that is), you can create it automatically without sweat. Do a “sudo vi /etc/init.d/boot.local” and add “mknod /dev/parport0 c 99 0 -m 666”. That will solve the parport0 problem.