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Time Warp: Peachtree for DOS printing issue

Running Peachtree for DOS on an XP pc, printing to LPT1 is unreliable, gets stuck.

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Background: (in case it makes any difference)
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-Peachtree for DOS (version 8 or 9 I think) being used in a manufacturing environment.
-Ultimate goal is to upgrade to latest Sage or QB for manufacturing, but for now, trying to move off of Win98 PCs to Win XP PCs and move data on a NAS.
-The configuration that is working: PTdos is on 4 Win98 PCs. #1: holds the data and shares it over network. #2,3,4 all access the data and are the main workstations.
-2 PCs print to their own LPT1 parallel printer port. an A/B switch box connects to two printers: an old HP laser and a tractor fed dot matrix check or invoice printer.
-This setup is rock solid for years
==============================================

The Problem:

Trying to get rid of the Win98 PCs and use 1 generation newer WinXP PCs.
I've moved all PTdos data to a share on a QNAP NAS box.
All 3 WinXP pcs see and can open the Peachtree program from the NAS. I think that part is fine.

The problem is in testing printing. The XP PCs have parallel LPT1 ports.  I move the parallel cable from the Win98 PC to the WinXP pc. XP 'sees' the laserjet on LPT1, so I direct it to the proper driver. It installs fine. I can print in Windows with no problem. In Peachtree DOS I can usually get one or more print jobs to the laser from PT. The problem generally comes when I switch the A/B box to the forms printer (dot matrix). I have sometimes gotten it to print, but oftentimes it takes a long time to print and many times it won't print. A job gets stuck in the queue. Clearing the job from the queue doesn't help. Stopping print service and manually deleting files from the Windows SPOOL folder doesnt help. I have to restart the PC.

I'm wondering if I should just not install any printer in Windows (the HP Laserjet on LPT1?) Is the windows driver for the HP Laser intercepting the print job intended for the dot matrix? If so, I'd think switching the parallel A/B  switch back to the Laser should let it print, but it doesn't.

They do need to print to the laser from Windows so leaving it with no driver for the Laser seems like a problem.
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RickNCN
Asked:
RickNCN
3 Solutions
 
Peter HutchisonSenior Network Systems SpecialistCommented:
What you can do is drop the parallel port switch box as it is not reliable on modern machines.
Next you can use the DOS NET USE print to redirect LPT1 to any printer whether wired or even networked and that it is shared and use that installed print driver to do the prints.
e.g.
NET USE LPT1: \\pcname\printer-share-name

You can then use the PRINT command to test it.
PRINT /D:lpt1: filename.txt

Windows XP or later does not come with DOS as such but is a 32 bit command prompt. DOSBox is a proper DOS emulator program for old DOS applications.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
Ok, except for the fact that i have 2 parallel printers, laser and dot matrix and only one port. LPT1 parallel port.

Also, LPT1 can only be redirected  to one printer at a time, correct?
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
Yes you can redirect lpti1 to one printer at a time but you could setup another lpt port say lpt2 and redirect it. Problem with that is older DOS programs are only looking for lpt1 unless you can change that it its config file. What I do is use a batch file to start a DOS program and in the batch add the line
net use lpti1: /d /y
net use lpt1: \\PrintServerName\ShareName
C:\DosPorgamLocationFolder\DOSProgram.exe
That way each time they start the dos program the get re-connected (fresh/new connection) to LPT1
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I don't know how to change PT's config to use 2 different LPT ports, plus, I only have one physical parallel port, so I can't  plug both printers into the PC anyway.

Will there be problems using PT DOS in XP's command prompt window? What are the issues there? Stated differently, why do I need to use DOSBOX? What will it do to help?

The printing problem I'm referring to and am trying to resolve seems to be at the WIndows level. I don't think it has a cause in the A/B switch box. Print jobs seem to get through to  Windows, but stuck in the spool.

I guess I was looking more for proper settings in Windows, in the print driver to print reliably from a DOS program to LPT1. I changed a timeout delay to a lower setting and that seemed to help make it print faster - when it did print. What other driver settings might affect this?
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
UPDATE:
I am sitting at the system now. A ran a few tests. Here's what I did and what happened:

RECAP:
Running Peachtree version 10 from a QNAP NAS to WIn XP in a command prompt window.
The program seems to run fine this way.

Problems with printing...

As the system WAS, (Windows 98, one parallel port to an A/B switchbox to a laser and dot matrix) running and printing was perfect.

