Push Windows Printer Drivers with CUPS
Configuring networked printer drivers for Windows desktops can be a real chore. Or you can use CUPS and Samba and it's not so bad after all.
Network printing is a leading cause of high blood pressure and premature hair loss in our long-suffering network administrator demographic. Fortunately, the FOSS world, as usual, does its best to mitigate our suffering. Today you shall learn how to use CUPS and Samba together to set up automagic client printer installations. That's right, my hardworking friends, none of this dashing about to individual workstations burdened with driver disks and Windows CDs. The goal here is to never leave your snug underground lair.
Please note that today's topic is only about printers. I know you're dying to figure out how to share your multi-function devices, so that all your LAN hosts can scan and fax. We'll get to this in a future article, especially how to share scanners, because that is something you can do in Linux that you can't do in Windows.
The Easy Way: Buy The Right Printer
In my ideal environment, all printers would have native networking and administration utilities. Samsung and HP both have a lot of printers with Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and networking support. You can get a nice network-ready (wired and wireless) Samsung color laser for under $500, which is a lot more fun and less work than running a separate printer server.
Since we don't all have the option to purchase wonderful new printers, the next best thing is a robust Linux printer server starring CUPS and Samba. The CUPS/Samba printer we're building today will not require users to authenticate to install and use printers, so it's not for admins who need everything locked down. This setup is good for home users, businesses that don't need a lock on everything, and those unfortunate network admins who still have Windows 9x machines under their care.
- Name resolution working reliably
- An already-configured and working CUPS server with printers configured
- The cups-devel package installed, also called libcups2-devel and libcupsys2-dev
- Samba server
- CUPS Windows drivers
- Adobe or Microsoft Postscript drivers
The commands and examples are all from a Debian system, so you may need to adjust filenames for different systems.
If you don't have a Samba server already running on your network, here is a complete example configuration. All of your Windows hosts must belong to the workgroup named in smb.conf. Linux and Mac OS X don't care about workgroups, so don't worry about them.
First create these two directories:
# mkdir -m 777 /sharedstuff
# mkdir -m 777 /var/spool/samba
'global' workgroup = samba2 netbios name = xena server string = lan file and printer server hosts allow = 192.168.1. security = user load printers = yes printing = cups printcap name = cups'share1' path = /sharedstuff comment = files for everyone read only = no browseable = yes guest ok = yes'printers' comment = All Printers path = /var/spool/samba browseable = yes printable = yes writable = no guest ok = yes'print$' comment = Printer Drivers path = /usr/share/cups/drivers browseable = yes guest ok = no read only = yes write list = root
Run the testparm command to check your syntax. If you get a "WARNING: passdb expand explicit = yes is deprecated" error, ignore it, it's a leftover meaningless bit of cruft. Restart Samba:
# /etc/init.d/samba restartNow you should have a "share1" folder in Network Neighborhood and your other Samba browsers. Use this to copy the driver files between your machines, which we'll get to in a moment.
This is a nice simple CUPS configuration for sharing printers. Make sure you have the last four lines- those are necessary for sharing Windows printers:
Deny From All
Allow From 192.168.1.*
Allow From 127.0.0.1
Allow From 127.0.0.1
Deny From All
application/octet-stream application/vnd.cups-raw 0 -