When amateur photographer Robert Krawitz went looking for ways to print his photos back in 1999, he wanted to use an inkjet printer connected to his Linux machine. Easier said than done; he found a great printer, but it had no Linux driver. “Rather than mope around or switch to Windows,” recalls Krawitz, “I decided that I wanted to write a driver for it. The best starting point I could find was Michael Sweet’s print plugin for GIMP. The code was reasonably easy to follow (more so than what was in Ghostscript), and printing directly from GIMP was in line with my goals. It was a fairly long process making the printer generate all 6 colors, but eventually I got it working.”
That was the beginning of Gutenprint (formerly Gimp-Print). More than 10 years later, Gutenprint holds the distinction of being one of the longest running projects of its kind on SourceForge and also rings in as November’s Project of the Month. Krawitz was both surprised and pleased at the project’s near-overnight success and credits several reasons the project has been so well received.
“On the whole, I believe we’ve executed and communicated well,” he says. “We’ve managed (except for a few years when we were stabilizing 5.0) to deliver support for new printers on a more or less regular basis, and we’ve avoided major regressions along the way. We’ve certainly had our share of bugs, but our release strategy has been fairly conservative and we’ve generally avoided delivering broken releases. Basically, Gutenprint is an infrastructure project, and the most important thing for infrastructure is to not break anything else, so we try to ensure that things that aren’t broken don’t change between releases.”
Check out Gutenprint’s Project of the Month Web page for more on why users love the software, the challenges its developers faced along the way, and where the project is headed. When you’re done, take a minute and check out the other nifty projects we’ve showcased this year.