One of the biggest obstacles desktop Linux has faced over the years is the fact that no one can guarantee that every peripheral you plug into your computer will work with Ubuntu, Fedora, PCLinuxOS, or your Linux distribution of choice. Sure, your keyboard, mouse, and monitor will probably work. But what about your printer, which may require special drivers? Good luck with that.

Most hardware vendors release Windows drivers. Some even make Linux drivers available. But plugging a printer into a computer that’s not running Windows is still a bit of a crap shoot.

But Google thinks it may have found a solution — at least for its upcoming Chrome operating system. Google Chrome is basically an operating system built around the web browser. Instead of running desktop apps, all of the apps you run in Chrome will be web-based. And it turns out even the printing infrastructure will be cloud-based.

Here’s how it works. Google is launching a new project called Google Cloud Print. When you’re using a web app in Google Chrome (say, Gmail, Picnik, or Zoho Office), you can hit the print button to send a print job to Google Cloud Print – which will then send the job to your printer.

What this means is that your mobile device won’t actually have to be plugged into a printer in order to print. If you’ve got an old fashioned printer that’s hooked up to a PC, Google Cloud Print will tell your PC to send the print job to the printer. If you have a newfangled printer that can connect directly to the internet, Google Cloud Print will send the task directly to the printer.

It sounds like Google is also hoping to bring cloud-based printing to mobile devices.

This means that you’ll be able to hit the print button on your Android smartphone or any netbook or other PC running the Google Chrome operating system or Google Chrome browser to send a print job to any printer linked to your account. If you’re on the road and want to scan a receipt with your cellphone camera and have it print back at your office, or if you’re just sitting a few feet away from your cloud-aware printer, you should be all set.

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7 replies on “Google Chrome to tackle the great printer driver issue — with cloud-based printing”

  1. One other thing to note: the Chromium blog post makes no specific mention of printing under Linux, nor does it make any implication of it. It says the following:

    “While the emergence of cloud and mobile computing has provided users with access to information and personal documents from virtually any device, today’s printers still require installing drivers which makes printing impossible from most of these new devices. Developing and maintaining print subsystems for every combination of hardware and operating system– from desktops to netbooks to mobile devices — simply isn’t feasible.”

    All it says is that printers today require drivers to be installed in the subsystem, REGARDLESS of the operating system it’s running on. Since the apps in ChromeOS are all web based, they can’t take advantage of locally-installed printers as is stated in the blog entry. This is why they are creating Google Cloud print. It sort of becomes your print server for the apps in ChromeOS. It’s almost terminal-like when you think about it.

    1. You’re really an idiot. Nothing you have said on here makes any sense. It is true that Linux has a huge problem with drivers. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I can’t get my friends to use it.
      Also, I imagine that chrome OS is based on Linux and Android definitely is, so while printing under Linux isn’t explicitly mentioned, it doesn’t mean it’s not involved.

      1. Nice. *rolleyes*

        If you REALLY read the ENTIRE blog post on the Chromium Blog, you would see that ALL operating systems are implied, not just Linux. For whatever reason, Linder decided to give it a spin that it implied only Linux which is bad form IMO. So please, before you respond, put some thought into your future posts.

        Regarding your Linux comment, I’ll only say this. How is it that an installation of Slackware (not an end-user targeted distro by any means) is able to detect all of the hardware out of the box on an HP that came with Vista preinstalled? 3D acclereration, sound, printing, everything worked. I imagine Ubuntu would have even less issues. More than likely, your problems had more to do with your unfamiliarity of the platform than an issue with the platform itself. Revisit it with the same open mind as you did when you first learned how to use your platform of choice and you might find yourself quite surprised.

  2. Jeez, could this be any more of a flamebait with just the first paragraph? This is bad form…that’s all I have to say about it.

    1. Seriously? If you’re going to call me out, at least tell me what I have wrong. As far as I can tell, this is absolutely one of the biggest obstacles Linux has faced over the years.

      Hardware makers produce drivers for Windows. Support for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions is hit or miss. So if I suggest a friend install Linux on his desktop there’s no guarantee his printer, webcam, or other peripherals are going to work out of the box.

      Things have certainly gotten better over the years. But I have yet to find a Linux distribution that fully supports the audio hardware on a Toshiba laptop I’ve been using for the last few years. After trying about a dozen different operating systems, I pretty much just gave up.

      1. Over the years? Seriously?

        Printing: CUPS, which comes by default on all distributions for the last 5 years at most. I’ve not seen a printer yet that it does not support. Consider that with Apple now owning CUPS, support for it has gotten much better.

        Webcams: GSPCA, which also comes included with most distributions today, especially the ones you mentioned.

        As for hardware, every OS, even Windows, has a HCL. So long as you stick to devices that are supported under Linux, you’ll have no problem. HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, MSI, even mix-and-match whiteboxes have not been a problem for me with Linux for some time now. A simple search for “Linux HCL” proves that each distribution provides an HCL on what is supported.

        I wasn’t surprised that you had such problems with Toshiba. I’ve never known them to be very Linux friendly anyway, so that was a poor example IMO. I have installed on a Dell Latitude D630, Asus Eee PC 901, and HP nx9010, to name a few, without any problems.

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