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Printing in Unix, is it a good choice

Posted on 2000-03-01
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-06
We have 200 printers, most of them is HP, connected via jetdirect. We are running HP-UX and there is a lot of traffic on the printers.
We need to change it and the choice is BSD lpd. I have heard that its pretty buggy and not a good choice as printerserver. Is linux an alternative (among the BSD alternative)?

Claes Lindvall
Question by:cl071997
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 2572522
By "lpd" do you mean sending data to the JetDirect interface via its built in lpr interface? Or do you mean changing from the lp print system to the lpd print system on HP-UX?

Author Comment

ID: 2572642
I mean changing from lp print system to lpd.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 2573014

What do you hope to get out of this?  Network traffic will not be reduced by setting up an intermediate print server - in fact it will double:  
HP---(Print job)-->Printer Server---(Print Job)-->Printer
HP<--( Status )---Printer Server<--( Status )---Printer

If the HP server is acting as a print server to other systems to simplify printer management, (rather than the other systems communicating direct with the JetDirect "print servers"), your plan will reduce the load on the HP-UX box
(space in /var/spool & traffic on the network card).

I doubt whether Linux (or any other Unix) will communicate with an HP printer "better" than HP-UX, but it is cheap and easy to set up and maintain as a print server.  HP-UX is quite happy using lpd - I've had no problems at the HP-UX end, but getting the true status of the printer from the print server can be confusing.

You may also want to try using Windows NT as an lpd print server - cheap, quite
reliable, not too hard to set up and easy to maintain and interface with.

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LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 2573225
Why would you want to change from lp to lpd? The lpr system might be slightly more efficient talking to the printer, but I doubt that it would make a measureable difference in traffic.

If you've got 200 printers it almost sounds like there might be a more fundamental network design problem.

Author Comment

ID: 2573815
I will be more specific...
The situation is as follows:

We are running a pretty heavy application on a hp-box no.1 and a lot of printing is coming out from the appl.
The HP-box no.1 is heavily loaded (primary because of the application) and we have to move the queing and filter-stuff (it takes some cpu to filter every printjob, we are using jetadmin and that seems to take even more cpu, and we are talking a lot of printing).

So on the HP-box no.1 we just use remote-printing - just sending the file away to another HP-box no.2.
Now there is another application on that machine and from the beginning only a few people used it, but now...

So we need to move the printing from HP-box no.2 to a third machine (HP-box no.1 will now send their printjob
to XX-box no.3).

It´s rather costly with a new HP machine and we are looking on some intel-based OS - Free-BSD, Solaris, Linux.
I´ve heard that the lpd is not so stable as the lp printing system.

Yes, jlevie, we have 200 printers, but they are spread across sweden and the load on the network is not a problem.

Yes, tfewster, we have thought about an NT (or novell) solution, but some says that NT is not to reliable as a printerserver, and we can´t reboot the system and lose some printerjobs.

The printingstuff is a very important part in the application and availability is very important (as allways).

Thanks for your help
LVL 40

Accepted Solution

jlevie earned 800 total points
ID: 2573971
Okay, I understand now. If it were me I'd want to stay with the lp system as interoperability reasons and because everybody is already familiar with the lp system. How about Solaris x86 on an Intel box or even Solaris on a low end Ultra? You could get quite a few of either for what an HP-UX system will cost. On good hardware Solaris x86 is about as reliable as Solaris on an Ultra, but it won't handle the kind of massive IO load an Ultra is capable of.

With Solaris it isn't strictly necessary to run the JetDirect software, I don't. Whether or not you need it depends on how you use the printers. Mine are all postscript and we use other means to change output formats, so I only need one queue, which I setup with lpadmin to print directly to the printer's lpr port.

Author Comment

ID: 2575691
OK. Thanks for your advise.

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