How to fax with a Linux computer

Last Update: August 9th, 2021

There are three ways to fax with a Linux based system such as Ubuntu, Mint, Chrome OS, and other distributions:faxing from a linux computer

  1. An online fax service, which operates as a virtual fax machine located accessed through the internet.
  2. A connected fax machine or multifunction printer (print / scan / copy / fax) that allows for faxing from the computer through the multifunction device attached to a land-line phone line.
  3. Software which turns your computer into a direct replacement of a hardcopy fax machine.

Table of Contents

Online Fax Services Compatible with Linux

An online fax service is a dedicated fax number that is hosted by a service provider.

Compared with fax software or a connected fax machine, an online fax service offers the ability to fax directly from the internet without a dedicated phone line in your home or office, as well as the ability to access or manage fax communications from anywhere you can access the internet.

Interfaces are very much similar to a web-based email account (with the exception that you have the ability to send and receive faxes), and features such as faxing through email, the web, and integration with popular programs such as the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) are available.

Online fax services can also be combined with other devices – for example faxing to and from another computer, a tablet, or a smartphone through the same account.

When selecting an online fax service for use through linux, it’s generally better to go with a system that is more “web friendly” – while some systems have advanced features, some of these are only accessible through a software program, and rarely are these programs compatible with Linux based systems.

For full details on online fax services compatible with Linux and other operating systems, see our page on Online Faxing.

Fax through a connected fax or multifunction (copy / print / scan / fax) printer

Many connected fax and multifunction printer have the option to fax through the machine from the computer.

While specific options depend on the fax machine’s manufacturer (and the software they offer), many units are able to send and receive faxes directly to the computer through the fax machine. Instead of having to print a document and then fax it (or receive a document over the fax then scan it), connecting a fax machine this way will let you send and receive faxes from the computer.

What you’ll need

To send an receive a fax from a Linux computer through a connected fax or printer with fax, you’ll need the following:

  • A computer running Linux
  • A fax machine or multifunction (print / copy / scan / fax) printer that can fax from the computer
  • An active land-line phone line to connect the fax / mutlifunction printer to. The phone line should not be a VoIP phone connection as VoIP signals usually scramble a fax signal – for more details on faxing with VoIP, see our page on “why does my fax machine not work on my VoIP phone line?
  • A document to send

Things to be aware of

  • While the list of linux-compatible multifunction printers is quickly growing, it still has a long way to go. Many models that are “compatible” may only be “compatible” for limited functionality – as fax connectivity is not a heavily desired feature, it is often one that is left out when it comes to Linux comparability.
  • You will still need to connect the fax or multifunction printer to an active land-line phone line for this to work
  • A fax or mutlifunction printer with “wireless” (such as wifi or bluetooth) does not allow you to send and receive faxes without a phone line – the “wireless” portion of the fax / printer is only for communication between the computer and the printer – not between the fax / printer and the phone system. A “wireless” fax / printer cannot connect wirelessly to the internet to be able to send and receive faxes.
  • When setting the system up, double check to see what happens with received faxes when the computer is not active. Some models will store a received fax in the fax / printer’s memory until the computer is reconnected – the challenge with this approach is that if the power is lost, any stored faxes (that have already been acknowledged as received) may be lost as well.

Fax from Linux with Fax Software

There are a number of options in the open source community when it comes to fax software on a linux computer.

Linux is used to power everything from simple desktop faxing to enterprise level fax servers with many lines and users.

System Requirements

To send (or receive) a fax from a Linux Computer using Fax software you’ll need the following:

  • A computer running Linux
  • Modem or fax board on the computer (the majority of computers that have a telephone line connection have this ability)
  • A land-line phone line to fax with. The phone line should not be a VoIP phone connection as VoIP signals usually scramble a fax signal – for more details on faxing with VoIP, see our page on “why does my fax machine not work on my VoIP phone line?
  • A document to send

It’s important to be aware that to use your computer as a fax machine, the computer needs to always be on and connected to the phone line to receive a fax.

As well, the computer will not be able to use your internet connection to send and receive faxes – only the phone connection.

More popular packages

The more popular fax programs for Linux based machines are generally HylaFAX and HylaFAX+ (a fork of the HylaFAX program).

While Ubuntu and Linux Mint both have a number of selections available, other systems such as Chrome OS do not due to a smaller developer community.

Linux Fax Server Programs (Mostly Enterprise Level):

Sources and Additional Resources on Linux Faxing:

Other Resources on Computer and Online Faxing: