REVIEW: Samsung SCX-4100


Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not knocking the actual hardware itself. The Samsung SCX-4100 is actually a very nice mutli-function laser printer and scanner. And normally, its current price of $60 would seal the deal. However, if you’re using Linux, save yourself the aggravation and stay away.

My experience with this printer ended a year ago. But I was reminded of it recently when I tripped over this thing while rummaging through my attic. As I looked down, I was reminded how happy I was to find a printer that worked well with my Suse Linux 9.3 OS. And how happy I was that Suse 10.0 didn’t break anything. But then I updated the drivers installation files for this printer on my file server, and Suse 10.1 came along.

Suse 10.1 didn’t last very long for its own reasons, and I switched to Ubuntu 6.06. After getting comfortable with the new distribution, I went to install the drivers I had on Ubuntu to no avail. In fact, the drivers were such a piece of shit that it really messed up the OS’s stability. I even went back to Suse 10.1 on a throw-away system, and not only did the printer still not work, the stability problems were worse!

At this point I was utterly frustrated, because the old drivers — the ones that came on the included CD — worked so well. Well guess what? I don’t keep driver CDs. If I did that, I’d have at least a 50-pack spindle full of driver CDs alone. Instead, I copy the driver files to a central location. And given the solidity of the drivers that came on CD, what cause would I have to not trust Samsung with future versions of their drivers? Boy, did that ever come back to bite me in the ass.

I contacted Samsung’s technical support, explaining my situation with both Ubuntu 6.06 and Suse Linux 10.1. You know what the response was? Sorry, we don’t support Ubuntu. Period. That was it. Nothing about Suse Linux 10.1, even though the product manual and their web site (at the time) clearly stated they supported Suse Linux 7.1 and above. It’s like the tech looked at my message and found the one excuse not to give me support. What a load of bullshit. At least Belkin tries.

You know what else is bullshit? I bought this printer back in September 2005 for the low price of $170. With a current street price of $60, and the fact that the toner started to run out before this all went down, that’s $170 I’ll never see again.

Oh, wait — that’s not all. Take a look at this garbage:

Samsung SCX-4100 Linux Driver Download Screencap

What the serious fuck? This used to be where the info was about which versions of which distributions of Linux were supported. Now I get information about updating the BIOS? Does this look like a BIOS download to you? No, it’s a printer driver download! How about some information on .tar.gz files? Or how to run the installation utility once you’ve unpacked the driver installation files? No, instead you get completely irrelevant information.

Oh, it gets better.

The manual still states that only these versions of Linux are supported:

  • Redhat 7.1 and above
  • Linux Mandrake 8.0 and above
  • SuSE 7.1 and above
  • Caldera OpenLinux 3.1 and above
  • Turbo Linux 7.0 and above
  • Slackware 8.1 and above

…but the manual’s filename is “dated” 20060308, which I’m guessing to mean March 08, 2006. The driver’s file name is “dated” 20070725, meaning July 25, 2007 — which means the drivers were just updated. Now, between those two dates, Canonical released their hallmark Ubuntu 6.06 and took the Linux market by storm. Have they hopped on the Ubuntu bandwagon, seeing as how this seems to be the only Linux distribution truly marketed to regular desktop PC users? You think I’m taking the chance after what happened?

And look at that list! It’s just old!

Well, that ends my review for the Samsung SCX-4100. And to be quite honest with you, there wouldn’t have been a review if Samsung would have just come out and said, “We’ll support Linux at our whim.” Look, if you’re not going to stick to the standards, do the world a favor and don’t even bother with Linux. You’re just going to end up pissing off the wrong geek sooner or later.