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Name: Grant Taylor
Member since: 2000-07-18 17:29:39
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I am the author of the Linux Printing HOWTO, and the maintainer of the Linux Printing Database; both are found at

My current project is a database-driven printer driver integration system designed to work with any spooling system. The working name for this is Foomatic. Obviously I need a better name...

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Things have been busy.

I went to lw in ny; a few printing related things were there, and some other neat things besides. I guess HP's inkjet drivers were the main thing. See the report. Revolution OS was particularly nice to see, especially so soon after I got annoyed enough at Antitrust to post an article.

Things are really falling into place for foomatic. It appears to be in Mandrake (for cups) and Red Hat (for magicfilter), and a Caldera fellow was popping up here and there. I've also gotten a couple friends to offer some coding assistance to help me spruce up some things.

I've begun the checkin/checkout code; this is a prerequisite to lots of things so I'm excited to be underway. Once that's done, better interoperation with complicated drivers like OMNI can be implemented, and user tools will be able to make easier use of the information.

Well, I feel much better; I was able to spend nearly six hours today catching up with my email backlog. I processed over 400 mails dating back a full year, and excepting another hundred or so to gtaylor+pht, I'm caught up all the way until mid-December.

I also had time to fix assorted URLs, change the copyright, and do the s!Linux!GNU/Linux!g bit on the HOWTO. And of course spruce up a few printer entries. I even had time to bless Klaus for Foomatic data entry. This brings two mainstream Linuxes--Caldera and Mandrake--on board with the CUPS/Foomatic printing solution; cool! (I've got half an idea that SuSE also has some related plan, but I can't remember why I think that).

I also responded to the Minolta/QMS guy; they're interested in cooperating with free software development, so I suggested ways to do that. And there was a Sharp fellow I'd missed last October who I answered properly. All good deals; now there are at least six major printer vendors actively cooperating with free software. Things are sure looking up on this front.

Unfortunately, actual progress on code and such didn't happen, but I'm so psyched to be mostly caught up on email after being behind for years that I don't care...

Meanwhile, I felt obligated to post an article on free softwareness (or absence of, really) in Antitrust, a point I think most other reviewers missed.

Whew! After a long absence caused by vacation, holiday, and disease, I'm more or less back...


RMS wants me to restructure my database to incorporate all hardware in addition to printers. He also suggested some changes to highlight the fact that there's nothing Linux-specific; pretty much anything vaguely Unix can benefit directly from the information. And of course he wants the usual s!Linux!GNU/Linux!g thing done. All this after he bumped into Till, apparently when speaking at Mandrake.

All in all, these are good ideas, and it will give the GNU project a mighty nifty hardware compatibility list. So I'll be working toward this over the next few months. Key for mirrors is a way to host a copy without Postgres+CGI; luckily I'm already planning a static flatfile database representation anyway; formatting a version of that as HTML should be straightforward.


Mike announced an Epson-funded gig for Easy Software maintaining an Epson-friendly Ghostscript kit; this will be "ESP Ghostscript", an almost-fork containing gimp-print, various minor fixes, etc. Technically, this is at most a minor variation on what he was doing anyway in shipping Ghostscript as part of CUPS; logically, it represents a sort of pressure point for mainstream Aladdin Ghostscript to get it's license snafu un-fu'd. In any case it'll be handy to have RPM/DEBs of gs+stp readily available.


For the holidays I went on a week-long cruise to various Carribean islands including St Thomas/St John, Dominica, Martinique, Barbados, and St Maarten. All really nifty places--especially Dominica, St John, and Barbados. The ship was Carnival's Fascination, which I can't really recommend; the onboard food/service/entertainment ranges from fair (food) to awful (entertainment). I guess it was good if viewed as a portable hotel.

At work the incredibly wrong email setup is now irrelevent, as I've established working email on the Linux server by carefully avoiding our company's DNS entirely. Of course, now the email addresses are unrelated to the company, which is sort of a flaw, but at least things from cron to version control can now work.

