[kwlug-disc] Print server.

John Van Ostrand john at netdirect.ca
Thu Oct 25 13:12:26 EDT 2012

----- Original Message -----
> Apparently I've fallen asleep at the Thread Wheel. Ok theres a HP
> DesignJet 750c (a parallel port plotter), HP DesignJet 500(USB),
> Then there are several non plotter printers, HP OfficeJet Pro k8600
> (Prints 11x17), K8500A (wifi capable printer that prints 8.5 x 11's)
> Then finally there is a Brother DCP 7020 (that also does 8.5x11's)
> All in all these need to all be set up to be network printers.

You can hook up multiple printers to a print server, at least as many as the printer server has ports. Most of the print servers I see are single ports. The old parallel and serial ones had as many as three ports. I wonder if a USB hub would work on a USB print server.

> I have used such a print server to drive an old parallel-port
> printer.
> It worked pretty well.
> I've wondered about driver support I was at a computer store asking
> this same question and the fellow there had mentioned using the HP
> print servers work really well but with a price tag of 80$+ gets
> kind of steep seeing as we already own a computer for it.

Print drivers are required on the system where printing takes place and aren't needed on the destination printer, generally speaking that is.

If a computer is used as a print server it's really just passing the formatted printer data through to the printers. Windows has the ability to obtain the driver from the printer-connected computer but it's not needed. I've set up Windows systems with text-only drivers and printed to them from Windows PCs with the proper driver. It works fine.

You can share the printer from the attached computer. The instructions are different depending on the O/S and how it is shared changes based on the O/S. Windows shares easily as a windows share, Linux will share using CUPS, LPR, and Samba.

The only issue in using a computer as a print server is that it draws a lot of power and if a user is operating the system it may be rebooted at inconvenient times or powered off/sleeping at nights.

A print server is only going to draw a few watts compared to a PC drawing 200w or more.

> Also I'm not really sure what to charge for this so if theres any
> shoe in advice on that part it'd be interesting to see where the
> general perspective sits these days.

If this is a customer you are charging, charge an hourly rate. If you want to eat some of the learning curve either charge a rate well below industry norms (like $30/hour or so) or offer a fixed rate. Consider that you'll have to setup many printers, locate and download drivers and install drivers and configure printers. An experienced technician can take two hours to do a few PCs in this manner. The older the PCs or the more diverse (Mac, Linux, etc. WinXP, Vista, etc.) the more problems will arise.
> Talk to your local e-recycler and pick up an HP jetdirect print
> server.
> Would you suggest the fellow in the KWArtzLab building on Brightupt?
> Even the working center maybe? I know that you can buy Dlink ones
> but Dlink consumer stuff can be pretty dodgy iirc.

Thatś where I bought my last two print servers. Don Liebold is his name and he had lots of options for me.

> The other option is a Raspberry Pi. But that's one you'll sink some
> time
> into, but it should be fun.
> Only problem with a raspi is it covers no Parallel port and the back
> order is unbearable. I really do wish to get my hands on one or two
> of those suckers for sure though.

To use a RasPi would require a USB parallel adapter. OR some combination of USB to Serial with a Serial to Parallel converter. Then you need a case, power supply, probably a USB hub. Itś only a good option if you want to experiment.

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