AS400 and printer compatibility

Posted on 2013-11-20
Last Modified: 2013-11-22
Hi Everyone,

I am trying to understand the WHY to this issue below.  I am not an AS400 expert so that where I will leave my expertise.

Here is what I am trying to understand:
We have an AS400 system
Currently we have HP Laserjet 1200 printers attached for printing.  These printers alike 10 years old and are on their last legs for functionality
I recently started looking into options for replacements.  Amonngst other things is the size of the printer as the space it needs to be places into is rather limited
I have settled on testing the Lexmark MS510dn printer
Speaking with Lexmark and our reseller they have both said this printer is NOT compatible with AS400's unless you purchase an IPDS ROM module.  This Module is the cost of the printer making a $500 printer $1000
Not that I don't believe them but on a hunch, as I was installing unit in a non AS400 environment, I had our AS400 team send a few test prints to the MS510dn
The Lexmark printer printed the test pages serveral times with no issues what soever

Some additional info
In speaking with our AS400 team, they set the system to print using an HP LaserJet4 printer driver
When I asked them to help me understand the reason this works, I have not been able to get an answer except "don't question miracles"
Their response is truly not what I was expecting but something that was more formulated technically.  I mean if we settle on this non-supported printer I want to be sure that if future issues occur, I know where to look and that we understand why it stopped printing, if it does and how we can go about researching causes.

My curiousity
I now ned to understand why this printer was able to successfully print without the recommended IPDS module as recommended by both Lexmark and my reseller

Thanks for all input
Question by:nappy_d
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LVL 35

Accepted Solution

Gary Patterson earned 500 total points
ID: 39665006
No miracle or mystery here as far as I'm concerned.  Probably just clueless salespeople.  

Are you really that surprised?  

Out of the box, this printer speaks PCL5, PCL6, PostScript3, and PPDS - all printer data streams that the AS/400 can generate if properly configured.  It supports connectivity via LPR/LPD, IPP, and "raw" port 9100 - all protocols that the AS/400 can use.

You could configure this printer a dozen different ways that would all work just fine.  

Setting it up as an HP4 should certainly do the trick.  

The AS/400 (iSeries, IBM i) has supported PCL printing (via a feature called Host Print Transform) for many years - since at least V3R2 of the OS (1996).  Before that, things were a little more complicated - so maybe your Lexmark reseller just has some really, really out of date information.  If a printer has a network card in it and can handle PCL print streams, then the AS/400 can generally print to it.  

Of course IPDS works just fine, too.

As for your AS/400 team - I think they might have been having a little fun with you with the talk of "miracles".  They clearly know how to configure a PCL printer on the AS/400, and if you've been running HP 1200's all these years, they shouldn't be surprised that other PCL printers work just fine, too.

There are plenty of printers that won't work (or at least not as easily) with the AS/400 - principally those that are "Windows-only" printers - sometimes called Winprint or GDI printers.  But this isn't one of them.

- Gary Patterson
LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Gary Patterson
ID: 39665026
You used the term "non-supported printer".  I'm not sure what "supported" means in this context.  You are mixing manufacturers here.

Lexmark specifications for this printer clearly state that it supports printer languages and protocols that are also supported by the AS/400.   Will Lexmark be able to help you configure the printers on the AS/400?  Maybe - if you find the right person there.  Will IBM be able to help you configure your Lexmark printer to print from the AS/400?  More likely - and there is extensive IBM documentation on the subject of printer configuration online.

My suggestion is that you test it thoroughly with your applications before buying a bunch of them.

- Gary Patterson
LVL 25

Expert Comment

ID: 39669735
Gary basically hit the nail on the head. I've seen AS/400 systems work with all sorts of printers, without special addons. The miracles comment could've also been a slight dig at you for coming to them *after* getting the printer.

I'd only be asking one question with regard to all of this: Why didn't you consult with the AS/400 team BEFORE buying the printer? Then they could have at least mentioned specs, etc for what they need, as well as units that you might want to avoid.
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LVL 32

Author Comment

ID: 39669865
I had been in contact with the AS400 team. a bit of back history is that I was deploying the printer to another dept and decided to test it quickly as I had a day or two before the actual deployment. the replacement project has been long standing within the org for the current lj1200 devices.

since this printer I guess supports ppds and not ipds. I guess I better do some reading up to explain the difference to my as400 team :)
LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Gary Patterson
ID: 39669924
If you've been using HP1200s (probably configured on the AS/400 ad PCL printers) for years successfully, why wouldn't you configure the new printers as close to the existing config as possible, since you know that works fine with your applications?

PCL printers are pretty interchangeable unless you are dealing with specific embedded fonts of features unique to one model of printer or the other.
LVL 32

Author Comment

ID: 39670868
Well that's an answer to  question I "don't" have.  Like I said, I am not an AS400 guy, don't know if they are using PCL, IPDS, PPDS, or any other acronym for AS400 printing.

The issue for the selection of this printer is the size(it does matter).  The space in which the replacement devices will be going into is limited.  Of all the printers that I have tested so far this one worked the best out of the box.

Other smaller HP branded printers were eratic with output unless it was a 4000 series and above, data light flashed and no output.

Beyond the fact that they config'd printing to use the LJ4 driver is all the info I could glean from them

Thanks and you have given me plenty of info to start.  I guess I am gonna have to start wearing the AS400 hat :(    :)

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