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Print job keeps repeating - Help!

Posted on 2004-10-20
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Last Modified: 2013-12-23
We have a Unix print job that is a one page report, set to print automatically every night at 3 AM. The problem is sometimes there are 200 pages of this one page report sitting on the printer (An HP Laserjet 5si - default setting is double sided printouts). This is driving my boss crazy!
I am not a Unix programmer or system administrator. This program (To generate the print job automatically) was written years ago. Within the past three months, the problem has happened 5 or six times. The inconsistency makes troubleshooting difficult.

I dont know if the problem is the program, a faulty network, setting the default to double sided, or an aging printer.
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Question by:lifetech
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by:tfewster
ID: 12362984
Doncha just hate intermittent problems?

First, check /var/spool/lp/log for errors; If the print job is not completing properly, e.g. no EOF or no EOL on the last line, the Unix system may keep resending it (at the request of the printer).

Is there any possibility the program is generating a command line `lp -n200 ...`, i.e. _requesting_ 200 copies?

Which Unix do you use? And how is the printer set up on the Unix box? (Direct/networked/Via a remote printer server)?

One troubleshooting approach would be to:
1) disable the printer
2) generate & queue the print job
3) copy /var/spool/lp/requests/printername/* (job control file & print file) to somewhere safe
4) enable the printer so the job prints.

If it works as expected, delete the "saved" copies; If it goes mad, examine the job control file  (format may vary, but on my HP system, the "keyword" K denotes number of copies) and the print file for evidence.
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by:lifetech
ID: 12363137
The printer is networked via an internal Jetdirect card. I will interface with the Unix Admin on the troubleshooting approaches. Any ideas on why the print job usually prints fine - and only occasionally prints multiple copies?
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by:lifetech
ID: 12363218
One frustrating thing about troubleshooting the problem is that it is automatic - set to run overnight. So far every time the Sys Admin has done the report manually - it prints out fine. So he does not believe there is any programming errors with the job itself. Could it be something with the scheduling aspect of it? Anyway - this is my theory - but it may not be related to the problem at all...
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tfewster earned 500 total points
ID: 12363312
As I said, a malformed print job might cause the printer to report an error and request it to be resent; But thinking further, the printer would continue until it ran out of paper and the job would _still_ be queued until it was cancelled manually.

Otherwise, I'd suspect the program looping or requesting multiple copies.  I wouldn't suspect Unix/network/print spooler/printer until I'd "proved" that the print request & file were OK.
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by:lifetech
ID: 12363460
I suspect it runs until the printer is out of paper, but I have not confirmed this. I know that the printer runs fine in the morning. I know that the job is not cancelled manually by the Unix Admin.
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Expert Comment

by:tfewster
ID: 12460111
Hi lifetech - Did you track the problem down?
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by:lifetech
ID: 12463038
We switched the printer with a different one. We believe at this point that it was hardware related, but because the problem is so inconsistent, I can't say for sure if thats it yet. Your suggestions did help us rule out some things - Thanks!
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