Printing is one of those things that seems like it should be easy but never is. Anyway, I recently had to get my laptop to connect to a network printer and I want to write the process down in case I need to do it again. The following instructions are written for Arch Linux and assume you have a AUR helper (like yay) installed.

1. Install CUPS and the printer driver files

CUPS is the software most commonly used for printing on linux. Apple later adopted it as their printer driver for macOS, and in 2020, OpenPrinting was joined by the original maintainer of CUPS to maintain a fork of Apple CUPS. This is just a summary of the Brief History given on the OpenPrinting site.

For CUPS to work, we’ll need a PPD file for the printer we want to use. My printer is a Brother MFC-L2690DW, which is just a basic laser printer I purchased at Wal-Mart. Luckily, Brother has a driver installer for linux. Unfortunately, they only have options for deb and rpm based distros. But thanks to the Arch community, we can just install the files using the PKGBUILD script in the Arch User Repository.

NOTE: The brother-mfcl2690dw-cups-bin package we install in this step is not automatically used by CUPS. The package only installs files into /opt/.

yay -S cups brother-mfcl2690dw-cups-bin

2. Start the CUPS service

Now that we have cups installed, we need to enable it.

systemctl enable cups.service
systemctl start cups.service

3. Configure the printer with the proper driver files

With the cups service running, we can go to localhost:631 and configure our printer.

To start, click on the Administration tab, and then click the Add Printer button. You’ll be prompted to enter your username and password for your Arch Linux install. After this you will be brought to the Add Printer page. I don’t know how you have your printer set up, but mine was connected to WiFi and was immediately available under Discovered Network Printers as an option. Fill out the Location field on the next page if you’d like, then hit continue.

Now you’re at the last part, and this is where the brother-mfcl2690dw-cups-bin package comes into play. At the bottom of the page there is button labeled Or Provide a PPD File. Click on Browse... and select the PPD file at /opt/brother/Printers/MFCL2690DW/cupswrapper/brother-MFCL2690DW-cups-en.ppd Click Add Printer and the printer should now be setup!

4. Print!

Make a test print! You can use CUPS test print option or just print whatever file inspired you to try and set up the printer in the first place.