Which USB-sharing devices are supported under Linux/Ubuntu?

Posted on 2008-11-07
Last Modified: 2013-12-27
I want to share a USB multifunction printer on a network (scanning ability is important). I've found and purchased several RJ45-to-USB devices which support print and scan operations from networked Windows and OS X systems. I have yet to find a device with full Linux support.

Example devices supporting Windows and/or OS X for full multifunction support (no *nix support):

1. Which network devices support bi-directional USB-sharing from Ubuntu?

2. Are there any (little-known/proprietary) software packages for Linux that leverage USB-sharing devices?
Question by:jpnuzzo
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    Normally the issue isn't whether Linux is supported by the USB sharing device, but rather Is the multifunction printer you want to use supported by Linux. If it is supported by Linux and once the driver has been installed under Linux with the printer physically connected to the PC, you should be able to change the setup so you can print or scan using an IP.

    Also, from my experience it is a lot better to get an MFP device which already includes a NIC in the first place, that is a lot more reliable and often cheaper than getting additional devices to get them working on a LAN. Many of the MFP's, particularly those from HP, which you can buy these days have builtin NIC's and even wireless NIC's, and most of them work on Linux, MAC and even Windoze!
    LVL 37

    Expert Comment

    Amen, rindi

    If you're going to network an MFP, do *not* get a usb machine. Even if you ever get it to work (and scanning is unlikely, even under Windows) you'll be pulling out your hair by the time it's set up. There are virtually no usb MFPs that work via a printserver. If the machine has a built-in network card, it's easy to scan to email or to a directory on the network.

    Author Comment

    I'm not looking for advice on a printer purchase. I bought a MFP earlier this year. Photo-quality was a big factor. I read many reviews. The sub-$500 network-ready MFP's all had mediocre-to-poor photo printing quality. Rather than sacrifice photo-quality I opted for a USB MFP.

    I've had a Canon PIXMA MP610 shared between XP Home and Leopard systems using the Silex device since Feb 2008 without issues.

    I'd like to extend it to my Ubuntu boxes. I'm able to print to it using TurboPrint drivers, but have not been able to scan for lack of a similar USB-over-ethernet device & drivers.
    LVL 87

    Accepted Solution

    You probably won't even get the scanner to work when connecting the printer directly to the USB port of the Ubuntu PC, as there just isn't a driver available for it. Turboprint is good but it only supports the printer functions as you have already noticed. Canon is particularly mediocre in it's Linux "support", which is equal to no support.

    Author Closing Comment

    I've been searching for months, for a device and/or driver that may not exist. The answer didn't provide exactly what I wanted to hear; but it's consistent with what I've read elsewhere; and consistent with dialog I've had with suppliers of USB-over-ethernet devices for Windows/OS X.

    Bottom line: this makes Linux a poor choice for a system in my home.

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