I have a Brother label printer (QL-570) that came with a nice label editor for Windows. Unfortunately, that doesn't work in Linux or Wine. I'm having trouble finding a good Linux replacement because of the way the printer works. Dedicated label printers operate differently from a regular printer.

To clarify, the leading edge of the label as it is printed is the side of the label. Printing proceeds across the label. In a regular printer, the leading edge is the top of the page and printing progresses down the page.

The requirements would be equivalent to printing a landscape page (of the right dimensions), on a regular printer. However, the label printer driver has no intelligence or features; there is no landscape mode. For a label to print correctly, the entire label must be rotated 90 degrees on the page, so the side of the label is at the top of the page.

I've tried:

  • glabels This is really designed for printing sheets of labels in a standard printer. I haven't found a way to rotate the finished label 90 degrees. All of the built-in options will rotate the label, itself, but the contents do not get rotated.
  • LibreOffice Writer The label can be positioned vertically and a text box can be rotated. However, the width of the text box before rotation is limited by the width of the label, which is very narrow when the label is portrait. After rotation, the text can't be edited.
  • LibreOffice Calc This works but it takes a lot of work to create a label. A page can be defined as label size in portrait. Then you can play around with column widths, row heights, and font sizes to get stuff to fit in the space. You can merge rows within a column and enter text at 90 degrees, and then unmerge and remerge to play around with where all the lines need to start to get everything positioned. With enough playing around, I could save some time by creating a bunch of templates, but I don't want to invest a huge amount of time creating a label editor from scratch or creating each label.
  • PDF Gilles's suggestion of printing to a PDF file (either a landscape document or rotating the PDF), is a multi-step process, but it would be simpler than the spreadsheet workaround. However, it suffers from two problems. One is that the document may be landscape, but it still requires the printer driver to rotate it, and the label printer driver doesn't do that. The other is that there are only pre-defined page sizes, so it forces the output to the closest thing it has, a monarch envelope.

I'm looking for a simple gui/WYSIWYG label editor, where you define the label dimensions once, then enter text normally, with word processor type controls over the text fonts and sizes, attributes, and positioning, and then print. The ability to do things like borders would be a plus. The label printer is a productivity tool and it defeats the purpose if a lengthy process is required to create a label.

There are some graphics programs that let you enter text and rotate the image. But I'm not aware of one that has more than rudimentary options and controls for the text.

A Windows program known to work in Wine would be another possibility.

Any suggestions?

Update - BGH's answer prompted me to take another look at this. I had already loaded the Brother CUPS driver and templates linked in that answer. The driver is the only way to interface with the printer, so everything previously in the question is based on that. The templates pre-define the document dimensions and other properties to simplify creating content that will fit properly on a label. The templates work for label creation. However, they don't print correctly.

Investigating this further, it looks like the problem may be that the driver doesn't work correctly. On the printer configuration (in system settings), there is a setting for page orientation, which includes automatic detection. Regardless of this setting, though, this control is grey'ed out in the print options at print time and preset to portrait. This would explain the behavior.

So it looks like the issue may be getting the driver to work correctly rather than finding software. However, software that does the content rotation would be a workaround for the driver problem.

Update2 I uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers, and the printer is now working correctly. So for anyone else experiencing this problem, try that before looking for a software workaround.

  • 2
    I'm confused as to why you want to rotate the whole document inside the word processor. Why not print in landscape mode? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 30 '14 at 7:02
  • It is a label printer that prints on long, narrow labels starting from the end. It is the only way it prints (no landscape or portrait mode). You have to send it print information in the order it is printed (the equivalent of rotating the label 90 degrees so the leading edge of the label is at the top of the page). – fixer1234 Sep 30 '14 at 7:17
  • But landscape mode would be a feature of the printer driver, not of the printer. The driver receives input with the text written horizontally, and it sends what the printer needs. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 30 '14 at 7:22
  • The printer driver doesn't have any intelligence or formatting features, it just sends the printer what it gets in the order it gets it, similar to how a PDF printer driver just saves what it gets. It needs to be formatted to print correctly by the application that creates it. – fixer1234 Sep 30 '14 at 7:31

I just bought one of this model myself. I'm not sure why you are attacking the problem this way - this is what worked for me. First, you need the brother Cups and LPR drivers. Get them from [1].

