Printer will not print black - any ideas?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    So… My printer is acting up and I don't want to buy a new one for various reasons. However, I cannot figure out what's wrong with it. The problem is: It will not use the regular black ink, only the colors and "photo black", which means all texts are printed as light grey.

    • It's not a driver problem, since the self-test printout is also missing the black part.
    • It's not a problem with the print head, because I already cleaned it multiple times and now bought a new one (it's a Canon model, with a replacable print head).
    • It's not a problem with the cartridges, because I tried different ones (original + knockoff).

    Does anyone have any idea what else I could try to get it working again? The problem is super-weird: The electronics in the printer seem to be working (since everything else works just fine), the print head should be okay, the ink cartridges should be okay, and yet it will not print with the regular black ink.


  • sockdevs

    @asdf Have you tried printing with the colour cartridge removed?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @RaceProUK said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    Have you tried printing with the colour cartridge removed?

    It refuses to do anything if the cartridges are not in place. I can force it to print with empty cartridges, though.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    OK, so it seems like the solution is: If at first you don't succeed, try at least 15 different times and use up at least 3 sets of cartridges in the process. Also, don't trust replacement print heads, even if they are still in their original packaging and from the original vendor.

    I just spent 10 minutes rinsing the first print head yet again, this time with normal tap water. It's now starting to work again. A few regular printer cleaning cycles, and I might have a functioning printer!

    The only downside is that I have now bought an extra print head for 80€ and used up ink and paper worth at least the same amount. But since the second print head obviously didn't work as-delivered, I'll try to send it back and at least get that money back.



  • @asdf
    Yeah, that sounds about right for an ink jet with a separate print head :(

    I would strongly recommend considering a laser printer to replace the ink jet the next time this one acts up. Even laser printers in the $200 range are substantially more repairable than ink jets are, and you don't run into problems with the print heads clogging with ink when you don't print very often. And if you do print heavily, the consumables cost for a laser printer are roughly half the cost of ink, on a per-page basis (assuming you get a laser printer that is appropriately sized for your average monthly print volume).


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @izzion said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I would strongly recommend considering a laser printer to replace the ink jet the next time this one acts up.

    There are 3 reasons why I don't have a laser printer ATM:

    • The smell.
    • I often print photos.
    • There aren't that many affordable multi-function color laser printers. Or at least there weren't the last time I checked.

    If you know a good, small color printer/scanner/copier for a private home, preferably with support for borderless printing, feel free to advertise one. ;) I might consider your suggestion when this thing finally breaks. Oh, and it must have network support plus decent Linux drivers for both printer and scanner.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I often print photos.

    There's a phone app called free prints that will send you a certain number of photo prints each month. You only pay for postage.


  • sockdevs

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    The smell

    I have a laser printer, and it doesn't smell at all.

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    There aren't that many affordable multi-function color laser printers.

    That is true though (mine's monochrome).


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Jaloopa said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    There's a phone app called free prints that will send you a certain number of photo prints each month. You only pay for postage.

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I like to have to ability to print photos myself. I know there are a lot of cheap services for that.

    @RaceProUK said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I have a laser printer, and it doesn't smell at all.

    Maybe modern ones don't emit as much toner dust anymore? The last laser printer I had made the whole room smell like burnt toast after 50 pages.


  • sockdevs

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    Maybe modern ones don't emit as much toner dust anymore?

    That would be my guess. Then again, I don't print much (which is why I have a monochrome laser instead of a colour inkjet), so maybe I've never printed enough to notice.



  • @asdf
    Well, I can't speak to Linux drivers. And obviously the photos is a bit of a deal breaker for most lasers I've worked with. But the network support and multifunction are pretty easy to get, just depends on your definition of "affordable" and how much you print on a monthly basis.

    Would be my recommendation for a Windows shop with a less than 3,000 pages/month print load (the "Monthly duty cycle" numbers on HP specs are marketing bullshit - that number should really be labelled as the "duty cycle between maintenance kits", and if you're going through that number in less than a year, the non-repairable parts of the printer are going to wear out super fast). HP does list Linux as compatible - they list all the major distros (and seem to even have a driver included in the kernel?), but I can't provide any experience / guarantee that it will actually work.

    They have a lower price model in the $300 range, but I haven't worked with their new JetIntelligence toner stuff to know whether or not it's :poo:. The "d" in the model number usually indicates an actual duplex (two-sided) print module, rather than manual duplexing of the printer will pop up a box on your screen to say "ok, go put everything in the paper tray again and we'll print the other side"


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @izzion said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    The "d" in the model number usually indicates an actual duplex (two-sided) print module

    Oh, right, that's another must-have I completely forgot.

