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What is the HPLIP Binary Plug-In and How Do I Install It?

Answer: 

Binary Plug-in Information

Some HP printers require proprietary software technologies to allow full access to printer features and performance.  Unfortunately, these technologies cannot be open sourced, but to resolve this HP uses a binary plug-in for these printers.  This plug-in works in conjunction with our Linux Open Source Printing Software to improve the printing experience for HP’s Linux Printing Customers. Addtionally, it requires the user to read and agree to a license agreement at the time of driver installation.  However, to limit confusion, there is a single plug-in file (for each HPLIP release) for all plug-in enabled devices.

As of February 2009 (concurrent with the 3.9.2 release of HPLIP), there were aproximately 50 LaserJet printers or MFP's that either require the plug-in for the device to operate or use the plug-in for enhanced performance (i.e. improved print quality, faster print speed, etc.).  However, additional devices (including inkjet products) are anticipated to use the plug-in in the future.  For the current list of plug-in enabled printers see this link, which also includes the device features that are enabled or enhanced by the plug-in.

Most Linux distributions include HPLIP with their software, but most do not include the plug-in.  Therefore, it is a safe practice to run a utility called "hp-setup", which, will install the printer into the CUPS spooler, download, and install the plug-in at the appropriate time. 

To install the plug-in using the GUI you can follow these procedures:

1.  Launch a command-line window and enter:

hp-setup

2.  Select your connection type and click "Next".

3.  Select your printer from "Selected Devices" list and click "Next".

4.  Enter your root password when prompted and click "Next".

5.  Use the recommended installation method and click "Next".

6.  Check the box to accept with the "Driver Plug-In License Agreement" and click "Next".

7.  Finish the installation of the printer as normal, however you may be prompted to re-enter your user name and password.

If you run into any additional install problems you can go to our known issues page and check for a solution.

For advanced users who wish to install HPLIP components manually, a utility exists (hp-plugin) which will download and install the plugin file, but it does not also install a printer queue like hp-setup does.

Do the following:

1.  Launch a command-line window and enter:

hp-plugin

2. Follow the directions above for navigating the GUI but remember that the printer que will not be installed through this process.

 *Note: you may need to run hp-plugin as root or super user depending on your distro.