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Internet, Networking, and Wireless Discussion of networking, internet, and wireless including Apple's Airport products.

Networking Printers FAQ


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cwa107

 
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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 OpenPrinting database. 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. A company called Keyspan has a device known as a USB server. The difference between a USB server and a USB Print Server is that the USB Server makes any USB device think it's connected locally to the machine, instead of across the network. The nice thing about this is that if you have a multi-function machine, even scanning functions will work over the network. It will also work with USB flash drives and many other USB devices.

5. 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.

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i too am having printer server issues.. like you mentioned, i have my printer connected to my XP machine, and thats wired to my wireless router. i use my macbook wirelessly, and im trying to find the easy way to get printer access from here.

i just ordered a linksys print server, to match my 802.11b wireless router.

i should have it any day now, so we'll see how hard it is to get this solved.

so.. this is my current setup.

internet. DSL modem. linksys wireless 802.11b router. ethernet to XP machine. XP to printer. -- wireless macbook.

after my printer server.

internet. DSL modem. linksys wireless 802.11b router. ethernet to XP machine. -- wireless macbook.. -- wireless printer server.

the print server will connect to the router in the same manner as the macbook connecting wirelessly. it claims to be compatable.. so we'll see.

here's a pic, and here's a link.



http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1166236105907
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It all depends on the printer and whether the driver plays nicely with it despite the fact that it's not directly connected via USB. Some printers are better than others in this respect.

I'm sorry to say that if it didn't work hosted from the XP machine, chances are it will be no different hosted by the print server. Make sure you keep that receipt handy.

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not saying that your not right, or don't have a good point. but here's my story.

but i bought my macbook from bestbuy.. a authorised retailer.

anyways, i went back with my problem, and spoke with the sales man i bought my macbook from. it being my 1st mac, he answered ALOT of questions i had. he told me, he's been using macs since the early 90's, and has 4 in his house, and had flawless luck with all of them, expect for his 15 yr old imac needed 1 harddrive once.. that was it.

so i went back, explaning my printer issue through the XP network... he suggested this option.

he basicly explained it to me, either i spend another 180 on the airport extreme and connect my printer to that, or buy this adapter and even though i don't need it to be wireless it should be ran directly off the router.

so i gathered my part numbers, and looked on ebay. best buy sells these print servers for 100 bucks. circuit city is like 120. i found it on ebay for under 40 bucks new. so i don't have a whole lot into it. if it doesnt' work, i can resell it pretty easy.
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i dont' print alot of pages, and i don't print any high tech 500 DPI color pages, i just print notes, word docs from time to time.

the printer is a photoprinter, and from time to time i do print a pic here and there, but not often, and if i dind't have that option at all from my macbook.. i wouldn't be heart broken.

so.. im basically weighing out my options. airport extreme, printer server, or the cheapest networkable printer (ethernet).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by built b16a View Post
i dont' print alot of pages, and i don't print any high tech 500 DPI color pages, i just print notes, word docs from time to time.

the printer is a photoprinter, and from time to time i do print a pic here and there, but not often, and if i dind't have that option at all from my macbook.. i wouldn't be heart broken.

so.. im basically weighing out my options. airport extreme, printer server, or the cheapest networkable printer (ethernet).
What is the specific make and model of printer?

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hp photosmart 8050
cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by built b16a View Post
hp photosmart 8050
My guess is that printer won't be a problem as there is a Gutenprint driver that is compatible with the 8000 (the 8050 is probably just an incremental update).

http://www.linuxprinting.org/show_pr...hotoSmart_8000

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so your saying, after the gutenprint driver update, i prolly don't even need this print server, and just set the macbook as that default basic driver?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by built b16a View Post
so your saying, after the gutenprint driver update, i prolly don't even need this print server, and just set the macbook as that default basic driver?
I'm saying that you can use the printer over a network either attached to an XP machine, acting as a print server or with the print server you mentioned without any issues, providing that you manually select the correct driver from the list. According to the Open Printing Database, the HPIJS driver should work properly with it - the only problem remaining is to figure out which driver that is in the printer list. I'm checking into that now.

Again, the biggest problem with networked printing on a Mac isn't the hardware itself, it's getting the driver (the software interface between a printer and a computer) to accept the fact that the printer is being used over a networked connection instead of a physical (USB) connection. In many cases, an alternate, network-aware driver is not available. However, in your case, it appears there is a capable driver out there.