I am on the "Accounting" PC (Windows XP)
=====================================================
NET USE reports:
Disconnected   LPT1   \\accounting\hplj2300 Microsoft Windows Network

so... LPT1 is not redirected to a port?

The HP LaserJet 2300 Series PCL5e Properties reports:
Port "DOT4_001  Description: hp LaserJet 2300  Printer: HP LaserJet 2300 Series PCL 5e
=====================================================

TEST1
Plugging the laserjet directly to XP pc with one parallel cable, no switchbox, I can test print invoices (in peachtree it's set to an Epson dot matrix)  and purchase orders (in peachtree to an HP laserjet) all day long. The purchase orders and invoices all come out on the HP Laserjet 2300 I have connected to the parallel cable.
CONCLUSION: printing either type of document to the laserjet is not a problem

TEST 2:
 I route the HP 2300 parallel cable through the switchbox, channel A and again print invoices and purchase orders, alternately several times. No problem.
CONCLUSION: The switchbox is not the problem. documents are passing through to the laser

THEN: I plug the dot matrix printer directly into the PC, no switchbox. I print an invoice and I get nothing. Looking at WIndows Printers, I see that the "HP LaserJet 2300 Series PCL 5e" has now one print job stuck there:

Local Downlevel Document / Error Printing / owner / pages / 10.4 KB / time/date/ Port: DOT4_001


So it seems that windows gets the print job from Peachtree but has trouble sending it to the dot matrix, which is of course NOT an HP LaserJet 2300.

What I assumed (apparently naively and incorrectly) is that DOS Peachtree could just print right to LPT1 without Windows intervention .
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
Ok, I see now that the word "disconnected" in the NET USE command means the printer is offline or disconnected but the LPT1 redirection is still there.

So the dot matrix is installed in this XP pc. It is a Panasonic KX-P3626. Properties show it's using LPT1. I tried a test page to it and see that Windows sends it to the HP Laserjet 2300 which gets stuck. So I cancel that job.

Then I use NET USE LPT1 /delete and get rid of the redirection. Test to the dot matrix again, this time the print job spools under the proper Panasonic Printer but still fails to print. I also can delete it. Restarting the PC doesnt delete it either. I had to stop the Spool service and manually delete the files  in Windows\spool\printers.

Next I tried  "PRINT /D:lpt1: filename.txt" with a text file on the root that I know printed before. Same problem, it spools but goes nowhere, just stuck in spool.

So, apparently, the real issue is just that XP won't print to this Panasonic Dot Matrix.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
OK here are some basics to clear up some confusion 1) If you connect a printer to the parallel port on the physical system and do a net use from dos prompt you WILL NOT see an ltpt1 connection. 2) net use lpt1: is similar to net use x 3) connections to lpt1 are generally used to point programs that are looking for a physical parallel printer connected to a PC but that do not have one so you end up redirecting the print job to a shared printer on ANOTHER system. 4) If you have a printer connected to a physical parallel port AND you have a connection to LPT1 you will have major looping problems. So if you want to print to more than one physically connected printer then you solution of an A/B switch is the best solution. You can share the physically connected printers and have other systems connected to them using net use LPT1. In most instances using Windows XP dos environment will work just fine; sometimes some problems do occur but if they do post those but there is no need to get dos emulation for a program like peachtree. You can right click on the shortcut or exe you use to start peachtree and under properties and the compatibility tab choose to run in Windows 95 mode. Did I miss anything you had asked/needed answers to?
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I think you answered a lot of questions there. That helped a lot.  So I think my next question is: To do what I want to do: Peachtree DOS printing to two different parallel printers, should I be removing, deleting, all printer drivers that connect to LPT1? If so, wiill Peachtree DOS print straight to hardware LPT1 port? or is it still relying on Windows to direct the print job? If so, how do you install 2 printers in XP and have them both use LPT1?

