Brother MFC-420CN print driver for OS/2: Linux
Managed to get this combination working the other day and thought I
should pass along what I had learned.
This all started when my Epson Stylus C84 died a few days ago. It
reported "empty" on its Black cartridge and I replaced it, but then
the printer stopped feeding any black ink. After installing a
second $20 cartridge and checking for an obviously loose vacuum hose
I gave up on it.
Unfortunately, in spite of several decades' worth of "Paperless
Future" headlines I find I frequently need hard copy output. It
seemed an opportune timeto see if I could get my sister Beth's
Christmas present working: a Brother MFC-420CN multi-function
peripheral with USB and Ethernet ports.
The MFC-420CN has roughly the footprint of an 8.5x11 scanner and
about twice its thickness. It has a paper feed on top, a front
panel with a set of numeric/dial buttons, and a small 2-line LCD
status display. It has a 100-sheet paper tray underneath and a set
of front slots for digital media cards (CF/SD/xD/SM/MemoryStick).
The MCF-420CN will perform most of its functions on its own. Using
its front panel controls you can FAX to it or from it, use it as a
B&W or color copier, and print JPEG images from -- or scan into
PDF/JPEG files on -- a digital media card. In fact (although I
haven't tested it) it appears that any computer and OS which can
read and write (e.g.) CF cards can make full (if slighly
inconvenient) use of this device. I didn't need all that -- I just
wanted to use it as one of those "print when _I_ say Print"
The MFC-420CN does not come with OS/2 drivers (disappointing, but
not all that unusual these days). I spent a few hours
unsuccessfully searching the 'web for hints on possible alternate
drivers before I connected the MFC's Ethernet port to my office
network, set up its IP address as 192.168.0.99, and installed the
MSWin32 drivers and software on my Win2k machine to make sure it
printed. It did.
I have a SuSE Linux machine ('manticore') on the same network which
lets me create PDF files through a network (Samba) printer. This
meant I could use the MFC-420CN by printing-to-PDF, copying the PDF
file onto the Win2k machine, and printing the contents from the
Win32 Acrobat reader. Usable in a pinch (and _much_ better than
shuffling CF cards), but still inconvenient.
From OS/2 I could PING the printer, but it didn't appear in a NET
VIEW, and although I could set up a SHARE for the Win2k machine's
"printer" I still didn't have an OS/2 driver to create the
printstream it would require. I _did_ have a number of PostScript
drivers already installed, though.
Linux to the rescue (SuSE Linux 9.1 and Samba 3.0.8-1.1.1-SuSE, to
be exact). Brother may not be developing OS/2 drivers but it _did_
recently release Linux drivers for a number of its printers,
including the MFC-420CN.
Brother offers an LPR driver and a CUPS "wrapper" file:
as well as SANE 1.0.7+ scanner support:
After installing the print-related RPMs I defined the printer using
SuSE's YaST2 configuration utility under Hardware->Printer as:
Name: mfc420cn Descr: MFC420CN[*] Do Local Filtering
Mfgr: Brother Model: MFC-420CN
(which selected the CUPS PPD file)
Connection: Direct TCP Port Printer
Host name: brn_60fb75 Port: 9100
(Note: the "host name" and other settings can be obtained from
the MFC-420CN's front panel as the LAN Configuration Report by
pressing [Menu/Set], , , and [BlackStart] )
The host name brn_60fb75 had to be entered manually -- YaST2's
[Lookup] button failed to find it.
At this point, the [Test remote socket access] button reported
success and the test page printed properly. Further, after
restarting manticore's Samba daemons (smbd, nmbd) I could see a
corresponding printer on my OS/2 desktop under "Samba Server" in my
From the icon's Properties notebook I chose the PSCRIPT.Tektronix
Phaser 550 1200 icon and set up appropriate Job Property defaults.
Close, but no see-gar. I could print to the MFC420 "printer"
(LS:\\MANTICORE\MFC420CN), the job was visibly queued under OS/2,
that job was requeued by the Linux CUPS printing system as shown by
and the MFC-420CN reported "Receiving Data" on its LCD panel. All
good evidence of activity, but but nothing ever printed. Jobs
created on the Linux machine printed just fine, and their CUPS spool
files _looked_ similar to what was spooled for OS/2 jobs.
Here's the process:
1) OS/2 application "prints" to the PSCRIPT driver, generating
a PostScript stream to Samba on the Linux box.
2) The PostScript stream is queued by CUPS, which then (courtesy of
the Brother Linux driver) translates it to MFC-420CN-specific
3) This raster stream is sent to 192.168.0.99:9100.
What was wrong? I'll compress three hours of fuzzy-headed thinking
for you: by default, Samba was supplying CUPS with a 'raw' option
for the incoming stream, so CUPS was dumping un-rasterized
PostScript out to the MFC-420 and it was getting a bit confused.
After using SWAT
to clear out the "cups options" field in Samba's mfc420 printer
entry and once again cycling power on the MFC-420CN everything
worked just fine.
It's wonderful! DeScribe prints just fine, and even crusty old
WindowsDraw should be happy once I define an appropriate WinOS2
Is this a general solution? I don't know, but it's at least an
option in some situations. If you have a printer but it doesn't
have an OS/2 driver -- but the manufacturer offers a Linux driver
for it or there's one at [url]www.linuxprinting.org[/url] -- build yourself a
Linux-based print server. Pick up one of those Dell run-forever
Optiplex PII-300 machines which are selling for $25-50 these days,
throw on SuSE, RedHat, or Debian Linux, and you have a print server
with Ethernet, USB, and onboard video.
Scanning? Works fine onto a 16 Mb CF card and stores the result in
a folder on the card named Brother. FAXing? ... maybe tomorrow.
Stuff I haven't looked into:
1) The MFC-420CN's Network Configuration report lists <Protocols>
(including FTP!) and <Services>. One of the Services is
POSTSCRIPT_P1, which _seems_ to imply that the printer might
accept PostScript directed at it in some fashion. I'm just not
sure how to test it.
2) Brother offers a Java-based 'web administration tool for Win32.
It's not _entirely_ clear why this wouldn't run under Apache
and Linux or OS/2, but it's a 25Mb download. If the protocol
could be extracted an OS/2 or Linux tool could be created.
Hope this helps...
Frank McKenney, McKenney Associates
Richmond, Virginia / (804) 320-4887
Munged E-mail: frank uscore mckenney ayut minds pring dawt cahm (y'all)
Re: Brother MFC-420CN print driver for OS/2: Linux
Frnak McKenney wrote:[color=blue]
> Managed to get this combination working the other day and thought I
> should pass along what I had learned.[/color]
To make a long story short: cool - congratulations!
I'm pondering to setup a small (noise free) server box for tasks like
yours. It looks like CUPS is another service to make such a project