Next, get openoffice/libreoffice templates. This is not so easy. Brother does not list them on the site (I went through the site several times before giving up). Google-fu, as usual, comes to the rescue: I found a mention of the template file name in some discussion, and that gave me a clue: the file name I found was 'qt570l110.tar.gz' and the web page is [2]. The title of the page is 'license' and once you click 'accept', you can download the archive.

I have no idea if this is the latest version, but it works for my simple needs, so thought I'd share.

[1] http://support.brother.com/g/b/downloadlist.aspx?c=us&lang=en&prod=lpql570eus&os=131

[2] http://www.brother.com/cgi-bin/agreement/agreement.cgi?dlfile=http://www.brother.com/pub/bsc/linux/dlf/qt570l110.tar.gz&lang=English_gpl

Adding to my post per request:

After installing the two RPMs, I connected the printer to my Fedora 20 system, and it set up the printer automagically.

Once you have downloaded the 'templates' (which are not really templates, so copy/paste & rename each file directly before you open it), I opened "62mm.odt" in the "62mm" folder, and was able to print that.

Note 1: neither "print test page" nor "print self-test page" work in Linux if you're using "system-config-printer". If you do try it, turn the printer off & on then restart cups. Do not be discouraged, I didn't let that stop me here either.

I did have to set some prefs in the print dialog in LOO 5 and in system-config-printer. I don't know how to post screen captures, so....I'll describe them.

In system-config-printer, properties for this printer, choose media '17mm x 54mm (2/3" x 2-18")' (as I have the wide label roll installed). The 'feed (invalid for Die-Cut tape)', I left it at the default '3mm'.

In LOO 5 writer, file -> print settings, click Properties. The paper should already match what you configured above.

The other tab (Device) is the really interesting one. I changed "printer language type" from "automatic (PDF)" (which is not a sane choice!) to "Postscript (level from driver)".

That should do it. Let me know if it does not work.

  • Could you fix those links? – Tom May 17 '16 at 14:20
  • Thanks for your reply. I had found both of these links. The Brother driver is required to send anything to the printer. However, I couldn't get it to work. I load the label template, create a label, select the label printer, and print. The output is always the wrong orientation and chopped off. I've experimented with the available settings in both the driver and LibreOffice but haven't found a way to print these properly. If you got this to work, can you expand your answer with the details of the settings used? – fixer1234 May 17 '16 at 18:26
  • As edited into the question, the problem turned out to be with the driver. Your answer encouraged me to re-explore that, which led to the solution, This is how the printer is supposed to work, so your answer is correct and I'm accepting it. – fixer1234 May 17 '16 at 19:51
  • @Tom, I verified them again after your comment. umatrix noscript would not let me comment here until I unblocked everything (I have some research to do to be able to use this site, it looks like). Sorry the comment was delayed! – BGH May 17 '16 at 20:18
  • Let me add one item to your procedure description. When the label printer is selected for output, one of the settings under printer Properties is page orientation. On my system, this setting is greyed out so it can't be selected or changed at print time. However, it should say Landscape. – fixer1234 May 17 '16 at 20:21

Since you want to produce a document where all the text is in the same direction, rotating the text in the word processor is not a good approach. You'll be limited to cumbersome interfaces designed for a one-off image-like object.

Produce the text normally and rotate the output from the word processor. Make sure to select the correct page size, with the width and height matching the orientation of the text, not the orientation of the paper that comes out of the printer. Normally that would be integrated in the printer driver; most printer drivers offer a landscape option. Many applications offer options like rotation as part of their printing mechanism; it's part of the standard Gnome printer dialog, for example, but LibreOffice doesn't have that.

If neither your word processor nor your printer driver offer a landscape option, print to a PDF file, rotate the PDF file, then print the PDF file. You can install the CUPS-PDF driver (check your distribution's package list), then select the PDF printer in e.g. LibreOffice. This driver has a landscape option, so you can directly print the resulting PDF. The resulting PDF is placed in the PDF directory in your home directory. Print that to your label printer.

  • Good suggestion to try but unfortunately, it didn't work. The PDF driver does not have a matching paper size, so it forces the output to the closest thing it has, a monarch envelope. And regardless of the orientation setting, the resulting PDF comes out the same (output oriented landscape). However, even if this had worked, it is still a somewhat convoluted workaround. It is a lot less steps than using a spreadsheet, but the solution I'm looking for is a tool designed for the purpose, that does the job efficiently. – fixer1234 Sep 30 '14 at 15:41

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