[TriLUG] IBM NetVista / CoStar Labelwriter: giving up!
clists at perrin.socsci.unc.edu
Thu Jun 20 09:52:11 EDT 2002
Well, after lots of e-mails, phone calls, and tests, I'm giving up (at
least for now) on getting this CoStar LabelWriter XL working on my IBM
NetVista running Debian Woody. I'm sending this message mostly for the
archives, in case anyone runs across a similar scenario in the future, but
if anyone has ideas I'd love to hear them.
The situation is this. The CoStar LabelWriter XL is a low-end, serial
label printer. There is a software driver that will drive the printer
under linux (http://www.freelabs.com/~whitis/software/pbm2lwxl/).
For a project getting under way this fall, it would be very helpful to be
able to spit out barcode labels on demand. By all reports, this should be
feasible. So I set out trying to get my office machine printing to the
The symptom: nothing happens. Sending any data to the LWXL via either
serial port on the IBM machine simply dies quietly. BUT... using the
exact same stty settings and sending the same file from a different
computer (also running debian) over the same cable to the same printer
works fine. It's therefore not the software, the file, the cable, or the
Running a null modem between /dev/ttyS0 and /dev/ttyS1 on the IBM machine
yields the expected results (data passed cleanly between the ports).
Using ssnooper (thanks to Ed Hill)
(http://sourceforge.net/projects/ssnooper/), I hooked the IBM in between
the working computer and the printer, so I could see the data being passed
from the working computer to the printer. Data were in fact passed, but
nothing printed on the printer.
I booted to DOS, took the test file that works from the working computer,
and did copy small.out com1:. Nothing. Okay, so it's not some subtle
issue between linux and these serial ports.
All this suggested to me that there was something subtly incompatible
between the IBM serial ports themselves and the printer. I called IBM
tech support, but they have no record of any problem with this label
printer. They suggested I update the flash BIOS and run their PC Doctor
diagnostic software. I did both; the serial ports passed the diagnostics,
but there's still no action after the BIOS update.
For now, I'm just going to give up. If and when I get less discouraged, I
- buy a cheap PCI serial board and see if it works; or
- buy a USB label printer instead; or
- hook up the working computer to the label printer, run lpd on it, and
send label print jobs over the net to it.
Andrew J Perrin - http://www.unc.edu/~aperrin
Assistant Professor of Sociology, U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
clists at perrin.socsci.unc.edu * andrew_perrin (at) unc.edu
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