Continuous Stupid Idea

Today I have been installing VAX MP on the new toy, a rather noisy HP DL380 G5. I’d found an issue identifying non hyperthreaded processors that has been very graciously fixed, but as the server is currently sat on the dining room table I dare not start it up again in the middle of the night.

So I started thinking about this idea I had of printing the Unix timeline on the PP404 wide-carriage dot matrix printer that is far too under-utilised in my attic.

Unix Timeline Snippet

Unix Timeline Snippet

This post is more a brain dump of ideas. I did think that maybe an incarnation of Brøderbund’s The Print Shop (remarkably still available for purchase) would be my best bet, but I’ve come to the conclusion that given the amount of effort I’m prepared to put into this venture it’s going to end up being a Unix Free-Software solution or nothing. I’m dealing with far too much emulator fun and games at the moment to consider setting up another one for a task like this. In my search I did come across this entertaining (if rather vulgar) review of Kyocera Unison’s PrintMaster Plus 2.0.

So current thinking is to is Ghostscript to print the Unix Timeline PDF to a very long Epson ESC/P2 formatted file and print that.

The PP404 has a maximum resolution of 360×360 DPI in double pass mode. Looking on Wikipedia, as I couldn’t remember, the two common sizes for Continuous Stationary are:

  • 241mm x 279mm (9.5in x 11in)
  • 381mm x 279mm (15in x 11in)

So the maximum height of a timeline printout, given a 0.5 inch margin left and right would be 14 inches which equates to a vertical resolution for the Unix Timeline image of 5,040 pixels. Sounds reasonable. Okular, the Ubuntu PDF viewer has this to say about the timeline PDF:

Unix Timeline PDF Info

Unix Timeline PDF Info

Then I thought, I wonder what devices the version of ghostscript I have installed on my Ubuntu 14.10 based laptop supports? There was a time, back in the day, when I would compile up new versions of ghostscript from source and have to select the set of supported printers.Blimey, it’s been a while since I’ve done that. Now we have continuous integration servers to do this for us.  It would appear that pretty much the whole world is built in these days:

I have the PP404 set up by default to emulate an Epson LQ-2500 – there looks to be several possibilities – escp, epson? EPL2500 is apparently a laser printer driver.

First hurdle to overcome might be this however: