Montage FR-1 slide printer driver

This free software allows you to attach a Lasergraphics Montage FR-1 slide printer to your Linux box, and to expose slides from postscript files using the lprng printing system.


The Montage FR-1 was a pretty famous slide printer a few years ago, but has been discontinued. For this reason, these devices show up for a few Dollars in surplus stores (I got mine a few years ago for $40, but the camera needed some TLC). Even for today's demands, the FR-1 allows to create slides with high quality. Key features are:

There are two different types of FR-1 available: For PC and for MAC. The PC type comes with an interface card (either ISA or Microchannel) and RIP software. The MAC version is equipped with a SCSI card that contains the same functionality as the PC interface card (i.e. a 68000-based controller).


Above is a view of an opened FR-1 (click on the image to obtain an enlarged version). To the left, the camera is clearly visible. Behind the camera, inside the box, the black light-proof housing of the CRT and filter unit is located. The main controller board covers the bottom of the right part of the box. Above, marked "SCSI" is the SCSI interface board. The 50-pin flat cable is easily recognizable. The part between the main controller board and the CRT unit (the one with the many cables) is the high-voltage generator and the H/V deflection unit. In the front, covered with insulating paper and marked with a high voltage warning, the power supply is located.


This software provides the link between your Linux box and the SCSI interface. the actual conversion of the postscript data into a bitmap is done by ghostscript. The software, fr1.c, is responsible for transferring the bitmap to the SCSI interface.

By using this software, you get rid of the old Windows-based RIP software that came with the FR-1. It was slow, did not use the slide printer's capabilities, and was not updated from Windows 3.1. If you need to print from a Windows-based system, set up your Linux box to run Samba. This allows you to use the slide printer queue as a Windows network printer. 98? ME? NT? 2000? It's all possible.


With an AMD K6-2 (400 MHz) and 128 MB RAM, I can expose one slide in less than 3 minutes, depending on the conversion time of GS.


There is a detailed step-by-step installation instruction included in the tarball. The installation steps include:

What else could be important?

First and foremost, the FR-1 driver is somewhat outdated. I originally designed it for the lprng system, but most Linux systems now use cups for printing. The integration of the fr1 program with cups is more complex than with lprng, and the installation hints in the software package do not reflect this. However, since the FR-1 driver does not rely on any libraries other than the generic SCSI interface (sg.h), it should be widely portable, and standalone printing capability should be relatively easy to achieve.

I could well imagine that the software works for the FR-2 in a similar way. It is certainly worth a try. However, I did not find a FR-2 programming manual on the Montage Graphics ftp server similar to the FR-1 programming manual (big thanks to Montage Graphics for providing this info).

For the PC version, I could imagine (but this needs experimenting as well) that the command structure is the same. Instead of communicating through a SCSI interface, though, commands and data are passed to the FR-1 through a parallel port. This will require adapting the "scsi_xfer" code in the core program. Also, you will need to execute the "riload.exe" program from DOS, which requires you to boot the Linux box from a DOS partition using loadlin (or use a DOS emulator). No real problem here, though.

Some surplus slide printers may require calibration. This is not difficult at all, provided you download the service manual from the Montage Graphics site.

Documentation and manuals for the FR-1 and related products were available at and However, these are now dead links as it appears that the domain is no longer in use.

And lastly, please let me know if this works for you. Send comments / questions to mark a t haidekker .d0t org.

Download the gzipped tarball by clicking on this link: fr1.tar.gz

Would you need this?

The Slide Printer Monitor.

This gtk/imlib-based program displays a thumbnail of the slide which is scheduled to be exposed, and informs you about the current activity of the slide printer (e.g. exposure, data transfer, data conversion).

Please drop me an e-mail and I'll send you the source code. However, this source code is also outdated for some Linux distros, because gtk-imlib has been heavily modified without backward compatibility, and some work is needed to upgrade to gtk-2.0 and gtk-pixbuf.