NOTE: This page is obsolete (August 2006). It is supposed to be updated soon.
Here we will develop a distribution-independent testing and certification program for printers and printer drivers. The goal of this prgram is that
LSB-certified printer + LSB-certified OS distribution = Just works!
It should be agreed on a test programwhich covers use cases appropriate to the printers and gives ratings on how well the functionalities of the printer work with free Linux/Unix operating systems. The results should be published in the openprinting.org printer database.
Many distributions do their own hardware compatibility tests and certification, in principle a good idea, but it can confuse users (for SuSE I need another printer than for Red Hat?) and it can duplicate work. Here are some examples of hardware databases of Linux distributions:
There is also done some distribution-independent testing, for example by the Beijing Software Testing & QA Center:
At SuSE a script is used which goes through all installed PPDs, sets up a CUPS queue for each PPD, prints test jobs, and analyzes the logs. This way it can be checked whether all drivers needed by the PPD files are installed and whether the drivers work (at least whether they do not crash or produce error messages).
Thanks to Johannes Meixner from SuSE for contributing this script.
Till and François Déchelle (who works in the EDOS research project) had a personal discussion about automatization of driver testing which lead also to the idea of making a script which tests through all printer/driver combos available according to the PPDs and running test jobs on them to check whether the drivers are present and working. This lead to a longer discussion about printer and driver testing on the printing-summit and lsb-discuss mailing lists.
Suggestions for a universal printer testing/certification program
The test suite should be a program which goes through all use cases appropriate to the particular printer and print the test pages of each test case, in some cases also with different sets of option settings. Test cases can be:
- Office document in A4 or Letter
- Color photo on 6x4-inch glossy paper
- Booklet in color, stapled
- Printing on a CD
The result schould be rated in certain clearly defined levels (suggested by Robert Krawitz):
- Printer capability fully supported by driver
- Printer capability partially supported by printer (describe exceptions/limitations)
- Printer capability not supported by driver
- Printer does not support capability (i. e. any use case that requires color output on a black and white printer would receive a 4 rating -- the printer is simply not appropriate for this use case).
A printer should be certified by LF OpenPrinting when it succeeds in the tests and when the driver is either in the standard repertoire of the distributions, downloadable as distribution-independent package from openprinting.org or coming as distribution-independent package with the printer, so that the printer installs out-of-the-box from any LSB-compliant distribution.
Test results should be uploaded to LF OpenPrinting so that they can get added to the printer database of openprinting.org. On the printer pages small tables should show the ratings and use-case-oriented search should be possible.
Testing should be done principally by the printer manufacturers themselves, as they have the complete range of their products and many printer are big and heavy, so that one cannot simply bring them to someone who does the test. But to get more tests done also others should be able to do tests, like OS distributions, 3rd-party driver developers, or perhaps even users.
All (at least the free ones) drivers should be available for download as distribution-independent packages on openprinting.org, also the ones usually coming with distributions, so that one can easily update printer drivers.
Distribution should ship the drivers for the most important lines of printers: HPLIP, Gutenprint, common standard languages (e. g. PCL), some common GDI printer types (foo2zjs, Samsung GDI). Other drivers should be downloaded from openprinting.org by the printer setup tool of the distribution (according to a suggestion of Dan Kohn).
The testing/certification program will be one of the main subjects of the LF OpenPrinting Summit in Lexington, KY on October 23-25, 2006.
See also the existing discussions in the archives:
- printing-summit: Printer/driver testing and certification and follow-ups