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F14 Network/Filesystem Services & Apps Network Printing

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Associate Professor Gregory R. Kriehn
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F11 Network Printing

About the same time Fedora came online after Red Hat 9.0x split off, CUPS, which stands for the Common UNIX Printing System became very popular as a way to manage network, parallel port, and USB printers. I'll admit that I was very skeptical at the time, but it has since won me over. Configuring network printers in Linux used to be a pain, and I don't even remember all of the steps anymore, so I've become dependent upon the wonderful(?) little CUPS GUI interface provided by Fedora. I normally like to set up everything by hand, as you can probably tell if you have read a lot of these web pages, but in this case, the simplicity of using the configuration utility has saved me a lot of time and hassle.

I have two printers that I use — an HP LaserJet 4200n for common everyday use since it is a wonderful laser printer, and an HP PSC 2355 all-in-one printer for the rare occasions that I need to print something out in color. The PSC printer does not natively allow for network printing, as it uses a USB interface, so I purchased a USB-to-ethernet print server from HP and connected to the printer. (For details about setting up a USB print server...you'll have to look elsewhere.) With respect to using the scanner on the PSC all-in-one printer, if I need to scan a document, I just unhook the print server and plug in a USB cable from the printer to the computer and use xsane. See the Scanning with xsane page for details.


Setup for HP Printers

If you are using an HP printer (which most of you probably are), it will be easier to setup the printer using HP's setup script.  First install some HP related packages:
~> sudo yum install hplip-gui cupsddk sane-backends-devel PyQt-devel net-snmp net-snmp-devel libsane-hpaio cupsddk-devel cups-devel
From there, run hp-setup:
~> sudo hp-setup
Follow the directions to setup your printer using the Advanced Options and Manual Discovery.

Using CUPS

To start configuring the network printers with CUPS, use Fedora's configuration utility:
~> system-config-printer
You will be prompted for the root password, and afterward the Printer Configuration GUI will be launched. Click New Printer, and since if you want to configure a printer as a Unix/Linux network printer, select the LPD/LPR Host or Printer option from the Select Connection box. Then enter the Hostname ([printer name].[domain].[name]) and click Forward. For this to work, you will need to ensure that the fully qualified domain name (including subnet information!) has also been set in each of your network printer's print servers, and that their hostnames and IP addresses are properly recorded in /etc/hosts.

Next, select the printer from a database, (which in most cases is HP) under Makes.  Click Forward.

Then select the printer model, (in my case it is either LaserJet 4200 or PSC 2350), and click on Forward. Choose any Installed Options, and click Forward again. Fill out the Printer Name, Description, and Location and click Apply to setup the printer. Go ahead and print out a test page to verify that everything is setup correctly. Do this by clicking on the printer name and then on Print Test Page. Once you are satisfied, click on File -> Quit. Your printer(s) should now be configured.

The nice thing about using Network UNIX (LPD) is that I can use the old UNIX commands lpr, lpq, lprm, etc. to print, check the queue, and remove jobs from the queue, respectively, from a terminal window.

If you want to restart the print daemon by hand for any reason, simply type:

~> sudo service cups restart
Although this has already been done for you when you setup the printers using the GUI interface, if you need to restart it, you should see the CUPS daemon successfully restart:
Stopping cups:                                             [  OK  ]
Starting cups:                                             [  OK  ]
CUPS also has a nice web interface, which allows you to start and stop your network printers, make adjustments to their configurations, view your printing history, and current jobs in the queue, etc. To get there, open up your favorite web browser, and type in:
http://localhost:631/
as the web address. This will bring up the web interface for CUPS. If you make any changes, you will be prompted for a username and password, which needs to be your root login information.

As I said, network printing is a snap these days. Enjoy!