    That printer looks a lot bulkier than what I currently have, but I'll keep it in mind. Thanks!



  • @asdf
    Yeah, the size is probably the biggest negative to the laser printers. And they do draw substantially more power than an inkjet, if you live in an area where electricity is a non-negligible cost. (Though they're generally less prone than they used to be to drawing tons of power just to stay warmed up in case you might want to print something quickly).

    In general though, you get enough advance warning on supply depletion to order a new toner cartridge, you get four separate toner cartridges (no throwing out the entire color cartridge just because you printed a bunch of magenta this month), and they're faster and cheaper per page than an inkjet. Service parts (the maintenance kit) generally run about 25-35% of the cost of the printer for the low end models, and for that one I'd expect to need a maintenance kit every 25k-50k pages (you need a maintenance kit after fewer pages if you don't print as often, but the maintenance kits / time is lower overall, so less $$)



  • @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    Does anyone have any idea what else I could try to get it working again?

    Did you try to turn it off and on again?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @fbmac said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    Did you try to turn it off and on again?

    Instructions unclear, dick stuck in paper tray.



  • @asdf That's strange, it worked on my machine



  • @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    OK, so it seems like the solution is: If at first you don't succeed, try at least 15 different times and use up at least 3 sets of cartridges in the process. Also, don't trust replacement print heads, even if they are still in their original packaging and from the original vendor.

    Sounds like the financial program decided you paid your rent.


  • sockdevs

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    There are 3 reasons why I don't have a laser printer ATM:

    • The smell.

    they don't not anymore

    • I often print photos.

    Kinko's is a good option. They're inexpensive and have better print quality than most inkjets.

    Not only that but color lazerjets aren't that bad at color.... okay they don't do too well at really subtle gradations of color, butthen the inkjets aren't great at that either (just in a different way)

    • There aren't that many affordable multi-function color laser printers. Or at least there weren't the last time I checked.

    $300's pricy for an initial layout, but once you factor in the cost of ink, and the fact that cartridges like to go bad and clog the printer when you're not printing constantly



  • My printer hasn't even been turned on in like 3 years. On the rare occasion I actually need to print something, I just print it at work.



  • Also...

    any ideas?

    0_1487614265410_upload-4f92a13e-5aeb-42c0-ab0c-17264e3ef9b9



  • @asdf Did you try telling it it is being racist?



  • @RaceProUK said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I have a laser printer, and it doesn't smell at all.

    Mine will. But usually only when I'm doing high volume printing. (just a couple more days until I do one of those runs again... dog show this coming weekend)


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    The only downside is that I have now bought an extra print head for 80€ and used up ink and paper worth at least the same amount. But since the second print head obviously didn't work as-delivered, I'll try to send it back and at least get that money back.

    Once in a while, I'm super glad I bought a stupid expensive laser printer... I only need to change the toner cartridges like once a year despite my father printing books (for some reason)...


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @asdf said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    Maybe modern ones don't emit as much toner dust anymore? The last laser printer I had made the whole room smell like burnt toast after 50 pages.

    Yeah, the HP in the back room (my bedroom) does somewhat, but the newer one in the front room (wow, we're really creative with our room-naming schemes) was run for like half an hour and nobody noticed.

    I don't think it does borderless (or photo paper, for that matter, but then again I don't think laser does photos well? never tried).



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I don't think laser does photos well?

    Expensive laser does. School has a Fuji Xerox DocuCentre-IV C5575 photocopier that makes nice shiny photo prints with perfectly acceptable color rendering on ordinary A4 office paper.


  • sockdevs

    @flabdablet said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I don't think laser does photos well?

    Expensive laser does. School has a Fuji Xerox DocuCentre-IV C5575 photocopier that makes nice shiny photo prints with perfectly acceptable color rendering on ordinary A4 office paper.

    even relatively inexpensive ones do a decent job these days. I use mine for printing out photos for documentation regularly, they look pretty damn nice if you ask me.

    I mean i'll grant you that they're not archival quality, but if i needed that i'd rent or borrow someone's dye sublimation printer anyway.



  • @izzion said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    HP does list Linux as compatible - they list all the major distros (and seem to even have a driver included in the kernel?), but I can't provide any experience / guarantee that it will actually work.

    I've had several HP printers and they've always "just worked" by plugging them in. The HPLIP page the printer you mentioned is probably supported (based on distro):



  • @boomzilla said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    HP Linux Imaging and Printing

    HP causes much less trouble with printing on Linux than it does on Windows, that's for damn sure. And given the utterly fucked-up complicator's-gloves state of the art in Unix printing, that's saying something.

    I mean, CUPS is kind of OK when it works. But it has failure modes whose obscurity is rivalled only by Windows Update.


