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What to do if foomatic doesn’t have the ppd on its database even after installing the printer driver

Here’s what happened to my computer in the last couple of hours (about two couples, actually). I deleted the printer entry for my Epson L110 in CUPS, because I was trying to print ID pictures for my mom and somehow the printer got stuck at “processing” in the print queue dialog and also I know that it doesn’t print when I set the document I’m on to a custom page size. Something like that. So I figured that the linux-y thing to do is to start from scratch because I have no idea what’s happening.

Now, the fun part. I cannot install the printer back. I turned on the printer, plugged in the usb, and went to the friendly “Printing” dialog in Ubuntu 12.04 and clicked that nifty Add Printer button. It recognized the printer up to it’s exact make and model, Epson L110, and so I was kind of happy. And then I clicked forward, it opened a dialog box that says searching for drivers, found em, and installed something, and then after saying on a window that looks like Jockey (the Additional Drivers thing) that the driver has already been installed, the wizard went on to ask me if I’d rather provide a PPD file, or instead search for one on an accompanied database, which I observed is playfully labeled foomatic. What is an ignorant fool like me to do? I’m seeing no ppd file anywhere, so off to the foomatic database I went. Clicked Epson, scrolled through a list of lots of Epson printer models, from the L-300s to the Stylus C45’s, and voila, no Epson L110. So I’m like, whuuut? Didn’t you say you just successfully installed something a while ago? What was that for?

The takeaway in this story, after lots of thread-untangling  at, is that the PPD files are are installed at /opt/<name of printer driver>/<blah blah>/<something>.ppd.gz. And alas, you have to unzip the files yourself, repeat the above procedure, but instead of going to that foomatic trap, you have to feed the PPD files yourself to that tease of a seemingly friendly wizard. And, juju! I can print again.

By the way, PPD means postscript printer description, I learned. Even if the drivers are already installed, your printer needs a PPD tailored to its make and model as some sort of identification for your printer to get a ride. So yeah. And the reason I’m writing about this, is because I know I kind of already figured this out before, since I can actually print normally before I deleted the driver and the printer from CUPS. It’s just that this custom paper size requirement for printing the ID photos won’t work. If I can already print back then, then it makes sense that I already went through this steps, right? Yet, fool as I am, I have no idea. Hence this blog post, for the future me.

So back to the ID photos. I was using photoprint, sudo apt-get install photoprint, to print the ID pictures on a 4R sized photo paper, and alas, linux as it is, it still refused to work. I was wiser at this moment though, since I figured out it was asking me to provide this same PPD file that the Add Printer wizard was asking. So, in the end, I was kind of wrong to uninstall the printer, because it was photoprint that actually begs for a PPD file and that’s the reason why printer tasks coming from it are stuck in processing mode at the print queue.

Basically, I had a problem, I made another bigger problem, I solved the bigger problem, and in doing so I was also able to solve the original smaller one. Kind of like how Fermat’s Last Theorem was finally solved, but no, that was far grander an endeavor than wanting to print 1×1’s for my mom, so I’m retracting the analogy. It’s for her senior citized ID, by the way, don’t tell her.

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