Tuesday, May 31, 2005

TCP/IP Printing (WinXP/2000)

Earlier this afternoon, I was able to resolve a print server issue in one of our remote site office. Users were complaining that they were unable to connect to the print server and add the two print devices onto their installed printers list. Anyhow, all seems to be working fine now. Given a choice, I would have gone for an LPR printing solution. Let me expound on this further.

One nifty service that comes with the OS (Win2k/XP) which emulates a print server is the
Print Services for Unix. This service can be installed and configured to allow other computers to connect and print to the installed print devices.

To enable this feature for Windows 2000 computers, log-in with administrative privileges, navigate to the Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel and click on Add/Remove Windows Components and install Print Services for Unix.

Start the service after the installation. From the print server, create a new local printer, create a standard TCP/IP port and name this port with the clients host/computer name (where the printer is locally connected; this is for easier ). Configure the port settings to use the LPR protocol and to enable LPR Byte Counting.

Share out the printer and set share permissions accordingly. For clients connecting to this printer, they can connect via \\print_server\printer or by browsing the network itself. The host computer where the printer is connected should always be online in order for other users to connect and use the printer. Users connecting to the printers need not have root privileges on the print server.

Alternatively, if SNMP is enabled across the network, Win2K/XP clients can use SPM (Standard Port Monitor) instead of LPR (Line Printer Resource).

This "poor man's" print server solution is very ideal for small networks (net cafes for example) or when cost (in terms of additional hardware purchase) is a constraint.

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