Monday, January 23, 2006

Cross Platform Network Printing Woes

I've ranted in the past about the piss-poor state of printing setup in Linux. But that's not the only thing with printers that needs to be fixed. Specifically, printing to a printer connected to a Mac from a Windows box, and vice-versa.

Saturday morning I went over to a client's house to setup his new Mac Mini. Wonderful box, the Mac Mini. It's tiny, almost silent, and of course runs Mac OS-X. My client has an HP OfficeJet 6110xi connected to it that he'd like to be able to use from the two other computers on his LAN, both of which run XP Home.

Unfortunately, while I was easily able to setup file sharing so the Macs and PCs could share resources, I couldn't get remote printing to work. No matter what I tried, the print jobs would make it to the Mac's qeue from the XP box, but not actually print.

Yesterday, I tried to get Judith's new iBook to print to the Samsung ML-1710 hooked up to Bagend, which runs XP Professional. No dice. The Mac sees the printer but I don't get any output.

Several months ago I was discussing the sucktastic state of *NIX printing with a fellow Linux geek who's also the senior UNIX architect at a major stock exchange. His advice for *NIX printing is to use an HP JetDirect print server. I'd hoped things would be better with Macs, but apparently there are still issues.

So, I'm looking at getting a print server. In particular, Apple's AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme both include a USB port and print server for Windows and Mac clients. I'd replace the Netgear WAP I'm currently using with the AirPort. Some googling indicates that the Samsung should be compatible with the AirPorts.

So, I'd welcome feedback from any users who've use AirPorts as print servers, especially with (a) Windows clients since I have no doubt it'll work flawlessly with a Mac, and (b) with Samsung USB printers.

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