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Installing Printers with Group Policy Preferences

Posted on 2015-02-12
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Last Modified: 2015-03-10
Hello,

I am attempting to install printers for the first time using Group Policy Preferences and Item Level Targeting in a Windows 2008 environment with Win 7 clients.  I have created a GPO linked to the Users OU.  Under User Configuration/Preferences/Control Panel Settings/Printers I have added a printer on our print server.  I set it to Create and checked the "Set this printer as the default printer...only if a local printer is not present."  I am using Item Level Targeting to a computer group that I have some test computers in.  The printer seemed to install okay, but it was not set as the default even though some of the targeted computers do not have a local printer.  In fact, it changed the default on one of the machines to the One Note software printer?  So, I thought I would set the shared printer to Delete to see if the policy would in fact delete the printer upon a policy refresh and a logoff/logon.  Nope, printer still there.  Oh, and I have enabled loopback.  Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Cheese
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Question by:cheesebugah
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Hypercat (Deb) earned 500 total points
ID: 40607999
I think part of the problem is the option you've set not to change the default printer if a local printer is present.  Unfortunately, I don't think the group policy can distinguish between a physical local printer connected to the computer and a logical local printer like the One Note.  Do the other computers also have some type of local logical printer, like an Adobe PDF printer or even the MS XPS printer?

I would remove the check from that box on the policy and try again.  Also, change the setting to "Update" instead of "Create."  This will update any existing shared printer settings, but if the shared printer doesn't already exist it will create it.
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40608312
Hello,

I found the issue with the unexpected behavior.  There were some conflicting GP's.  I have cleaned it up and it appears to be functioning as expected now.  I am going to continue testing.  I have read a lot on this subject and think I understand it except for the loopback portion.  If I am configuring a printer on the computer side, I should use loopback.  If I am configuring a printer on the user side I don't need it?  Would that be right?  Also, when I configure a printer on the user side, the option for a shared printer is not present?  Only TCP/IP and Local printer are my choices?

Thanks,
Mike
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40608342
I wonder if it is possible to delete some "stale" printers using this process?  There are printers on one of my test PC's that has grayed out printers that are no longer connected.
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by:Hypercat (Deb)
Hypercat (Deb) earned 500 total points
ID: 40608471
The only reason you would need to use loopback processing would be if you had different user policies being applied depending on which computer the user is using.  So, if you have different printers being assigned depending on which computer the user logs onto, then you need to use loopback processing.  Here's an explanation that's pretty clear, I think:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/2548.windows-server-understand-user-group-policy-loopback-processing-mode.aspx

<<Also, when I configure a printer on the user side, the option for a shared printer is not present? >>

It should be exactly the opposite.  You should see only TCP/IP and Local on the computer side, and all three options on the user side.  You can't configure a shared printer on the computer side, because shared printers are only viable as an option as part of a user configuration. IOW, the function of adding a shared printer to the registry only exists in the HKCU portion of the registry.
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Expert Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 40608523
I would think if you set a group policy preference with the Delete option it should removed those printers.  You'd have to be sure you have the right path, settings, etc., of course, to match that printer.  I've never tried to do this, though, but as an experiment I would try it now on a test PC in case you need it in the future.
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40608568
hypercat,

I meant on the computer side, not the user side.  Whoops, my bad.  As far as loopback is concerned, yes I want to assign certain printers to certain computers regardless of who logs onto them.  We have roamers here and this has been a mess so far as the printers follow them sometimes, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes their local printers are there, sometimes they aren't.  This is going to be fun!

Thanks
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Expert Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 40608692
Sounds like it should work well for you - good luck!!
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40609006
Thank you.  I'm sure I will have more questions as this transpires.  For instance, if you deploy a local printer, where do the drivers come from?  How does the computer know where to look for the drivers?  And if there is a certain spot for them, where would that be?
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40627087
Okay this is weird.  I was testing this last week and seemed to be working fine.  I was getting the printers I assigned through GPP with the ITL set to a group with certain computers in the group.  I enabled loopback.  So, I tried to get cute and changed the name of the group the computers are in and now it is not working?  So, I scrapped the group and created a new one and added my test computers in there and redirected the ITL targeting.  It is still not working?  What the heck did I do?  Any ideas?

Thanks,
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40627090
I was thinking loopback might be the culprit. I disabled it and I am still not able to create the shared printers through the GPP anymore?  This is really weird.
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by:Hypercat (Deb)
Hypercat (Deb) earned 500 total points
ID: 40628222
When did you change the group?  Did you remove them from the old group?  It might take awhile for the group name change to be applied to each of the computers.  

Take a look at this article which I think explains how you specify a source for the printer driver:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc754824.aspx
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40636554
Okay, this isn't working at all anymore.  I am getting no printers being installed whatsoever?  This is so frustrating.  I guess I'm just going to have to dig a little deeper into GP to see if something else is going on?  Ah...when the simplest things turn into hours and hours of banging your head against the wall.  I just love my job. :)
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Expert Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 40638236
Perhaps you want to look into the traditional Printer Management console way to deploying the shared network printers.  Then at least you'd only have to deal with the local printers via group policy preferences.  I've found the Print Management Console deployment to work very smoothly.  You can install local printers using that console, but you can't "deploy" them like with group policy preferences, as far as I know.  IOW, you can install them but only one by one to each workstation.
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40640462
Does anyone know how to turn on GPO logging?  Maybe I can sort this out through the log files.
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40643488
I am attempting to add 32 bit drivers to my print server, but the "Add" button is grayed out?  Does anyone know why it would be grayed out?

Here is the path I am taking to get to this location on my Windows 2008 print server.

Control Panel\Printers\Server Properties\Drivers

Thanks,
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Author Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40643505
Okay, I figured that piece out.  You need to click on File\Run as administrator to afford the Add button.
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by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 40644595
For basic group policy event logging, look in the Event Viewer here:  Applications and Services Logs/Microsoft/Windows/Group Policy/Operational

For verbose logging, here's the registry entry:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows NT/CurrentVersion/Diagnostics
“GPSvcDebugLevel”=dword:00030002

I think you have to add the Diagnostics hive first, and then add the GPSvcDebugLevel value.

The debug log file path will be: “%systemroot%debugUserMode\gpsvc.log.
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Author Closing Comment

by:cheesebugah
ID: 40657441
Together the suggested solutions work well with deploying printers via GPP.

Thanks
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