On the Win98 pc where this is currently working, there are 5 printers all installed and using LPT1 as the port:
Eltron TLP2642
EPSON FX-980
HP Laserjet5/5M-Enhanced
HP Laserjet 5P
Panasonic KX-P3626
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
It seems like my whole problem is boiling down to the fact that I can't print through LPT1 to this panasonic dot matrix. I just downloaded the drivers and installed it. It installed fine but test pages get stuck.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I forgot to mention I tried it both ways: "Spool documents..." and "Print directly to printer..."
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
OK without looking at what the old system did and what the printer properties say the physical fact is that you can only have one printer at a time use the parallel port at the back of your PC. Now if you have more than one parallel port, say with an add on card you can have more than one but that add on card would HAVE to be set use LPT2 or 3. Even though the printers show that the port they print is lpt1 does not mean anything unless they actually are printed to--then they will send the job to lpt1. For example you can connect printers to a switch box, just like you a/b switch or an a/d/c/d/ switch and have 4 printers connected to the switch and then you could print to more than one physically connected printer by switching from one to the other. The panasonic dot matrix is a common printer and should work by using the drivers that come with XP of by using the Epson FX1050 drivers--I use several panasonic dor matrix (old printers) but use the Epson drivers instead of the panasonic ones.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
" the physical fact is that you can only have one printer at a time use the parallel port at the back of your PC."

no, I know, I'm trying to print from Peachtree to a laser and a dot matrix, through an A/B switch to one parallel port.

What I'm seeing now is the core of the problem: The only time the XP pc prints to EITHER the laser or the dot matrix is when I SHARE one of them on the network then use NET USE to assign LPT1 to either one of them.

So:
DotMatrix  (setup to use nonexistant LPT3) > then shared as \\accounting\KXP3626 > NET USE LPT1: \\accounting\KXP3626 > Print from peachtree to LPT1 works

HP Laser Jet 2300 > (Setup by Windows to a DOT4_001 port) >  shared as \\accounting\HPLJ2300 > NET USE LPT1: \\accounting\HPLJ2300 > print from peachtree to LPT1 works

IF I delete LPT1 redirect and set either the laser or the dotmatrix to use LPT1 as their printer port NOTHING happens. the print job gets stuck.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
OK we seem to be going around in circles so instead of me telling you what I think you need to know I am going to ask you to
1) Describe where each printer physically is connected (what PC or server)?
2) How is each printer connected (parallel port, USB, Network cable)?
3) What is the port setting in each printer's printer properties
Please list each printer separately with the 3 pieces of information--thanks
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
Ok, so I've made some headway. I found that if I do this:

LPT1 redirected to the shared dot matrix:

DotMatrix  (setup to use nonexistant LPT3) > then shared as \\accounting\KXP3626 > NET USE LPT1: \\accounting\KXP3626 > 

then I can use the PRINT command to print a text file all day long. I use the A/B switch and switch between both the DM and LJ printers and it's fine.

But then if I open PT and print something, I get nothing now, to either printer. nothing even shows in the print queue.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
please reply to my earlier questions--using lpt3 is not a solution if peachtree is set to print to lpt1. also see one of first suggestions (click here for how is suggested you start peachtree
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
update:

I found that after I switch to PT DOS, I can print to the HPLJ but if I switch the A/b over to the DM printer and print I get nothing, except, it seems a little blip of the carriage or head moving.

If I switch back to HPLJ, the job does not print. If I go to the command prompt and use the PRINT command to LPT1 again, it works to the HPLJ.

then, staying in command prompt, change A/B switch to the DM, PRINT command, nothing.

turn printer off and on, PRINT command > Prints!
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
Ok, to answer your questions:

1) Describe where each printer physically is connected (what PC or server)?
2) How is each printer connected (parallel port, USB, Network cable)?
3) What is the port setting in each printer's printer properties

All I'm dealing with right now is one PC:
"Accounting" pc: Win XP SP2

-HP LJ 2300-
1- physically connected to "Accounting" PC
2- parallel port (to A/B switch port A)
3- connected to driver for HP LaserJet 2300, port "DOT4_001"

-Panasonic KX-P3626 Dot Matrix
1- physically connected to Accounting PC
2-  Parallel Port  (to A/B switch port B)
3- This printer is connected to driver for Panasonic KX-P3626 with a  "dummy" port LPT3. (of course it WON't print in Windows) Then it is SHARED as "KXP3632"

LPT1 is redirected to \\accounting\KXP3632

-A/B switch box I/O
1- physically connected to Accounting PC
2- A/B box connected to PCI SIIG parallel adapter card  DB25 connector,  assigned to LPT1 ("Try not to use an interrupt is ON and "Enable legacy Plug and Play detection is UNchecked),  I/O Range 0378-037F, IRQ 07



I don't think you're understanding what I'm doing. I'm just setting the DM printer up with a dummy port: LPT3 in Windows. There is no actual hardware parallel port on LPT3. Then I share it on the network. Then I redirect LPT1 to itself "on the network". with "NET USE LPT1: \\accounting\KXP3626"
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
OK the all the printers need to be connected to lPT1 in printer properties. There is no need for a printer redirection. Also there is no need to setup the printer with lpt3 in printer properties--just use lpt1--you can have more than one printer using lpt1. QUESTION: Does the XP PC have 2 parallel ports now--one that is standard that came with the PC (built in) and then this PCI SIIG parallel adapter card?
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
To answer your question, no, the motherboard does not have a parallel port. I had to add the Siig. IT has been fine as a piece of hardware. No problem.

