Brother MFC420CN on Linux

My family has a Brother MFC420CN which is run off the network and accessible to everyone in the house. Though it’s not my default printer, it’s convenient to have a backup in things go wrong or ink runs out with another printer, so I was eager to get it installed on my Linux machine. I was able to piece it together instructions from a few different tutorials on the brother website to get in working.

First of all, step 1 on this page provides you with links to both the LPR driver and cupwrapper driver – both of which you’ll need – and steps 2-4 explain how to install them on your system.

NOTE: To install those packages, you need csh, which is not included with Debian/Ubuntu by default. If you don’t have csh installed, this command should do the trick on a Debian based system: “sudo apt-get install csh”

If you’re installing the printer on a USB port, then the first link should be sufficient, but our MFC420CN is hooked up to the network directly, so I had to go digging further for these instructions. You should be able to skip the first step if you successfully installed the driver using the packages on the previous page, but the valuable information here is regarding locate your printer on the network. The example given is “lpd://”. Replace the IP address with the IP of your printer. I believe there is detailed documentation on how to discover/change the IP address of your MFC420CN in the guide found on the main support page for the printer. I just checked my router’s logs to find the printer’s local IP.

That should be all you need to know to get it working. You can use the CUPS web-based interface, or the Ubuntu Printer Management GUI. Either way, the secret handshake that’s most important is the “lpd://ip.address/binary_p1”. Secret handshake + drivers = a printing MFC420CN. Now.. I just wish the stupid thing didn’t lock up every time one of the cartridges ran out of ink…

I have yet to give the scanner a try, but I’ll save that for another day.

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