Add WiFi connectivity to older USB printers with Orange Pi 3G-IoT-A and UoWPrint print server

I previously used an inexpensive CHIP board as a Linux printer and scanner server for the Canon MP250 USB multi-function printer. It took a while to make it work with a long list of instructions and even then the scanner function was not working very reliably.

ValdikSS’s UoWPrint driverless printing and scanning server aims to simplify the process for older USB printers and also supports AirPrint and Mopria standards over WiFi. The older Orange Pi 3G-IoT-A board was the hardware of choice for this project due to its ultra-low price.

Orange Pi 3G-IoT-A printer server

The resulting product enables users to convert their old USB printer (or MFP) into a WiFi printer/MFP and print and scan without drivers from Windows, macOS, and Linux, as well as mobile operating systems such as iOS/Android. ValdikSS told CNX Software he spent a considerable amount of time backporting patches required to run modern Debian 12 to the kernel 3.2.67 (systemd requirement is kernel 4.15+), polishing all the bugs (including SANE, AirSane, and printer drivers), writing the web interface and making the device usable out-of-the-box by the regular user.

The project was initiated for three main reasons:

  1. Bring usage convenience to the older printers and MFPs
  2. Reduce e-waste by utilizing OrangePI 3G-IoT-A boards that ship with poor software support from the company
  3. Fund CUPS, SANE, AirSane, and Linux printer driver authors for better open-source software

He’s also worked on a driver for Canon CAPTv1 printers (1999-2004) for which there is no Windows 64-bit driver. Windows users can now print with this printer without having to resort to hacks such as running Windows XP in a VM.

Canon MP230 USB printer WiFi printing  UOWPrint
WiFi printing on Canon MP230 USB printer

The project’s website has more details about the supported printers and operating systems. While the project is technically open-source, the source code (mkosi build script) is only available to people who purchase a $25 kit with the Orange Pi 3G-IoT-A board preloaded with UoWPrint and an acrylic case. Out of the $25 price, $2 will be sent to CUPS core developers and $2 for SANE/AirSane developers from each sold device, and $2 extra will be used to fund the improvement of Canon CAPT (v2+) drivers as those printers are still very common in the former USSR, Europe, and Asia.

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Ray Knight
Ray Knight
2 months ago

Curious why someone would choose to back port various patches to run ancient kernel on modern Debian release rather than forward porting the drivers/code for the SOC to current kernel!

2 months ago

Because it’s much harder and time consuming 😀
The kernel comes from Mediatek, from the ancient times, and contain lots of low-quality out-of-tree code and in-tree modifications, as well as codegen layer.

There’s an attempt to port mt6572 modifications on top of a newer 3.10 Mediatek kernel (probably for mt6582 initially), but that’s still ancient.

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