Annals of Backwards Compatibility

This spring, we bought Aislinn a printer. She needed to print large black-and-white handouts for school, so we wanted a cheap laser printer. We found an absurdly good special at our local OfficeDespot (or OfficeMash—I can never keep them straight) on an HP LaserJet 1020. It’s cute, it’s small, it’s reasonably quick, it doesn’t burn through the Dom Perignon the way an inkjet would, and thanks to the loss-leader rebate involved, it cost less than some textbooks. The only hitch was that it doesn’t support Macs.

At least not officially, that is. Some diligent digging around online revealed that while HP doesn’t offer an OS X driver for the 1020, it does offer a “1020 Series” driver with the 1022. Some enterprising souls had tried out the driver with the 1020 and reported that it worked fine. Confident in our ability to make a go of it (or to take advantage of the return period) we went ahead and bought it. It worked like a charm—indeed, we printed our wedding invitations on it.

Well, as you may be aware, I just switched to a Mac. That meant that I needed to reinstall printer drivers for the printer on my new computer. It turns out that in the interim, HP has frobbed the driver for the 1022. Whether deliberately or not, they broke its compatibility with the 1020. I spent some quite frustrating time earlier today trying to figure out why the damn driver wasn’t showing up.

Then I got clever. I poked about online to learn where printer drivers live in OS X (in this case, inside of /Library/Printers) and what HP’s driver installer does. Then I turned on file sharing on Aislinn’s computer, logged in through the network, copied the old drivers off her computer, and manually dropped them in the correct spot on mine. The next time I opened the Printer Setup Utility, there it was, a bright shiny new driver for the 1020, all set and ready to go. Two minutes later, the first sheets were emerging from the printer.

Well played, HP. But not nearly well enough.

How cool are you? Macs rule!