The HP Linux Imaging and Printing (HPLIP) project really makes it easy to install and manage HP printers (and their extended functions like scanning and faxing) under Ubuntu. I only wish Samsung and Brother provided the same!
On Dapper and Edgy, the hplip package is available and provides command line configuration (very handy when assisting someone via ssh!). You can also optionally install the python-qt3 package if you want to use a GUI configuration.
On Feisty, HPLIP is installed by default but invisible from menus. Go to System > Preferences > Main Menu and then enable HPLIP Toolbox under System > Preferences. A bug report (now solved) details why python-qt3 is not a dependency in case you wonder:
Since Gutsy there is now an hplip-gui package that should be used when wanting full GUI love.
For network printers, from command line, first make sure your printer is visible to your workstation (either ping it or visit its management tools via web at http://”ipaddress”).
sudo hp-setup IP_ADDRESS
and follow the prompts. The default values for each question are fine. You may reject the proposed PPD driver file and specify the absolulte path to a new PPD file you download if you wish to use one from the OpenPrinting database.
You may also configure fax headers if your printer supports faxing. You can access all the printer functions (scan, copy, fax, status, etc) using the /usr/bin/hp-toolbox GUI to HPLIP.
To scan via network from your workstation, access Applications > Graphics > XSane Image Scanner. You can also insert scanned images directly into an OpenOffice document for example: Insert > Picture > Scan > Request (‘Select Source’ should be pointing to the printer/scan device).
So, if you or a friend / relative / colleague are looking for printer suggestions for Ubuntu, you know what to recommend if you are “the Ubuntu guy” in their neighborhood
If anyone has suggestions or other printing tricks (for HPs or else), I’d be glad to hear about them.