Phil Endecott has done a bit of hacking with the Linksys NSLU2 “Slug”, the low-power network storage device which runs Linux under the hood. His SlugPower project is a switched outlet that can be controlled from the Slug. This enables his print server to power up the printer when it needs to be printing, and automatically cut power to the device when it’s not in use.
This page describes the hardware and software design of a printer power switch controlled over USB from my Linksys NSLU2, aka Slug. The unit can, however, be controlled from any Linux box, and can switch anything, not just printers.
My NSLU2 acts mostly as a file and print server. I can go for weeks without printing anything, so I want to keep the printer switched off when I’m not using it (it takes about 4W while idle, which must be more than 99% of its total energy consumption). But it’s upstairs, and I don’t want to have to go up and down stairs once to switch it on and again to collect my printing. So I decided to get a power switch.
Remote power switches are pretty common in server rooms, but they are costly. This is a pretty affordable way to control the power to any device from anywhere in the world.