Linux is a popular operating system platform that consists of distributions like Ubuntu, Mint, Chrome OS, and more.
Faxing from all of these distributions is an attainable goal. Today, I’m going to show you how to send or receive a fax form Linux and its many distributions.
If you need to send out a fax immediately, I would just sign up for an online fax service like RingCentral Fax.
RingCentral Fax is a computer service that offers a 30 day free trial and then its $12.99/mo which is cheaper than other email fax providers (MyFax, EFax, RapidFax & MetroFax).
First, there are three main ways to send or receive a fax from Linux, including:
- Online Faxing
- Through a Fax Machine Connected to your Linux Computer
- Using Linux Faxing Software
Out of all of these methods, computer faxing tends to be the easiest. You don’t need to install any complicated equipment, nor do you need to use a phone line. In fact, all you need is an internet connection to online fax from Linux.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to send or receive a fax from Linux.
Online Faxing with Linux
All online fax services are compatible with Linux. Online fax services let you access a fax machine at your online fax service provider’s location. You email a faxed document to your service provider over the internet, then that document gets converted into a faxable format and sent through the phone lines to your recipient’s address.
Whether you’re online faxing with Linux or Windows, the process remains the same. There are few differences between online fax providers when it comes to sending a fax through Linux. Here’s the step by step process you’ll take:
Step 1) Sign up for an electronic fax provider, either for a free trial or for a paid subscription-based program. Typically, free online faxing trials let you send a handful of faxed pages per month without charge, while paid subscriptions can let you send thousands of faxed pages per month.
Step 2) Open your Linux distribution’s browser and navigate to your email inbox. Or, if you use an email platform – like Thunderbird for Linux – then you can open that. You’re just sending an email as you would normally send an email.
Step 3) In the recipient field, type your recipient’s fax number followed by the online address of your online fax provider. For example, if you’re trying to fax the number 123-4567, and you’re using Nextiva as your fax provider, you’d type 1234567@Nextiva.com into the email field. Note: the specific address varies from online fax provider to provider, so double check you’re emailing the correct address.
Step 4) Attach the documents that you wish to fax to that email as a normal attachment. Typically, online fax providers accept all major file formats – like PDF – without issue. However, if you’re using Linux and non-Microsoft Office software, then you might run into certain problems. Make sure you save your files or convert them to major file formats like DOC or DOCX prior to sending them through your online fax service. Or, just check the list of compatible file formats available through your online fax provider – many providers have a list of hundreds of compatible formats including popular Linux software file formats.
Step 5) The body of your email will be turned into a cover letter for your fax. Type your message into the body of the email to have it sent over as an introductory cover letter for your fax.
Step 6) Once you’ve ensured your recipient data is correct, your cover letter has been written, and your attachments are correct, then you’re ready to press “Send” just like you would send a normal email.
After hitting the Send button, your faxed documents go to your email fax provider’s servers, where they’re transformed into a faxable format and passed on to your recipient’s fax machine through normal phone lines.
The fax arrives at your recipient’s address just like any normal fax.
Online faxing is likely the easiest way for you to send or receive a fax from Linux. With online faxing, you don’t need anything but an internet connection.
The next methods we’re going to teach you require a little more equipment and preparation.
Fax Using a Connected Fax Machine
You might already own a fax machine. Or, you might own a multi-function printer that lets you scan, copy, print, and fax.
If that’s the case, then you can enjoy free faxing from Linux without much preparation. All you need to do is connect your fax machine to your Linux computer (either wirelessly or wired) and then send the document you’re trying to fax to the fax machine.
Here’s what you need for this method:
- A computer running Linux
- A fax machine or multifunction printer with faxing capabilities
- An active phone line (VoIP lines will not work because they scramble fax data)
- A document you want to send
Sending a fax on Linux through a connected fax machine may be the most difficult faxing method, simply because there aren’t many Linux-compatible fax machines or printers.
The machines that are compatible may not be 100% compatible: they may only offer limited functionality. If you have a Linux-compatible multi-function printer, for example, then you might find that it only offers printing and not faxing.
That’s because fax connectivity is not a highly desired feature in this day and age.
In any case, look for Linux compatibility information in your manual or technical specifications before you attempt this step – you don’t want all your efforts to be wasted.
Basically, this process involves following these steps:
Step 1) Connect your fax machine to your Linux computer (wirelessly through your network or Bluetooth or through a wired connection like USB)
Step 2) Install any associated drivers or software. Your fax machine or printer may have come with an installation CD, for example. Or you may need to install software from the internet. Or, the drivers might install themselves automatically as soon as you connect.
Step 3) Open the document you wish to fax, then open the Print menu. That menu can typically be found under File > Print or by pressing Ctrl + P.
Step 4) Choose your fax machine as the “printing” device then configure your fax preferences.
Step 5) Click Send
That’s it! Basically, this process involves just connecting a Linux-compatible fax machine to your Linux computer, then opening your normal print drivers or print software and sending a fax through there. That’s it.
Fax Using Linux Fax Software
Windows computers come pre-installed with a service called Windows Fax and Scan. Linux distributions obviously don’t have that same software, but you can still find Linux software that will help you fax.
Here’s what you need for this method:
- A computer running Linux
- A modem or fax board on the computer (if your computer has a telephone line connection, then it probably already has a modem or fax board)
- An active phone line (not VoIP)
- A document to send
Basically, this method involves turning your computer into a fax machine. A fax machine is just a bundle of hardware and software that transforms virtual data into faxable data (sent over binary through phone lines). Your computer can do the same thing with the right software.
The major restriction when using this method is that your computer always needs to be on and connected to the phone line to receive a fax.
You will also need an active phone line to use this method: an internet connection will not work.
Some of the popular Linux software programs that allow faxing include:
- Hylafax and Hylafax+
- HelloFax (for Chrome OS)
- Efax-gtk (Ubuntu, follow the tutorial instructions here)
- Esker Fax, Fax2Send, MessagePlus/Open (enterprise-level)
These software programs aren’t quite as well supported as the Windows Fax and Scan utility, but they still perform the same basic role: they look like email platforms and let you send or receive faxed messages.
Ultimately, sending or receiving faxes from Linux is easy thanks to a wide range of supported online faxing platforms as well as Linux-based faxing software. Whether you’re using Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Mint, or other distros, sending or receiving a fax from Linux is easy.