Adding HP Deskjet in Linux Mint

Bidirectional Printing Problem with HP Deskjet

When I plugged my HP Deskjet 5552 into the USB port of a PC running Linux Mint LMDE operating system. It automatically selected a driver (HP Deskjet 5550 using CUPS + Gutenprint) and printed correctly in all resolutions. However, printing was very slow because it was unidirectional, not bidirectional (i.e. the head only prints in one direction across the paper rather than each way). We really needed to be able to specify 5552, not 5550.
I confirmed it was a driver issue with the following checks:

  • cable suitable for USB2
  • port capable of USB2
  • Windows XP running in Virtualbox on that PC printed bidirectionally


There are 2 ways I know of to instal a printer in Mint LMDE – via a browser and the CUPS interface or using System > Printing from the menu. Usually the system will detect and install correctly when you plug it in and turn it on, which it almost did here.


To use CUPS you have to log into the session as root (or someone with CUPS permissions) – starting a browser with sudo will not work. By default Mint will not allow system administrator access via a login window, so this has to be enable first (see tips below).

Although in general CUPS allows you to set more options, it did not offer the Deskjet 5552 as a potential printer, so this option is a dead end.

Printers utility

Select System > Printing from the main menu bar.

  1. If your printer has already been found, its simplest to make sure it is switched off then delete it
  2. Click the + sign to add a new printer – you may need to enter your user password (not root).print1 This will happen several times during the process but I’ll only mention it once
  3. click on your desired printer.Then select ‘forward’
  4. print2you will get a box ‘searching for drivers’ then the printer details should populate – BUT as a 5550 NOT 5552.Click ‘apply’
  5. print3Right-click the new printer icon and select ‘properties’.You may see “Option ‘printer-resolution’ has value ‘(unknown IPP tag)’ and cannot be edited.”. I know of no way around this but it has not caused me problems
  6. print4you will see the driver details box.Click on the ‘Change’ button after ‘Make and model’
  7. There will be a notification box to say ‘searching for drivers’. Wait for the manufacturer list then select ‘hp’. Click ‘Forward’. If you prefer, at this point you can point directly to a PPD file, but this was not necessary for me
  8. print5You will see that the recommended option will be the HP 5550.This is what I needed the change.

    Look below it and select HP 5552, I then chose the second, CUPS option.

    Click ‘Forward’.

  9. print6You are then offered the choice of accepting new PPD values or copying across the old ones. On the logic the old one did not work properly, I selected the first option.
  10. Tick if you have a duplexer installed then ‘Apply’. Providing the utility does not hang (mine did a few times) you now have a much faster printer!


Not wanting to be critical, the print utility seems flakey at best, with repeated requests for password and frequent hanging on ‘Apply’. Although I can’t solve this I am trying to work out what goes wrong consistently so that I can file a bug report.



Top Tips

  • To log in as root, first login normally then select ‘System > Login Window’ in the main menu. Select the ‘security’ tab and tick the ‘Allow local system administrator login’ box. Close will save your settings, so you can log out then login as root
  • You get the CUPS control panel in the browser using the address ‘localhost:631’. This is normally the best option for administering printers
  • It’s best to confirm the hardware is capable (USB lead, USB port options) before assuming that the software is failing you