Wrestling with a Canon printer driver

Installing printer drivers is a pain.

I hate installing printer drivers. For one thing, there is no standardization, each one seems to present a new option, question or issue. Then, there is all that extra software that comes with printer drivers, installing just the driver can be quite a battle.

So, when I had to print something recently and the only available printer was a Canon Bubble Jet model i320 that my laptop hadn't seen before, I cringed. Sure enough, it didn't go well.

At Canon's website, finding the Support section with drivers and downloads was easy, as was clicking on "Americas" and then "Canon U.S.A". But then nothing. My click was ignored. Click again. Still nothing. Click, click, click. Nothing, nothing nothing. Check the Internet connection, it's fine.

It turns out that Canon does not support Firefox, something they don't bother mentioning anywhere. Using Internet Explorer 6, the same click trail resulted in a new browser window opening for the U.S. support site. Firefox must have blocked the creation of the new browser window as part of it's anti-popup protection.

If Canon doesn't want to support Firefox, fine. But they should detect the browser (it's easy to do) and warn their customers to only use Internet Explorer.

The download instructions from Canon are:

1. Click the link, select "Save," specify "Save As," then click "Save" to download the file.
2. The downloaded file will be saved in the specified place in the self-extracting form (.exe format).
3. Double-click the downloaded EXE file to decompress it, then installation will start automatically.

Not hard. Not completely true either, as it turns out.

I saved the file (i320xp190usz.exe) to the root of the C disk and ran it from there. The resulting error is shown below.

In the screen shot it looks like I first clicked on the Unzip button, but that's not the case. As the instructions above say, the installation started automatically. The first step is an unzip to the folder that Canon pre-defined, in this case, folder dot-slash. The unzip operation found no folder named dot (or period if you prefer), tried to create it and failed.

After a few emotional moments (I really wanted to print something), I guessed at the problem. DOS and Linux users may know that ".." is a reference to a higher level directory. I guessed that the dot-slash was somehow related to this dot-dot, so I moved the i320xp190usz.exe file to a temporary subfolder and it ran fine from there.

Not that it mattered in the end, the printer only printed every other letter. The next day, I went out and bought a new printer. Canon was not on my shopping list. Three strikes and you're out.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

About the author

    Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

    He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.

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