New printer: Lexmark E120n

I got tired of my HP Deskjet 3650 just sitting there flashing its light, though it has a new ink cartridge [1]. Even when it worked, the page often slipped while (slowly) printing, and the page took a while to dry.

So I bought a Lexmark E120n. It’s a small cheap laser printer rather than an inkjet printer. Refreshingly, it’s mono only – black and white. I rarely print color and I don’t want to worry about whether I have enough color as well as black ink. The HP 3650 went through a phase of printing everything in green, which I won’t miss.

More significantly, it’s networked by default (wired, not wireless), though you can use the USB connection instead. After powering on, it connects to your network and prints out a page to show you what IP Address it is using. It has a web-browser configuration UI at that address.

Lexmark E120n printer

The CD includes Linux drivers, and the html documentation on the CD states that they officially support Debian, Linspire, Red Hat, and SUSE Linux. All the Linux stuff is in the “unix” directory on the CD, though the readme.txt file there explicitly states that the directory name and other mentions of “unix” should not imply support for crufty old UNIX – it’s just Linux that’s supported.

Even when connecting over the network, you need to choose the printer driver. The GNOME/Ubuntu printer manager didn’t list this model of Lexmark printer. Also the CD doesn’t have a bare .PPD file, so the “Install Driver” feature can’t work. There is a .deb file (.rpm too) but it contains lots of other stuff that I’d rather not risk installing if I don’t need to.

Googling told me that I could instead just choose the “PCL 6/PCL XL Printer” model from the “Generic” manufacturer, after choosing to add a Network printer of type “CUPS Printer (IPP)”, specifying the IP address, and that works fine. I’m using Ubuntu Edgy. Update: Instead of using the generic PCL driver, use the PPD file that Sven mentioned in the comments – the generic one has problems printing graphics. Also, note that you can get the IP Address printout at any time by pressing the green arrow “continue” key.

When it prints, it has that pleasantly familiar airplane takeoff sound rather than the wheeze of an Inkjet. It’s quiet when on standby, though I’ll keep it turned off because it probably draws lots of power.

[1] If the 3650 was sending any status errors over the USB cable, they weren’t showing up anywhere in the GNOME printer UI. I did try installing the HP Deskjet 3650 driver and tools on a Windows laptop but, after self-extracting the 3600_enu_win2k_xp.exe file, it just showed me an otherwise empty and untitled error dialog with the text “1158:”. There was a button on the dialog, but it was empty too. Which was, frankly, Windowstastic.

Irrelevant Update: However, I absolutely can not get the thing to work with my girlfriend’s old Windows ME laptop. Lexmark say that the printer is supported on Windows ME, but the installer refuses to run, saying “This intallation method is not supported on this operating system”. Installing the driver manually via the wizard, typing in the IP address, because browsing doesn’t work, leads to Windows telling me that the printer is currently offline. I’m waiting for the Windows installation to become so broken that it must be replaced with Linux.

20 thoughts on “New printer: Lexmark E120n

  1. In the past, I’ve had bad experiences with Lexmark printers (mainly the colour laser ones though). From memory, the last support call we made for the printer was about a problem with the transfer belt. It turned out that Lexmark didn’t have any stock of the part we needed in Australia, and the existing transfer belt would probably be good for quite a while (at least long enough for a new part to be shipped in).

    The service man showed us where to place some aluminium foil to fool the sensor so we could print again. He wouldn’t actually add the foil himself though …

    That said, I’ve always found ink jets to be more trouble than lasers so it should be an improvement.

  2. I have had an awesome experience with the Brother-HL5250DN. This sounds very similar to the printer you purchased: It is a low end, mono laser printer and the kicker is that it has built in network. The printer supports postscript natively, so installation is a breeze on all three platforms that we use (My girlfriend and I, guess which three). The installation cd came with the PPDs, which correctly update the printer dialogs with all the printer’s options. Purchase price was $250 at Costco which I think was a great bargain, especially since Costco has such an excellent return policy. All in all, I’d say I couldn’t be happier — and my girlfriend agrees as she used to use a deskjet which refused to print black ink at random times.

    I researched the printer a bit on before purchasing.

  3. Sven, thanks. The generic driver has problems printing graphics (the pages never seem to really get to the printer, even when I wait for an hour), but when I use your PPD then it prints those pages instantly.

  4. Hi there,

    I am using Mandriva 2007 and the install using the .rpm given works ok by choosing a random printer as the e120n is not listed.
    I tried to install using the .PPD file but the installer keeps throwing at me that the ppd file given does not follow the normal ppd file requirements?

    Any thoughts?


  5. Sven’s driver works wonders. Thanks! But when I tried to print a ps file which was originally converted from pdf using pdf2ps command and then converted into booklet format using pstops command, the printer took more than an hour to print 8-pages booklet! I could not configure what is the problem for such a slow speed. I have debian etch installed. But in Slackware, the cups+gutenprint works wonders without any problem.

  6. Thanks Mr. your file works fine, now i am printing fine text and graphics with your driver at a network port from my E-120n.

  7. Hi,
    I’m new to Linux, so probably making a silly mistake.
    I tried installing the ppd without success. I clicked on the link and saved it to my desktop first.
    I get the error:
    Missing asterisk in column 1 at 1:’/home/julie/Desktop/lex120n.ppd.gz’

  8. I love this litle printer too. I’m using it with Ubuntu Gutsy thanks to Sven’s driver.

    Spike, right click on Sven’s link and “Save link as … “. Then use that saved file.

  9. Sven, you’re a legend. Thanks for the driver!!! It works perfectly under both Ubuntu 7.04 and now on 7.10.

  10. Hi, I have Ubuntu 7.10 Linux and I have my Lexmark E120n configured at (network installation), and I have used:

    NETWORK PRINTER, I use “IPP” and “” as URI.
    LEXMARK and clicking “INSTALL DRIVER…” and open Sven’s driver
    Then choose “E120n” in the list of LEXMARK printers (at the end).
    Name the printer and your’re done!

    Thank you, Sven!

  11. Hi All! I’m having problems with that Sven driver, i have Mandriva 2008 and i get just error that .ppd file ain’t PPD specified standard file. when i try to install it via printerdrake (Not that .ppd OR .ppd.gz ;-)). How other ways it is possible to install this driver? I might try running this on Ubuntu LiveCD to see if i get it work there.

    I have used that Lexmark offered and CUPS HP 6P driver but both cuts 5mm part on left side of page off, so if i print anything from text editor or what should have full size print, i loose first 2 letters or to right side i get white line because picture is shifted to left side. It’s seems that marginals are little wrong. Windows machines dont do that :-/

    Other way, great printer!

  12. Did you use the USB connection or network? Try the network connection and my UBUNTU instructions above…

  13. I use network connection and that PPD file works fine with Ubuntu but Mandriva gives error: “The PPD file /home/username/lex120n.ppd does not conform with the PPD specifications!”

    And i do not wat change to a bad distribution for 100% accurate printing support. I have used HP’s 6P driver what works fine expect that marginal error what makes it bad text file printer because there is always need to edit marginals to get it printed right.

    Your instructions works with Ubuntu but dosn’t work with Mandriva.
    I have tryed to copy this file to /usr/share/ppd/custom where Ubuntu install’s it, without help.
    And i have tryed to install install disk driver (rpm) but it doesn’t bring any help.

    Is there any way to change marginals on printer settings in browser?
    I have tryed A4 198mm and 203mm sizes (197mm is standard size) but it does not help either :-/

  14. Hey,

    I have an awkward problem with the Lexmark E120 printer! When I press the print button, strange sounds come from the printer and the sounds are very unusual. It sounds as if something is stuck
    within the printer. Also, it has recently been printing all website pages that are visited on all computers in the house. Does anyone know the solution to this problem. The printer was working fine for a
    year and now suddenly, it has gone crazy.

  15. On Mandriva Linux 2009 (currently cooker) does include a driver in packages itself. So plugging the printer, it gets detected automatically correctly and driver gets choosen right and printing works 100% right. This is still good help for those who use other Linux distributions what does not include the driver Out-of-the-Box.

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