I wish I *could* set both printers to use LPT1. That's the problem I'm really dealing with. If you re-read my post at 15:53:18:

"What I'm seeing now is the core of the problem: The only time the XP pc prints to EITHER the laser or the dot matrix [edit: on LPT1...] is when I SHARE one of them on the network then use NET USE to assign LPT1 to either one of them.

So:
DotMatrix  (setup to use nonexistant LPT3) > then shared as \\accounting\KXP3626 > NET USE LPT1: \\accounting\KXP3626 > Print from peachtree to LPT1 works

HP Laser Jet 2300 > (Setup by Windows to a DOT4_001 port) >  shared as \\accounting\HPLJ2300 > NET USE LPT1: \\accounting\HPLJ2300 > print from peachtree to LPT1 works

IF I delete LPT1 redirect and set either the laser or the dotmatrix to use LPT1 as their printer port NOTHING happens. the print job gets stuck."


I know I'm writing a lot of stuff as it happens here and it's a lot to keep track of.

I think I may have solved the problem. You mentioned that you usually use an Epson Dot Matrix driver so I loaded the Epson LQ1170 that Peachtree is expecting to print to (when you print something you have a choice to change between two printers: HP Laserjet and Epson LQ1170) So In Windows, I removed the PAnasonic and installed the Epson and used my "dummy port" LPT3 and then shared it and then redirected LPT1 to it....

NOW, when I print in Peachtree, I can switch between A and B printers and it will print to either one. I think the problem  before was the Panasonic driver was working for printing to the HPLJ but Peachtree didn't like it when printing to what it thought was an Epson.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
Lionelmm, thanks for sticking with me on the problem. You've given a lot of great info. I think we have been sort of 'crossing posts' a little, mainly because I was posting so often as I was actively working on the issue and figuring things out.

So your bottom line is about trying to get me to set up 2 printers both pointing to the actual physical LPT1 port.  But I tried that and it results in stuck printer queues.

From my testing, the only time I'm able to get consistent printing to "LPT1" from Peachtree on this PC is by redirecting it to a shared printer.

So the things that seemed to solve it are:
1- in Windows, installing the actual driver that Peachtree is expecting for the dot matrix: an Epson LQ1170, Even though the ACTUAL printer connected is the Panasonic KXP3626.

2- Install that Epson driver to a nonexistent LPT3, then share that printer, then redirect LPT1 to the share.

Now, what I haven't tested is whether I can get rid of that kludge of redirection and just assign LPT1 to the Epson driver directly. Now that the underlying problem of the proper driver has been sorted out, maybe I can do what you've been suggesting all along.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantCommented:
I still think you are missing one critical technical point and that is lpt1 is an actual physical communication port--it is the parallel port on your PC. If you have a printer contented to your parallel port and then ALSO try to redirect it to a net use lpt1: connection you will have problems, a circular problem. So if your printer is physically connected to lpt1--the parallel port on the back of your PC then you should not also be redirecting it to a net use lpt1:
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I still think you are missing one critical technical point and that is lpt1 is an actual physical communication port - the parallel port on your PC.

I'm well aware of that fact. I make that distinction way up in the beginning of my posts.

If you have a printer contented to your parallel port and then ALSO try to redirect it to a net use lpt1: connection you will have problems, a circular problem.

Well, I don't know how to explain my success then, because that's what I have right now, and it's the only way it has worked.
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hdhondtCommented:
I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for RickNCN's comment #a40580620

for the following reason:

This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I left it open, as there seemed to be some unresolved questions, but I guess lionelmm was done, so I can close and assign points.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
Peter Hutchison - 75 for a good, quick, concise response with relevant info.
lionelmm - 425 for sticking with trying to resolve and all of the excellent info.
myself - Best Solution - in the end I found what actually solved my issue, though with help from lionelmm. My post would be the one that sums up the fix to my issue.  lionelmm and I slowly converged toward an answer through the Q&A process though he never gave me the final answer I was looking for. Still, it was what I needed to resolve it. Good job, lionelmm, it's not easy following through on a fairly complex problem like this through text.
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