Printer PPD wizardry, anyone?

Do we have any forumer who has dissected a printer PPD?

The reason for my question is that my printer (XP-960) does have
a certain feature (changing ink density), but the drivers that are
available (Gutenprint, CUPS, ESC/P-R) do not permit me to set/change it.

If I lie and tell Gutenprint or CUPS that I have another printer model
(like an L-1800) the feature is available in the GUIs.

Printer PPDs are quite an unknown area for me – I am not even sure
that the feature I am after is made available through a PPD, it could be
set from somewhere else in the chain…

Claes in Lund, Sweden

@Claes PostScript Printer Description files (PPD) are plain-text (except for Windows which converts them to binary with a .bpd extension), so you should be able to diff the XP-960 PPD against the L-1800, allowing you to find ink density keys if that’s where they exist.

I found a PPD for your XP-960 here and it was plain-text:
Print-PPD/Epson at master · liberodark/Print-PPD · GitHub

You can also extract the PPD from the Mac driver :wink:

Hi, I just joined I’m the Gutenprint project lead.

Gutenprint does allow you to change ink density.

Gutenprint PPD files are simply a reflection of the underlying driver capabilities. Gutenprint offers two sets of PPD files, the full-featured ones (which offer everything except curve options) and simplified ones (which offer only basic options).

Make certain you’re not using a simplified PPD file (the description in the printer name will include “Simplified”). If whatever you’re printing from groups the options, the Density option should be under Output Control Extra 1.


PPD files are driver-specific, not just printer-specific. A PPD file for TurboPrint will not function with Gutenprint or vice versa.

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@rlk Oh? Oh! Evidently, I know far to little about the noble art of taming a printer :frowning: Sigh.

According to information here

Printer only prints in draft mode, sometimes with artifcats in the print out. Epson driver is missing most of the options. … Attempted to extract PPD files from the apple driver, but the filters that came along with that do not want to work. …
… it is not included in the Foomatic packages.

What do you recommend me to do? The XP-960 is a 6-color printer. The property I need is the ability to decrease the ink flow (because of experiments with “bad” paper qualities). I am on Manjaro and use Gutenprint 5.3.1 from The Gimp.

Claes in Lund, Sweden

As I suggested in our earlier email discussion, please do a “print to file” from that printer (it doesn’t matter that there’s no density control) and send me the output. It might help me work it out.

Something else that would be useful would be to print a test page from the front panel. It will have a number of blocks of stairstep lines. If you can count the number of rows of steps, the number of little steps per row, and measure the height of one of the blocks, it may help me.

Sounds idiotic, but I cannot find any “test page” in the front panel.

number of blocks of stairstep lines… ?

The closest that I can come up with is “Nozzle check”.
Would that be it?


Thank you.

18 rows of steps
10 little steps per row
24mm height of the vertical side of the romb block
(25.4mm i.e. 1 inch, height if I “inscribe” the romb into a rectangle)

print-to-file mailed to you.


Right now Gutenprint doesn’t have a printer that precisely matches those head parameters. However, I will create you a one-off replacement model file that I will send to you by email (that will be later on today) along with instructions. It should work, although the colors may not be perfect.

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Actually, I have another thought that will be a bit easier.

Edit /usr/share/gutenprint/5.2/xml/escp2/model/model_122.xml and change the Nozzles entry from 90 to 180, and the NozzleSeparation from 4 to 2 (I can’t seem to include the XML in here).

After doing this, try the L1800 driver again. Let me know how it goes. If it works, I can easily add the L1800 to Gutenprint.

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Thank you!
I will start with your recommended edit :slight_smile:

Bingo! Your suggested edit & pretending that I was using an L1800
became the most promising experiment so far :slight_smile:

Left print = ink density 0.250. Right print = ink density 1.000. I.e. it works!!!

A minor item is that the left margin disappeared, but I will look into that tomorrow.

Thank you very much for your kind assistance!

Claes in Lund, Sweden

Cool. Who are you spying on? :male_detective: :stuck_out_tongue:

Excellent, I’ve added this printer to the supported list (and I think the XP-240, -245, -340, -344, -440, -442, -860, and -8500 will also work with this or similar).