Help! My Printer Dissapeared!

Courtesy of Ana Rivarola on Unsplash

I went to print something from my Ubuntu laptop and was dissapointed to see that my Brother printer was no longer available! Hmmm. I tried a few basic things like rebooting my machine in addition to turning the printer off and back on again.

Still nothing. Darn!

My printer was picked up automatically when it was first connected to my network but for some reason it is not showing up!

On to some more involved steps to try to re-connect it.

Install Drivers

For this next part, ensure your Brother printer is powered on and connected to your wireless network. Your router should have a Wifi Clients page that will reveal if the printer is in fact connected.

My printer is the HL-L5200DW; I followed Brother’s instructions to connect it to my wireless network. It is a tiny bit painful as the LCD and buttons make for a long and tedious process of entering one’s WiFi password. Particularly if you make a mistake and have to re-enter the password several times!

Once the printer was connected to my network, I configured it with a static IP from the Clients page of my router.

With the printer connected to my network with a static IP, I visited Brother’s website to download the installer.

Agree to the End-User Licence Agreement during the download.

Once the installer is finished downloading, navigate to the downloads folder in Nautilus and extract the file.

In Terminal:

cd ~/Downloads

Extract via:

gzip -d <printer_driver_package_name>.gz

Brother’s website recommends upgrading to root to perform the installation. I was reluctant to do this and opted instead to perform commands as sudo as follows:

sudo bash gzip -d <printer_driver_package_name> <printer_name>

For printer name, I used HL-L5200DW as it appears on the top of my printer, above the display panel. If you do not specify <printer_name> in the above command, you will be asked to specify it via the command-line once the installer runs.

Be sure to specify the correct model number of your printer!

Provide the password for your SuperUser when prompted, then type y to continue the installation.

Hit y to agree to Brother’s licence agreement as well as the GPL licence agreement. Next, you should be asked: Will you specify the Device URI? [Y/n] I selected y for this option.

Set-up selection for Brother printer

A list appears with several options to connect to your Brother printer, I chose the appropriate number as I was able to confirm the last digits of my printer’s IP for my printer via the above Clients page in my router. You can also select the option to enter the IP manually.

You may get multiple options to choose a URI that all look very similar to each other. Be sure to choose the correct one; refer to the client’s page in your router prior to making your selection.

If all goes well you should be asked to print a test page followed by the completion of the installation. The test page is optional although I choose y to confirm my computer can actually print to the printer.

Confirm your printer is now installed via Settings, Printers. Remove any printers that do not have drivers associated with them. In certain cases, Ubuntu may display two versions of the same printer, as in Brother_HL_L5200_DW_Series and HLL5200DW. I print using HLL5200DW and it seems to work fine. If I print with Brother_HL_L5200_DW_Series it produces garbage.

Do you Know Your Printer?

Assume for a second all of the above steps worked correctly and you now have re-installed the drivers for your printer in Ubuntu. A problem you may encounter is that when you go to print something in OpenOffice you will be presented with multiple selections.

While it is often advantageous to have more than one choice in life, in this case it is not helpful. If you select the incorrect printer you will likely experience what I like to call printer puking. This is fun. Especially if your printer is in another room. You may find upon entering that your printer is spewing out reams of paper with garbled characters towards the top of each page.

Be sure to select the correct printer, double-check with Settings!

I have tried removing the offending printer name but for some reason it keeps appearing. Best strategy I have found is to double-check the name of my printer as it appears in OpenOffice’ print dialogue with the one that appears in Settings.


Some Linux distributions may have an auto-installer for CUPS installed, which tries to install every printer on the network. While this may work with certain printers I confirm it does not work for my Brother printer. Use the following command to purge the auto-installer:

sudo apt-get purge --autoremove cups-browsed

Cleanup Following Installation

Several files may have been created and placed in your Downloads folder during the installation. Because you ran the installation as the SuperUser it is likely that their permissions were changed to root. Typing ls -la in the Downloads folder in Terminal will reveal the files.

I opted to delete them as they were no longer required. To do this, first change the ownership using one of the non-SuperUser files in your Downloads folder as a reference.

Important: This step will change the ownership of all files in your Downloads folder, be sure this is what you want. If not, move any items that you do not want modified to a different folder prior to the change-ownership step. Do not perform the following step until you are absolutely sure of what you are doing!

sudo chown --reference=<non_SuperUser_file>.<ext> *

Type ls -la to confirm the ownership is changed.

You can now go into Nautilus and move the installer files to the trash.


Congratulations! The drivers for your Brother printer should now be installed in Ubuntu, happy printing!

What steps have you taken to (re)set up your Brother printer?




Engineer with a small dash of quirkiness, always on the lookout for new things to learn. Avid sailor and adventurer. Publisher of good(?) ideas.

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Eric North

Eric North

Engineer with a small dash of quirkiness, always on the lookout for new things to learn. Avid sailor and adventurer. Publisher of good(?) ideas.

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