I'm finally recovering from a series of funny dieseases which culminated in Conjunctivitis (aka pink eye). This involved hemorrhaging, itchy eyes full of goo to the point that I couldn't really open them for three days. Fortunately my eye doctor gave me antibiotic eye drops, which cured things pretty quickly. Unfortunately this blew last weekend from a free software standpoint. Sigh.

Stupid Car Tricks

Today I parked by the door at work. Unfortunately, during the day, a huge chunk of ice fell of the roof four stories above and made assorted huge dents in the hood. Doh! This appears to be a(nother) design flaw in the building; fully 1/3 of the parking lot suffers from this problem.


I'll be going to LinuxWorld in New York later this month, courtesy of my employer. Drop me a note if you'll be there and care to meet up...

Well, we're in for a busy phase in the printing world again. HP hired Bruce Perens, and those members of the Slashdot crowd that can spell took the opportunity to point out that HP is mostly uncooperative and has poorly supported printers. Hopefully Bruce can change that. As is, they're actually up front about it on their website, which si more than can be said for the inconsistent stories you get from the human support.

Meanwhile, I've made a dozen or so touch-ups to the website, most notably version branching support, and revamped the downloadable foomatic kit to be useful. Now you can install a local copy of the whole printer/driver metadata library, and run backends and tools against that data. This made it easy to add in support for LPRng/magicfilter; hopefully soon this will be debugged.

I also thought up a simple scheme for mapping the database to and from ascii files; this might help various driver developers and foomatic maintainers do things easier.

Meanwhile Raph's put out gs 6.5. Good deal!


Last weekend, Kelley and I went out and, against my better judgement, bought a DVD player. Gads! All the poor press the RIAA gets is deserved; I've never seen such a klunky bunch of junk wrapped around such a straightforward thing as mpeg-2 video files. Between macrovision and whatever scripty thing they've got turning off features when you stick in disks, it's just ridiculous. If it weren't for NetFlix I'd probably march the thing back to the store...

I guess I get to type this in again--my silly web browser blew a gasket on me.

I surprised my mom for her birthday by flwing down to Atlanta for last weekend. It worked; she had no idea.

Another few people asked after my defunct CDPD page, so I've revived it. I also fleshed out the list of free software I've done on my home page. SRP got a little page, too--despite the embarrasingly crappy nature of the code, I still think the concept is a good one, and a fellow I know is going to try and touch it up a bit for a school project.

I haven't gotten much of anything done for a week or so. Till of Mandrake, OTOH, fixed assorted buglets in the database. There was a review in Duke of Url about Mandrake 7.2; it was cute to see Foomatic all over one of the screen shots. Everyone seems to notice printing working well in Mandrake, even if they have no idea how many different projects came together to make that happen.

Revenue from my experimental affiliate program is running 30% over budget. I think I'll spend surpluses on supplies and printers for driver developers. Is there any English-language web vendor that will take a US-based credit card order to ship to random points in Europe? Since it's blank paper and the like that I'd be shipping, it would be best if they shipped from Europe as well; shipping blank paper overseas via Fedex seems a bit silly. It would also be nice to offer European developers printers that they can plug in.

I had an interesting discussion with a buddy of mine who turns out to work on MIT's oft-/.'ed 3D printing project. It's conceptually simple, but it appears to be a challenge from the material science standpoint. Consumer models are some time away; even the rattiest commercially sold "goo" printers run $10k and up. MIT's research models are very large and inefficient. They can, however, print 3D objects made of real materials like metal; I had thought it was a setting-type epoxy or something. In fact they can print with all sorts of plastics and metals and things. So they could print up a spare part in only twice the time it takes to get one Fedexed in and for only 10 times the price. I guess it's not the diamond age quite yet...

The interesting thing is the direction of the current research. They're printing things with variations in the material throughout. It turns out that you can make a lens that's perfectly flat, but since the refraction index of the material can vary in a controlled way across the thing, it's still a lens. This is way better than a fresnel, and is something that can't be manufactured any other way. Nifty!

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