Epson, Snow Leopard, Printer Sharing, and You

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been leading a workshop built around a lab of twenty 20″ iMacs. Apple generously loaned the computers, and when I unboxed them, I found that they were all running the latest version of Snow Leopard (10.6.1). I didn’t think much of this as I set up the computers, figuring it was nice to have an OS more stable than Leopard. However, once I tried to get the two Epson R2400’s working, things got far more complicated. It turns out that, despite Epson’s release of a Snow Leopard-compatible R2400 driver, you may have trouble getting the printers to work with your Snow Leopard-based Macs. And if you want to use Printer Sharing, you’ll need to jump through a few additional hoops.

First off, you’ll need to download Printer Driver version 6.57 and the Common Updater.

However, before you install either of these, you’ll need to make sure that Rosetta is installed on your Mac. Rosetta is the emulator that allows your Intel-based Mac to run PowerPC software, and it’s required by the Epson drivers. However, Snow Leopard does not install Rosetta by default. Instead, any time you try to run a program that needs Rosetta, you’ll get a dialog box that lets you start a Rosetta installation. Unfortunately, the Epson installer doesn’t trigger this mechanism, so you’ll need to install it from scratch.

Get your Snow Leopard disk and find the Optional Installs package. Run this and choose to install Rosetta. It’s a fairly quick installation, and it doesn’t require a restart.

Now you’re ready to install the Epson drivers. First install Printer Driver 6.57, then run the Common Updater. I found that the driver installation was more reliable if I installed from an account with Admin privileges.
Now add the printer. When it comes time to select software for the printer, you do not want to use the R2400 Gutenprint option. Instead choose the Epson offering.

Give printing a try. First, you’ll want to be sure that all of the normal driver options are there, and then you’ll want to ensure that the print actually happens. If Rosetta is not installed, the Mac will appear to print normally, but nothing will ever be sent to the printer. Instead, the printer queue will simply open and close very quickly.

To allow the lab of twenty Macs to all have access to the printer, I enabled Printer Sharing on the Mac that the printer is connected to. However, even with Rosetta and the driver installed on each client machine, when I went to print, I didn’t see any of the normal 2400 options in the print dialog box, and when I printed, I got lousy results with oversaturated color, and bad artifacting.

The only fix that I was able to find was to delete the printer on each client machine, and then connect the printer to each computer, add the printer as a USB device, and then move on to the next computer. Again, this only worked if I did the operation in an Admin account. Once I’d gone through every machine, I went back through all of the client machines and added the shared printer. After that, everything worked fine.

UPDATE: Mark Dubovoy at Luminous Landscape has identified an additional print-related problem with Snow Leopard: if you want to print out a calibration target for your printer, you’ll have to use a tricky workaround. It seems that Snow Leopard applies some correction to your image before it gets to the printer, which makes it difficult to get a completely uncorrected print for the purpose of calibration. Check out his workaround here.

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