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You like to use a so called 'GDI printer'.

About GDI Printers

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Printer drivers for Linux are seldom developed by the printer manufacturer. Therefore, the printer must be accessible via a published standard protocol, like the standard printer languages PostScript, PCL, and ESC/P. See SDB:Purchasing a Printer and Compatibility

If the printer manufacturer does not provide the printer with standard printer language support but uses a proprietary protocol, the printer is a so called 'GDI printer'. Such printers only work under the operating systems for which the manufacturer provides driver support. GDI is an API developed by Microsoft. The problem with 'GDI printers' has nothing to do with the GDI API. The problem is that GDI printers are exclusively accessible via a proprietary protocol. Therefore, GDI printers should actually be called 'printers exclusively accessible via a proprietary protocol'.

There is no such thing as 'the GDI printer protocol'. Each kind of GDI printer model uses its own special proprietary protocol so that each kind of GDI printer model needs its own special driver. See also

There are somewhat crippled printers that 'understand' only rudimentary elements of a standard printer language (i.e., only those commands necessary for the output of raster graphics data). This kind of printer can sometimes be deployed in an ordinary way, since many printer drivers merely use the commands required for the output of raster graphics data. These printers may pose a problem if they must be previously switched to a special mode with specific control sequences. This can only be done with a specially adapted printer driver. Since this is not a standard protocol, these printers belong to the GDI printers.


We cannot provide instructions how to set up a GDI printer, because we do not conduct tests for GDI printer drivers.

For some GDI printers there are special driver programs available in the Internet. You may find information even regarding GDI printers at the OpenPrinting workgroup of the Linux Foundation.

Often there are special limitations in GDI printer drivers. Therefore, GDI printers may not work under normal circumstances.

Often GDI printer drivers need special actions to be set up correctly. Therefore it is often not possible to set up GDI printers with YaST or other printer setup tools which work in compliance with CUPS.

As we do not test GDI printers, we do not include GDI printer drivers into our products because we do not know if the GDI printer drivers would work at all.

Some GDI printer drivers need special actions to be set up or include problematic code that may cause license problems if we had those drivers in our products. We will never ever risk causing license problems for us and also for you when you would use such software where the license is unsafe only to have some kind of support for such problematic hardware.

We do not develop any GDI printer drivers because there are hundreds (in fact more than a thousand) printer models that work well for Linux. See the support database articles SDB:Printer buying guide and SDB:Purchasing a Printer and Compatibility.

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Since the cost for a functional new printer is relatively low, the time spent to set up a GDI printer with whatever special driver is probably not worth the effort. What is more, using a proper printer will solve the driver problem once and for all, as it will eliminate the need for installing and configuring special driver software and obtaining special driver updates which may be required after changes and/or new developments in the print system.

Further Information

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In some cases, users want to use the GDI printer driver when there's no PCL printer available, such as for faxing. But sometimes, the print quality is not as good as with the PCL driver. To understand why, it helps to understand how the printer drivers work with fonts.

In the Windows world, users often use TrueType fonts. Windows printer drivers create bitmap representations of those fonts as needed from the information contained in the TrueType fonts during printing. These programs try to make the printer look like the screen.

To the system, the user usually dictates that fonts that already reside on a Xerox printer be used. This gives the system the challenge of working backward from those fonts and trying to represent the output on the screen. The system tries to make the screen look like the printer, not the other way around. We can convert Xerox bitmap fonts to PCL bitmap fonts without too much trouble, but we do not have the technology to create TrueType screen fonts from Xerox or PCL fonts. Even if we did, there are licensing issues.

GDI print quality correlates to the fonts used for display, compared with the attributes describing those fonts. What you see on the screen is how GDI print will look. So, the key to improving GDI print is to improve the fonts used in the display system, and to match substitutions, attributes, character widths, and scaling attributes. Some of this can be improved by making sure the font widths and family names are correct.

There are INI options you can use to improve the substitutions, if you cannot match the names. For the best results, use screen fonts that match exactly.

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The system comes with a set of TrueType fonts that match the included printer fonts. Install and use these fonts if possible. If, however, you are working backward from an end-user's existing fonts, you will have to get the matching fonts or use fonts that are similar.


Xerox can create PostScript fonts from Metacode fonts for you. There are tools that will convert a PostScript font to a TrueType font. With the proper fonts installed, and with the proper FXR settings, GDI print will match the bitmap font print quality very closely.

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