My wife's netbook has two distributions installed on it: OpenSUSE 11.4, which she no longer uses much, and Debian testing.

The only reason why OpenSUSE is still installed is that, for some odd reason, it was remarkably easy to set up printing. My wife did it, and I do not know how she did it.

As regards Debian, despite about an hour of my messing with dpkg and apt-get, installing this or that driver from the repositories, this or that package from the manufacturer's website, printing documents only renders documents in Debian testing (the printer is a Brother HL-20XX). I don't know how to grab the error messages that might be arising from this, as it's all happening in the GUI, but would gladly supply them given knowhow.

So, how portable are printer settings between distributions, given that it's the same hardware, same architecture, etc.? Can I just move some files and folders around? Edit some text here and there? Or am I in for more headaches?

  • The first thing to determine is whether the working machine is using CUPS. The answers here seem to be assuming that (since it is the standard), but you could take a look at the web interface at localhost:631 and see if you can print from it. That is one way to determine whether printing has been set up with CUPS.If that is the case, you could then proceed to determind what drivers has been installed and configured. Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 6:01

2 Answers 2


You could try to make a backup of /etc/cups on the Debian system (to restore the old state, if it fails), and copy then these files from SUSE - except the ssl subdir. Be sure to take care on owner and permission issues (root/adm/lpadmin) while copying.

Error messages are found in /var/log/cups/.

In /etc/cups/cupsd.conf you may increase the LogLevel to get more informations.

In most circumstances, configuring cups via the net interface in your browser is to be preferred and easy.



/etc/cups/interfaces/ (recursively)

Restart cupsd on your other host. It should work.

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