  • sockdevs

    @flabdablet said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    I mean, CUPS is kind of OK when it works. But it has failure modes whose obscurity is rivalled only by Windows Update.

    i remember the last time i set up a CUPS server...... man that was horrifying. I'm glad i was doing it on a new preproduction server because it managed to hose itself to the point it was actually faster to wipe the box and start over multiple times before i got it working.



  • I have a Xerox WorkCentre 6015NI. It worked out of the box with Linux.
    For scanning, it can push the PDF to my NAS using FTP, or it can email it to me.

    Never tried printing photos with it. You're better off using photo printing services for that anyway.



  • @accalia said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    i remember the last time i set up a CUPS server...... man that was horrifying.

    I've developed one very simple process for dealing with CUPS.

    1. Install the current Debian CUPS package on the machine connected to the printer.

    2. Test it from some other machine. If it doesn't work, update that machine to the same Debian CUPS package version as the server.

    This has never failed me so far. I learned pretty early on that actually trying to fix a non-working CUPS setup was a quest at least as foolhardy as trying to avoid reinstalling Windows after a failed HP printer driver install has eaten away its insides like leaky old batteries.


  • sockdevs

    @flabdablet This is how I would do it:

    1. Install CUPS on the server.
    2. Test it from another machine and find it doesn't work.
    3. Remove Linux.
    4. Install Windows.
    5. Plug in printer and let Windows do the hard work.
    6. Print ALL THE THINGS.

    :shopping_cart:

    Edit: Steps 1 to 3 are optional.



  • @RaceProUK meh... steps 3 and 4 take a lot longer than apt update; apt install cups.


  • sockdevs

    @flabdablet True, but my solution has a greater than 0.000000000000000000000001% chance of working :P



  • @RaceProUK said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    @flabdablet True, but my solution has a greater than 0.000000000000000000000001% chance of working :P

    But a greater than 100% chance of rebooting whenever the hell Windows Update fancies.



  • @RaceProUK said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    Plug in printer and let Windows do the hard work.

    Doesn't work for HP. We thought it did (win10/hp1100(or something like that)). It printed. But we had some special jobs coming out of FileMaker - basically 2 jobs in a row. Somehow the printer printed the 2nd and then a blank page. After installing the HP-shit-from-CD, then it worked. And we get to see that big annoying HP dialog (ad) after replacing the toner cartridge.



  • @loopback0 And a greater chance that your setup will be broken by a Windows update at some point.





  • @loopback0 No, really. On Debian after apt install hplip, they really do Just Work.

    Windows? Whole nother thing. I just won't buy HP printers for Windows shops any more.



  • @RaceProUK said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    @flabdablet True, but my solution has a greater than 0.000000000000000000000001% chance of working :P

    Not if you have to install a Windows HP driver and company.



  • @flabdablet Huh. I thought making a HP printer work with anything, including HP consumables, required a prayer and multiple sacrifices to the Printer Gods.


  • sockdevs

    Hewlett-Packard.

    We're different :doing_it_wrong:



  • @asdf the black color was patented and a software update disabled it in your printer to prevent legal problems



  • Windows evangelist:

    • If it doesn't work in Linux because there is no drivers, it's Linux fault.
    • If it doesn't work properly in Windows, it's the device maker's fault.

    :rolleyes:



  • @TimeBandit said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    If it doesn't work properly in Windows, it's the device maker's fault.

    To be fair, the problems in Windows are the device maker's fault because they supply shitty drivers.


  • sockdevs

    @flabdablet said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    To be fair, the problems in Windows are the device maker's fault because they supply shitty drivers.

    That is true, but most don't make any drivers for Linux, so the community does instead, and they actually give a shit.



  • @flabdablet said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    To be fair, the problems in Windows are the device maker's fault because they supply shitty drivers.

    If that was the only source of problems in Windows, it wouldn't be so bad.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @flabdablet said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    much less trouble with printing on Linux than it does on Windows, that's for damn sure

    Yeah. I'm in the state where I have to run a script to hide a driver update from Windows Update because it never installs correctly. Despite having a newer version of the driver installed (I have a hunch that's why it's not installing, but it's HP, :shrug:).



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    @flabdablet said in Printer will not print black - any ideas?:

    much less trouble with printing on Linux than it does on Windows, that's for damn sure

    Yeah. I'm in the state where I have to run a script to hide a driver update from Windows Update because it never installs correctly. Despite having a newer version of the driver installed (I have a hunch that's why it's not installing, but it's HP, :shrug:).

    Evidently date overrules version for drivers. :headdesk:



  • @dcon Given that Windows drivers for any given chunk of hardware could come from a variety of development teams, even choosing them strictly by version number would be a bit iffy.


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