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  1. #1

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Networking Printers FAQ
    Recently, we've seen a number of threads from recent switchers having difficulties connecting to a USB or Parallel printer that is either shared via a print server or from a Windows machine.

    The problem with that kind of a setup is that in the cases where there is a Mac-specific driver, the driver is not designed to be used over a network. Even when the host machine (for example, a Windows XP machine) has the correct driver, it doesn't supply the Mac with an appropriate driver.

    When this happens, the Mac (not having an appropriate driver) will automatically use a "Generic Postscript Printer" driver. Since most low-end printers (and even some not-so-low-end) require a very complex driver, a generic Postscript driver will not be appropriate, resulting in garbled or distorted output if there is any at all.

    In some cases, downloading and installing a device-specific driver on the Mac will work, but in most cases, the driver is not "network aware", so it assumes that the device is connected via USB. The result is that the printer will work just fine when attached via a USB cable, but won't work properly or at all when used over the network.

    Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this on the Mac, other than to find an alternative driver that is network-aware.

    Mac OS X, in the last several versions, has shipped with the Gimp-Print system (also known as Gutenprint in recent incarnations). This suite of drivers are nearly identical to the print drivers that ship with most Linux distributions. Most of them will work fine regardless of whether the printer is attached via USB/Parallel or via a network. The trouble is, the driver suite is limited to mostly older printers. If you have a newer printer, you'll likely find that there is not a directly compatible driver included in the suite.

    If you're one of the unfortunate users who are encountering this situation and can't find a model-specific OS X driver, my advice would be to follow the steps below:

    1. Download and install the most recent version of Gutenprint (also known as Gimp-print).

    2. If you can't find the appropriate print driver in your list, check the Un*x printer compatibility list. In many cases, this website will suggest an alternative driver that will offer compatibility with your printer.

    3. Either force the printer setup utility to use the correct Gutenprint driver from the list, or use the recommended alternate driver from the Un*x Printer Compatibility list.

    4. As a last resort, if you can't find a suitable Gutenprint driver, you can try the PrintFab drivers (link courtesy of member bobtomay). Note that the PrintFab drivers are NOT freeware, and you will get a demo copy by default that adds a banner to the end of each of your prints.

    NOTE FOR DELL PRINTER USERS: Dell does not supply drivers for Mac OS X. This is because Dell assumes you are using one of their printers with a Dell PC. Since Dell obviously doesn't sell Macs, they don't supply an appropriate driver. However, all is not lost because most (if not all) Dell printers are actually re-branded Lexmark printers. Google your printer model and see if you can determine which Lexmark printer corresponds to it. Then, either try the driver supplied by Lexmark (they generally do provide OS X drivers) or use the compatibility list to determine the correct Gutenprint driver.


    Forum regulars - if you have any comments or corrections to add, please PM me and I will add them to this FAQ.

  2. #2


    Member Since
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    I'm having a similar problem. I have an HP laserjet 1100 connected to a windows network.
    I've installed Gutenprint and I my macbook detected the printer on the network. When I print a document, my mac says the job has been completed, but the server shows a printing error and nothing comes out of the printer.
    How do i solve this>??!!!

  3. #3

    eric's Avatar
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    linking to the switcher f.a.q.

    Please participate in our Member of the Month polls. Every vote counts! And remember to use the user reputation system!
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  4. #4

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by s.sahawneh View Post
    I'm having a similar problem. I have an HP laserjet 1100 connected to a windows network.
    I've installed Gutenprint and I my macbook detected the printer on the network. When I print a document, my mac says the job has been completed, but the server shows a printing error and nothing comes out of the printer.
    How do i solve this>??!!!
    Go into the System Preferences -> Print & Fax -> Click on your printer in the list -> Click Printer Setup button.

    - In the Printer Info window, change the top drop-down box to Printer Model.
    - In the next drop-down menu, switch to HP
    - Select HP LaserJet 1100 - CUPS + Gutenprint 5.0.0
    - Click Apply changes

    That should do it, assuming you have the network settings right in the first place. If you're not sure, check with your network administrator.

  5. #5

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Adding link to mac57's excellent write-up on Bonjour.

  6. #6

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    New switcher here (5days). I have a HP PSC 1315 connected to a Windows XP desktop.

    I can detect the printer on my MacBook in System Preferences and I added the printer under Generic, then i had the printer's driver installed from the orginal CD, but its still not working (but its working by USB).

    Then i saw this thread and i installed Gutenprint. I found lots of new drivers in the list, i actually found a PhotoSmart P1315, i know its not the same as PSC 1315 but i thought i'd give it a shot. Surprise, it didn't work.

    I also tried the LinuxPrinting website, but couldn't gaher that much information about my pinter. Here's the link http://www.linuxprinting.org/show_pr...um=HP-PSC_1315. And i couldn't find my printer in the Supported Printers section in the PrintFab site.

    So, What to do now? :-)

  7. #7

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mo010 View Post
    New switcher here (5days). I have a HP PSC 1315 connected to a Windows XP desktop.

    I can detect the printer on my MacBook in System Preferences and I added the printer under Generic, then i had the printer's driver installed from the orginal CD, but its still not working (but its working by USB).

    Then i saw this thread and i installed Gutenprint. I found lots of new drivers in the list, i actually found a PhotoSmart P1315, i know its not the same as PSC 1315 but i thought i'd give it a shot. Surprise, it didn't work.

    I also tried the LinuxPrinting website, but couldn't gaher that much information about my pinter. Here's the link http://www.linuxprinting.org/show_pr...um=HP-PSC_1315. And i couldn't find my printer in the Supported Printers section in the PrintFab site.

