How to show ink levels of your printer in Linux

Linux continues to evolve and support for internal and external devices gets better and better. There was a time when it was a real challenge to get your equipment to work properly under Linux, but those days are really gone. Linux recognizes so much out-of-the-box that you no longer have to worry that, for example, your printer will not work. But there are always minor glitches that you should expect, or at least be aware of. One of these things is when you use your printer for a while you probably want to know if your ink levels are still on a sufficient level to see if you consider ordering new ink cartridges. Of course not all printers are technically capable of giving information about ink levels, but for those who can, most of the time the Linux driver will not give you any information about it. But there is a solution. In this article I will explain how to show the ink levels for your printer in Linux. 

What is the problem

When you want to see information about the ink levels of your printer, it depends first of all on the availability of a display on your device that might show this information. If so, then you have no problem whatsoever and this article is probably not of any interest to you. But if your printer does not have such a hardware display, but has the technical ability to share information about the ink levels via the front end of the driver software, it will often be displayed only under Windows or macOS. If you use the drivers offered in Linux, the chances are that you will see a message like this: “Marker levels are not reported for this printer”. So what can we do about that?

How to install the required components

Keep in mind that the following procedure is no guarantee that it will work for every printer. In the first place not all printers are technically capable of communicating about ink levels. Secondly this can, at least to my knowledge, only be done for USB connected printers. And thirdly, this procedure uses Libinklevel, which is a special library for checking the ink level of a printer connected to Linux, which currently only supports printers of HP, Epson and Canon.

To do this we need a little bit of the command line and we need to use the Synaptic Package Manager of Linux. If your system does not have the Synaptic Package Manager, you must first install it from the Software center.

1) Open your Application Menu and search for Synaptic.

2) Select Synaptic Package Manager.

3) Give your password.

Synaptic Package Manager will open now.

4) Click on search and type “ink”. Click on search again.

5) Select both “Ink” and “Libinklevel” (can be Libinklevel5 or higher, which depends on the moment you perform this procedure).

6) Click on Apply and Apply again in the summary screen.

How to show ink levels in Linux

Now that we installed the required components we can open the application to actually show the ink levels.

1) Open your Application menu and search for “Terminal” or start Terminal with keyboard combination Ctrl + Alt + T.

2) In the Terminal you type the following command

cd /usr/bin/

3) Hit Enter.

4) Now type:

ink -p usb

5) Hit Enter.

Now, if everything works properly and in case your printer can communicate about printer levels, the ink levels will be shown for your printer.

I know this isn’t the most convenient or user-friendly way to show ink levels for your printer under Linux, but at least the ink levels of your printer will be shown to you.

I hope it works for you. Enjoy your Linux journey.

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About John Been

Hi there! My name is John Been. At the moment I work as a senior solution engineer for a large financial institution, but in my free time, I am the owner of,, and author of my first book "Linux for the rest of us". I have a broad insight and user experience in everything related to information technology and I believe I can communicate about it with some fun and knowledge and skills.

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