Fixing Brother printing on Ubuntu

March 15, 2019

Since moving to Ubuntu 16.04.3, printing to my Brother MFC-J650DW printer has been broken. I can print fine, but it’s always offset by a bit, never where it should be on the page.

Turns out this is a bug and there’s a workaround. So I don’t forget next time I set up printers:

lpadmin -p "Brother_MFC_J650DW" -o pdftops-renderer-default=pdftops

Tracking and blocking BRW70188B

January 2, 2017

I’ve been monitoring wifi traffic on my network. I’ve seen a large amount sent up by one device, which was reported as starting with BR70188B (mac address 70:18:8b) with manufacturer HonHaiPr.

HonHaiPr is Hon Hai Precision Industry, which makes network devices. The one in question (with the name BRW70188Bxxyyzz) was from a Brother MFC-650DW that is on the network.

Now that I’ve identified the printer, what to do about it? It was spewing lots of uploaded data – perhaps just to the clients that printed from it, but I’m perhaps a little paranoid. (It seems strange that it’s uploading almost as much as gets downloaded to the printer, though.) So I decided to knock it off the Internet to see what happened.

First, I gave it a static IP address in my dhcpd.conf:

host mfc650dw {
    hardware ethernet 70:18:8B:xx:yy:zz;
    option host-name "mfc650dw";

Next, I updated it in DNS (db and db.rev files) just ’cause now that it’s static it’s handy to have a name to deal with.

Finally, I added a rule to my pf.conf:

block out log quick from to ! 192.168.1/24

Now if the printer’s trying to send data up to the Internet, it’s not going to make it through the firewall.

After I did all this, the printer wouldn’t work – Brother apparently stores the IP address but doesn’t refresh if it can’t find it. So I needed to download the Brother Network Connection Repair Tool to tell the Windows printer driver to look for the printer again. Sheesh.

Brother printer disappeared

May 31, 2011

After a while, my Brother MVC 9840 CDW printer (which I installed using this method) disappeared.

No idea why. So I deleted it and reinstalled it. When I went to reinstall it, the original IP-address method wasn’t available. Instead I picked: Network Printer -> Brother MFC-9840CDW and accepted the host and queue as filled in by the configuration dialog. When I did that, no luck.

Instead, I selected AppleTalk/HP Jet Direct since I knew the printer supported that protocol as well. Then I had to enter the IP address of the printer and accepted the default port (9100). Once that was done, I could again print a test page and use up all my ink.

Installing the Brother MFC 9840cdw driver on Ubuntu

January 2, 2011

When I had Ubuntu 8.04, I’d struggled my way through installing the official Brother driver from the Brother Linux site.

Since then I’ve upgraded a couple of times to 9.10, and had not reinstalled my printer. It turns out Ubuntu has made life much easier for us Brother printer owners – so these days there’s no reason not to install the printer driver, especially if the printer is networked.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Synaptic Package Manager
  2. Search for 9840. You should see two packages:
  3. Select those for installation (along with their required packages).
  4. Go to System->Administration->Printing and press the “New Printer” button.
  5. After a “Search for new printers” message comes up and goes away, expand “Network Printers”.
  6. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll see your printer there. I chose to use the one that was found by IP address (LPD Network Printer via DNS-SD).
  7. Then I printed a test page, which shot a bunch of colour toner out. (If I had to do it over again, I would have just printed from Firefox to save toner.)
  8. Finally, I did System->Preferences->Default Printer to set the new printer as the default.

That does the printer; next you’ll want the scanner. This isn’t quite as straightforward, since the scanner stuff isn’t in Synaptic. Again I’m assuming it’s set up on a network:

  1. Make sure you’ve already installed xsane and its requirements.
  2. Download the .deb for brscan3 from the Brother web site. If you’re like me, you want the 32-bit version.
  3. Install the driver with:
    $ sudo dpkg  -i  --force-all brscan3-0.2.11-2.i386.deb
  4. Configure the scanner:
    $ brsaneconfig3 -a name=SCANNER model=MFC-9840CDW ip=aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd

    (where aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd is your MFC-9840’s IP address).

  5. Verify the driver installed:
    $ brsaneconfig3 -q | grep SCANNER
      0 SCANNER             "MFC-9840CDW"       I:aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd
  6. Run xsane and it should find the scanner.

Brother MFC-9840 Toner Reset

September 16, 2010

I like the Brother MFC-9840 printer, but it’s got a really irritating problem: it gives up way to easily when it comes to toner. Often there’s still around 33% of the toner left in the cartridge when the printer comes up with the dreaded “Toner Life End” message.

It appears there are two solutions: #1 (which didn’t work for me) is to tape a bit of black tape over the window of the toner cartridge, or over the hole for the sensor in the toner tray. I left the tape on just in case it would do good in the future.

Here’s an article with a picture of the toner hole:

#2, which I found at proved to solve my problem. Here it is:

  1. With power on, open the toner access main door. You will get a “Cover is Open” message on the LCD.
  2. Press the “Clear/Back” button and you will be taken to the toner “Reset Menu”
  3. You can then scroll through the reset options for the printer’s toner cartridges:
    1. B.TNR-S – Black toner small cartridge (TN-110)
    2. B.TNR-H – Black toner high-capacity cartridge (TN-115)
    3. C.TNR-S – Cyan toner small cartridge (TN-110)
    4. C.TNR-H – Cyan toner high-capacity cartridge (TN-115)
    5. M.TNR-S – Magenta toner small cartridge (TN-110)
    6. M.TNR-H – Magenta toner high-capacity cartridge (TN-115)
    7. Y.TNR-S – Yellow toner small cartridge (TN-110)
    8. Y.TNR-H – Yellow toner high-capacity cartridge (TN-115)
  4. Select the cartridge size you have and the colour you want to reset, and press OK. Since I had small cartridges, I used the S options for all three colours.
  5. Each cartridge must be reset individually. Press “1” to reset.
  6. Press “Clear/Back” to get out of the menu, then close the door.

According to the link at, this works on the Brother MFC 9440 as well.

I wish I’d found this before I replaced my black toner cartridge!

Update: 2013-12-12 – I just learned that it’s possible to reset the values for other consumables on the printer as well. Hold down both 3 and 9 at the same time, and you’ll get a menu to reset:
Belt Unit
PF Kit 1
PF Kit 2

I haven’t had to do any of these yet, but will remember it for when the time comes!