Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The simple way to use CUPS from Windows

In the hopes of steering someone else away from a tar pit, don't bother messing around with Samba if all you want to do is print over the network to a Linux box. Just do two simple things:

  1. Set the printer up using CUPS, the standard print software for Linux.
  2. In the Windows "Add Printer" dialog, click the option that allows a URL, and paste in the URL to your printer. It will be like: http://<computer-ip>:631/printers/<cups-printer-name> . When it asks for a printer maker, specify "Generic" "MS Publisher Imagesetter".

Gah! I lost over an hour fooling around with Samba docs, because I hadn't realized Windows supports CUPS directly.

Hat tip to the BSDpants blog. They write:

So, I know!, Windows means samba and there's a port named "cups-samba". This must be just what I'm looking for. ... Well, it was kind of what I was looking for. But, it was too much trying to do things the Windows way. A little painful. What I discovered in digging around was that I didn't need cups-samba or even samba. CUPS by default leaves a port open for printing and you can use IPP to print directly to a CUPS printer via the network, even from Windows, and using generic, Windows Postscript printer drivers already on your Windows machine (probably).

I never understood why Windows network printing was any more complicated than this. Just have a standard protocol, and then any client can speak to it. All you should have to do on the client is paste in a URL.

Even now, I note that Windows is dying to have you select a driver. What's up with "MS Publisher Imagesetter" ? I wish they'd let go of the concept. If the user has joined the 1990s and specified a URL for their printer, that should be all they have to say about the matter. Anything so specialized that a URL alone is not enough could use some other mechanism.

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