A beginner’s guide to check printer ink levels in various Linux distributions.
Linux always has great printer support. Thanks to recent improvements in CUPS, almost all printers work out of the box in Linux. All you need to do is plug in and print. This applies to all the major distributions.
While printing is fine, one of the issues users face when they seek to monitor printer ink levels, especially that Linux drivers may not always provide this information.
In this tutorial, we’ll explore a few options for checking ink levels on Linux, for users who wish to stay informed about their printer’s ink status. While we explain the details, keep in mind the diverse range of printers available. It’s important to note that not all printers support ink level reporting, and this guide primarily applies to USB-connected printers. Additionally, the procedure focuses on the Libinklevel library, which is generally compatible with HP, Epson, and Canon printers.
Table of Contents
Check ink levels in Linux
HP Printers – install and configure
Installing the HPLIP package directly from HP is the best solution for users with HP printers. Execute the following commands in your terminal. This will install the hplip base package and the GUI. The GUI gives you information about ink status and various information.
Ubuntu, Linux Mint and related:
sudo apt install hplip hplip-gui
sudo pacman -S hplip
Fedora and related
sudo dnf install hplip hplip-gui
After the above installation is done, use the following command to configure your printer for the first time. Make sure you connect your printer before following below commands. Also, you can skip this step, if your printer is already configured in Linux.
- Run the setup
- If you have a USB printer, try the below:
hp-setup -b usb
- If you know the IP address of your printer, you can use the below command (change the IP address to your printer IP:
The HP Device Manager would open, follow the onscreen instructions and add the printer.
Checking ink levels in HP printers
Once installed & configured, check your ink levels with the following command from the terminal.
As you can see, it shows a nice text representation of the current ink level in my test printer (HP Deskjet).
Alternatively, you can utilize the graphical user interface (GUI) program accessible from your system menu. Once opened, select the printer from the left section and go to the Supplies tab. You can see the status of Tri-color cartridge and blank ink.
Other Printers (EPSON and Others)
If you own printers from manufacturers like EPSON, the “ink” legacy program combined with libinklevel provides a solution. Execute the following command to install the necessary components:
Ubuntu, Linux Mint and related
sudo apt install ink libinklevel5
Arch Linux (set up Yay AUR helper and use the below command)
yay -S libinklevel
yay -S ink
Fedora and related distributions (you have to compile libinklevel and ink from srouce):
sudo dnf install libusb1-devel libxml2-devel
tar xzf libinklevel-0.9.5.tar.gz
tar xzf ink-0.5.3.tar.gz
After installation, run the program using the following command, adjusting parameters as needed:
ink -p <port> [-n <portnumber>] [-t <threshold>]
Here, “port” is set to “usb” and the optional parameters allow customization based on your printer’s specifics. For example, for USB printers use below:
ink -p usb
Here’s the ink output for the same printer above using terminal command:
For querying the ink levels of a BJNP Canon network printer:
ink -p bjnp
Or, by specifying the printer’s URI:
ink -b bjnp://<hostname or IP address>
To retrieve version information for “ink” and “libinklevel”:
While this guide should work for most printer models, keep in mind that not all printers support ink level communication, and results may vary.
The use of Libinklevel predominantly applies to USB-connected printers and currently supports HP, Epson, and Canon models. You can check out the supported device list here.