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SDB:GDI Printers

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

About GDI Printers

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.

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