    So, What to do now? :-)
    The Unix Printing database shows that Gutenprint's HPIJS driver should provide partial functionality. The printer isn't fully supported since it doesn't use PCL, but it can be made to work with that driver. Unfortunately, I can't find that driver in the list. Your only other option would be to try one of the PrintFab drivers (you can download a trial version), or buy another printer.

    It looks like the PSC 1315 is a very low-end printer. The problem with low-end printers is that most of the "brains" are in software. So you need an absolutely model-specific driver. That's not a problem if you're connecting it directly to your Mac, but when you're trying to redirect the port to process the job over a network, it's going to require a driver that doesn't care how the printer is attached. The best thing you can do is to buy a printer that has networking built-in and has Mac support.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  8. #8


    Member Since
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    This is brilliant of you cwa107, helping out with such a complicated issue that seems to always pop up here ....

  9. #9

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pulse-8 View Post
    This is brilliant of you cwa107, helping out with such a complicated issue that seems to always pop up here ....
    Thanks. This was one of my very first struggles as a switcher. I've literally spent days researching the issue and trying to figure out how OS X's printing subsystems work. What you see here is the fruit of that labor.

    In my case, the problem printer was a Canon i550. I have two Canon printers, an MP500 all-in-one that is directly attached to my desktop PC and the i550. The i550 is an older, somewhat basic InkJet printer that does a very decent job with just about everything. For years, I'd been using it attached to a Linksys PSUS4 print server and sharing it amongst my Windows machines.

    I never had a lick of trouble with it until I tried to connect the Mac to it. I literally dissected the Mac driver for the i550 and figured out how the components work. That's when I noticed that there are two components to most non-Gutenprint Mac drivers. One is the driver itself, and the other is the port interface. One can only assume that the drivers are built this way because OS X doesn't provide a framework for interfacing printers to various types of ports.

    That's no big surprise because Apple jettisoned the Parallel/Centronics port years ago and most network printers (until recently) had their own built-in print servers, leaving USB as the most oft-used interface type for consumer-grade printers. My guess is that Apple assumed that most anyone who developed a network-based printer could just write their driver to handle which port it was going to use.

    The problem is that nowadays, everyone has a network in their home. Most people want to share a single printer amongst several different machines. Not only that, but lots of companies are making external print servers that make printers that were never intended to be networked, network-able.

    One thing that Windows does very well is port-handling. That hasn't always been the case, but if you look at the properties of any Windows printer, you'll see a "Ports" tab. Here you can redirect output in several different ways - and it's all handled by the operating system, leaving the driver to worry only about translating application data to a format the printer can understand. In that Ports tab, you can build a new network port, dynamically change the existing port (say you want to switch from USB to Parallel or vice-versa) or even pool printers to offset workloads.

    Don't get me wrong, I love OS X - and in most other ways, it is the superior OS. It's just this one thing that I think Microsoft got very right. Printing subsystems in OS X seem to be almost an afterthought. It's as if Apple looked at BSD and said "hey - that functionality is already in there, let's just add a pretty GUI to it and call it a day". When the market started to demand a little more functionality, they decided to integrate Gutenprint/Gimp-print (which does give a lot more latitude), but not revamp the existing APIs.

    What I'm currently wondering about is how Apple's Airport Extreme, with it's built-in USB Print server works. My guess is that Apple has some accompanying software that does a hack to allow USB-centric drivers to work with networked printers. If that's the case, I can't see why it wouldn't be possible to integrate some of that magic into Leopard. Let's hope that's the case. I'm almost tempted to buy an AE just to see how well it works in that respect.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  10. #10


    Member Since
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    I too have a question I have a Windows XP Home PC in the house and it has a Brother MFC215C connected via USB to it. Now my current PC connects upstairs which was Windows Home to the PC and Printer downstairs without any issues.

    Am I likely to experience trouble when I try to use the Mac to print to the printer connected to the Windows machine?

    Or would it be a case of simply connecting to the Wireless network and then setting up the printer?

    Any help would be appreciated

    Thanks

  11. #11

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewUK84 View Post
    I too have a question I have a Windows XP Home PC in the house and it has a Brother MFC215C connected via USB to it. Now my current PC connects upstairs which was Windows Home to the PC and Printer downstairs without any issues.

    Am I likely to experience trouble when I try to use the Mac to print to the printer connected to the Windows machine?

    Or would it be a case of simply connecting to the Wireless network and then setting up the printer?

    Any help would be appreciated

    Thanks
    There shouldn't be any problems with that particular printer as there is a Gutenprint driver that should work perfectly with it.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  12. #12


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
    There shouldn't be any problems with that particular printer as there is a Gutenprint driver that should work perfectly with it.
    Sorry to sound dumb how do I install gutenprint?

  13. #13

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewUK84 View Post
    Sorry to sound dumb how do I install gutenprint?
    Gutenprint, formerly known as Gimp-Print is a package of open source printer drivers that comes standard with many UNIX-variants (Linux, BSD, etc). The package has been included as standard with OS X for the last several versions. You may need to upgrade it to Gutenprint 5.0 (I believe it comes with 4.2), but that's a quick download and install.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  14. #14


    Member Since
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    Hi, excellent thread.

    I've got an Epson Stylus CX3600, which Gutenprint 5.0 says it supports

    However, I've installed the latest version but the driver is not listed!

  15. #15


    Member Since
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    Sorry, a case of not looking carefully enough. It was there. Somehow I missed it. I've been lookin for about 3 hours, and I've only just seen it. A true case of Duh.

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