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i understand.

im not the most technical when it comes to computers, i downloaded that gutenprint program, installed it, but when i go to select my printer, its not shown.

im running out of time, i have to leave to work now, so i'll play with it later.
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i HATE networking. im going to wait till i get that printer server. thats tomorrow.. we'll see what happens after that.
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Don't mean to hijack the thread, but CWA... you seem to have a fair amount of knowledge in this area, and we newbies appreciate the help. As noted in another (but related) thread, I'm sort of in the same boat as BUILT. My setup is LinkSys (arrrggghh!) Wireless G Cable Gateway which the iMac found the second it was powered up. Hard wired to that is a LinkSys 3-port print server (EPSX3) which has a HP LaserJet 5P B&W printer (parallel/centronics only) hard wired, and also a HP DeskJet 1220c color ink jet wide body which has a Parallel & USB port (using the parallel right now).

The LinkSys tech support guy managed to stick with me for 45 minutes and we got the printers to each print test pages from the print server setup window. All good so far.

Taking your advice, I downloaded and installed Gutenprint v.5.0.2 and then downloaded the drivers from the page you had suggested. The drivers have a file extension (*.ppd) that is unfamiliar to me so I'm not quite sure how to force them to be recognized as they are not executables.

I guess I can connect the 1220c via USB in a pinch, but it seems like I'm very close but I don't know how to make that last jump on the mac as I've only got about 10 hours under my belt. We're both probably good examples of Switchers who either have to keep some of their "PC" gear or simply don't want to spend the money right now on either a new Airport Extreme and/or a USB printer. And in my case... my 1220c is 10 feet away to keep clutter down around the actual work area, so I have to deal with logistics as well as everything else.

Maybe BUILT and I can be sort of guinea pigs in this case and then this thread would have some teeth for other switchers.

Thanks in advance for your time and help.

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I know exactly what you're going through, because prior to the latest version of Gutenprint, my old networked printer (attached to a Linksys PSUS4) was a Canon i550 which was not supported by anyone other than Canon in OS X.

It bugged me to no end that I couldn't make it work properly in OS X. Fortunately (in my case), Gutenprint came out with an i560 driver that is functionally identical to my i550 aside from a front USB port. It works great now that I have a driver that is port agnostic (so to speak). My guess is that you just haven't found such a driver.

If your print server is anything like my PSUS4, each of your printers should be assigned a queue name (like lp1, lp2, etc...). The way you connect to your printers is by manually adding a network printer, choosing "IP" from the top row of icons. Choose LPD as the Protocol, for the address, type the IP of the print server, and for Queue enter lp1 or lp2 depending on which space the respective printer occupies.

Then, choose your driver from the list below (under "Print Using") - the LaserJet 5P shouldn't be a problem (that will likely even work with a LaserJet 4 Plus driver), but I don't see anything for the Deskjet 1220C. You'll probably need to experiment with different generic Deskjet drivers.

In the absence of one that works, you could try the PrintFab drivers (see link in the FAQ), but they are NOT cheap at about $60 for the package - it might be more cost-effective to just buy a printer that has a print server built in from the factory.

Another option is to pick up a Keyspan USB Server. Notice the lack of the word "print" in the product name. That's because this little gizmo allows you to share *any* USB device on a network. It tricks the Mac/PC into thinking the device is attached locally. This includes multi-function printers (it even retains the scanning functionality), but again it's a bit pricey at $129... The nice part about that product is that you can use the manufacturer supplied driver because as far as your Mac is concerned, it's attached directly to the USB port.

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Both the printers are listed in the Gutenprint drop-down, and although I downloaded separate drivers to my download file, unlike a PC I am not asked to browse for a driver. I think the missing link at this point is getting to queue as you noted. Can you go in and edit the printer preferences to try to figure this out? Every time I try this it sounds like its going to print only to be told that the printer is busy or unavailable.

Also, when I try to "open" the other recommended driver (i.e. HP-DeskJet_1220C-hpijs.ppd) I'm told that there is no application available to open this file. How does one get the driver to the printer preferences?

Just as an afterthought... if I connect the 1220c directly to a USB connection, should it automatically detect and install or do I have to do something else?

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