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Printers and OS/2

If you have purchased a new printer, and read the instructions, you will notice a lack of OS/2 support in the software installation instructions.

However, that does not mean that your new printer cannot be used with OS/2. HP does have a few exceptions to this rule...namely printers which were designed specifically for Windows (the Apollo series of printers is one such example). Such printers rely on Windows internals to produce their output, and hence reduce production costs for the printer manufacturer.

I recommend HP DeskJet and LaserJet series of printers as they are not only the most reliable, but most HP printers are still built with legacy compatibility in mind.

Your new printer is most likely to be controlled by HP's Printer Control Language, a set of code sequences that control the output that goes on to your paper. The latest version of the language is PCL6, which contains features designed to print photo-quality graphics when used with the appropriate printer driver. The printer driver does nothing more than generate PCL commands.

The more common levels of PCL are PCL3, commonly found in the original LaserJet, and most DeskJet printers; and PCL5, commonly found in LaserJet IIp, IId, III and later LaserJets as well as the DeskJet 1200C and 1600C printers. Check your printer documentation to see what level of PCL your printer uses.

Each newer level of PCL is backwards compatible with previous levels of PCL. For example, printers that use PCL5 will accept commands found in PCL3. However, PCL3 equipped printers will not process commands specific to PCL5. As a rule of thumb, if your documentation does not specify the PCL level, it is safe to assume PCL3 as PCL3 commands will work with printers equipped with PCL5 and the newer PCL6.

If you have purchased an Epson Stylus or dot-matrix printer, your printer is compatible with any printer that supports the ESC-P and ESC-P2 languages normally found in dot-matrix printers of years ago. Epson developed the ESC-P language as a standard language for controlling of dot-matrix printers such as the MX-80, FX-80 and compatible printers of the 1980s. Epson continued to implement the language in their current printers for compatibility with older software configured for dot-matrix printers, particularly software designed to run under DOS. Many of the newer Epson printers also support PCL. Check your manual for compatibility.

Note: Newer Epson Stylus printers also have PCL compatibility.

The OMNI.DRV file contains drivers for many Canon Bubble Jet printers, Epson Stylus, some Lexmark (not the Z series), and a few other brands of inkjet and dot matrix printers. Some inkjet printers such as the DeskJet 1200C use the LASERJET.DRV file. Printers that use the PostScript language need the PSCRIPT.DRV file.

IBM Proprinter's language is a superset of Epson's ESC-P language.

Check your documentation for which compatible printers are closest to your new printer. This is usually found in the DOS installation section. For example, the DeskJet 870Cse will operate with a DeskJet 540 driver as well as a 500C driver found in the OS/2 Warp installation disks. The current OMNI.DRV has drivers for this printer.

For printing from Win-OS/2, you will also need to install the Windows 3.x drivers for your printer, which are more likely to be available.

The OMNI.DRV and LASERJET.DRV files are updated regularly as new printers are released. I strongly recommend downloading the latest driver sets to assure not only optimal performance from your printer, but the latest driver sets are Y2K (Year 2000) compliant as well. In addition, it is also a good idea to obtain the latest printer driver set before IBM terminates web based support for OS/2 clients.

Check the IBM Device Driver list to find the latest version of OMNI.DRV and LASERJET.DRV (while you still can).

The HP site does have OS/2 drivers for the LaserJet series. However, these drivers do not contain the supplemental font files found in LASERJET.DRV.

You would need to access the HP site to get the Win-OS/2 (Windows 3.x) drivers for your HP printer(s). In my case, I had to go to the HP site for the Win-OS/2 drivers for my DeskJet 520 and LaserJet Series II printers; then go to the IBM Device Driver Pak for the OS/2 drivers.

Your printer manufacturer website should have the Windows 3.x drivers for your printer.

When you install the printer drivers for Windows 3.x, make sure the Print Manager is disabled for the driver to work properly. You can disable the Print Manager through the Windows 3.x Control Panel. Double click on Printers and make sure the Use Print Manager box is unchecked.

The DeskJet Toolbox under OS/2

The newer HP color Deskjet printers come with a software control panel called a Toolbox. This is a Win-OS/2 applet that can perform in either a full screen or a seemless Win-OS/2 session.

To get the applet to work correctly, you will need to have the printer driver set to output to LPT1 instead of LPT1.OS2, the Windows Print Manager disabled, and the OS/2 spooler disabled. After running the test, I got the dialog box below. You can substitute LPT2 for LPT1 if your printer is connected to the second parallel port on your PC.

Also, you need to have the printer directly connected to your OS/2 box using a bi-directional parallel cable before you install the DeskJet Win-OS/2 software. This is important since the DeskJet software installation utility checks for bi-directional communication before installing the Win-OS/2 drivers.

You will need to run your Win-OS/2 applications in a Full Screen Win-OS/2 session since the applet is generally called from applications that utilize the DeskJet driver. Seamless Win-OS/2 sessions will display only the outline of the Toolbox window so you will not know what the exact problem issued by the DeskJet software is.

If you have the Windows Print Manageractive, garbage will be printed from your printer instead of the correct output.

The OS/2 spooler interferes with the communication between the Win-OS/2 driver and the printer. So you will need to have the spooler disabled if you wish to print to one of these printers under OS/2 using a Windows 3.x application.

The FontSmart utility (as well as the Toolkit) works only with Win-OS/2 applications, as are the fonts that are installed through this utility. To use the fonts with OS/2 Warp 4, you will need to configure the OS/2 font add box to read from the \WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory, where the TrueType fonts reside, and then install the same fonts for use with OS/2.

If you are printing from an OS/2 application, you will have to rely on the hardware controls as the Toolkit has not been ported to OS/2. The DOS control panel cannot be used under OS/2 as it is a TSR utility, you must use the Win-OS/2 Toolkit to control the printer from OS/2. inter from OS/2.

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