Epson WF-7110 as a Photo Printer on Debian Linux

I bought the Epson WF-7110 to use as a photo printer on Linux. It prints color and black and white photos up to 13×19 inches. Beautiful!

So how do I like it? It’s great! It does everything I wanted it to do. I knew going in the Epson WF-7110 would not be the equal of a dedicated photo printer, but I am satisfied with the prints. I get great black and white prints in addition to color. The Epson WF-7110 is a little fiddly on Linux. This post is dedicated to how I set it up on Debian Linux.

A dedicated photo printer is not the normal use for the Epson WF-7110. It’s more of an office all-in-one type printer.  If you want to print photos, you’re supposed to buy one of Epson’s expensive photo printers. I’ve done that before. They’re excellent. But this time I needed something cheap. I knew from previous experience (an Epson C88 almost ten years ago) that Epson 4-color printers provided good photo quality.

How close are the 4-color prints from the Epson WF-7110 to the much more expensive photo printers with 6, 8, or more colors? To my eyes, almost indistinguishable. First of all, the prints are just as detailed. There is no difference whatsoever in resolution. If you look closely, the dedicated photo printers are smoother; that is, the tones change more gradually. The 4-color photos have more contrast, which may or may not suit your style. But the 4-color printers are at least the quality of digital photos you would order from a drugstore. It’s one of those deals where if you saw a photo from the WF-7110 in isolation, you’d be like, “That’s great!” If somebody placed the photo you liked next to the same photo printed from a much more expensive photo printer, and forced you to look for differences, you might find something. Is that how you normally spend your time viewing photos? Not me. I print photos from the WF-7110, show them to my wife, and we enjoy them together.

Setting up the Epson WF-7110

Here’s how I set up the Epson WF-7110. There may be better ways to do it.  But again, the printer does what I want it to.

First of all, unwrap and unpack the printer, and connect it to your wifi network. Read the instructions that come with the printer. Basically, you tell the printer the name of your network and enter the password.

Once the printer is hooked up to your network, fire up a web browser, login to your wireless router, and make sure you can see the printer. The address for your wireless router and how to login are on the router.

Next, go to localhost:631 on your browser. This will bring up CUPS, the administration page for printers in Linux. Under “Cups for Administrators” you’ll see “Adding Printers and Classes.” Click it. Under “Printers” you’ll see “Add Printer.” Click it. Nest to “Discovered Network Printers” you should see something like “EPSON WF-7110 Series (EPSON WF-7110 Series).” Click it. The next screen will be name, description, and sharing the printer. Change stuff here if you need to. On the next screen choose a driver. This should be as simple as choosing the printer manufacturer and model. The Epson WF-7110 uses the escpr driver on Linux. If you can’t find the WF-7110, you can maybe choose escpr on another printer, and that may be suggested.

An alternative is to go directly to the Epson support website and get drivers for Linux. Type in wf-7110 on the Epson site for the printer model, choose Linux for the operating system, and download the appropriate package for your architecture on the next page. 

In my case the right package was epson-inkjet-printer-escpr_1.6.17-1lsb3.2_amd64.deb. When I tried to intall it with #dpkg -i epson-inkjet-printer-escpr_1.6.17-1lsb3.2_amd64.deb, I got a complaint about missing lsb. When I tried to install lsb, I got more complaints. I ran #apt-get –fix-broken install, after which the #dpkg -i epson-inkjet-printer-escpr_1.6.17-1lsb3.2_amd64.deb command worked. After the drivers were installed I ran #updatedb (for the locate command), then #ls -l `locate escpr` | grep ‘Nov 10’ because I installed the drivers on Nov 10. That showed me where the newly installed drivers were: /usr/share/ppd/epson-inkjet-printer-escpr -> /opt/epson-inkjet-printer-escpr/ppds. Then, on the CUPS install printer driver screen, instead of choosing a make and model, I chose the option to provide a ppd file, navigated to the ppd directory, and chose the file for the WF-7110. It’s important to get the right driver, but then again, it isn’t. If you mess it up, no worries. You can just reinstall the printer and choose a different driver until you get it right.

