2011-05-05

Installing the drivers for an HP LaserJet 6P on Windows 7

From the time where printer manufacturers were still producing near indestructible models. Plus, 5 years on, and I'm still using the toner cartridge that came with the printer. Add an USB → IEEE1284 adapter, plug into a NAS or plug computer, and enjoy your network printer.

Now, I did spend some time getting cups going, but I found it a bit flaky, so I reverted to direct samba access to the raw device. But that means the need for a driver on Windows, and Windows 7 considers that the HP printing dinosaurs are too old to be supported by default. On the other hand, that probably means you'll be able to find a cheap one on ebay.

Now, for those of us who know better and still want to do our Windows 7 printing through a trusted HP LaserJet, the procedure to obtain the drivers is as follows (should work for the whole range of old HP printers, and not just the 6P):

  1. Open IE (won't work in Firefox or Chrome)
  2. Go to http://catalog.update.microsoft.com
  3. Search your model, e.g. "LaserJet 6P". This should list a set of drivers for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, etc. Gotta wonder what the "search for drivers online" feature of Windows is really used for.
  4. Select the most relevant driver, e.g. "Microsoft driver update for HP LaserJet 6P"
  5. Click "View Basket"
  6. Click "Download"
  7. You'll get something like X86-all-XXXX.cab or AMD64-all-XXXX.cab file that you need to save. Be mindful that if you try to use the AMD64 package on a 32 bit version of Windows, or X86 on 64 bit, it will not work, so make sure you get the right one.
  8. Open the .cab file you just saved using 7-Zip, and extract all the files into some directory.
  9. Install your printer and select "Have Disk" when prompted for a driver. Then point to the directory where you extracted the files.
  10. Enjoy another many years use of your LaserJet printer. In all fairness, the early LaserJet printers are so indestructible that you'll probably die long before your printer does.