How I got my networked Brother printer to work with i386 drivers on a Debian Jessie x86/amd64 system

Specifically, I’m running Debian 8 (“Jessie”) with kernel 3.16.0-4-amd64 on a desktop computer connected to the router via ethernet cable, and our printer connects wirelessly. The printer is actually a multi-function device, Brother MFC-J835DW.

As a prerequisite to printing from Debian in general, install cups:

sudo apt-get install cups

The Debian printing tutorial might contain other helpful or necessary information.

I followed all the steps at Brother’s Debian/Ubuntu x86/amd64 prerequisites page, plus a few extra steps that probably weren’t necessary but I’ll list them anyway.

1. Try to install ia32-libs or lib32stdc++, but ia32-libs is not in the Debian repository and lib32stdc++ would’ve had a dependency conflict, and I am certainly not qualified to resolve that. I noticed that when I tried to install ia32-libs, APT told me that the package lib32ncurses5 had replaced it, so I just installed that:

sudo apt-get install lib32ncurses5

2. sudo apt-get install csh
sudo apt-get install tcsh

(I chose csh.)

3. sudo mkdir /var/spool/lpd

4. This might only be necessary for some scanner-related functions, not printing, but I did it anyway because I figured it wouldn’t hurt:

sudo apt-get install sane-utils

5. Brother also says this was only necessary for a completely different line of Brother products on Debian systems that don’t have psutils installed, but I was running a Debian system that didn’t have psutils installed, so I figured this couldn’t hurt either:

sudo apt-get install psutils

6. Download the .deb files for the lpr driver and cupswrapper driver to ~/Downloads.

7. cd ~/Downloads

8. sudo dpkg -i --force-all mfcj835dwlpr-3.0.1-1.i386.deb

(Obviously, replace that .deb filename with your own.)

9. sudo dpkg -i --force-all mfcj835dwcupswrapper-3.0.0-1.i386.deb


10. Check to make sure two Brother drivers, one LPR and one CUPS, were installed:

dpkg -l | grep Brother

My output was:

ii mfcj835dwcupswrapper 3.0.0-1 i386 Brother CUPS Inkjet Printer Definitions
ii mfcj835dwlpr 3.0.1-1 i386 Brother lpr Inkjet Printer Definitions
ii printer-driver-brlaser 3-3 amd64 printer driver for (some) Brother laser printers
ii printer-driver-ptouch 1.3-8 amd64 printer driver Brother P-touch label printers

11. Install the printer to the system via the web interface:
11a. Go to the CUPS web interface in a web browser: http://localhost:631/
11b. Click on Administration.
11c. Follow the prompts and click everything as appropriate.
11d. My Brother driver was not listed among the many Brother drivers available, for some reason, even though I was able to choose MFC-J835DW at the previous step just fine, so I clicked on Browse… to add my own .ppd file.
11e. I found mine in /usr/share/ppd/Brother/. If you can’t find yours at first, try running sudo updatedb to update your system files (or whatever updatedb does). You could also simply run locate *.ppd (which didn’t find my Brother .ppd file until I ran updatedb).

12. Click through the web interface to set the printer options. I was able to click on a button to autodetect my printer’s default options.

13. Print a test page.

Never in my life have I seen such a beautiful test-print page.

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