On the next screen choose a few defaults for paper type, size, and so on. Again, this can be changed. If you’re sure of what you want to do, it makes sense to choose those paper types as defaults.

At this point the Epson WF-7110 should be installed. You can print!

Printing

The best advice I can give you is experiment. Even though this is not normally a dedicated photo printer, it was designed to make nice photos. You have a lot of options to choose from, as far as paper types, sizes of paper, and so on. The Epson WF-7110 prints beautiful borderless photos on my system, in all sizes from 4×6 up to 13×19. You may get funny results at first.  Change options until you get things right.

The printer may complain about the wrong paper type if you choose a paper type other than what you have in the printer. Oh, and I forgot to mention that you can set up paper types and sizes on the printer too. So there’s that. It may take you a little while to get a workflow down.

The CUPS page is useful while you are coming to grips with your printer. You can quickly cancel a job that goes wrong on the “Jobs” tab. There are Maintenance options for the printer. “Pause” pauses the printer, and “Resume” starts it up again. This fixes the printer when it gets confused.

Black and White Printing

Black and White printing is tough. When you tell your printer to print black and white, most likely it mixes all colors to make black and gray. I can tell just by looking at a print it has a color cast. If you can’t tell, look with a magnifying glass. Instead of black ink, you’ll see the tiny colored dots mixed together to form grays.

The color cast worsens with time, because different color inks fade at different rates. Even if the printer did a decent job at first, as soon as one color fades out of the mix more than the other, your “black and white” print looks blue or purple or whatever. This might take a couple of years, or less than a year if you’re unlucky. I can see the color cast as soon as the print comes out of the printer.

The best solution is to set up a dedicated black and white printer, where black ink of different densities is used to fill the color slots. I’ve done that. It works great. But you can make decent black and white prints with the Epson WF-7110 by forcing it to print with black ink only.

That’s not as easy as it sounds! If the Epson WF-7110 thinks it is printing a photo, it will try to mix colors to make black and gray. You have to trick it. First, make your photo grayscale mode using something like gimp. Next, choose matte paper from your print dialog, even if you have glossy paper loaded in the printer. It should use just the black ink. For comparison, you may want to print a “black and white” photo on 4×6 glossy paper, telling the printer you are using glossy paper, and the same photo on 4×6 glossy paper, but telling the printer that it is matte. The difference should be obvious. Remember, the color cast will worsen with time. I’ve made beautiful, true black and white prints on the Epson WF-7110 , borderless, at 13×19 inches.

Printing with Gimp

Printing with Gimp has been my big disappointment with this printer. If I figure out a solution, I’ll update this post.

Gimp has a plugin for Epson printers called gutenprint-gimp. I’ve used it for years, with awesome results. It allows you to fine-tune every aspect of printing with the best Epson photo printers.

Unfortunately, the WF-7110 does not appear to be supported by gutenprint. I’m still playing with it. Maybe I’ll get it to work.

I’ve run into this sort of thing with Linux before. Linux tends to support the best hardware, not the cheapest. That’s because developers have limited time and focus on priorities. If you buy a $5,000 Epson printer, everything likely works out of the box, with a lot less hassle than I describe here. It’s hit or miss with a sub-$200 printer.

I’ve had the best  luck printing with the Epson WF-7110 out of eog, the Eye of Gnome image viewing program. My printing options are more limited than in gutenprint, but I’m not sure it makes a difference. The prints look great. The real hassle is modifying images in Gimp, then saving them and opening them up in eog to print.


Please feel free to comment on this post or offer suggestions.

Would I buy this printer again? Absolutely! It does what I want it to do. I had a fair amount of experience with Epson printers already, some of them higher-end models than this. I knew what I wanted.