Xerox Phaser 3052 against Debian Linux – shell wins, admin loses

Installing a printer in Linux should not be a challenge nowadays… It shouldn’t, should it? Shoot it, it shouldn’t.

I have this wonderful Xerox Phaser 3052 that works beautifully and I had to get it working with my new Linux notebook. I vaguely remembered that when I was installing it for my old notebook the procedure was not very despicable, so I was full of high hopes and thought I would be printing away in a few minutes. It works for the old one, right? Well, whaddayaknow, two days later I have a simple install procedure that works and a desire to strangle a few Xerox and Debian developers.

The necessary filters and all that (driver package) are available at Xerox Driver download for Phaser 3052 and that is wonderful. Simply download that and then load also the Debian package for the Phaser 3010-3040 driver.

Unpack the second one and marvel at the i386 architecture .deb package. Now, of course, we are running a 64 bit architecture, so we will have to add the i386 to be able to use that. Fortunately, that is simple:

dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get update
apt-get install libcups2:i386
apt-get install ./xerox-phaser-3010-3040_1.0-28_i386.deb

It should all work like a charm. Now we have to install the filters. Unpack the first package and change into the “uld” directory. If you now try to run, you will be not surprised that it doesn’t work.

# ./ 
**** Running install ...
**** Press 'Enter' to continue or 'q' and then 'Enter' to quit. : 
./noarch/ 57: local: 3052/uld/noarch/.version-printer: bad variable name
**** Install finished.

Spending a long evening trying to figure out what is wrong with the script did not help. Fortunately, in the morning I was a little brighter and suddenly decided to check what shell the scripts are running with. And, damn, it isn’t bash.

# l /bin/sh
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Jan 24  2017 /bin/sh -> dash*

There is a little what’s it in the fact that all scripts are written for bash and the Debian developers decided that switching to dash would be a bright idea. No, really? Ok, now the fix is obvious and simple:

# cd /bin/
# rm sh
# ln -s bash sh

And suddenly, like if by magic, it all works…

# ./ 
**** Running install ...
**** Press 'Enter' to continue or 'q' and then 'Enter' to quit. : 
**** Are you going to use network
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Debian 8 to Debian 9 “stretch”

Debian 9 “stretch” turned out to be a stretch indeed. A stretch of my patience and imagination it is. I finally got around to upgrading my desktop and servers to the latest stable and I am not amused. Oh, being on Debian for nearly 20 years I did plenty of upgrades and none of them were painless. Most of the time I actually ended up scrapping the system and installing fresh copies of servers to make sure things work. Recently it was getting better though and I did not see too many angry shouts about the upgrade so I decided to give it a go. I marked up this weekend for the upgrade because experience taught me I was going to need time to fix things before the work starts on Monday.

Well, all right, so on the desktop many applications were simply uninstalled. Fine, when I need something and I notice it missing I install the tool again. That’s annoying but no big deal really. The upgrade itself failed, predictably, but with a little push from our friend ‘apt-get install -f’ the upgrade worked its way through and actually completed, which was a pleasant surprise overall. On the servers though things are not looking good at all.

The update went fairly quickly and without errors so I was amazed with the smooth action. I did feel a little suspicious but after reading through the apt-listchanges did not see anything Earth shattering and felt reassured. Little did I know of what the next hours would bring… The mail server went quietly away and would not start giving me weird errors. I was certain I read about postfix updates in the apt-listchanges but this did not look like anything described there.

After a while I realized that I am looking at some strange errors and configuration of MariaDB instead of the MySQL. Oh, my! That was not mentioned anywhere during the upgrade, was it? No, really! Debian has quietly yanked the MySQL out of my server and installed MariaDB instead. Moreover, it pretended to port my DB to MariaDB, meaning they were now not compatible with MySQL!

Fantastic. So I headed to the MySQL sites where folks of Oracle actually give a fair warning that, yes, Debian will silently replace the database on upgrade. And Debian did not mention it except to note triumphantly that they provide now a much better and transparently compatible database in a press release.

Well, I tell you what. The MariaDB is not transparently compatible. It breaks … -->

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